7 things @ 11:30-ish (7.9)

1.Doubt climate change? Here, have a cigarette …”

2. Addie Zierman offers some hopeful and helpful thoughts about “Jeans, Social Justice, and One Small Thing.” That post is a good discussion of the frustrations of trying to shop ethically on a limited budget and with limited time and information. Her approach — “Maybe next week, one more small change. Maybe the following week, another” — strikes me as wise and human and empowering, rather than guilt-inducing. (Guilt without alternatives tends to be paralyzing — fostering resentment more than resolution.)

We need an app for this.

“I wish there was a chart,” Zierman writes. “It would be so simple if there were charts that included wages and cost of living and safety ratings, and you could just pull it up on your phone …”

There used to be an app for that. Well, not an app, but a handbook, actually. It was called Shopping for a Better World, and it was updated annually throughout the 1990s. They stopped updating it in 2000 or so, and the website for the project hasn’t been active for years.

That handbook let you look up most products/companies found at the supermarket or the mall and learn about their wages, fair-hiring practices, employment and executive diversity, safety, environmental compliance, animal testing, military contracts, criminal fines, etc. It was a terrific resource and there really ought to be an app for that.

3. Addie Zierman’s post is also a good excuse for me to get in a plug for — and a question about — my favorite brand of jeans. Diamond Gusset jeans are made in America. They used to be called “Diamond Cut” jeans, and before the rebranding they always advertised as being union made in the USA. Since they’re not saying that any more, I don’t know if that’s still the case — anyone know? “Made in the USA” isn’t important to me for jingoistic, tribal-chauvinism-masquerading-as-patriotism reasons, but it does let me know that the company has to comply with U.S. laws regarding wages, safety, etc. Plus they’re really comfortable — thanks to the famous diamond-shaped “gusset,” which avoids the old problem of having a knob of seams and stitches all coming together underneath exactly the same place where your anatomy all comes together too.

4. Hooray for actuaries! Grist’s RL Miller explains “Why the insurance industry won’t save us from climate change.” Miller’s right that insurance companies won’t be able to single-handedly solve this problem, but don’t let the pessimistic tone of the post distract you from the important — and useful — fact underlying Miller’s argument: The insurance industry is unanimously and unambiguously convinced that climate change is a huge problem.

Insurers and reinsurers have too much skin in the game to mess around with the lies and legends and delusions of climate denialists. They can’t afford to play partisan games with the data because their whole business model depends on getting the facts right. Corrupt politicians like Sen. James Inhofe can make a profit by repeating whatever lies his corporate donors ask him to say about an alleged “global conspiracy” perpetrating the “hoax” of climate change, but Inhofe and all the others promoting this conspiracy theory cannot explain why the insurance industry would commit suicide by participating in it. They have no economic incentive to lie and they have every economic incentive to get the data right. People like Inhofe or your Fox-addled relatives may reflexively reject anything said by Al Gore or NASA or the Sierra Club, but they have no basis for rejecting or resisting what the insurance industry is saying.

5. Hooray for actuaries, again! Here’s another place where insurance companies are preferring data and facts to right-wing myths and lies: They’re saying that putting more guns into schools will make schools more dangerous. The NRA may think it’s a great idea to sell more guns to teachers and custodians, but the insurance companies who cover those schools think the increased risk that would introduce is incalculably higher. Steve Benen writes:

In the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, far-right policymakers in a variety of states decided the appropriate response was bringing in more loaded firearms into schools, to be kept around children. This is precisely what the NRA recommended — schools will be safer, the group insisted, with armed school personnel — and policymakers acted accordingly.

But insurance companies don’t much care about political rhetoric, and have fiduciary responsibilities to consider. And wouldn’t you know it, the actuaries ran the numbers and decided insuring schools that may include gun-toting teachers is not a wise investment.

Remember, it’s not like EMC Insurance was lobbied to make this decision by the White House, Michael Bloomberg, or Gabrielle Giffords. Rather, the company made a straightforward business decision …

It’s a straightforward business decision “simply to protect the financial security of our company,” for an insurer to refuse to cover the risk of arming school zones. Just as it’s a straightforward business decision for those same insurers to urge, beg and plead with governments to do more to address the incalculable risks of climate change.

