Friday, December 12, 2008

Good Morning, All.

I found this little post on Grist this morning.  I have been reading, somewhat lackadaisically for the last couple of years, about genetically modified foods and the controversy over them.  However, Mom and I recently came in contact with another facet of the genetic modification business and didn't even realize it.  Our old goldfish died and we went about trying to set up an new aquarium.  We are utter amateurs when it comes to fish and, by trial and error, found some that seemed hardy enough to survive our low learning curve: glofish.  They are very pretty with their neon colors of red, green and yellow.  After we got them I looked them up on the internet.  They are genetically modified zebras.  We saw nothing at the pet store to indicate this and we didn't even know enough to ask that question.  A geneticist in Singapore, I think it was, developed the first ones by inserting the gene from corals to create a red fish.  He hoped to create a fish that would change color when exposed to environmental pollutants.  That failed; instead he created a designer fish for the aquarium market.  No, we haven't gotten rid of them.  Like all the animals we get, they will live out their lives until they go naturally.  But how stealthily these innovations invade our lives.

Ronni at Time Goes By has a few comments coming out of the Blagojevich scandal in Illinois.  I said yesterday that my comments were unprintable.  I think my reaction has boiled down to--utter disbelief.  I CAN NOT believe this man was so abysmally stupid and arrogant.  I could say the same thing for most of the politicians Ronni lists in her blog.  She also points out that she listed only politicians though politicians, by no means, have exclusive patents on scandals.  But, as usual, my brain has been making other connections.  In our society, the appearance of success matters more than the fact of success.  And how you acquire that appearance doesn't matter.  Does anyone remember a '60 Minutes' feature that was replayed twice in the last couple of years where they interviewed college students and found that more than half engaged in some form of cheating?  I wasn't surprised.  One semester I caught two of my students plagiarizing an essay assignment.  Others may have cheated also. I just didn't catch them.  These two were only the least skilled and most blatant cheats.  And, like O.J. at his sentencing, they claimed they didn't know they were stealing.  Or, as another example, some years ago I read an article whose authors had polled a group of young men concerning whether they would commit rape given the opportunity.  Well over 50% said they would--if they could be sure they would get away with it.  What does this say about us as a society?

Robert Reich's blog, written before the news this morning, deals with the auto bail out negotiations, which have evidently fallen through.  He makes a point that became clear to me a couple of days ago when I watched interviews on CNBC with politicians opposed to the bailout.  Most of these politicians are not only Republicans they are southern Republicans.  As Reich says we have an new 'Civil War' on our hands.  But something else struck me as the interview with South Carolina's Governor progressed.  I heard not just the argument that foreign auto makers located in southern states and their workers should not see their tax dollars go to subsidize competing northern companies and their workers.  I also heard an historical grievance.  He basically asked where those northern companies and workers were when South Carolina's furniture and textile industries were dismantled and shipped overseas devastating their economy.  We were told then that globalization and off-shoring were good and we would all benefit from the loss of overpaid jobs and obsolete companies.  So why should we protect the big three?  Overpaid jobs and obsolete companies, right?

It is time for breakfast so I will end this for now. 

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