The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

 But flammable underwear seemed like such a hot idea ...
But flammable underwear seemed like such a hot idea …

Did you see the Oscars last night? Me neither. Having a complete stranger tell me how much they love me, when they really just love the $10 I paid for the damn ticket, is not as heartwarming as these professional sociopaths seem to think. Add in the fact that they expect me to make a time commitment that lasts longer than most dates, and that includes the sex, and you can see why I might find something else to do with my time. I rearranged my sock drawer and cheered on the Blackhawks. Also there’s the Les Miz factor. Anyone who has anything to do with Les Miz is too stupid to be supported. It’s a rule. Look it up. Seriously, this is a musical for people who thought that Cats had too much plot and oatmeal has too much flavor.

While ignoring Les Miz is always a good idea, it’s not the only one around. For example Montana just passed a Kill It and Grill It law which legalizes the cooking of roadkill.

Kill it and grill it.

Montana may now be the ultimate drive-through destination for adventurous foodies thanks to a new law that allows residents to consume any animals they kill.

The bill, which passed 19-2, allows deer, elk, moose and antelope that have been killed by a car to be harvested for food.

State Rep. Steve Lavin, who introduced the bill, initially included all animals, but Lavin eliminated sheep, bobcats and bears to offset any financial incentive to intentionally hit them.

“We have some animals whose parts are worth quite a bit: sheep, bobcats and bears,” Lavin told the New York Daily News. “So I reduced the bill down to deer, elk, moose and antelope. The bill is confined to those four animals for that purpose. Their parts aren’t worth what sheep or bear parts are worth.”

Lavin, who is also a state trooper, introduced the law because he thought people were missing out on a potential food source.

“As people know, people hit a lot of animals on roadways, and I mean a ton of them,” Lavin said, according to “There’s a lot of good meat being wasted out there.”

The Montana Department of Transportation reported more than 1,900 wild animal–vehicle crashes in 2011, and nearly 7,000 carcasses were collected from the side of road, ABC News reported.

Before the bill passed, Lavin said the Highway Patrol would call food banks to pick up the roadkill carcasses — even though that was in violation of the law.

“Usually when we call them, they are not available or they aren’t logistically able to come out and get it,” Lavin told the Daily Interlake newspaper.

There can be some dangers with eating roadkill — especially if you don’t know when the animal was killed. However, experts say if an animal was recently killed but otherwise healthy, the meat is actually much fresher than what you might find in a grocery store, reported.

Ah yes, nothing can go wrong here. The reason roadkill is illegal to eat in most states is because too many people like Les Miz. Sorry, what I mean is that they have no way of telling whether or not the meat is diseased or not. Wait until some rube kills his family with e-coli and then all hell will break loose.

This becomes a legitimate concern when you find out that our government is about to bomb the Commonwealth of Guam with toxic mice.

No I am not high.

Dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam’s jungle canopy. They are scientists’ prescription for a headache that has caused the tiny U.S. territory misery for more than 60 years: the brown tree snake.

Most of Guam’s native bird species are extinct because of the snake, which reached the island’s thick jungles by hitching rides from the South Pacific on U.S. military ships shortly after World War II. There may be 2 million of the reptiles on Guam now, decimating wildlife, biting residents and even knocking out electricity by slithering onto power lines.

More than 3,000 miles away, environmental officials in Hawaii have long feared a similar invasion — which in their case likely would be a “snakes on a plane” scenario. That would cost the state many vulnerable species and billions of dollars, but the risk will fall if Guam’s air-drop strategy succeeds.

“We are taking this to a new phase,” said Daniel Vice, assistant state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific Islands. “There really is no other place in the world with a snake problem like Guam.”

Brown tree snakes are generally a few feet (1 meter) long but can grow to be more than 10 feet (3 meters) in length. Most of Guam’s native birds were defenseless against the nocturnal, tree-based predators, and within a few decades of the reptile’s arrival, nearly all of them were wiped out.

The snakes can also climb power poles and wires, causing blackouts, or slither into homes and bite people, including babies; they use venom on their prey but it is not lethal to humans.

The infestation and the toll it has taken on native wildlife have tarnished Guam’s image as a tourism haven, though the snakes are rarely seen outside their jungle habitat.

The solution to this headache, fittingly enough, is acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol.

