Published 24 August 2007
Environment , Politics & Policy , Science & Technology
Tags: activism, DDT ban, DDT EPA, dengue fever, ecosystem, Edwin Starr, Environmental Protection Agency, genetic resistance, malaria, mosquito, mutation, pesticide, Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, Slate Explainer, vector control
A while back, I wrote a piece explaining why the precepts of nonviolence and of having compassion for all living things did not extend to mosquitoes. Sort of.
Recently, the “Explainer” series at Slate.com did a fun video essay asking the question: Are Mosquitoes Good for Anything?
I consider this to be a metaphysical question, the answer to which is best belted-out, à la Edwin Starr:
Mossies! Huh! Good God y’all!
What are they good for?
Say it again…
Continue reading ‘Good-for-Nothings’
Published 7 February 2007
Environment , India , Rant , Religion, Spiritualism & Other Make-Believe
Tags: Allahabad, Burning Man, DDT, diarrhea, disease, ecology, Environment, environmentalism, exhibitionist, feces, Friends Without Borders, garbage, hepatitis, human waste, hypocrisy, Kumbh Mela, litter, mosquito, Parag, pests, pollution, public hygiene, religion, religious festival, rodent, rubbish, shit, solid waste, spiritual, spiritual fraud, spiritual poseur, spiritualism, spirituality, superstition, toilet trenches, trash, typhoid, Uttar Pradesh
The Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest religious festival, has just rounded its halfway point in Parag, near Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. Occurring roughly every three years, the Mela coincides with certain astrological events, and lasts approximately eight weeks. This year’s festivities, will be attended by an estimated eight million people, including the traditional quorum of spiritual poseurs, religious exhibitionists, and voyeurs. Only the most uncritically relativistic, everything-is-beautiful-in-its-own-way, intellectually blinkered observers could possibly see the Kumbh Mela as anything other than a spiritual freak show, notwithstanding the devout piety of the rank-and-file superstitious who also attend.
The rather poor 2005 film, Kumbh Mela, depicted a small slice of the brainlessness of the event. My evidence for the spiritual vacuity of the Kumbh Mela and its participants, however, is drawn from today’s Times of India headline, “Heaps of Garbage Lie Unattended in Mela Area.”
Continue reading ‘The Shit of the Saintly is Still Reeking’
Published 16 December 2006
Blogs & Blogging , Environment , India , Service
Tags: Amritsar, beautiful India, compost, composting, DDT, Deepak Chopra, diarrhea, disease, ecology, Environment, environmentalism, feces, garbage, hepatitis, human waste, Lahore, litter, littering, mosquito, pests, plague, pollution, Pondicherry, public hygiene, rag-picker, rag-picking, recycle, recycling, rodent, rubbish, San Francisco, sanitation, shit, Shuddham, solid waste, Surat, toilet trenches, trash, typhoid, urban sanitation, WHO, World Health Organization
Fred Hsu, who has just returned to the states from India, raises an interesting issue on his blog today, when he wonders whether India will be able to “retain its rich culture” in the face of the sea of filth that its people wade through each day. It seems to me the Indian waste problem is as much a function of culture as an enemy of it.
The sad fact is: the overwhelming (OVERWHELMING!) majority of Indians are habituated to garbage in the streets, in parks — in any place that is not their private domain. No one seems to mind walking through it, and certainly none seem to give a second thought to contibuting to it. Littering is an activity as common and casual as drawing breath. There is an absolute disconnect here between compulsive personal hygiene and the utter lack of public hygiene. When Deepak Chopra declaims that, despite its rich, visible, and celebrated history, “India is not a spiritual country,” I think of this discrepancy as Exhibit A.
Continue reading ‘Garbage. Shit!’
Published 7 December 2006
Bio , Friends , India
Tags: Anjali Sardeshmukh, ant, ants, bats, Bindi Gandhi, birds, centipedes, chipmunk, cockroaches, cricket, fauna, geckos, IndiCorps, lizards, mice, mosquito, peacock, Pondicherry, Puducherry, rats, spiders
Several years ago, when my friends Bindi Gandhi and Anjali Sardeshmukh were IndiCorps fellows, working on public health initiatives in Ahmedabad’s Ramapir no Tekro slum, they lived in a wonderful house on the campus of the Gandhi Ashram. I called it “The Zoo,” in appreciation of its diverse and plentiful fauna. They had mice, rats, lizards, geckos, bats, cockroaches, ants, centipedes, roaches, and pretty much every other manner of creepy-crawly. Despite working to exhaustion to improve sanitation and hygiene conditions in the slum, they permitted the drainage ditches around the house to become blocked, creating a mosquito breeding regime so potent that one could hardly breathe without committing mosquito mass murder. (The surviving hordes of mosquitos exacted their own revenge.) The water tank was infested with millions of tiny worms. There was even a peacock who lived on the roof – how auspicious is that!
I could continue the roster, but you get the idea. I left them a notebook to record the comings and goings of all the different species in the place.
Continue reading ‘Fauna’