We Oppose Bicycles on Wilderness Trails With One Exception

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a bill that would allow bicycles in designated wilderness areas. And that’s pitting groups that have typically been allies against one another.

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a bill that would allow bicycles on wilderness trails. From KPCC radiio

This is a terrible idea.  We oppose it, with one exception.  We fully support allowing bicycles on the Pacific Crest Trail north of Mt. Whitney (technically Crabtree Meadow).  If you’re interested, HalfMile has downloadable maps of the entire trail and a ton of other useful information.

Your humble correspondent confesses to spending many weeks hiking in federally designated wilderness areas in his youth.  That includes six memorable days on the Pacific Crest Trail.  (I haven’t been to the Ventana Wilderness in Big Sur for decades.  That was once a marvelous adventure.  But fires and mudslides may have altered the landscape.)

Andre Burney Falls
Andre Burney Falls (click for larger image)

Let bicycles go onto the Pacific Crest Trail.  That will both keep them happy (briefly) and further the cause of this blog.


Title IX and George Orwell

As young adults settle in on college campuses around the country, they’ll experience new freedom to make mistakes. While we hope for good choices based on parental example, the fact is that most people learn only from painful experience.

Some will have their first brush with alcohol or drugs. An unlucky few will mix the two and awaken next to someone else in a room full of regret. That’s a horrible way to “win” the sexually-transmitted disease lottery or the pregnancy sweepstakes, but worse, it is also an invitation for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to levy permanent and devastating consequences to their future.

Under Title IX law, there is virtually no need to respect rules of evidence or constitutionally guaranteed rights to a speedy trial, a jury of one’s peers, the ability to confront and question witnesses or the provision for a capable defense.

Hello, Title IX; goodbye, Sixth Amendment!

Recently there has been much discussion of the ways certain aspects of Title IX are being implemented on college campuses.  The latest entry is from Robert McClain at cleveland.com. Mr. McClain (presumably no relation to John McClain) opines in “The dark side of Title IX sexual-assault investigations” that college freshmen (not freshwomen) have much to worry about. Shortly we’ll write about Title IX and George Orwell. First, however, some background. Here are the first four paragraphs of Mc. McClain’s column →

Here at pfpfp we are of two minds about this issue.  On the one hand, we really like sex.  But on the other hand, one often unintended consequence (at least for those considerably younger than us) is pregnancy.  And that flies in the face of the stated purpose of this blog.

Mr. McClain is far from the first to write about this.  The case of “mattress girl” at Columbia University has become a cause celebré among both progressives and conservatives.  (If you’ve been living in a cave for the past two years, a good summary of the issue is on Wikipedia. This also about the most neutral presentation you can find.  Good conservative comments are at the National Review and Reason. Contrary viewpoints are found in several articles at Jezebel.com. And, of course, there is the case of the Duke University lacrosse team. In the Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote eloquently about this.

In response to an article by Hans Bader at LibertyUnyielding.com: “College: Students must agree ‘why’ they had sex to avoid sexual assault charges,” David Burge (better known by his nom-de-blog Iowahawk) has this advice for college freshmen:Iowahawk suggestion

Title IX and George Orwell

You may remember a significant subplot of 1984. The Junior Anti-Sex League.  Here are a couple of images from various sources:

1984 cover detail1984 cover

JASL buttonAnd there’s even JASL swag:

JASL bag


That Orwell guy was sure smart.  And, mostly because we don’t have to worry about consequences (old, happily married), we have to endorse this idea.

Human Eggs Can Now Be Created, More Bad News

Ultimate CougarEggs can now be created, more bad news for the planet.  This is the most depressing news we’ve heard in a long time, right up there with the planet’s population passing 7 billion.  Apparently human eggs can now be created from stem cells.  More eggs, more fertility, more people.  Do we really want this?

From NPR Monday, February 27:


‘Study Suggests Way To Create New Eggs In Women
by Rob Stein

NPR – February 27, 2012

For decades, scientists have thought that one of the big differences between men and women is that men can make children all their lives because men never stop making sperm. But scientific dogma said women aren’t so lucky when it comes to their eggs.

“The traditional belief in the field has been that when a baby girl is born, she is given a bank account of eggs, and that bank cannot be added to, only withdrawn from,” said Jonathan Tilly, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

In 2004, Tilly shocked the scientific world when he claimed he had found primitive “stem” cells hiding in the ovaries of adult female mice that could generate new eggs. That raised the possibility that it might be true for women as well.

In a series of experiments being published in the March issue of the journal Nature Medicine, Tilly and his colleagues say they have proved young adult women have the same cells.

“What this means is that little bank account of eggs that a little girl gets at birth is in fact open to continued deposits,” Tilly said.

Here’s what Tilly and his colleagues did: First, they got some ovarian tissue from young women. Then they isolated cells that appeared identical to the ones they had found in mice. Next, they say, they showed that the cells can develop into eggs in a dish in the laboratory.

