Is Your Boss “Insane?”

This was sent to me for posting – what I find more telling than the facts presented here is that someone took the time to create this, and that there are people out there that many statistics about workplace dominance, stress, and so forth. What the hell are we doing to ourselves? Even a stressed vegan could be in trouble if their workplace is causing panic: a 23 percent increased risk of heart attack was found in stressed workers.

Below is the infographic from


A Post-Religion World

Ah, Facebook. A place to share photos, silly photos of cats, and bash religion. While the Dalai Lama wasn’t necessarily “bashing” religion, his status update last week raised a few eyebrows and prompted this excellent io9 article, “Dalai Lama tells his Facebook friends that religion ‘is no longer adequate’.” When I shared the article on my Facebook, I garnered quite a few likes as well (though, admittedly, I have a lot of non-religious friends). The specific words of the Dalai Lama were, to be clear:

All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.

As io9 (who, if you are not aware, are basically the futuristic/sci-fi/transhumanist wing of Gawker/Gizmodo/Lifehacker) points out, this is sounds an awful lot like Sam Harris with his morality-should-be-decided-by-science approach. Hear, hear!

As the Alaska Dispatch (yeah, huh?) points out, tweets from the spiritual leader mirror this sentiment:

(Side note: WordPress did a damn good job of those tweet embeds! More on that here.)

So where do we go from here? Comments from my friend circle find the Dalai Lama’s remarks not altogether surprising, but I think that’s also because many of us in America typically look at him as a source good quotes, not a spiritual leader like millions of other Buddhists around the world. And at the same time, is Buddhism not a religion? By some counts, sure, by others it’s merely a philosophical practice, or a way of living. As The Onion so succinctly put, “No One Was Murdered Because Of This Image” which indeed includes the Buddha being “violated.” Sadly we cannot say the same for satire of Muhammed.

In light of the recent outrage about a mere comedic film, which included mass rioting, injuries, and death, how much longer can we tolerate extreme faith? Or any faith, for that matter; the moment we begin to criticize irrational, god-first-and-foremost, “praise be to him” thinking, the moment we can speak clearly about much of this violence, be it from an Islamic or other religious basis. From the NY Times article:

Raising banners with Islamic slogans and denouncing the United States and Israel, Iraqis called for the expulsion of American diplomats from the country and demanded that the American government apologize for the incendiary film and take legal action against it’s creators.

This is simply ridiculous, and highlights the continuing issue with Islamic politics and their faith-crazed viewpoints. Trying to be as unbiased as possible here: holding an entire country accountable for the offensive film created by a few within it, is just ludicrous.

At least some Libyans disagree, as evinced by these photos. And I think many of us see these events unfold as evidence that a portion of Muslims are just wacky, deluded into violence by some promise that it will bring them salvation in the end if they live up to the creed of following the Quran as they interpret it. But I think we need a broader picture: the same faith that they use to fuel these attacks is the faith that causes irrational belief in any god, be it Allah, Yahweh, or Jesus. We have to confront the source: that faith, and religion, are no basis to make these moral and real-world decisions when the teachings inscribed within their books are from an archaic time long ago.

Sam Harris puts it well in his TED Talk from 2010, where he drives home the point that we don’t tolerate “differences of opinion” in other areas of science, where facts are facts and bullshit is bullshit. So why should we do it with morality?

[T]here are right and wrong answers to questions of human flourishing. And morality relates to that domain of facts. It is possible for individuals and even for whole cultures, to care about the wrong things. Which is to say, it’s possible for them to have beliefs and desires that reliable lead to needless human suffering. Just admitting this will transform our discourse about human morality. […]

We can no more respect and tolerate vast difference in notions of human wellbeing than we can tolerate vast differences in the notions of how disease spreads, or the safety standards of buildings and airplanes. We simply must converge on the answers we give on the most important questions in human life. And to do that, we have to admit that these questions have answers.

Photo: Wikipedia

Regarding The Economy and Net Worth

From The NY Times, Monday:

The recent economic crisis left the median American family in 2010 with no more wealth than in the early 1990s, erasing almost two decades of accumulated prosperity, the Federal Reserve said Monday.

A hypothetical family richer than half the nation’s families and poorer than the other half had a net worth of $77,300 in 2010, compared with $126,400 in 2007, the Fed said. The crash of housing prices directly accounted for three-quarters of the loss.

Then, from James Carville, on CNN:

To put it bluntly, the middle class in this country has been screwed, blued and tattooed.

Rising health care costs, job insecurity, declining real estate values, massive cuts to public education and public safety (no Mitt, we don’t need fewer police officers, we actually need more of them and yes, the federal government has a large hand in this.)

