Opinion | The Parable of the Sick Pig and the Lonely Rooster – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Chris Pizzello/Invision, via Associated Press

“NASHVILLE — John Chester’s lovely new documentary film, “The Biggest Little Farm,” opens with a tragedy in the making: Wildfires are moving toward the farm from three different directions. A horse whinnies in alarm as workers rush to shepherd a storybook cast of farm animals — chickens, pigs, sheep, cows — toward what they hope will be safer pastures. Sirens wail in the distance. Smoke and ash fill the air.

It’s a sobering opening for a feel-good film about a young California couple who leave their day jobs to become organic farmers. “Everyone told us this idea was crazy, that attempting to farm in harmony with nature would be reckless, if not impossible,” Mr. Chester says in a voice-over. But it wasn’t impossible: After the opening sequence, the film backtracks to tell the story of how Mr. Chester, a documentary filmmaker, and Molly Chester, a personal chef, managed to turn 200 acres of worn-out, arid land 40 miles north of Los Angeles into an agricultural paradise called Apricot Lane Farms.

As “The Biggest Little Farm” unfolds, the Chesters hire Alan York, an expert in biodynamic farming practices, to teach them traditional methods that will restore their land to true fertility, no chemicals required. Cover crops fix nitrogen in the soil and sequester rainwater, preventing runoff and holding the topsoil in place. Sheep graze among the cover crops, leaving behind fertilizer for the soil. A giant worm-composting facility produces more fertilizer for the gardens and orchards. It’s breathtaking, all the ways the Chesters have found to ensure that every animal on the farm contributes to the health of the crops, and to ensure that the crops can sustain the farm animals while still producing enough fruits and vegetables to sell at market. And all of it works in concert with the wildlife that soon returns to the newly restored ecosystem.

I won’t give away the film’s genuine drama by revealing too many details, but it’s not a spoiler to point out that there’s a reason industrial farms typically use enormous amounts of chemicals: Attempting to farm in harmony with nature means that nature will sometimes get the upper hand, at least at first. “I guess I don’t know what Alan’s idea of a ‘perfect harmony’ is even supposed to look like,” Mr. Chester laments midway through the film. “Because every step we take to improve our land seems to just create the perfect habitat for the next pest.”

Opinion | The Life and Death of the Local Hardware Store – by Tim Wu – The New York Times

“On Ninth Avenue in Manhattan, not far from where I live, there’s a small neighborhood hardware store called Chelsea Convenience Hardware, which is distinguished by its unlikely display of dozens of Russian nesting dolls in the storefront window. Inside, tools and supplies are piled to the ceiling, and when you enter, the owner, Naum Feygin, an immigrant from Boris Yeltsin’s Russia, looks up to ask you what you need.

The “convenience” in the store’s name is no misnomer, for the place is extraordinarily efficient. It is cheaper and faster than ordering from Amazon and offers expert advice that reduces the risk of buying the wrong thing. It is all too easy on Amazon, for example, to buy halogen bulbs that don’t fit your lamp base; Mr. Feygin has spared me many such headaches. And the store’s small size is a virtue: Unlike at Home Depot, you can be in and out in 10 minutes.

Nonetheless, Chelsea Convenience is set to close at the end of November, another casualty of rising commercial rents and competition from e-commerce. The closing is of no great economic significance, other than to Mr. Feygin. But it is a microcosm of the forces reshaping the United States economy, often paradoxically and for the worse. Why is a less efficient, less personalized and more wasteful way of buying screws and plungers — ordering online — displacing the local hardware store?”

Opinion | What if All That Flying Is Good for the Planet? – By Costas Christ – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Christ is the founder of Beyond Green Travel.

Credit…Hannah Mckay/Reuters

“A growing movement known as “flight shame” and popularized by well-meaning climate activists is gaining momentum around the world. Its premise: Flying is bad for the climate, so if you care about life on Earth, don’t fly. The movement, which began in Scandinavia, has ballooned into protests to disrupt flights at London’s Heathrow Airport and social media campaigns outing celebrities and others for planning long-haul trips.

With the holiday season fast approaching, many climate-conscious people may be wondering: Is my planned vacation for the other side of the world ethically indefensible? But let’s try another question: If we really did all stop flying, would that save the planet?

The counterintuitive answer is that it might actually do the opposite.

The tourism industry depends on air travel, and increasingly, saving nature is directly linked to tourism’s economic clout. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, one in 10 people are employed in the travel and tourism industry, representing more than 10 percent of the global economy. In many countries, nature-based tourism is a top foreign exchange earner.

At the same time, aviation accounts for approximately 2.5 percent of human-induced C0₂ emissions. By contrast, deforestation, according to some estimates, contributes nearly 20 percent, about as much as all forms of transportation combined. If we want to truly take a clean sweep at reducing global greenhouse gases, then we must stop clear-cutting the world’s forests.

Don’t get me wrong. As a conservationist and sustainable tourism expert, I am an advocate for a more responsible approach to tourism. Although I began my career as a wildlife ecologist, my work in the tourism industry is focused on transforming travel to be more environmentally friendly. While I recognize that flying is harmful to the climate, I also know what will happen if, in their understandable concern for climate change, travelers stop booking trips to go on a wildlife safari to Africa or decide to forgo that bucket list vacation to South America. Conservation and poverty alleviation will suffer twin blows.