6. Speaking of “straightforward business decisions,” Charles Kuffner reminds us that “With Rick Perry, you always have to ask, ‘Who benefits?’” Why is the Texas governor incurring the wrath of hundreds of thousands of Texas women while telling “pants on fire” lies about their health care? Could it have anything to do with the fact that his sister’s company stands to profit handsomely from this new law?

7. Paul Louis Metzger on “White Theology, part I“:

A given theology might not address the issues of race. It may be the case that the theologian in question assumes that race has nothing to do with theology or that we live in a post-racialized society. To the contrary, theology had everything to do with America’s heinous, historic capitulation to racism and slavery. The Bible and theology were used as justifications for the promulgation and promotion of slavery. …

Yes. American “evangelical theology” is white theology. Its “Bible-based” approach relies on the peculiar clobber-text hermeneutic that arose in defense of America’s peculiar institution. That’s where it comes from. That’s what it’s for — what it was designed to do.

I’m looking forward to Metzger’s “part II.”


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  • LL

    Yeah, with Rick Perry, it’s always safe to assume that his primary motive is money. Getting more of it and keeping it. He only “helps” people if they can make it worth his while. Otherwise, he doesn’t give a damn about them. Poor people don’t have anything he wants, therefore, they are unimportant to him.

  • That gussett idea is brilliant, and I say that as a woman without the troublesome anatomy.

  • Carstonio

    I’m actually disappointed that Perry’s likely motive is nepotism. For me, a better story would be a different kind of selfishness for Perry, one rooted in male privilege.

  • Patter

    He must have enough. Word is he’s not going to run for guv again.

  • Lori

    People like Perry do not have the concept of “enough”. He’s simply moving on to another scheme. I assume he feels that he’s gotten as much out of being Governor as he can and so has no need to waste any more time on it. He’s collected the chips and now it’s time to cash some of them in.

  • P J Evans

    He’s in his third term, adn a lot of Texans are tired of him. He still wants to be President, though.

  • Yes, but male privilege and paternalism can be spun as “principle”. Nepotism, not so much.

  • Lori

    Exactly. Things being what they are he’d probably win if he ran again, but he’s have to work harder, and spend more money, for that win than he wants to. And of course if he actually did lose that would likely torpedo another presidential run*. It’s all risk, no real reward. Time to move on.

    *The fact that he wants to run again is baffling to me. I literally can’t imagine what he sees when he looks back on the last run that makes him think going again is a good idea.

  • AnonaMiss

    When I was in karate the pants of the gis always had those gussets, and they were the comfiest thing ever. I need to stabilize my weight and get some of those jeans.

  • Carstonio

    You mean like a business owner who decides to reject all wedding business rather than serve same-sex couples? I would only call that stance principled if such people established their own societies like the Plain People.

  • In other news, a new type of cigarette has been fitted with biodegradable filters which contain flower seeds. When the butt is discarded, it degrades in one month (compared to 15 years with traditional filters) and the seeds sprout from the tip.

    For some reason, I’m getting the same vibe from these as I do from low calorie, low carbohydrate beer.

  • Baby_Raptor

    *looks at cigarette she just lit*


  • Baby_Raptor

    He’s not running because he has bigger aspirations. Either president or a cushy job at a Rightwing “think”tank.

  • There’s an app called “Buycott” which may be somewhat helpful with item 2. It allows the user to select causes they’re for/against (there were a lot I was sympathetic to, many I was indifferent to, and no few that caused me active moral outrage), and has collections of companies related to the causes. Then it tries to trace back store items to their roots, and checks them against the selected campaigns.

    I haven’t messed around with it much, and it looks like some of the things that I’d prefer be done by a dedicated few people doing hard research are done by crowdsourcing.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sounds like a thing I’d want to at least look at–oh wait I have a dumbphone. Does it have a website?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Zierman’s article sings to me. Because that’s exactly my problem.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Well, it’s not a story, it’s real life.

  • http://buycott.com/campaign/all looks like the most informative page on their website, but a small amount of poking doesn’t reveal a way to actually use the thing without an app-capable device. :(

  • EllieMurasaki

    Woe. Thanks.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Matt Taibbi wrote an article (published in Rolling Stone back in October 2011) that pretty well laid out the fact that Perry’s sole motivation for everything is how much it can financially benefit him. He issued an executive order for all Texan 6th-Grade girls to get HPV innoculations. It was surely a coincidence that Merck, the company that makes the shots, contributed to his re-election campaign.

