Monday, August 25, 2008


Since I'm on the subject of causes...

I had no idea there was a mass of swirling plastic in the ocean that weighs about 7 million tons. Can't we charter some fishing boats to net some of that shit? We could even make it a tourist attraction.

What bothers me most is the organization responsible for promoting this mess. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation's mission is: "to let the world know about the giant plastic soup we have found in the Central Pacific Gyre and other marine locations so that something can be done to halt this increasing problem before it becomes worse than it already is."

But other than yelling "IT'S OVER HERE!" there doesn't seem to be much more to the job.

The "education" section of their site does nothing but inform you that plastics are bad for the ocean. And for anywhere from $10-$25, you can also buy a DVD that will probably also tell you that plastics are bad for the ocean.

I guess they're living up to their mission; let everyone know about it and let someone else deal with it.

I've always thought of ways to reduce my dependency on plastic. And while there's lots of organizations and people out there who will lecture you on the known hazards of everything plastic, it's quite hard to find any real advice on what to do about it other than "stop using plastic grocery bags!"

So there's step one; get some of those new, reusable grocery bags that are made of -- FUCK! Recycled plastic! What was wrong with hemp?

Okay, so it could be worse, at least we're being smarter about it, but I still think we could do more. What ever happened to glass, tin and paper products?

Thankfully, there's a website called Life Without Plastic and although the colour scheme looks like a cross between baby vomit and the Toxic Avenger, it's got to have some helpful hints, right?

No. It's a store. And it sells stainless steel water bottles with (you guessed it) plastic caps.

Google "no plastic" and a few sites pop up. The first is Change, a collection of blogs written by people who want to change one big thing in their lives. The link takes you to some blog about a person who's trying to give up all plastics. Great idea, but who wants to read through 2 years of personal blog entries to make a quick list to incorporate into their lives?

Two more links to the same blog by "EnviroGirl" and the rest are news articles about plastic bags and then what looks to be an LSD inspired YouTube video. I'm not linking to that.

This is ridiculous. A few other searches rewarded me with more shops, a plastics manufacturing company, and some site called Greenopolis, "...the first 'green,' interactive, collaborative, educational website to bring together communities, environmental organizations, universities, foundations and corporations to reward individuals for making incremental positive environmental changes."

If it's so educational why can't I find any easily accessible tips to reducing my dependency on plastic? If you think "green" means "I'm a better person than you are" then Greenopolis might just be the right place for you.

As for me, if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself. I'm making my own advice on reducing my plastic consumption.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Learn your causes...

It's time once again to jump on the cancer boat!

The SS Carcinogen leaves port soon. Destination: your wallet.

Every now and then the media feels the need to give back in the form of a giant, money-making benefit bazaar geared towards making you feel guilty enough to give away your cash to a vague cause. This time it's Stand Up 2 Cancer.

No, I'm not pro-cancer. But cancer is just such a broad topic and I'd really like to see where the money actually goes. If it goes to breast cancer, then that's alright. I love those things. But nevertheless, whenever a giant conglomerate of celebrity faces start tugging on my heartstrings for a little bit of money, I feel that I might be better off by either slapping their hands away or maybe just devouring their children with some Frank's Red Hot. Maybe I could create some sort of weapon that gives them cancer of the face to make them too ugly to be on TV pandering for my paycheck instead of entertaining, informing or educating me.

Besides... didn't Canada already find the cure for cancer?

From the University of Alberta DCA website, updated March 15, 2007:

"Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a professor at the U of A Department of Medicine, has shown that dichloroacetate (DCA) causes regression in several cancers, including lung, breast, and brain tumors."

Amazing! And how long did it take to create this wonderdrug, DCA?

"Scientists and doctors have used DCA for decades to treat children with inborn errors of metabolism due to mitochondrial diseases. Mitochondria, the energy producing units in cells, have been connected with cancer since the 1930s, when researchers first noticed that these organelles dysfunction when cancer is present."

Wait, so DCA has been around for that long, but it's got to be super expensive, hard to produce and worthy of major media network theatrics, right?

