2011 was a quiet year on Ignorant Mouth but not so in the crazy world we live in. One thing I hate about reading the news is the lack of follow-through on old stories, so I didn’t let that happen to us – we kept on the heels of sunken treasure, totally in awe of what can come out of the ocean. Look to services like Storify to make the news bearable again in 2012 – we need context to understand everything in our lives, why should the media be any different? Skilled curators can show how current events are unfolding in ways that we wouldn’t have thought about just reading the stories in newspapers.
We haven’t updated very much in the last year, and I was thinking about just closing down the site when I saw the headlines today:
- Grandmother guilty of throwing toddler off skywalk
- Hundreds march in LA in economic protests
- Court considers Ga. ban on guns in churches
- Man pleads guilty to offering semen-tainted yogurt
- A job is becoming a dim memory for many unemployed
- More youth seeing their Facebook, email hacked
- NY Man kills deer with shovel after it jump inside his workshop
- Scientists seek to document later fall colors
- Death of Ore. teen linked to white supremacists
- Delaware mom denies trying to sell baby
- Wife who killed, cooked husband denied parole
- NM fraternity finds severed goat head on porch
As long as headlines like these continue to be produced, the world needs Ignorant Mouth. We’re not going anywhere.
A team of researchers trolling for sunken treasure in the Baltic sea came across a radar anomaly on the ocean floor which bears a vague resemblance to the Millenium Falcon. The team isn’t sure what the object is, nor does it have a directive to investigate further; even still it has received donations to fund an expedition to search for the strange object.
Are we looking at a strange discovery, or something as innocuous as part of a sunken ship’s hull? This isn’t the first ocean “discovery” that has hit headlines recently; not long ago the media was convinced that the lost city of Atlantis might have been found, but the radar anomalies causing the stir were explained away as mere imaging artifacts from detailed sonar sweeping.
Even still, the ocean is a huge and mysterious region of the world that still yields new species and scientific knowledge; despite today’s advanced technology and our ability to peer into everything, vast swaths of our planet remain undiscovered frontiers.
Big news from the Catholic Church – the Pope says it may be ok to use condoms in certain situations. BUT – condoms are not a good thing; they turn sexuality into something banal and soulless, encouraging its use as a self-medication rather than expression of love.
It’s part of a soon-to-be-released series of interviews by German reporter Peter Seewald which aim to expand upon the church’s top leader’s position on sensitive subjects including schism, sexual scandals and church reform.
I was interested – although not surprised – to learn that municipailities leak large amounts of their treated water - sometimes as much as 40%. According to the CBC, that amounted to more than 26 billion (said in a Dr. Evil voice) litres of drinking water. Industry-wide, losing 10% of the total is considered “acceptable” – I have no idea whether Ottawa’s number falls within that amount.
I’m on well water – if I have a leak in one of my pipes, I can empty my well and ruin it within a day. I get that we’re talking about clean water that returns to rivers and gets processed again, but it really irks me that while this is happening they’re airing commercials telling us to turn off our taps while we brush our teeth and avoid watering our lawns in order to preserve water. Sounds a bit contradictory to me – we can make all kinds of tiny changes until we’re blue in the face, but at what point do we get to take responsibility for the huge overall problem?
We’ve gone over three weeks with no fast food in our household, and have noticed some dramatic changes. For one, we’re spending less time fighting wicked cravings for Big Macs – whatever they put in that sauce makes you want to indulge. Second, we’re far less interested in sugary drinks and snacks like coke and chips. The longer we eat fresh food prepared by us, the more money we save and the healthier we feel. (Doesn’t it make you wonder how all those chemicals affect your body?)
We’ve been eating far fewer portions of meat compared to before, and have been seeing benefit to that, too. I am by no means suggesting that people should go without meat if they enjoy it, but reducing comsumption brings about serious benefits.
