What’s your slant?

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December 2018

Big Oil’s Deadly Atlantic Surveys

in The Life Slant by

*Last week, the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) approved five permits, or, Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHC) for oil and gas seismic surveys along much of the Atlantic Seaboard.

It’s the first oil and gas exploration in the U.S. Atlantic in 30 years.  The approval, which requires a final consent from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, has hideous consequences for millions of sea creatures.

seismic surveys
Sonic explosions demolish cetacean eardrums, which result in internal bleeding that leads to a slow and very painful death. Image credit: Alan Walter/Reuters

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The Democratic Facade of Russia

in The Political Slant by

*The Russian state operates on paper as a federal republic. Much like their democratic and parliamentary cousins, they have a distinct legislative, presidential, and judicial branch, hold elections, and have a constitution. However Russia’s erratic behavior in the international community, such as their brazen murder of Sergei Skripal and their intrusion into U.S. elections, have exposed them as something entirely different. They are effectively a kleptocratic oligarchy, with Vladimir Putin as its center, operating under the false facade of democracy.

The oligarchs are the 15-20 richest men in Russia and serve at the behest of Putin. They include high level executives at Russia’s largest companies, military and intelligence officers, and powerful government officials. The oligarchs use the resources and powers of the state to protect their wealth and enrich themselves by both legal and extrajudicial/illegal means. The whole bureaucracy of the state exists as a legal instrument through which Putin and the oligarchs operate with impunity. They can enact self-serving legislation, enforce bogus laws, prosecute and incarcerate rivals, seize property, illegally gather intelligence, control information and media, and make war under the pretense of legal, internationally recognized government activity.

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“You know what? Fuck It!” era of Politics

in The Life Slant/The Political Slant by

*We are now in the “You know what? Fuck it!” era of politics. This is being exhibited during elections and referenda and by politicians themselves as throwing caution to the wind – or simply blurting out exactly what’s on their mind rather than fudging and waffling.

The YKWFI trend can be good or bad, depending on your viewpoint, and you might be delighted with certain manifestations of YKWFI while despairing at others. These moments are not necessarily limited to one end of the political spectrum.

Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump as US president are the two most obvious manifestations of YKWFI. This is not to insult those who voted leave or for Trump – indeed, for many people, to have the YKWFI moment in the privacy of the voting booth in either the EU referendum or the last US presidential election was not necessarily because of stupidity or paucity of intellect* or lack of serious thought and soul-searching before polling day. For many, the YKWFI moment was borne of desperation, of years of feeling neglected, of wanting change even if might seem unpalatable to others, of figuring their vote could lead to an outcome that was a risk worth taking.

Fuck It Politics

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Tightening the Tether on Tasteless Tech

in The Tech Slant by

*As economies have moved forward, more and more complex arrangements, instruments, and machines have come into existence. For example, the reason we can make music earbuds so small now is because of rare earth magnets, made of praseodymium, which is mined in the U.S., China, Russia, Australia, and India. Many of the resources needed to produce the inventions of our modern society are linked around the world. As I have stated on numerous occasions, we have been in a global economy since the East India Company of 1600.

Big Tech - Global Economy
Image Credit: The Economist

There have been several game-changers in economics, mostly two Industrial Revolutions, the revolution of the late 19th century when machines became essential to make other machines, and the more recent tech boom. Let’s review some of the industries that tech has affected.

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Sneering at Climate Catastrophe

in The Life Slant by

*According to famed conservationist E.O. Wilson, we have entered the Age of Eremocene, or, the age of loneliness. The whales have gone quiet. The mammals, the birds and the insects have vanished. 138 acres of ancient forests are felled every minute. The Man-driven Sixth Mass Extinction is occurring as much as 10,000 times the rate of the previous five others.   Hideous.

Image credit: Jose Nino Heredia/Gulf News

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