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Friday, July 27, 2007

Smoking Ban vs Gay Marriage

Before I even get off into my usual slur of bad analogies, half-baked jokes and other things that prevent me from forming a coherent verbal (but not written) sentence before 8am - I have no idea what I'm talking about. You hear that? My opinions on these subjects really don't matter because neither of them really affect me directly. Just like men and abortion rights, we can have an opinion, but we'll be seen as wrong just for having one since it's not our issue and it apparently never will be. Now that this is out of the way, I'll say my peace.

Hopefully at least SOME of you read my last piece, about the new Illinois smoking ban that still allows people to smoke, just nowhere where they'd LIKE to smoke. Like in places where there's shelter from the environment other than their own home. What was GOING to follow was a piece about the new cigarette taxes coming into legislation.

I can't begin to think of a better analog for "adding insult to injury."

Instead, certain reader responses in the RedEye this morning just got me BACK onto this original rant, and I felt I had to add more on because people STILL just don't get it: there should NOT be laws being created to ostracize people just based on the theory that secondhand smoke is really that dangerous. Again, I haven't seen any scientific proof. And even if there were test subjects in controlled environments who got cancer from extreme doses of secondhand smoke, I highly doubt that those experiments would reflect the REAL world, where secondhand smoke isn't that concentrated (even indoors) and the hundreds or thousands of other factors that determine when a person gets which cancer.

But no! The liberals (who, might I remind you, are taking away liberties rather than protecting them) are trying to argue that they can tell you where you can't smoke because they're afraid of dying from secondhand smoke. Fine. If you want to make the argument that a hypothetical scary result that hasn't been factually proven yet can be stopped by one of the things that might trigger it in limited circumstances (a long way of saying "you MIGHT get cancer from POSSIBLY secondhand smoke IF this all happened INDOORS and you ignore everyone OUTDOORS")...

...then I say that you have to also agree with the arguments to ban gay marriage.

That's right, I went there. I went there, took some photos, bought a T-shirt, came back, and showed you boring slideshows of it all. Smoking ban? Gay marriage ban. But why, Aaron? Why would you equate something as silly as not being able to smoke indoors with the lifelong struggle of the gay community to commit to each other for life in a federally-recognized ceremony?

Because it's the same argument being made against gay marriage that was made against smoking indoors: something that could potentially harm in a non-proven way if conditions were met. I'm taking about the "gay marriage destroys families" argument here.

I'm arguing that there's an equal percentage of people trying to prove that this seemingly-unlikely event is what triggered their horrible problem. Trying to pin secondhand smoke as the culprit for lung cancer in non-smokers is just as improbable as pinning gay marriage as the culprit for the lack of value of the sacrament of marriage itself.

After all, while being gay is NOT a choice that can be turned on or off, deciding to couple and deciding to want to get married is TOTALLY a choice. You can be gay and do whatever you want to other gay people for as long as you'd like - but when you make the choice to invade the institution of marriage, that apparently affects OTHER people in the bond of marriage and some see it as possibly destructive.

Likewise, while nicotine addiction is not as much of a choice (at serious levels of addiction), it is TOTALLY a choice to start smoking. And you can smoke whatever kinds of cigars and cigarettes you want for as long as you'd like - but when you make the choice to invade the air space of other people indoors, that apparently affects OTHER people in the room and some see it as possibly destructive to their health.

Can you agree on the similarities in the arguments?? One is just as ridiculous as the other! And yet the insane one about SMOKING is easily thrown together as actual legislation by the liberals, while the insane one about GAY MARRIAGE is a rallying point liberals AGAINST the same argument!

Sorry, liberals, but you can't have it both ways. One fauly argument becoming law should equate to more laws backed by the same argument - whether it's something you believe in or not. Smokers believe they have the right to smoke. You argue it threatens the health of others and besides, "smoking is bad for you anyway so maybe this'll help people to quit." Gays believe they have the right to get married. Others argue it threatens the sanctity of marriage and besides, "being gay is morally wrong anyway so maybe this'll help people to get right with God."

Are you starting to see how absurd it all is?

