Friday, December 16, 2005

Automatic Redirect in Progress!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Alrighty, then! Let's all Move over to my new Home . . .

Okay, I didn't know if I would be ready to do this today or not, but I've just got a few minor tweaks left to make and a little coding left to add - but since Lisa Renee over at Liberal Common Sense just posted the first comment at the new site we may as well all treck on over!

My New Home - Left Brain Female . . . in a Right Brain World

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Clark Foam vs. the EPA

I'm writing today about a situation that I just learned of which hits pretty close to home for us. Some of you may have realized from my writings that my husband is a surfer (has been since the 60's) and it has played a rather large role in our life - we host a website dedicated to local surfers where we post pictures of them that we have caught at local surf spots. My hubby along with a number of his friends have made several surfboards - both for themselves and others.

It came to my attention last night that Clark Foam, the producer of 90% of the polyurethane surfboard blanks used world-wide has been closed down by the 9th District of the EPA for a two-week period while they investigate the factory which they believe does not meet industry standards. At issue is the chemical toluene diioscyanate commonly known as TDI along with the fact that the technology inside the factory was designed and built by Gordon "Grubby" Clark in the 60's.

In a fax which Clark sent out to shapers on Monday afternoon, he says that the citation issued him by the EPA could mean prison time for him or the fining of an "astronomical" amount of money. He also apologised to customers and employees saying "I should have seen this coming many years sooner and closed in a slower, more predictable manner . . . I waited far too long, being optimistic rather than realistic."

And, frankly, the research that I've done overnight on my own, I can understand why he would be optimistic. According to the EPA website, research on toluene diioscyanate has been rather inconclusive - a number of studies have been done over five-year periods and while it has been shown that inhaling TDI is a bad thing (that's why they wear respirators, yanno?) the only link to increased cancer that has been shown was when they put to substance into the stomachs of rats! TDI is not only found in the manufacture of surfboard blanks, but also in sealants, adhesives, carpets, furniture, etc. - probably in items found in every home in the world!

So it seems to me that Gordon Clark's only crime is one of naivete - most other companies using this chemical have already left California, where, by the way, simultaneously with the Federal EPA implementing a slightly weaker version of California's existing anti-TDI law in 1999, California itself actually instituted stronger laws against its use.

The outcome of this investigation could potentially have a devastating effect, at least in the short term, on the surf industry. Yes, there are other ways to make boards. (Polystyrene, epoxy, etc.) Yes, others will move in to take up some of the slack - but in the short term, at least, there are going to be jobs lost, manufacturers of boards who have to lay off employees, and prices of surfboards will definitely increase. I've already heard some rumbling in the surf community (not known for their conservative views in general) that "he shoulda known better" or "he coulda switched to a less harmful way of manufacture - it wouldn't cost that much" but to those folks I just say get real - if it could have been done better, cheaper, smarter - why did he end up with such a corner on the market? Seems to me it would be a real feather in the cap of a new manufacturer to be able to say that they had a safer way to produce a polyurethane blank.

My heart, personally, breaks for Gordon Clark, his employees, and the shapers, manufacturers, hobbiests, etc. who are losing a great resource. While most homes in America may not have a surfboard among their prized possessions, of those of us who do - Clark Foam has had a solid reputation for almost 45 years.

In a letter of allocation placed on the web for their customers, I think Matthew Weaver of Fiberglass Supply sums it up best:
It behooves all involved to take some time to reflect on what is happening to Clark Foam, and what is happening here in the United States. We need to be concerned about the future viability of manufacturing in the U.S. especially in regards to small businesses and the regulatory burdens placed on them. We need to become educated in the issues and facts. Then we must act. Write letters to your legislators and become involved in local area politics and organizations.
While my own family doesn't rely on Clark Foam for our livelihood, I've never felt a governmental burden hit more close to home - and I'm afraid we may have reached the end of an era.

Update - Quotes from the EPA and local officials are coming out now, saying they did not force Clark Foam's Closure. But I think Clark himself spells out pretty clearly what has happened:
"Meeting increasingly stringent environmental regulations would cost millions of dollars."

"The way the government goes after places like Clark Foam is by an accumulation of laws, regulations, and subjective decisions they are allowed to use to express their intent. Essentially they remove your security, increase your risk or liability, and increase your costs."

"They simply grind away until you either quit or they find methods of bringing serious charges or fines that force you to close," Clark wrote.

Open post linked at The Conservative Cat

Cross-posted at The Liberty Papers

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Carnival of Liberty XXIII

Hey all, Carnival of Liberty XXIII is up at Below the Beltway! Check it out!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Is Tolerance the same as Acceptance?

Cross posted at "The Liberty Papers"

Exerpt: I’m afraid at times that I may come across as a moralizer - it’s really not my intention - but I think of myself more as a moral philosopher or ethicist.