By 2030, tourism to Africa is projected to generate more than $260 billion annually. Subtract that from Africa’s economy and not only will it plunge an entire continent into more poverty (millions of Africans rely on tourism as their economic lifeline), but it will also undermine hard-won efforts to protect some of the world’s most endangered species. Save the elephants? Forget about it. Rhinos, ditto.”

‘Worse Than Anyone Expected’: Air Travel Emissions Vastly Outpace Predictions – By Hiroko Tabuchi – The New York Times

Credit…Steve Parsons/PA Images, via Getty Images

“Greenhouse gas emissions from commercial air travel are growing at a faster clip than predicted in previous, already dire, projections, according to new research — putting pressure on airline regulators to take stronger action as they prepare for a summit next week.

The United Nations aviation body forecasts that airplane emissions of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, will reach just over 900 million metric tons in 2018, and then triple by 2050.

But the new research, from the International Council on Clean Transportation, found that emissions from global air travel may be increasing more than 1.5 times as fast as the U.N. estimate. The researchers analyzed nearly 40 million flights around the world last year.

“Airlines, for all intents and purposes, are becoming more fuel efficient. But we’re seeing demand outstrip any of that,” said Brandon Graver, who led the new study. “The climate challenge for aviation is worse than anyone expected.”

Airlines in recent years have invested in lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft, and have explored powering their planes with biofuel.

Over all, air travel accounts for about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions — a far smaller share than emissions from passenger cars or power plants. Still, one study found that the rapid growth in plane emissions could mean that by 2050, aviation could take up a quarter of the world’s “carbon budget,” or the amount of carbon dioxide emissions permitted to keep global temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.”

This Is the Moment Rachel Maddow Has Been Waiting For – by Amanda Hess – The New York Times

“Maddow has hosted “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC at 9 p.m. five nights a week for 11 years. But over the past three, her figure has ascended, in the liberal imagination, from beloved cable-news host to a kind of oracle for the age of Trump. If her show started out as a smart, quirky, kind-of-meandering news program focusing on Republican misdeeds in the Obama years, it has become, since the 2016 election, the gathering place for a congregation of liberals hungering for an antidote to President Trump’s nihilism and disregard for civic norms.

CreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times

Maddow does not administer beat-downs or deliver epic rants. She is not a master of the sound bite. Instead, she carries her viewers along on a wave of verbiage, delivering baroque soliloquies about the Russian state, Trump-administration corruption and American political history. Her show’s mantra is “increasing the amount of useful information in the world,” though the people who watch it do not exactly turn to it out of a need for more information. They already read the papers and scroll through Twitter all day. What Maddow provides is the exciting rush of chasing a set of facts until a sane vision of the world finally comes into focus.”

David Lindsay:

My good friend Vin Gulisano had me over for dinner about a few years before he died, and what he really wanted to share with me was his passion for Rachel Maddow. We watched an episode, and I was ambivalent. She was sharp and articulate, but she gave her opinions loosely, as part of the news she reported, in a way that I thought was unprofessional.

The story above by Amanda Hess describes someone who has perfected a strong story telling style. I taped her show last night, and was deeply impressed. She has truly studied, relentlessly, Trump’s relations with Russia, and it gave depth and gravity to her understanding of the problems Trump now is having with the Ukraine. Her quote, from her recently published book, was shockingly news worthy and to the point. She was the first opinion journalist to say clearly, Donald will be impreached by the house, since he has already admitted to doing what he is accused of doing, asking a foreign government to meddle in our next election to help Trump.

One of my favorite commentors at the NYT.com, Christine McMorrow, had this comment about Maddow:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts

“By the time she cut to her first commercial break, she had zoomed out so far that Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine appeared to be just one little pushpin on a map of vast global corruption.” That’s what she does, and that’s why some of us love her to death.

Yes, her monologues can be tedious (Get to the point, Rachel!) but always in the end, well worth it. She manages to pack 100 pounds of news into a 5-pound news slot, weaving and integrating building blocks of understanding. It’s truly amazing how she writes her openings, and yet, at a dime, changes them in seconds to meet the latest late-breaking.

I’ve never seen any media person like her, and consider her a rare treasure in a sea of repetitive pundits. She may urge us to watch what Trump does, not says, but in her case, I want to watch what she says, each and every night.

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Opinion | It’s Time to Break Up Facebook – by Chris Hughes – The New York Times

“Over a decade later, Facebook has earned the prize of domination. It is worth half a trillion dollars and commands, by my estimate,more than 80 percent of the world’s social networking revenue. It is a powerful monopoly, eclipsing all of its rivals and erasing competition from the social networking category. This explains why, even during the annus horribilis of 2018, Facebook’s earnings per share increased by an astounding 40 percent compared with the year before. (I liquidated my Facebook shares in 2012, and I don’t invest directly in any social media companies.)”