You don't have the right to quash someone's liberties because you're afraid people could get hurt and die. If that were the case all around for everything, people shouldn't be allowed to play sports because there's a high risk of steroid use, and people shouldn't be allowed to drive cars because they can't be trusted to not crash and kill people, and farmers shouldn't be allowed to grow peanuts anymore because so many people are allergic to them and they kill so many people.

You have the right to defend yourself from imminent danger.

You don't have the right to legislate a ban on anything that could potentially be dangerous.

Because people have the right to do dangerous things - to themselves especially, and potentially to others. You can drink alcohol. You can own a gun. You can drive a car. You can bungee jump and parasail and skydive. You can also smoke a cigarette.

And if people are going to take away that liberty for such a stupid reason, I'm just saying that the things THEY believe they have the liberty to do should be taken away just as easily.

And please don't try to turn this into me being a homophobe or against gay marriage. I have several gay friends and I'm not against gay marriage. If you read this piece properly, you'd see that I'm trying to NOT ban gay marriage by trying to get this smoking ban lifted due to the ridiculous reasoning that brought it into existance. It just usually gets a hot-button topic to get people to actually notice the NOT-hot-button topics.

Read more!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Liberals Taking Away More Liberties!

You know, I always thought that the word "liberal" was supposed to be about liberty - about making sure we citizens had the liberties and rights to live our lives as we saw fit without having the government come in and trample those rights.

Turns out I was wrong. Because everyone else seems to be wrong. These people we call "Liberals" - the Democrats who blue up the blue states with their anti-Republican stances - aren't the ones who are protecting our liberties. They're the ones taking them away. And Gov. Blagojevich just pulled down his pants and made a bowel movement all over another liberty on Monday.

The liberty to smoke.

Thanks to the new law signed by the governor, on Jan 1st, 2008, smoking will be restricted to private homes and outside (more than 15 feet from a public building entrance). No more smoking in taverns or restaurants with bar areas. Can't smoke in a dormitory, either. Can't smoke in a PRIVATE home if there's a business open to the public operating out of the same space.

Face it - your liberties have just been written off.

You know what? I'm not even a smoker. I loathe the smell of cigarette smoke, it doesn't take much for me to start coughing, and I'm sure several branches of my family tree have been affected by smokers and the cancers they PROBABLY got from all of their smoking. (Yea, that's right - I'm still not totally convinced. I mean I'm convinced that smoking can cause cancer - but at the rate of other things scientists keep coming up with that ALSO cause cancer, I'm not as sure you can pin any of it directly on the smoking itself.) Even so, I am fully aware that they have every right to smoke and do whatever they want to themselves for themselves. You know what I have the right to do?

Go stand somewhere else.

Which is why I can understand why some places SHOULD be non-smoking, or rather that they should have designated non-smoking areas and designated smoking areas. Workplaces, because there you don't have the right to go somewhere else. Eateries, so you can have the CHOICE to be in one or the other section. Gas stations, so you don't make things explode.

Other than that (and probably some other places, but I'm not here to make a list of hypothetical exceptions to my own rule), smoke wherever and whenever! And if I've got a problem with that, I can stand somewhere else! This goes right along with the idiots who don't realize the have the option to change the channel or station when something they don't like is on the TV or radio. Stop taking away our freedom of speech and expression and go practice your freedom of choice and choose something else! These are our liberties, people! Stop letting those false advocates of liberty take them away!

The article I'm reading has a quote from a 70-year-old named Wally who says, "It's the General Assembly being our new nanny. After this they'll ban foods that are too fatty. You'll have to ask the state what you can eat and drink - they'll start regulating hamburgers." Oh, Wally... I guess you don't know/remember that they've already started with the trans fats... Your burgers ARE being regulated, Wally.

For those of you who want to argue "secondhand smoke", I'm going to refer you back to "go somewhere else" and leave it at that. These people are the ones arguing that since it affects them and endangers their health that they should be able to make it illegal. So here's one (or two) of my famously-crazy analogies:

I'm standing on the street with one leg placed out at an angle. I'm not trying to trip anyone at all - I'm just placing my leg out because I feel like it and I have every right to stand how I choose to. It's not MY fault if you don't have the wherewithall to, um, LOOK AROUND and notice it and trip over my leg that's been in the same position for the past three minutes. Lots of people didn't trip, because they walked somewhere else and paid attention and were vigilant about where their feet were walking. Just because you got hurt somehow doesn't mean what I did was illegal. I didn't do in in a malicious manner and I wasn't attacking someone. You just tripped. I am not at fault.