Friday, December 02, 2005

What's in a Number?

This week, yet another disturbing article has appeared in the MSM via AP reporter William J. Kole. I think this article deserves a fisking, so here goes!
Two U.S. Allies Pulling Out of Iraq
VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Two of America's allies in Iraq are withdrawing forces this month and a half-dozen others are debating possible pullouts or reductions, increasing pressure on Washington as calls mount to bring home U.S. troops.

Bulgaria and Ukraine will begin withdrawing their combined 1,250 troops by mid-December. If Australia, Britain, Italy, Japan, Poland and South Korea reduce or recall their personnel, more than half of the non-American forces in Iraq could be gone by next summer.
This is really not a story at all. According to Global Security (July 1, 2005) Bulgaria was scheduled to remove their troops by end of year 2005, and Ukraine by October, 2005. So rather than this being a "sudden" decision to pull out as would be implied by the blaring headline, Bulgaria and the Ukraine are departing just exactly as planned.
Japan and South Korea help with reconstruction, but Britain and Australia provide substantial support forces and Italy and Poland train Iraqi troops and police. Their exodus would deal a blow to American efforts to prepare Iraqis to take over the most dangerous peacekeeping tasks and craft an eventual U.S. exit strategy.

"The vibrations of unease from within the United States clearly have an impact on public opinion elsewhere," said Terence Taylor of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington. "Public opinion in many of these countries is heavily divided."
At this point Japan has intentions to remain in Iraq through 2006, and South Korea is scheduled to bring home 1/3 of their troops in the first half of 2006, but to extend their overall deployment for at least another 12 months, Britain and Australia currently have no plans to withdraw - they've committed at this point to seeing the operation through to it's completion. Not quite the dire picture painted.
In the months after the March 2003 invasion, the multinational force numbered about 300,000 soldiers from 38 countries - 250,000 from the U.S. and 50,000 from other countries. The coalition has steadily unraveled as the death toll rises and angry publics clamor for troops to leave.

Now the nearly 160,000-member U.S. force in Iraq is supported by just under 24,000 mostly non-combat personnel from 27 countries. Britain has the second-largest contingent with 8,000 in Iraq and 2,000 elsewhere in the Gulf region.
The "logic" that the coalition has unraveled is astounding. By his own writing, we determine that down from 300,000 soldiers from 38 countries, we now have about 184,000 from 27 countries. But what must be recalled is that we are now in the reconstruction stage - not the initial phase of the war, and while non-US troops have fallen to about 48% of their initial levels, US troop involvement has also decreased to about 53%. Hmmm. So, yes, perhaps some (remember Spain, anyone?) decided that the public outcry against the war was too much of a political problem and necessitated their withdrawal, but overall, levels are probably what should be expected.
In his strategy for Iraq, announced Wednesday, President Bush said expanding international support was one of his goals. He also seemed to address the issue of more allies withdrawing.

"As our posture changes over time, so too will the posture of our coalition partners," the document says. "We and the Iraqis must work with them to coordinate our efforts, helping Iraq to consolidate and secure its gains on many different fronts."
Kinda fits with my summation, don'tcha think?

There's more to the article, but most of it I've pretty much covered - it's just the same old spin, different day. But far more interesting to me is this:
Iraq Seeks to Stop Foreign Withdrawal Plans
The Interim Iraqi government seeks to convince several countries not to withdraw their forces from Iraq after these countries announced plans to this end.

The Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiar Zeibari urged Japan to keep its forces in southern Iraq, saying that early withdrawal of what he called the coalition forces will lead to more violence.
Golly. According to the other sources I read, we are "occupiers". We're not wanted. Go home. Go away. Yet, here I find that the interim Iraqi government is asking us to stand our ground and help them to achieve their goal. Amazing. Unless you've been reading the writings of some of my friends here, here & here.

Rome wasn't built in a day, Saddam had 35 years in power in Iraq, our own U. S. Constitution took 2 and a half years to become ratified by the then 13 states - and that doesn't include the years in the making - all the debates and infighting to get it to that point. Yes, the Iraqi's will have to take over at some point, and it's in the works - but all this nay-saying and negativity in the press is only serving to give aid and comfort to the enemy. Numbers and statistics can be skewed to be read however the writer wishes them to be read - so I say, don't trust 'em, folks! Question EVERYTHING.

Open post linked at The Conservative Cat

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Her 15 Minutes were up 6 months ago!

She (and I won't even dignify this post with her name) might have actually had a little momentum had she written her book and had it ready to go when she began her sit-in and media campaign last spring/summer. As it is, her Amazon ranking is artifically inflated at #2813 with some user submitted pix showing the book signing flop.

Heh.