Automakers, Rejecting Trump Pollution Rule, Strike a Deal With California – By Coral Davenport and Hiroko Tabuchi – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Four of the world’s largest automakers, including the Ford Motor Company, have struck a deal with California to reduce tailpipe pollution, in a setback to the Trump administration as it prepares to weaken national emissions standards and revoke states’ rights to set their own such rules.

While Trump administration officials in the White House and Environmental Protection Agency have been working on a plan to drastically weaken Obama-era rules on planet-warming vehicle pollution, four automakers — Ford, Honda, Volkswagen Group of America and BMW of North America — have been holding secretive talks in Sacramento on a plan to move forward with the standards in California, the nation’s largest auto market. And on Thursday, Gavin Newsom, the governor of California said he was “very confident” that more automakers would join the deal in the coming days.

The move is another blow in the battle between Mr. Trump and California, a state he seems to relish antagonizing and which has filed more than 50 lawsuits against his administration. “We in California see these regulations as a good thing. The Trump administration is hellbent on rolling back them back,” Mr. Newsom said. “They are in complete denialism about climate change.” “

How Often Should Cats Get a Distemper Shot? – Pets

Booster ShotsWhether your now-grown cat received his first FVRCP shots as a kitten or an adult, he’ll need a booster one year after the initial series and then another booster every three years. If your cat spends time outside or otherwise comes in contact with a lot of strange felines, your vet might recommend an annual booster. The FVRCP is considered a core vaccine, along with rabies shots, meaning it’s recommended for all cats. Your vet gives the FVRCP injection in the right front leg. If your cat develops a rare vaccine-related cancer called fibrosarcoma at the injection site, the leg can be amputated to save his life. An intranasal vaccine is also available.

Source: How Often Should Cats Get a Distemper Shot? – Pets

Rabies vaccines every year? Seriously? Every 3 years new rule! – m.petmd.com/blogs/dailyvet/2009

“On the plus side, yearly vaccination is no longer considered a medical necessity. Every three years is now considered sufficient. And this less stringent recommendation may well relax even more in years to come.

Consider, also, that while our government may require rabies vaccines every three years for the protection of public health, individual veterinarians may exempt some pets––temporarily, at least––on the basis of their compromised health.

It’s also the case that testing for the presence of rabies antibodies with a simple blood test called a “rabies titer” is one approach to achieving exemption from additional, potentially unnecessary doses of vaccines in other countries. The U.S. does not yet recognize this test when it comes to replacing the requirement for vaccination.

That’s because the duration of immunity of rabies vaccination has not been completely and irrefutably established by the veterinary community. It’s also because measuring antibody levels through blood testing does not necessarily mean the animal is 100 percent immune to rabies. (Something called “cell immunity” is arguably as or more important than the number of antibodies the immune system brings to bear.)

Yes, it’s true that if your pet has already received a round or two of rabies vaccines, he or she is likely to be protected by antibodies against rabies for his or her entire lifetime. In fact, I received the human version of the rabies vaccine in 1991 and my own antibody levels are still quite high. So why force pets to undergo such frequent vaccines? Are they so biologically different?

Not at all. But you might choose to view things differently if your child were bitten by an animal that had been vaccinated only once … ten years ago, for instance. In the absence of hard science on the subject, human health will always trump animal health in these matters.

Until veterinary science can prove that vaccines last longer than they do, your best bet in the interim is to play it as safe as you can. Make make sure your pet is healthy when vaccinated and only receives his or her rabies shot when administered by a trusted veterinarian whose selection, storage, and handling of the vaccine is likely to adhere to the highest standards of vaccine quality and safety.”

Source: Rabies vaccines every year? Seriously?

I have two adorable and playful orange cats R2 and D2, also nicknamed Atemis and Dexter. Artemis is normal, loving, friendly bird-killing cat, while his brother will not let any human ever come near him, and has refused to come indoors for most of his life here. Getting him caught to go to the vet every year, requires a commando, stealth, psy-ops operation, worthy of its own short story.

I was surprised not to get a card from the vetinarian this year saying they must come in for their annual rabies shot. I looked up on google if these shots are really necessary, and found the article here, that by at least 2009, the rule changed to every three years, with an understanding that might also be overkill. They haven’t bothered to test whether the rabies shot in cats is needed more than once in their life time. I and perhaps some of you have been ripped off I guess, again, by the medical profession.

Opinion | The Roots of Big Tech Run Disturbingly Deep – The New York Times

” “Big tech” companies like Google and Facebook are, in reality, the products of hundreds of mergers. Each root below represents a company acquired by a tech giant at a particular moment in its history. A vast majority of these acquisitions, funded by public markets, have received minimal media coverage and limited regulatory scrutiny. But that is changing, given new concerns about consolidation in the tech industries.

Google
(Alphabet)270 Total Acquisitions171 Competitive 55 Conglomerate 44 Others

David Lindsay:  Yes, yes, yes. We should break up Amazon, Facebook, Google, and California.

Seriously, Amazon should be forced to sell every company it forced to sell to itself, like Diapers.com, as reported in Bloomberg Businessweek.

It appears that the other two giants are also guilty of throwing their weight around.

BUARLH!   Break Up And Regulate Like Hell!