The strategy takes advantage of the snake’s two big weaknesses. Unlike most snakes, brown tree snakes are happy to eat prey they didn’t kill themselves, and they are highly vulnerable to acetaminophen, which is harmless to humans.

The upcoming mice drop is targeted to hit snakes near Guam’s sprawling Andersen Air Force Base, which is surrounded by heavy foliage and if compromised would offer the snakes a potential ticket off the island. Using helicopters, the dead neonatal mice will be dropped by hand, one by one.

U.S. government scientists have been perfecting the mice-drop strategy for more than a decade with support from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior.

To keep the mice bait from dropping all the way to the ground, where it could be eaten by other animals or attract insects as they rot, researchers have developed a flotation device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed.

Experts say the impact on other species will be minimal, particularly since the snakes have themselves wiped out the birds that might have been most at risk.

“One concern was that crows may eat mice with the toxicant,” said William Pitt, of the U.S. National Wildlife Research Center’s Hawaii Field Station. “However, there are no longer wild crows on Guam. We will continue to refine methods to increase efficiency and limit any potential non-target hazards.”

The mouse drop is set to start in April or May.

Vice said the goal is not to eradicate the snakes, but to control and contain them. Just as the snakes found their way to Guam, they could stow away on a ship, or more likely the cargo hold of an airplane, and begin breeding on other islands around the Pacific or even the U.S. West Coast.

That “snakes on a plane” scenario has officials in Hawaii on edge. The islands of Hawaii, like Guam, lack the predators that could keep a brown tree snake population in check.

Native Hawaiian birds “literally don’t know what to do when they see a snake coming,” said Christy Martin, a spokeswoman for the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, a partnership of Hawaii government agencies and private organizations.

A 2010 study conducted by the National Wildlife Research Center found brown tree snakes would cause between $593 million and $2.14 billion in economic damage each year if they became established in Hawaii like they are on Guam. Power outages would cause the most damage, followed by a projected decline in tourism. The cost of treating snake bites would account for a small share.

“Once we get snakes here, we’re never going to be able to fix the situation,” Martin said.

Though the snakes are native to Australia and Papua New Guinea, Guam is much closer to Hawaii and its snake population is much more dense, meaning it is the primary threat for snake stowaways.

So far, Guam’s containment seems to be working. Only a few brown tree snakes have ever been found in Hawaii, and none over the past 17 years.

“If we continue doing what we are doing, the chance of success is very high,” Vice said. “If what we are doing stops, I think the possibility of the snakes getting to Hawaii is inevitable.”

Yes, this is just another reminder that Mother Nature hates you. She’s also not fond of Les Miz.

While mouse bombs may seem funny the reality is far darker. The snakes are already causing billions of dollars in damages in Guam and surrounding islands. If they shut down the Hawaiian islands, as well as Guam and the rest, they could destroy the economy of all south east Asia. Gee gosh, suddenly mouse bombing seems like a GREAT idea.

Speaking of economy killers, the government of Iceland wants to outlaw porn

In the age of instant information, globe-spanning viral videos and the World Wide Web, can a thoroughly wired country become a porn-free zone? Authorities in Iceland want to find out.

The government of the tiny North Atlantic nation is drafting plans to ban pornography, in print and online, in an attempt to protect children from a tide of violent sexual imagery.

The proposal by Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson has caused an uproar. Opponents say the move will censor the Web, encourage authoritarian regimes and undermine Iceland’s reputation as a Scandinavian bastion of free speech.

Advocates say it is a sensible measure that will shelter children from serious harm.

“When a 12-year-old types ‘porn’ into Google, he or she is not going to find photos of naked women out on a country field, but very hardcore and brutal violence,” said Halla Gunnarsdottir, political adviser to the interior minister.

“There are laws in our society. Why should they not apply to the Internet?”

Gunnarsdottir says the proposals currently being drawn up by a committee of experts will not introduce new restrictions, but simply uphold an existing if vaguely worded law.

Pornography is already banned in Iceland, and has been for decades — but the term is not defined, so the law is not enforced. Magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse are on sale in book stores, and more hardcore material can be bought from a handful of sex shops. “Adult” channels form part of digital TV packages.

Iceland’s left-of-center government insists it is not setting out to sweep away racy magazines or censor sex. The ban would define pornography as material with violent or degrading content.