Consider how that hamburger is produced:
- Petroleum-based chemicals are sprayed on farmland in order to yield grain crops
- The majority of our farmland is used to produce feed for meat animals
- The average cow is slaughtered at 21 months – that means 21 months of eating grains and corn which may have otherwise fed people; 21 months of producing CO2 and methane greenhouse gas emissions
- The cow is transported by truck to slaughterhouse
- The cow is slaughtered and transported by truck to processing
- Once processed, beef is trucked to grocery stores, restaurants, etc for consumption
Without being scientific about it, every time we bite into that Big Mac, we pollute as much as we would if we were driving an SUV on the highway each day. By some estimates, the meat industry causes more emissions than the entire transportation system.
In our household, meat won’t be eliminated from our diet any time soon. Nor does the environmental aspect of the problem hit close enough to home to cause a cutback. Instead, we’ve embraced the healthy feeling we get from consuming more fruits, nuts and vegetables; it feels more pure, somehow.
Congratulations Team Canada on winning the 2010 Olympic Gold Medal for Ice Hockey! I don’t know if it came to be; but estimates I heard predicted that 16 million Canadians (1/2 of the country’s population) were expected to tune in to watch the defeat of the Americans. To the defeated, you are saluted. The Americans played a great game – Ryan Miller was absolutely fantastic – but hockey belongs to Canada.
This medal also gave Canada a 14th gold medal – the most any country had ever earned in a Winter Olympics. This is an incredible feat, considering that Canada previously hosted a Summer Olympics in Montreal and a Winter Olympics in Calgary without winning a gold on homesoil. This has been a controversial Olympics, given some of the problems that occurred (especially with regards to the bobsled course). However, things turned out pretty well, I’d say.
During the Olympics there were some incredible stories – such as Joanie Rochette who won a Bronze medal despite the death of her mother during the Olympics (in Vancouver no less). Here’s to London 2012!
By the way, Canada is officially ranked on top of the medal table, meaning Canada wins the Olympics.
Standby power, also known as vampire power, phantom load or leaking electricity, is the electricity used by appliances in your home when they are “off”. Even if you turn off all of your lights, unplug your fridge, and turn off your furnace, your electricity meter will continue to spin.
Some key offenders are television sets and DVD players (they’re always “watching” for signal from your remote control) and computers (the BIOS remains powered up and keeps the clock charged even when the machine is off) stoves (if they have a clock). Standby power is irritating because it often exists for no other reason than to wait for your input during the times when you’re not around.
The best advice I can give is: have all of your devices on a good power strip. First, you get surge protection which will extend the life of your electronics. More importantly, you can unplug everything all at once. Just switching off the power bar won’t do the trick because the surge protection will remain charged in order to prevent damage to any connected components during a line spike.
Sometimes you may not want to unplug everything. For example, some cable receivers take several hours to rebuild their libraries after a power outage – you may decide to unplug many but not all devices. There are all sorts of different power bars on the market that accommodate one or two “always on” plugs, allowing you to disconnect the rest of the outlets manually or with a timer.
While the amount of electricity used by standby power may seem small in the scheme of things, we’ve already shown that small efforts add up to big changes. Cutting out that tiny amount of waste may not seem like the ticket out of an energy crisis, but why waste unnecessarily?
When it became clear that Democratic candidate Obama stood good chances of winning the presidential election, gun sales surged in the United States. This is despite Obama’s campaign declarations of support for second amendment rights and promises not to impose new restrictions on gun owners.
This week the Chicago Tribune published Obama anti-gun? No, anti-gun control which points out the lack of new gun control measures introduced so far into Obama’s tenure. The article offers good reasons for this:
1) He said he wouldn’t
2) He appears generally uninterested in doing so
3) Even if he did want to do anything, he faces a divided house – it’s much more important for him to pick bigger battles (e.g. war, health care).
This video clip was interesting. One family in England has managed to reduce the amount of household trash they dispose of to just one bag a year. To do this they focus on purchasing products that are recyclable, and making sure they they have used every opportunity available in their community to recycle as much as possible. I’m sure many of us could be inspired by this example, however many of these services are not available in every community. However, the message here is not to try to replicate this family’s antics, but to just keep in mind this example and do your best to increase your contribution to the environment. Even turning off the lights when you are not using them is better than nothing.