Let's try something even closer. I'm standing on the street with my dog, on a leash. Everything's legal with that. Dog's not even pooping on the sidewalk. And then you come along, with your horrible allergy to dogs, and maybe you didn't notice the dog or you didn't think you'd wind up that close to the dog, but you breathe in some dog hair from my dog and start having an allergic reaction. You're going to potentially die, even though the risk is low because it was just errant dog hair or something and worst case scenario we call 9-1-1 and they pump you full of epinephrine or something. Even so, I didn't do anything wrong - YOU did by not paying attention to your OWN problems. I'm allowed to have a dog and follow the laws. You shouldn't be allowed to blame me for your allergic reaction. See a dog - get the hell away from it.

You don't get to declare it illegal to have a dog out in public because people on the street might have an allergic reaction.

I don't have any advice as to how to fix this. My initial thought was a call to every smoker to follow every disgusted-look-giving non-smoker they encounter, blowing as much smoke at them as possible. Maybe if you could smoke inside, you wouldn't be out here, blowing smoke at people. Of course, that gives them argument to be extreme jackasses and try to ban smoking entirely.

My second thought was a smoking protest - lining up about fifty smokers in a ring 15 feet away from the entrance to an important building (like the Sears Tower where I work) and just smoking. As everyone outside tries to get in, say you can't move, because you can't get within 15 feet of the door. At first I threw out this idea because preventing entrance to a public building is probably an arrestable offense, but then I remembered - the place has two entrances! (Three, if you count the Skydeck, where the tourists are supposed to go to get up to the top but always wander into the office entrances instead.)

I just don't know what else to offer other than my condolences. I mean, I'm not a smoker, so this really doesn't affect me much more than my smoking friends getting a little grumpier over having nowhere nice to smoke. Let's face it, in the summer and the winter, the extreme temperatures are NOT helpful to smokers. This law is even LESS helpful.

And don't even get me started on "but maybe this will encourage them to quit." That's not for the government to decide. That's not for you to decide with a vote, either. That's for them and ONLY them to decide. They have that liberty to choose what to start and when to quit.

At least they used to. Until the "liberals" decided otherwise.

Read more!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rats: A New Delicacy?

Gotta hand it to the Chinese. They're really taking advantage of the saying about every cloud having a silver lining. I'm sure we can all recall the famous line from the Simpsons (because that's more likely than knowing the fact without The Simpsons as guidance) that "the Chinese use the same word for 'crisis' as they do for 'opportunity'." All that aside, it really boils down to another age-old adage:

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

Well, the lemons being handed to the Chinese all started when a Hunan lake flooded, possibly as a result of the Three Gorges Dam project. This flooding displaced the home of a few billion rats, who are now plaguing areas in central China. And staying as true as possible to that adage, they're making lemonade - by selling the rats as a delicacy to Guangdong restaurants in the southern part of the country.

"Recently there have been a lot of rats ... Guangzhou people are rich and like to eat exotic things, so business is very good," the China News Service quoted a vendor as saying, referring to the capital of Guangdong province.

Some vendors had asked people from a village in Hunan province, near Dongting Lake, to sell them live rats, the Beijing News said today.

"The buyers offered 6 yuan for a kilo, but as to where they will sell the rats, they would not say," the newspaper quoted a local resident as saying, adding that villagers had to catch the rats live.

Yes, I suppose that's the REAL catch of it all - the rats they're catching have to be caught alive. No, not for some purpose of cooking them while they're still alive, but I guess it's more along the lines of "the fresher the better" - akin to giant lobster tanks in fancy restaurants so the customer knows his dinner delight wasn't made from frozen meat or something like that.

Maybe they've got nice big cages writhing with rats in these Guangzhou restaurants?

As for the 6 yuan for a kilogram of rats (about $0.79 in USD), the villagers have no problem with that price, since they claim it's easy to catch up to 150 kilos of rats in a night. There's just that many of them, destroying 1.6 million hectares of crops and possibly spreading disease. And the consumer end of the deal? The restaurants have been advertising "rat banquets" and charging the inflated price of 136 yuan per kilogram of tasty rat meat (almost $18) to the people of Guangdong.