“Right before our eyes, in culture dishes, we were watching that process happen for the first time,” Tilly said.

The researchers then injected the cells back into human ovarian tissue to see if they would turn into eggs on their own. To make sure they were looking at the right cells, the scientists genetically engineered them to glow green. The cells started turning into eggs — and even formed crucial structures called follicles, the researchers report.

“It is those follicle structures that are key to maturing that egg cell to the point where it becomes able to accept sperm and produce an embryo,” he said.’

Please Don’t Take My Plan B Away

You are my plan B, my only plan B
You make me happy ensuing days
I’m so happy the morning after
Please don’t take my plan B away.[1]

Teva Pharmaceuticals calls their morning-after pill “Plan B®.”  Here’s what you would have seen on store shelves if Dictator Sebelius had not intervened:

Plan B box
Plan B box

But over here at pfpfp we’re depressed about this news.  Overruling her experts at the FDA, Health and Human Services permanent dictator for life Kathleen Sebelius has banned the Plan B pill from store shelves in the U.S. That means fewer women will be able to end unwanted pregnancies easily and safely.  Which means more children.  We would not be People for a Population-Free Planet if we failed to comment on this outrage.

Let’s make our stance perfectly clear.  We oppose teen sex.  We oppose premarital sex.  We oppose post-marital sex.  And we oppose post-mortem sex.

Media coverage of this event has been moderately hysterical.  The Los Angeles Times is pretty good both with news and editorial.  Let’s begin with the opinion, far and away the more interesting of the two.

“So is the next move by Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, going to revolve around taking Tylenol off the pharmacy’s self-service shelves?

The question might be silly, but it serves to make a point. If Sebelius was determined to stop the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from allowing over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill to girls younger than 17, she needed to find a stronger argument than concern that 11-year-olds, about 10% of whom can become pregnant, might not understand how to use the pill.

Never mind that FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg had delved deeply into the subject and determined that girls of any age who were old enough to get pregnant were old enough to figure out proper usage of the Plan B pill. Sebelius’ argument fails when we simply look at the wide range of pharmaceuticals that can be purchased off the shelf by any 11-year-old.

Overuse of acetaminophen — Tylenol is one brand name for this common generic pain reliever — can be quite dangerous.  As The Times reported last year, acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause of liver failure and death from liver failure in the U.S. But no one, including Sebelius, is hinting at sweeping the medication off the shelves and planting it behind the counter, demanding a prescription from anyone younger than 17.

In fact, 11-year-olds would be much less likely to purchase Plan B, since only 5% of them — the girls who are capable of becoming pregnant, and of those, only the ones who are having unprotected sex — would have any use for it.

Almost any over-the-counter medication can be misused, but we don’t live our lives around the assumption that it will be.”[2]

You read that correctly.  Tylenol can kill you.  Aspirin causes stomach bleeding.[3]  There are a host of ordinary off-the-shelf medications that can cause health problems, up to and including death.

And yet Dictator Sebelius has the audacity to claim this was not a political decision.  Absurd and ridiculous are two words that come to mind.  In typical fashion, “President Obama today said he had no say in the decision by his secretary of Health and Human Services to block the Plan B morning-after pill from being sold over the counter to young teens but offered his support for the decision ‘as the father of two daughters.’

‘I did not get involved in the process,” the president told reporters at the White House today. “This was a decision that was made by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of HHS.’”[4]

It’s hard to satirize this stuff because the content is so amazingly dumb.  Let’s move instead to the L.A. Times article:

“The emergency contraceptive Plan B will not be made available over-the-counter to younger teens, the Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday, exposing a rift between the agency and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Teva, the manufacturer of the oral contraceptive that can be taken up to 72 hours after sex to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, requested approval from the FDA in February to make the drug available without a prescription to individuals age 16 and younger. Currently, the drug, commonly known as the ‘morning-after pill,’ is available without a prescription to women 17 and older, and is kept behind the pharmacy counter.

FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg expressed support for expanding access for the drug without a prescription.

‘I reviewed and thoughtfully considered the data, clinical information, and analysis provided by [the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research], and I agree with the center that there is adequate and reasonable, well-supported, and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential,’ FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement.

But Hamburg said she was informed this morning that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius disagreed with the FDA’s determination, and therefore the request by Teva, Plan B’s manufacturer, will not be approved.

‘[T]he switch from prescription to over the counter for this product requires that we have enough evidence to show that those who use this medicine can understand the label and use the product appropriately,’ Sebelius said in a statement. ‘I do not believe that Teva’s application met that standard. The label comprehension and actual use studies did not contain data for all ages for which this product would be available for use.’

The drug will remain on the market, but women under the age of 17 must have a prescription.”[5]

You can’t make up stuff this good.