"DCA is an odourless, colourless, inexpensive, relatively non-toxic, small molecule."

But it must be hard to administer. Something so evil as cancer must take some pretty strenuous treatments. Is it injected directly into the tumors? Is there a big DCA submersion unit? Does it involve some sort of enema?

"Another encouraging thing about DCA is that, being so small (much like this font), it is easily absorbed in the body, and, after oral intake, it can reach areas in the body that other drugs cannot, making it possible to treat brain cancers, for example."

So why is this cheap, effective, simple drug which doesn't even have an aftertaste not being talked about more often?

Oh right... because DCA has been around so long it's unpatentable. It can be produced and sold for next to nothing and would end up taking millions of donated dollars for research not to mention government funding and current drug treatments for cancer out of the hands of pharmaceutical companies.

The U of A is starting clinical trials soon and could still use some help. Don't give your money to celebrities putting on a show with an enormous price tag. Give it to the people like Dr. Michelakis who do real work.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blackouts and styrofoam...

I came home last night to a bedroom full of styrofoam pellets. My bed was covered with the stuff. Same with my floor, my bookcase and all the clothes in my closet.

I live at a place which used to be called The Four Holes. Each building was a hole and in many ways, still is. The buildings were bought out and renovated by The Butera Group. All the addicts, hustlers, pimps, prostitutes and welfare recipients were cast aside, the rent was jacked up to prices which would be more fitting of a downtown loft and they got away with it because it's near the college. Yet they have a policy now where they don't rent out to students, which makes no sense to me.

I always make references to "purfume on a pig" when I talk about these apartments because that's exactly what was done to them. Gussied up with mass purchases designed to give the illusion of the upper-middle class. Just because one of my livingroom walls is painted plum, apparently that's supposed to mean something.

Every time a bus drives past my apartment the pig flexes and shudders. The sides of these builings are the only parts that show the pig for what it is. Giant stress cracks creep up the sides of the buildings like the makeup line on an aging stripper still trying to pass off as 25. But the life she's lived is obvious. It shows below the neck.

The old yellow brick of The Four Holes is being ingeniously covered up with styrofoam. Magical enough to make the buildings look solid, but cheap enough not to make any sort of difference whatsoever.

This is how I came to an apartment full of styrofoam. Right now the contractors have finished glueing the foam to the sides of my building and are sanding it down so that the lines between the boards doesn't look so obvious. My parking lot is covered in little styrofoam pellets and it blows around the neighbourhood like snow that never melts.

It got through my cheap bedroom windows and I spent my Friday night cleaning it up. This morning I'm dealing with the sounds of hammer drills, electric sanders and pounding on the walls of my apartment. The hammer drills actually make my room vibrate if they're close enough.

While trying to routinely go through my Saturday morning amidst the clatter, I came across this story about a celebration of the 5th anniversary of the blackout which shut down a huge chunk of the eastern seaboard.

I've always said we should reenact that event once a year and force people to actually join their community.

I'm not a fan of activist groups for the most part, but this new one out of Toronto called The Public Squares seems to have a cool idea.

"Five years ago the lights went out on some 100 million people. We spilled out of our home-box, work-box, shopping and car boxes. We stepped away from computers, microwaves and TV's. The streets became our living rooms as we shared the good company of friends and strangers alike. We rediscovered the power and vitality of the commons. Last night's temporary reclamation of Bloor & Spadina is a festive demonstration of how our city could evolve. The streets and avenues are the veins and arteries of the city. Great intersections like this one are vital organs where people are drawn to work, eat, play and commune. This connection of citizens creates a livable city in a way that an easy left turn never will. See for yourself how this thousand square feet of pavement can better serve us all. 'Get out of your box and into the square.' - the Public Squares"

After I'm finished Day 2 of cleaning my apartment of styrofoam, I think I might just get out and enjoy my community for a while.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Just a man...

You know, if he wasn't such a terrible president, I bet Georgie would be a pretty fun guy to hang out with.