And for those who can't get to a restaurant to enjoy this delicacy? Oh, the Chinese media has reported that citizens have posted several recipes for rat on the internet.

I hope a rat version of "lemonade" is one of those recipes...

The delicious original article Read more!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Waukegan - You Are Not Dead To Me!


The aldermen of Waukegan may keep their jobs in my eyes, for they held true to their words and did not back down from the swarm of protesters who used everything from prayer vigils to corporate boycotts to coerce the city councilmen away from their initial 7-2 ruling in favor of applying for the federal program which will train some police officers and give them the power to set the deportation process in motion. Even though the hall only had enough seats for 200 people, of course the city had to sell 400 tickets to the meeting. This led to over 100 people having to stand in the room and hallways, hoping for a seat to open up. This is in addition to the hundreds outside, still protesting for and against the measure.

The new count? 8-2 in favor of applying for the federal program!

The extra vote came from the Mayor, also in favor of applying for the program. While I have not yet confirmed this, I suspect that the two "nay"s were the same as the first vote, those two aldermen who claimed it would lead to racial profiling or that it would frighten even the legal immigrants and they wouldn't be able to trust the police.

While it IS true that the ability to deport extends not just to illegal immigrants, but also to legal immigrants - that only applies to those who are arrested for heinous crimes like murder, rape and some drug-related felonies.

So hey, legal immigrants - don't murder or rape or smuggle cocaine! Got it??

That's all it takes! Don't commit these crimes! I'm more than willing to admit that harsher laws don't really have that desired effect to deter criminals from committing those crimes - but you have to admit that once deportation is on the line for immigrants (both legal and illegal), they're hopefully going to think twice before KILLING SOMEONE. I mean "think thrice", because if you're going to kill someone without a second thought, you don't deserve deportation - you deserve the death penalty.

Maybe now that we've shown that SOME City Councils out there have the balls to follow through with their decision to apply for this great federal program that cuts down on the red tape and paperwork, we can get some other cities with high illegal immigration populations to apply for it as well.

This is a trend that needs some momentum, and we need to keep it going bigger and stronger. Maybe someday major cities like Chicago will be able to participate and we can finally start ENFORCING the laws that ALREADY EXIST!

Write your City Council! Tell them to apply for 287(g) and get your local law enforcement this training program!

An article ringing in the good news! Read more!

Back to Waukegan - Voting AGAIN?

This is just ridiculous. I thought I could be proud of Waukegan, a city so close to the metropolis of Chicago where I live, for voting 7-2 a while back to approve the application process for federal training for their law enforcement to gain the ability to deport illegal immigrants. And it turns out that they caved in to the protesters and nay-sayers and "scared Latino community" and there's actually going to be a re-vote.

If Waukegan's City Councilmen wind up changing their vote as a result of protests and claims of "racial profiling" - they no longer deserve to be aldermen.

Here's the deal, people. This vote doesn't mean that all of the police get to go around and bust into your house and demand to see a green card or they're kicking your ass out to Honduras or Mexico or wherever you're from. This vote doesn't even mean that the local law enforcement officers are going to be trained at all! This vote is about filling out a freakin' application!

Guess what? The federal government could say "no" to them!

Furthermore, if the application goes through, it's not even like every cop is going to have this power and they're all gonna be on the lookout for anyone darker than Screech from Saved by the Bell so they can harass and deport on sight. The application is to get federal training in deportation for TWO OFFICERS. Which means that there wouldn't be a lynch mob roaming the streets looking for anyone speaking Spanish. It means that when a criminal gets arrested for a serious crime and turns out to be an illegal immigrant, instead of having to send notification to the I.C.E. in Washington D.C. and having to wait for paperwork to get filed, which is often too late - now they can start that paperwork at the source, in the local police agency.

It's to get rid of criminals who are AGAIN breaking the law - first by entering our country illegally, and then by committing another heinous crime against our citizens and getting caught for it.

But the Latino community is still in an uproar. "They're going to racially profile us," I can hear them whine.