  • Lori

    Off topic, but something that we talked about here recently—there’s a petition up at Change.org asking McDonald’s to stop paying their employees on fee-laden pay cards. The bad press from the NY Times article already has them talking about making it an option instead of mandatory, so a bit more of a push is likely to actually bare fruit.

    Hopefully that will be the start of making it illegal not to offer an option and eventually result in pay cards being brought under the same fee rules as credit cards and regular accounts.

  • danallison

    The older people here remember that long before 1964, everyone knew cigarettes were bad for you. All the surgeon general did was create a group you could discriminate against with political correctness, and a new way for people to be self-righteous without actually doing anything.

  • danallison

    Nope. that’s so he can put his eye on the prize without distraction. He hasn’t even started.

  • aunursa

    I browsed through the Blue Pages book in order to see which conservative-owned companies I would want to patronize. And boycott lists like this one help me to learn which companies do business in Israel so that I can support them as well.

  • aunursa

    The fact that smokers are aware of the deleterious effects of cigarettes doesn’t prevent their smoke from occupying my lungs.

  • Alix

    And it doesn’t help that I’ve known only three smokers who ever actually cared that their smoke bothered me, and put it out or moved outside when asked. Every. Single. Other. Smoker. reams me out for daring to ask, politely, that they please not smoke inside/light up in the car/breathe smoke into my face. And that includes most of my family, to boot.

    Yet every time I bring that up I’m told such rude smokers don’t exist, and every smoker is totally polite and respectful of nonsmokers, and I’m thinking … we have rules banning smoking in places like restaurants because no, y’all don’t take it elsewhere, or throw shitfits when asked to. I’ve also known, again, only three smokers who’d ever even ask before lighting up in someone’s home or car – every other one I know just assumes they have the right to do so.

    One’s right to their drug of choice does not trump my right to not inhale their carcinogens.

    *cough* Sorry. Epic pet peeve.

  • Asha

    I have to say I agree. I have met plenty of smokers who complain about being taxed, or being asked to smoke outside, but don’t seem to be bothered by the fact they could hurt others. *shrugs*

  • Alix

    And, y’know, I have no problem with people smoking in their own spaces, including businesses that let people know so those like me who’d rather avoid the smoke can go elsewhere. I do have a problem with folks deciding that they can do whatever they want in my space or in spaces meant to be open to me (public spaces, for example, or family restaurants), when what they want to do is harmful. Especially when we’ve played the “ask them nicely” game before, and it’s never enough.

    My favorite example of all this was at my old college, where we had posted rules that one couldn’t smoke within ten feet of the doorways – so all the smokers would huddle right around the open doors right under those signs and either pointedly ignore or start harassing anyone who asked them to move. And by “harass” I don’t just mean insults and yelling, but following people around blowing smoke in their faces. All because they were asked to follow posted rules that would allow people to avoid their smoke.

    The entitlement most smokers express is enough to make me scream.

  • To the contrary, theology had everything to do with America’s heinous,
    historic capitulation to racism and slavery. The Bible and theology were
    used as justifications for the promulgation and promotion of slavery. …

    That’s largely so yestermillennium.

  • All the surgeon general did was create a group you could discriminate against with political correctness,

    -And that’s a good and important thing.

  • Alix

    (Second reply, sorry.)

    don’t seem to be bothered by the fact they could hurt others

    I think what angers me the most is that when you confront a smoker about this, ime they glibly admit that yeah, they know secondhand smoke is dangerous and all, and yeah they can see why people might want to avoid it, but they not only don’t care about trying to help people avoid it, they get angry at people trying to actually avoid their smoke. I’ve been yelled at even for just sidestepping smokers, because apparently avoiding their cloud of cancer is an insult.

    Look, if one has made the choice that the pleasure they get from smoking trumps their health, that’s fine. We all do a lot of stuff that’s not perfectly healthy. They have no right to then demand, essentially, that others make the same choice just ’cause they did.

  • It was surely a coincidence that Merck, the company that makes the shots, contributed to his re-election campaign.

    But how much?

  • That’s one reason I used the quotation marks.

  • Carstonio
  • I’m asthmatic – but my asthma attacks aren’t the standard wheezing. Instead, I have massive coughing fits – in which, yes, I’m struggling to breathe, but most people will just see me coughing.

