.: September 2006 --> September 2006
» The world's largest new Green Machine: Wal-Mart. They have started a sustainability initiative that is bound to influence the behavior of their massive customer base, and they've almost instantly become the world's biggest seller of organic milk and the biggest buyer of organic cotton. They're pulling ideas (and consultants) from everywhere, from NGOs to Amory Lovin's Rocky Mountain Institute. What's next? "I can honestly say I never expected to be at Wal-Mart's headquarters watching people do the Wal-Mart cheer." John Hocevar, a Greenpeace campaigner. [ 09.01.06 ]
» The Stained Glass Ceiling. "People have written me in almost every church I have been in except the current one, and said, 'Timothy says women can’t preach, so how can you?'" The Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, pastor of Crossroads United Methodist Church in Phoenix. [ 09.04.06 ]
» It is vacation time. I have scheduled some links for you while I'm gone, but comments will be off until my return, after Labor Day. Nor will there be email. Enjoy the last days of summer! [ 09.05.06 ]
» A great overview of current research into sexual preference in animals (it turns out that changing only one gene in fruit flies and mice can change sexual behavior) and the amazing story of how one scientist's experiments on sexual preference in sheep has raised the ire of both right wing groups like Focus on the Family and PETA. Features an interview with Dr. Charles Roselli, the biologist who has been targeted. (via pharyngula) [ 09.06.06 ]
[Thomas] Jacobus, like others at area utilities, said there was no evidence that tap water taken from the Potomac was unsafe to drink. They said humans should be far less susceptible to the river's pollution than fish, because people are not exposed constantly to the water, our hormone systems work differently, and our larger bodies should require higher doses of any pollutant to cause problems.
/ (2) Comments / [ 09.07.06 ]
There's no way to camouflage what Harold, a former computer technician who asked BusinessWeek not to publish his last name, is about to face. He's disabled and has one source of income: the $1,600 per month he receives in Social Security disability payments. In September, 2005, Harold refinanced out of a fixed-rate mortgage and into an option ARM for his $150,000 home in Chicago. The minimum monthly payment for the first year is $899, which he can afford. The interest-only payment is $1,329, which he can't. The fully amortized payment is $1,454, which his lender, Washington Mutual gets to count on its books.
» New services for the busy upper-middle-class: The Personal Concierge. "Wealthy people have staff to do this full-time. We work for all sorts of people by taking care of the things that would normally keep them away from family or personal time." Aida Middel, founder of Potomac Concierge, a do-it-all errand-running service. [ 09.07.06 ]
» Waterboro Public Library has added new list to their excellent list of books by genre: Reservoir Noir—Mysteries and other fiction with a featured element of intentional submerging, inundating, and flooding of towns, villages, cities, and other places. / (1) Comments / [ 09.08.06 ]
Some amount of movement of GM crops outside their containment areas "is virtually inevitable," Mr. Fernandez says. "The question is, how do we feel about that? How important is that? Does it matter what the crop is?" The bentgrass may pose no significant danger, he says, but "would we feel differently" if it were a plant that produced pharmaceuticals?
Also, um: "This year, 61 percent of all corn and 89 percent of all soybeans planted in the United States were GM varieties, the USDA estimates. More than 80 percent of the US cotton crop is also GM." I don't mind them doing it, so much as I mind them doing it in secret. If this is really safe, why can't we know about it? But I suppose its just easier to donate to the re-election campaigns of key people than to do the hard work of educating the public, or actually participating in a public conversation about the merits and dangers of these products, and how they should be implemented. (via dm) / (4) Comments / [ 09.08.06 ]
A Scripps-Howard poll of 1,010 adults last month found that 36% of Americans consider it "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that government officials either allowed the attacks to be carried out or carried out the attacks themselves. Thirty-six percent adds up to a lot of people. This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a mainstream political reality.
[ 09.11.06 ]
» Time: The Myth About Homework. Homework is up 51% since 1981, but doing more than 60 to 90 min. a night in middle school and more than 2 hr. in high school is associated with lower scores. [ 09.11.06 ]
» An Abolitionist Leads the Way in Unearthing of Slaves’ Past (via dm) [ 09.11.06 ]
» Nearly 5 years ago, my niece's 2nd grade class made cards to send to the NYC firefighters who had worked so hard to save people at the World Trade Center after the attacks. Of course hers made me cry. Today it made me cry again. / (3) Comments / [ 09.11.06 ]
» A haiku:
I am your fat wife.
More and more of me to love.