Hey! If you're here legally - and you're not breaking the law by committing violent crimes - you've got NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT! The fact that thousands of Latinos are signing these petitions and complaining means their either they're too dumb to realize that if they don't break the law, they're not going to be arrested and deported - or they're mostly comprised of criminals because they're here illegally and they don't want anyone to catch them and deport them for it!

Every time there's a possibility for a law to catch a new group of criminals, look at those who are against it. There's a good chance those people are against it because they're going to be found guilty of it - which means they have the most to lose.

That's not racially profiling. That's LOGIC.

The Waukegan City Hall only has enough seating for a few hundred people. Over a thousand are expected to show up in protest. Only those people with tickets are going to be allowed in.

I say - they should have to have a ticket and a GREEN CARD or other proof of citizenship.

Only the legal citizens of a city should be allowed to help decide how their city is governed and ruled and protected. You can't let the criminals make the laws; there wouldn't be any.

I support 287(g) and call upon the City Council of Waukegan to make the right decision.

The one they already made.

A few articles about the vote tonight:
This article
And this article
Okay, one more article

Read more!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Chicago Cabbies Suck Out Loud - And It Costs Them!

It's only July, but cab drivers here in Chicago have already amassed 2,600 citations for the year - bringing in a total of $280,246 in fines as revenue for the city. These citations and fines come from a variety of reasons, such as unclean/damaged vehicles, reckless driving, abusive behavior and my personal pet peeve, talking on cell phones. That's right, cab drivers in Chicago are NOT allowed to use cell phones while driving, even if they use a hands-free device to do so. It's against the law, and if a call is made to complain about a driver talking on a cell phone, that's a $200 citation and a 5-day license suspension for the first offense. A second offense results in a $750 fine and 29 days of suspension.

If you think I'm here to complain about the "harsh penalties" and rally in favor of cabbies - you're dead wrong.

I'm calling the citizens of Chicago to unite and TAKE ACTION and get more of these citations going!

These are the strings that came attached to a cab rate hike that was given to the cabbies in 2005. City Hall allowed for what amounts to an 11.7% rate increase based on things like the base fare, additional passengers and the general per-mile rate. In return, drivers got a few added sanctions to make sure that the rate increase was worth it to the customers. They can be cited and fined for everything from a bad attitude to an untidy cab to letting a non-cabbie drive the cab. And, of course, talking on a cell phone. Here's a rundown of the citation count, revenue generated and average cost per citation as of June:

Discourtesy - 1,197 citations - $83,030 in fines (Average: $69 each)
Reckless Driving - 1,086 citations - $39,696 in fines (Average: $37 each)
Operating Unclean/Damaged Vehicles - 227 citations - $19,015 in fines (Average: $84 each)
Cell Phone Use - 150 citations - $13,790 in fines (Average: $92 each)
Abusive Behavior - 139 citations - $12,779 in fines (Average: $92 each)
Overcharging Customers - 39 citations - $2,580 in fines (Average: 66 each)
Allowing a Non-Licensed Public Chauffeur to Operate the Cab - 49 citations - $8,325 in fines (Average: $170 each)

Only 150 citations for cell phone usage?? I had never known that you could simply call 311 with the cab number to file a complaint about cab drivers using their cell-phones, even if they're hands-free, to get one of these citations issued (and get them suspended for 5 days). If I had called in every cabbie this year alone that I watched talking on a cell phone - just the ones I've been IN this year - that number could probably have already hit 200.

That's why I'm encouraging ANYONE in Chicago who uses a taxi to be vigilant and start calling these in. I'd held off because while I knew it was wrong for a driver to use a cell phone while driving, I had no idea that the hands-free was also illegal when it comes to cabbies, and the punishment that gets doled out as a result of a complaint. Now that I know this is a Chicago fact, as well as HOW to report these cabbies (best done through 311 and not the taxi's service number printed in the taxi) - I'm going to start.

We need a change. Cabbies are already reportedly on the march about raising the fare by another 10% due to "rising gas prices" - foolishly not realizing that higher gas prices means people are more likely to take a cab rather than drive, which gives them more business and more opportunities to make money. Let's try and get them to adhere to the sanctions they agreed to back in 2005 for the LAST rate hike before we even consider for one nanosecond the idea of raising their rates.

