Reblog – Rage Against the Minivan: The inconvenient truth about your Halloween chocolate and forced child labor

I haven’t been writing lately, more about that another time…but I came across this article by Kristen over at Rage Against the Minivan about child labour, slavery and chocolate:

Rage Against the Minivan – The inconvenient truth about your Halloween chocolate and forced child labor

Now, frankly, I have no idea where to start in actively responding to this issue, but ceasing or curtailing chocolate consumption supplied by slavery and child labour might be a place to start?


OMG: Millennials abandoning the Bible – No, really?

So I read a an article recently about the results from some data collected by the American Bible Society over the last four years.

OMG: Millennials abandoning the Bible

Among the results are a definite decline in the esteem of the Bible by millennials:

“– Although 79 percent of adults believe the Bible is sacred literature, only 64 percent of millennials do.
– 19 percent of millennials believe no literature is sacred, compared to just 13 percent of all adults.
– Exactly half of adults overall believe the Bible “contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life,” but that number is just 35 percent for millennials.
– Half of adults believe the Bible has too little influence in society, but only 30 percent of millennials agree.
– 39 percent of millennials never read the Bible outside of church, compared to 26 percent of all adults.

The survey also found that since 2011, antagonism toward the Bible has risen from 11 percent to 19 percent and those who consider themselves “Bible-friendly” dropped from 45 percent to 37 percent.”

Now that’s concerning, but I think not totally unexpected, or terrible.


The best healthcare system in the world?


Or just the best healthcare, if you can afford it?

I could talk about healthcare and socialised medicine (for all that it has been demonised…) all day. Yes, I’m a fan, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I’m still not sold on the Affordable Care Act being a solution (maybe more of a bandaid?) because the issues with profiteering and costs will remain the same. But this video was hilarious:  (more…)

Don’t Confuse Me With Facts: When Misinformation Kills

I cringe when I see reports like this, especially in the face of reports of disease/infections resurging in the face of decreased vaccination rates. Polio is basically eradicated because of vaccination. By refusing to vaccinate we risk sicknesses becoming common again that our parents and grandparents prayed for a cure to.


Case in point…America has very few to no cases of diptheria, mumps, rubella, polio etc, after instituting various vaccination discovery and implementation campaigns last century. India is following the same plan – and are now three years without a case of polio! (this is cause for serious celebration) Not only that, but India is now working on eradicating Measles as well.

I understand that some bad batches of vaccines have caused tragic consequences in the past (hasn’t stopped anyone from eating beef, since the Mad Cow thing), and occasionally (very occasionally, look at the research) there are serious side effects, but if anyone looks back to the early 20th century at the numbers of people being killed and debilitated by diseases that are now more or less unknown to children in the western/first world, it seems like the benefits to us as individuals and society outweigh the risks so heavily it’s absurd.

Science & Space

More bad news from the loopy world of the anti-vaccine folks. As TIME reported yesterday, a new study published in Pediatrics found that when parents decide not to vaccinate their children because of worries about the safety of the shots, there may very, very little that can be done to change their minds. The researchers tried four strategies to get through to the naysayers—including showing them pictures of kids with vaccine-preventable diseases and providing them the scientific proof that vaccines are safe and effective. The needle barely budged.

This says much less about vaccines or even parents than it does about the human tendency to cling to—and even fight for—ideas and beliefs that just ain’t so. The anti-vaccine camp has a lot in common with other groups that traffic in tales of conspiracies and coverups and terrible things being done by powerful forces. Like the birthers and the truthers and…

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NASA’s Hot New Ride for 2014

A potential revived NASA manned extra-orbital program?! This is kinda rather exciting to witness firsthand! As opposed to reading about events from the 60s and 70s, that is.
At least it will be exciting if it eventuates.

Science & Space

It’s hard to know when to take NASA seriously anymore. In the past, if the big brains at the space agency said we were going to the moon, well, pack your bags, because we’re shipping out. These days? Not so much. As TIME has noted, one of the best ways to tell if any planned mission described in any NASA press release has a chance of actually flying is to use the Count the Conditionals Rule. The greater the number of references to what a spacecraft could achieve or when it should be flying, the less chance it’s going anywhere at all.

For years now, the manned space program has been drowning in conditionals. We were building spacecraft that could take humans to Mars—then we weren’t; we were committing ourselves to a new program that would have us back on the moon by 2015—and then we broke the commitment. But…

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