[1] Lyrics to “You Are My Sunshine” from http://www.lyricsmania.com/please_dont_take_my_sunshine_away_lyrics_backseat_goodbye.html .  Our sincere apologies to Backseat Goodbye, the writers of the original lyrics.

[2] From  http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2011/12/what-if-tylenol-were-taken-off-the-shelves.html  .  Copyright 2011 Los Angeles Times. Excerpted here with link under fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law.

[3] There is a body of opinion that the FDA would not approve aspirin today.

[5] From http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-planb-20111207,0,4209118.story .  Copyright 2011 Los Angeles Times. Excerpted here with link under fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law.

Marauders as Population Control Methods

Innovation.  That’s what we need.  One overlooked group are marauders as population control methods. Today’s New York Times “Review” section includes an article detailing the number of people killed by various warlords, mass murderers, and wars since 400 B.C. (“Population Control, Marauder Style,” New York Times, November 6, 2011).  Leading the list: Genghis Khan, responsible for killing 11.1 percent of total world population between 1206 and 1227 A.D.  Here’s the nifty graphic, but for a real high-definition version you must visit the Times website.

Atrocities Timeline
Atrocities Timeline. Copyright (c) 2011 the New York Times Company. Posted under fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law. Click the image for a better version.

At pfpfp, we salute these heroes of population control.

The Shrinkage Solution

The latest Technology Review (September/October 2011) revisits an article published in 1967: The Shrinkage Solution.  The first paragraph will give you the general idea:

“In 1966, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist named Joshua Lederberg suggested, in an essay in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, that because human evolution could now be directed by scientific means, we ought to seriously consider what kinds of changes we might like to see. A year later, in a provocative—and bizarre—essay for the July 1967 issue ofTechnology Review, a pair of MIT civil-engineering professors named Robert Hansen and Myle Holley considered one such change: making people smaller.” (Maher, Timothy, “The Shrinkage Solution,” Technology Review, September/October 2011, p. 120)

Now there’s an idea.  Genetically engineer people to be smaller.  They will then use fewer resources.

Of course, like any strategy, this one has costs.  Basketball will become much less interesting (unless they lower the rims).  Football will probably be less violent.  Whether that is a cost or a benefit is for you to decide.

The original authors (Hansen and Holley) go on to make this comment:

If, as the authors believe, the question of human size merits thought, it appears more reasonable to consider a decrease rather than an increase in size. First, an increase in size would clearly aggravate the problems we already associate with our excessive rate of population growth. Second, the advantages of large size and physical strength (in the performance of useful labor, the resolution of individual and group conflicts, etc.) have been almost entirely eliminated by technology.”

Here we are 44 years later and the ratio of global food output to population has risen steadily.  Yet the neo-Malthusians continue to predict catastrophe.  Some day their predictions may come true.  But if you flip a coin and allow it to fall on the table, there is a slight probability that it will land on its edge.  Like the predictions of global catastrophe, you just need to wait long enough.

Man of the month (September, 2010): James J. Lee

As reported in the New York Times September 2, 2010 edition:

“Police officers shot and killed a gunman with a history of protesting against the Discovery Channel, the authorities said, ending a nearly four-hour ordeal on Wednesday at the company’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. The gunman, apparently wearing explosives, had taken two employees and a security guard hostage, officials said.”

Mr. James J. Lee was killed by police who feared for the safety of his four hostages, employees of Discovery Communications..

What, you ask, does this have to do with pfpfp.org?  More from the Times article:

“Sometime in August, the Web site called for Discovery to show programs about how to save the planet by decreasing the human population. Specifically, it said that the TLC and Discovery Health channels should discontinue shows about ‘the birth of any more parasitic human infants,’ and ‘in those programs’ places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed.'”

OK, so he was a little over the top.  Well, a whole bunch over the top.  At least his spirit was in the right place.  But we can’t advocate his haste in implementing pfpfp’s programs.

Postscript: As I was putting the finishing touches on this article, I noticed what Google AdSense had selected to accompany it.  (Links removed to spare the advertisers embarrassment.  Who says we have no ethics?)

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Population growth

Even economists have come around to the idea that high rates of population growth can inhibit economic development.  Dr. Larry Summers of Harvard has estimated that the rate of return to educating a woman in a less-developed country is 26%.  A large part of that return is caused by education deferring the age at which a woman has her first child.  Thus lower population growth is a result of educating women and allowing them to fully participate in society.

But there’s more.  People emit greenhouse gases.  According to another blog, an average human emits about 0.9 kg of CO2 per day. 0.9 kg per person x 365.25 days per year x 6.6 billion people = 2,169,585,000,000 kg per year.  For non-metric speakers, that’s 493,087,500 English tons of CO2 per year.  According to the previously-cited blog that’s about ten percent of annual CO2 emissions.

The conclusion is clear.  People cause global warming.  The obvious solution is fewer people.