After all, what's the point of raising the rates to use a taxi if they're just going to keep giving more and more of it back to the government to pay for all of their citations for breaking their sanctions?

The original article with the numbers Read more!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Wal-Mart and Life Insurance

Karen Armatrout died in 1997. She was an employee of Wal-Mart at the time. Earlier, and without Karen's knowledge, Wal-Mart took out a life insurance policy on her. When she died in 1997, Wal-Mart collected on the insurance money. As it turns out, Wal-Mart has placed life insurance policies on about 350,000 of their employees. Michael Myers (no relation to the horror-movie character or Canadian actor), an attorney in Texas, estimates that Wal-Mart collected on the life insurance of 75 to 100 policies taken out on Florida employees. He's trying to turn Armatrout's case into a class-action lawsuit.

Wal-Mart filed for these life insurance policies back in 1993, for all of their full-time employees between the ages of 18 and 70 who were taking part in the medical benefits program. They were supposedly given notification and the opportunity to opt out. They stopped taking out the policies in 1995, and due to the fact that they were losing money with this program, canceled the policies in 2000.

So here's where judge and jury will step into it - was there wrongdoing? Who's to blame if there was?

I say Wal-Mart is not at all at fault here. I'm not even seeing fault in the first place, except possibly with the insurance companies selling the life insurance policies. The whole problem people seem to be finding with Wal-Mart in this case is I guess either that the employees didn't know about the policies, or that they think Wal-Mart is trying to "profit off the deaths of others" or something.

First off, they obviously didn't profit from this venture, which is why they canceled all of their outstanding policies in 2000. I can completely understand where Wal-Mart is coming from with having them in the first place. I started working for this company about a year ago. When they hired me, on my first day we went into the conference room (there was another guy hired at the same time) and the boss pretty much went over the company policies with us. One thing he mentioned is that the company is going to do everything they can to make sure we stay in these jobs. It's not a matter of "one complaint and you're out" or threatening firings if numbers start slipping. He made us aware of how much money is spent on advertising for the open positions, the time spent by employees to interview when they could be doing other profitable things, and the time spent training someone new - not to mention the profit lost in these positions which were empty between the last person leaving and one of us filling that spot.

Employees are expensive to obtain, train, and even more expensive then lost. I've clawed my way up in this business, though more laterally than vertically. I'm by no means a supervisor or manager, but I now have knowledge of many things in the company, and have a lot of people reliant on my work and the information I know and the files I keep. I finally feel that I have job security because firing me would be losing so much information, having to start over on huge deals and projects, and training a full replacement would either take several months or several new hires.

That in mind, if I were to die - the company would still be out lots of money. Why wouldn't they consider a life insurance policy on me? Or rather - the idea of one. I'm not sure if my value to the company is really worth a life insurance package, but in a larger scale, I can totally see it happening. Large companies take policies out on VPs and other executives. Does it really matter if the employee knows? Not really. The company wouldn't want to let them know how much or how little they're worth, and not everyone would respond calmly to finding out their dead body is now worth money.

Which brings us to the policy-sellers. I don't know much about life insurance policies or that entire industry at all. I don't know how legal it is to have a policy on someone without their signature. I would think that a policy on my head would be something I would have to sign off on. My realist logic, though, says that is probably not the case. I don't have to know who's profiting from my death - it's their insurance, anyway. If I were a director of a movie, I could see myself maybe taking out a policy on an actor or something. If I stand to lose money based on someone dying - I don't care if you personally know them or not, you'd want that investment to be safe. Life insurance doesn't sound like a bad idea.

Do I really see a lawsuit here? No.

I just see an overreacting and emotional loved one who's lashing out at someone who seems better off in some way as a result of that person dying. And if they want it as a class-action lawsuit, it's just a larger number of emotional people.

The company didn't profit. It just helped cushion the blow of the financial burden of rehiring and money lost as a result of that employee's death. Families take out policies on loved ones to help pay for the financial burden of funeral costs. A decrease in sales and interviewing schedules and training programs are the funeral costs to a company - they should have the right to take out policies to help with their burdens as well.

Of course, I could be wrong. I don't know the whole legal aspect of it all. I'm just a person making logical assumptions and what my brain thinks is right and wrong. Let me know if you think otherwise or have more information on the legality of it all.