Gunnarsdottir said the committee is still exploring the details of how a porn ban could be enforced. One possibility would be to make it illegal to pay for porn with Icelandic credit cards. Another, more controversial, route would be a national Internet filter or a list of website addresses to be blocked.

That idea has Internet-freedom advocates alarmed.

“This kind of thing does not work. It is technically impossible to do in a way that has the intended effect,” said Smari
McCarthy of free-speech group the International Modern Media Institute. “And it has negative side effects — everything from slowing down the Internet to blocking content that is not meant to be blocked to just generally opening up a whole can of worms regarding human rights issues, access to information and freedom of expression.”

Despite its often chaotic appearance, the Internet is not a wholly lawless place. It is regulated, to varying degrees, around the world. Police monitor the net for child pornography and other illegal material, and service providers in many countries block offending sites.

Some governments also censor the Internet at a national level — though the likes of authoritarian Iran, North Korea and China are not countries liberal Iceland wants to emulate.

European countries including Britain, Sweden and Denmark ask Internet service providers to block child pornography websites, measures that have met with only limited opposition.

But broader filtering has mostly been resisted. A few years ago, Australia announced it would introduce an Internet filtering system to block websites containing material including child pornography, bestiality, sexual violence and terrorist content. After an outcry, the government abandoned the plan last year.

Critics say such filters are flawed and often scoop up innocent sites in their net — as when Denmark’s child pornography filter briefly blocked access to Google and Facebook last year because of a glitch.

On the streets of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, there was some support for a porn ban, but also skepticism about how it would work.

“I think this is a good idea, but I think it might be problematic to implement this,” said shop assistant Ragnheidur Arnarsdottir. “It is difficult to fight technology.”

Iceland’s moves are being closely watched. It may be a tiny country of only 320,000 people, but its economic and social experiments — like its active volcanos — often have international impact.

For centuries economically dependent on fishing, Iceland transformed itself in the early 21st century into a pioneer of aggressive credit-driven banking. Then in 2008, the country’s debt-burdened banks all collapsed, making Iceland the first and most dramatic casualty of the global financial crisis, and leaving a string of failed businesses around the world.

The economy is now bouncing back, aided by Iceland’s status as one of the world’s best connected countries, with one of the highest levels of Internet use on the planet. Recent initiatives to boost growth include plans to make Iceland a global center of media and technology freedom — a status that advocates like McCarthy fear could be threatened by an online porn ban.

Anti-porn activists, however, are hailing Iceland as a pioneer. It is certainly not afraid to go its own way. Although the country has largely liberal Scandinavian values, it broke with most of Europe in 2010 by banning strip clubs.

“This is a country with courage,” said Gail Dines, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston and author of the book “Pornland.”

“Iceland is going to be the first country with the guts to stand up to these predatory bullies from L.A. (in the porn industry),” she said. “It is going to take one country to show that this is possible.”

But opponents say the project is both misguided and doomed.

“I can say with absolute certainty that this will not happen, this state filter,” said Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, a prominent advocate of online freedom.

She is confident those drafting the anti-porn measures will see the error of their ways. They may also run out of time — Iceland is due to hold parliamentary elections in April, and the unpopular coalition government could be thrown out.

Jonsdottir said the key to protecting children and others from hardcore harm is for citizens to better inform themselves about the Internet and how it works.

“People just have to make themselves a bit more knowledgeable about what their kids are up to, and face reality,” she said.
Gunnarsdottir, the political adviser backing the ban, just hopes the emotional debate around the issue will cool down.

“I think we should be able to discuss the Internet with more depth, without just shouting censorship on the one hand and laissez-faire on the other hand,” she said.

“Is it freedom of speech to be able to reach children with very hardcore, brutal material? Is that the freedom of speech we want to protect?”.

Is that the freedom of speech we want to protect?” Well, yes, that’s the whole idea behind freedom of speech.

On the other hand, if they could ban Les Miz as well I might support this. However, as has been noted here before, porn is responsible for most of the technology that carries the materials they want to ban. It’s like banning cows and demanding fresh meat. You can’t have one without the other.

More importantly, the technology doesn’t yet exist to make such a law feasible. Oddly enough, the porn industry has not seen a good reason to develop it. And governments don’t have the resources.

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