It is a depressing state of affairs when about two-thirds of our fellow citizens are caught in an economic trap that is wrecking their lives financially and emotionally.

He continues to call out the wealthy, the 1% (thank you, Occupy Wall Street, for this mantra) for their inaction, their carelessness, and their greed that has caused this country to spiral out of control economically. Glad to see some mainstream coverage of this on the web. This iReport on “net worth” has stories from real families about their situations – many are dire. Again, Carville’s words are better than mine. Here, he asks, who is doing something, anything?

Academics: Have you ever heard of the Princeton Center for Middle Class Studies? Not hardly.

The press: There is much more coverage on George Zimmerman’s wife than on the destruction of the middle class in this country.

The lobbyists: Give me a break. When was the last time you heard of a lobbyist for the middle class? The point here is that we are reading the most significant economic story of our time and its effect on the psyche of the people who should know better is minimal.

In the words of Warren Buffett, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

The big scandal in America is that our middle class is shrinking, and no one seems to care. Maybe someone somewhere somehow should consider doing something else.

Photo: Dr John 2005

What’s Your Slavery Footprint?

A shocking but relevant site has popped up recently: Slavery Footprint, which, after a series of lengthy questions, calculates how many “slaves” you’ve used through the use of food, electronics, clothing, and more. The calculation is intense, and starts as follows:

Your TOTAL SLAVERY FOOTPRINT represents the number of forced laborers that were likely to be involved in creating and manufacturing the products you buy. This is determined based on information regarding the processes used to create these products as well as investigations of the countries in which these stages of production take place for known slave labor (within these specific processes.) This number is compiled from multiple individual product scores (see below).

The “score” for each product is compiled through looking at what they determine as the minimum number of slaves (defined as “[a]nyone who is forced to work without pay, being economically exploited, and is unable to walk away”) forced to produce a generic product of a certain type. “Generic” however, actually means pretty specific – you can track the slavery all the way down to how many smart phones versus video game consoles you have, or how much cumin you season your food with (me: a lot) versus how many mangoes you eat. The data comes from our government (see this report) as well as the International Labor Organization, Transparency International, and Freedom House.

My number was 46, which, according to my Facebook friends, seems to be average. The biggest culprit? It wasn’t electronics or food…it was clothing. Now, thrift shop sourcing wasn’t an option, but I have to admit, the percentage of clothes I have with “made in [insert Asian country here]” is probably high. I guess I’m paying the price, literally and figuratively, with such a high “slave” count. The largest areas include India, Zambia, Australia (really?!), and China, who’s record is grim:

Coal mines, brick kilns and factories in the poorest regions of China operate illegally, using much of China’s estimated 150 million internal migrants as slaves. Raw materials from slavery include: Acrylic, Cashmere, Coal, Cotton, Gold, Graphite, Leather, Limestone, Linen, Mercury, Nylon, Pearl, Quartz, Silicon, Silk, Silver, Tin, Tungsten, Wool, Pig Iron, Lead, Lithium, Polyester

Luckily, the website has a socially integrated “Take Action” page, complete with badges and games for the younger ones, and volunteer opportunities for those of us who can. You can search a company directory and send a well-worded e-mail to anyone from Apple to Calvin Klein with the click of a button that asks them to stop funding slavery immediately. They’ve released a mobile app, and are asking people to donate to Free The Slaves, a group working primarily in Africa to end slavery and stop business from sourcing slave-produced products, as well as draft anti-slavery legislation, and research what methods will work to end slavery, “forever” as they boldly state.

Thanks to @aprilf for the heads up on this incredible site.

Occupy Louisville In Full Swing, Huge March In Solidarity

I had the privilege, pleasure, and extreme joy of being part of a 200-person march up and down Bardstown Road today, all part of the the October 15 Global Day of Action, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

Occupy Louisville, those brave souls who have been camping out at Jefferson Square Park for almost two weeks now, continue to organize and get Louisville motivated to take action, to fight corporate greed, to take back “our street” and demand accountability. Protests are happening all over the world and I was so proud to be a part of one today.

Below are a few pictures and videos of the grandiose event, which drew young and old, black and white, and everyone in between. We all united, screamed our lungs out, and showed Louisville, indeed, there are people who care. I am proud to be one of those people and stand behind the millions of others who back Occupy Wall Street and all the Occupations around the world.

This is the time for action. It’s time for you to get involved. Find an occupation near you (Occupy Together), get online and share the hell out of #ows posts or news coverage of the occupations. Don’t be embarrassed to tell your friends why this matters to you – we are the 99%, and that’s a hell of a lot more people than the tiny 1% who control forty percent of the wealth in this country.