The original article Read more!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Meat-Eaters Deserve the Tax Breaks!

Everybody poops.

It's such a well-known fact, they actually made a book with that title. Well, the creation of the book is more for toilet-training purposes, but the fact remains. A corollary to that fact would have to be the statement that "everybody farts" as well. Which is where our story really focuses. It's a fact that you do have to keep in mind - not that everybody poops, mind you, but that everybody farts. The follow-up fact to that is that while everybody does indeed fart, NOT everybody's farts contain methane gas. You have to keep that fact in mind as well, because there's a big to-do about methane gas in the world today. It's apparently one of those huge factors in greenhouse effects and global warming - those things that everyone seems to be taking very seriously.

So seriously, in fact, that they got TAXES involved in it. And nothing could be more serious than taxes. So even though we're talking about farts, let's try to keep our serious faces on. I know mine is certainly on, because I am taking on my old nemesis, PETA, with these facts that I actually did research and had to use mathematics!

This whole ordeal started about a month ago, when I read a letter from Ingrid Newkirk addressed to Washington D.C. politicos saying that just as hybrid car-buyers are getting a tax break, vegetarians deserve a tax break as well.

That's how it all started. PETA's president decided to compare the ecological benefits of purchasing a hybrid car (as opposed to a "gas-guzzler") to the supposed ecological benefits of eating vegetables (or rather "not eating meat" - since I know vegetarians don't actually have to eat vegetables, they just don't eat meat). Newkirk got this particular bee in her bonnet after the U.N. released a study saying that the cattle industry (or rather the collective of "large ruminants", which are animals with four stomachs) is the biggest producer of methane gas in the United States.

That's what the study said. I'm not going to refute their research or their study. Not at all. The first stomach of four in ruminants is where a lot of methane gets created, and cows are known for releasing methane gas. Just keep in mind that everybody farts, and human farts can contain methane as well. Trust me, it'll come back up later, I promise. I believe the study said that the American cattle industry produces 5.5 million metric tons of methane gas. Okay, that's our number one producer of methane, we admit it. So where does Newkirk take this fact?

She says that because vegetarians DON'T eat meat, they're NOT contributing to this "number one problem" and therefore deserve a tax break. Never mind the fact that it would be impossible to prove for a fact that one is a vegetarian (she suggests sales receipts that show no meat, which could easily be the one shopping trip you take that DIDN'T involve beef galore) - that's the entire basis behind her "vegetarians deserve a tax break" argument.

Now it's time to prove how backwards her logic really is.

Okay, so all of these cows produce a lot of methane. According to PETA, they'd love to see all of these animals roam free, rather than be cooped up, bred, and then slaughtered for their delicious tasty meat (or their lovely skin, or precious tallow, or everything else you can do with a dead cow - and that's a lot, just ask a Native American, since I'm told they were able to find a use for every single part of what they killed). So thanks to PETA, now only are we not EATING the cows, but they're free to roam, have sex, and have baby cows, and thus we still have a helluva lot of cows, farting and producing their deadly methane.

Smooth move, Ingrid. You've killed us all. I'm pretty sure that "killing us all" was never tax-deductible.

Do you know what omnivores like myself and the rest of the meat-eating population do? We eat cows. Which means we make cows dead. Do you know what dead cows don't do? They don't fart or produce methane gas. They just provide us with tasty eats. You know what foods humans eat does NOT produce methane? Meats. In fact, the more meat you eat, the less methane you produce, and the less chance you have of producing methane at all whilst farting. Which everyone does. (Glad you remembered!)

Seems to ME that the one who's doing the most to bring down the level of cow-produced methane gas would be the people killing cows and eating them. That's US, the meat-eating omnivores. Not YOU, the vegetarians. Seems like WE're the ones who deserve the tax break, which we could easily prove with sales receipts because they'd SHOW we eat meat and are killing all those pesky methane-producing cows!

I eat cows - to save the planet. (I should really make a T-shirt that says that. Or maybe "EAT A STEAK - SAVE THE WORLD" or something.)