    Which can lead to smokers blowing smoke in my face, giving me an asthma attack, and then complain about me coughing so “dramatically” because I’m clearly just being pointedly rude about them smoking…

  • Quite aside from the health hazards of second-hand smoke, and the fire hazards of cigarettes that haven’t been properly put out, there’s the fucking REEK.

    Seriously, cigarette smoke is one of the foulest smells there is. And thanks to the tar, it sticks to things!

    Imagine someone walking around carrying a plate of dogshit, attached to which is a tiny fan to enable them to blow the smell at passers-by. That’s what cigarettes are like for the rest of us.

    Come up with a cigarette that doesn’t spread staining, stinking smoke anywhere but into the smoker’s own lungs, and then we’ll talk.

  • I’m severely allergic to marijuana. Try getting a heavy weed smoker to understand that the last thing you need is a contact buzz.

  • When I moved out of home, some of my belongings had a layer of sticky yellow grime from the tar. If it hadn’t been so disgusting, I would have loved to have kept some of that as a visual device for how smoking can affect others.

  • I must have some kind of allergy to tobacco smoke, because inhaling more than a tiny breath of it gives me a splitting headache. I don’t get that reaction from incense, woodsmoke, or any other kind of smoke.

    Nor, for that matter, do I get headaches from other foul odours.

  • Alix

    I got rejected from a job working at a daycare when I was in high school because my clothes all reeked of cigarette smoke, and they understandably didn’t want all that reek affecting the little kids. I know this because the boss took me aside, all concerned, to tell me there was help to get me to quit smoking, and a teenager really shouldn’t be smoking that heavily.

    I have never smoked. It was all secondhand crap from my parents and my siblings.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    And I can’t wait until we legalize marijuana, too; then we can start ostracizing the assholes who think it’s okay to light up joints or take bong hits right next to you.

  • Carstonio

    In the 1970s, tobacco companies and their lobbies conducted “smokers’ rights” campaigns through magazine ads. These were calculated acts of concern-trolling, attacking the supposed extremist minority of “anti-smokers” and claiming that the vast majority of non-smokers supported the right to smoke. Most likely these ads were trying to forestall laws against smoking in public places.

  • Carstonio

    It’s the difference between eating pork rinds and slipping the rinds into someone else’s food.

  • Alix

    (Let’s attempt this again. Dammit, disqus, stop eating my comments.)

    But of course melodramatically blowing a huge cloud of smoke into someone’s face to set them coughing isn’t dramatic or uncalled-for at all!

    I get cluster headaches from cigarette and a few other kinds of smoke. (Marijuana – thanks, brother dearest – some incenses, not woodsmoke but some fires using certain accelerants, probably other stuff I don’t know about.) Tell this to a smoker as a reason why I’d like them to not smoke near me, and it’s eyerolls and loud sighs and skepticism or, if they do believe me, comments about what a pathetic whiner I am. “Take some aspirin, then.” That sort of thing.

    I almost wish cluster headaches on all of them. Let’s see how they like feeling like their eyeballs are being pushed out of their skulls by ice picks.

  • Alix

    Exactly. But in this case, they don’t have to do anything aside from indulge around me to slip things into my lungs.

  • Alix

    One jackass at my college baked pot brownies and snuck them onto the cafeteria dessert table without warning anyone. On the one hand, that’s the only time in my life I’ve ever slept for a full eight hours in a row. On the other hand, she had no idea why so many people – even folks who ordinarily like her brownies – were pissed at her.

    I’m just … I’m amazed this concept is so hard for some people to grasp.

  • Thankfully, I rarely had or have trouble sleeping for well over eight hours in a row.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    I know someone who doesn’t believe smoking causes lung cancer. His reasoning? Because not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer.
    (Not surprisingly, he smokes).

  • Alix


    I generally manage around four, then I’m awake for at least that, then I crash again for four-ish, rinse, repeat. It’s damn annoying, lemme tell ya.

  • Coming back from a family function at which my now-ex and I were two of the only three people we knew who didn’t smoke (and who weren’t smoking nearly the entire time) the lady at check-in at the airport asked us, “You know this is a non-smoking flight, right?” I cannot imagine how bad we must have smelled for her to ask us that question.