Now that I've thoroughly put down Ingrid Newkirk's plan to get PETA members tax breaks and stolen those ill-gotten tax breaks for the meat-eating crowd like myself, it's time we kept pressing forward. PETA thinks they're the only ones who can find research, twist it completely, and prove a horrible point for their cause. Well, Newkirk - TWO can play at that game! It took me a while, but I finally got a lot of questions answered about human flatulence and what levels of methane WE produce as non-ruminant mammals. It's true - we don't produce NEARLY the levels of methane as our four-stomached dinners, but I stumbled across some information that was VERY interesting.

Remember how I told you that while everybody farts, not everyone produces methane gas?

Good. Here's where the fun begins. It turns out that while fats and proteins produce very little gas and little chance of methane - the highest producers of gas are things like vegetables, fruits, beans, whole wheat, bran and diet foods that contain sorbitol. Things that vegetarians like to eat! There was a study I found that was about testing the isotopes of methane to see if human-produced methane had a "fingerprint" to discern it from environmental methane. The real interesting part of the experiment was the unintended result that the colonic methane gas of omnivores was on average 4,000 times less than the colonic methane gas of vegetarians.

Let me repeat: the average methane production in an omnivore was 15 parts-per-million, and in a vegetarian it was 60,000 parts-per-million.

Not only was the methane concentration higher, but a vegetarian diet, as I just mentioned, contains many more gas-producing foods. The average human produces between 0.5 and 1.5 liters of colonic gas every day, and farts between 10 and 20 times a day. Let's say that the average human with the average diet produces the average amount of gas each day, so about 1 liter. The average vegetarian produces gas on the higher end of the spectrum, so let's guess 1.5 liters per day.

Here's where the math comes in. I'll make it quick for you.

One liter of gas weighs about 1.3 grams, or 0.0013 grams.
One one-millionth of that (parts-per-million) is 0.0000000013 kilograms.

We factor in the 1 liter for an omnivore, 1.5 liters for a vegetarian, and the respective methane gas parts-per-million, and we get:

Daily methane for an omnivore: 0.0000000195 kg
Daily methane for vegetarians: 0.000117 kg

Annual methane for an omnivore: 0.0000071175 kg
Annual methane for vegetarians: 0.042705 kg

Now then, we've got about 6.6 billion people living on the Earth nowadays (give or take a few million). Let's assume that a worst-case scenario is that PETA wins and everyone in the world is now a vegetarian. (That's right, Newkirk, that's the WORST-case scenario!) Or the best-case scenario is that everyone who reads this article winds up either convincing every vegetarian on the planet to eat meat (or just kills them). Either way, best-case scenario is 0% vegetarian, worst-case is 100% vegetarian. Let's see what happens to the precious planet now!

Annual methane production worldwide if all were omnivorous: 46,976 kg
Annual methane production worldwide if all were vegetarian: 281,853,000 kg

(This "metric ton" that the U.N. report uses is 1,000 kilograms, so:)

Annual methane production worldwide if all were omnivorous: 47 metric tons
Annual methane production worldwide if all were vegetarian: 281,853 metric tons

Smooth move, Ingrid. You've once again killed us all.

Okay, in reality even 281,853 metric tons can't compare to the 5.5 million metric tons produced by the cattle industry. That's why I made the previous point about how we omnivores are working to kill and eat those global-warming bovines. PETA would rather let them all roam free and never pay for their environment-destroying flatulence. I don't believe in "ruminant amnesty" programs. I say they all get rounded up and deported - to my stomach.

But doesn't that math prove the point that vegetarians are through and through more a danger on the methane scale? They produce more in parts-per-million, eat more foods that produce that deadlier colonic gas, and are doing everything to STOP killing the main cause of the United States's methane problem! I say it's meat-eaters who deserve the tax breaks! PETA and Newkirk can go suck a fart-inducing carrot!


(Yea, THAT'S the T-shirt I need! Too bad it's hard to print all of the rest of this math on the shirt that proves the point. Oh well, at least you read it and if you buy the shirt, you could at least inform all those who question the logic.)

Here are some of my resources:
PETA's backwards-logic letter asking for vegetarian tax breaks
Vegetarian diets produce more gas
Vegetarians produce more methane
That lousy study attacking the cattle industry

Check back, because I may have a link to buy a T-shirt very soon!

In fact, Check out my store! I'll add more later, after some polling!

Read more!