/ (2) Comments / [ 09.12.06 ]
» "I spent the hours before Bush's speech moderating a discussion of the meaning of Sept. 11, which was hosted by the World Affairs Council here. One of the panelists was Marc Sageman, a man who comes to these issues with an unusual background -- he was a CIA case officer in Pakistan and then became a psychiatrist. I found in his comments a similarly unusual clarity. Sageman argues...that we are facing something closer to a cult network than an organized global adversary." (via rc3oi) [ 09.14.06 ]
» The diplomacy circuit is kind of dry. So, when an attractive, accomplished Secretary of State seems to enjoy her time with an a foreign minister who is "the closest thing to eye candy on the diplomatic circuit", it's easy to see why reporters would start asking speculative and wishful questions about their relationship. "It was a well lighted dinner, with electricity-based lighting." Sean McCormack, US State Department spokesman, in response to persistent questions about a working dinner that included the Secretary of State, the Canadian Foreign Minister, 14 aides and 6 security guards. [ 09.14.06 ]
» I'd say that's a proto-Meatwad. [background] Don't miss Dan Goodsell's entire Funny Face Packs collection (and note that by 1966 Pillsbury had replaced "Chinese Cherry" and "Injun Orange" with "Choo-Choo Cherry" and "Jolly Ollie Orange"). / (1) Comments / [ 09.15.06 ]
» Norman Bel Geddes' Airline #4 would appear to me to be the plane William Gibson describes as a "fat symmetrical boomerang with windows in unlikely places" in his story The Gernsback Continuum. [ 09.18.06 ]
» As a personal security measure, Bruce Schneier says its time to renew your passport before they start inserting RFID chips in all of them. He figures the security issues will be mostly worked out by the time you need a new one again, in 10 years. / (1) Comments / [ 09.19.06 ]
» San Francisco, New York, and Washington have installed the "Intelligent Aquatic BioMonitoring System" developed for the Army to detect toxins in the water supply before it can reach the populace. It's most sophisticated sensor? Bluegills. / (2) Comments / [ 09.19.06 ]
» Race, income, and location all have profound effects on your health and lifespan according to a new fascinating study from the Harvard School of Public Health concludes "the differences are so stark it's as if there are eight separate Americas instead of one".
The longest-living whites weren't the relatively wealthy. [...] They're edged out, by a year, by low-income residents of the rural Northern Plains states, where the men tend to reach age 76 and the women 82. Yet low-income whites in Appalachia and the Mississippi Valley die four years sooner than their Northern neighbors.
» The Burbank Senior Artists Colony is the country’s first apartment community for creative seniors with facilities that include a digital film editing laboratory, a theater, drama classes and studios that are available 24 hours a day. "You see them come in with dead eyes. Then, the life comes back." Gene Schklair, retired dental surgeon from Chicago, now a full-time sculptor. / (1) Comments / [ 09.20.06 ]
» A new study shows that when female house finches are exposed to mites, they produce hormonal changes that cause them to lay eggs containing male babies last—males are more vulnerable to mites than females. The hormones also accelerate the development of the males while they're still in the egg so that they can leave the nest sooner. "Mothers essentially hid their sons in the eggs." Alexander V. Badyaev, The University of Arizona assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. (via abatc) [ 09.21.06 ]
» Rafe poses a simple test on the practicality and morality of torture. And as usual, he's right. Update: And here's a short statement condemning the practice, "Torture is a moral issue" from the National Council of Churches. It absolutely is. Signatories include former President Jimmy Carter, Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel, and Purpose Driven Life Pastor Rick Warren. It's time the faith community spoke up about this. / (2) Comments / [ 09.21.06 ]
» Andy Griffin, the former owner of Riverside Farms, one of the spinach growers implicated in the recent E.coli breakout, has written a very informative post on spinach harvesting and why he got out of the baby greens business. (via mn)
Every sealed bag of pre-washed greens is like a little green house. The greens inside are still alive, as are the bacteria living on them. If the produce in the bag is clean, great, but if it isn’t the bacteria present has a wonderful little sealed environment to reproduce in, free from any threat until the dressing splashes down and the shadow of a fork passes over. Frankly, I think convenience is overrated.
And my most recent CSA newsletter has a bit to say about organic spinach growing practices.
Many media outlets, and so-called experts, have failed to understand the details of this event. [...] [T]hey have tried to make a connection between organic produce and animal manure, a potential source of E.coli. Fact: It is a violation of federal law, the National Organic Standards Act, to use raw animal manures on a crop that will be harvested within 120 days of application of the manure. No organic farmers are using raw animal manures on their spinach fields anymore, if they ever did. It is far more likely that a conventional farmer would use raw manures —there are no regulations prohibiting the practice for anyone other than organic farmers. The FDA never insinuated this connection; they are intimately familiar with the organics law.
/ (2) Comments / [ 09.22.06 ]
But the villain in this outbreak, E. coli O157:H7, is far scarier, at least for humans. Your stomach juices are not strong enough to kill this acid-loving bacterium, which is why it’s more likely than other members of the E. coli family to produce abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and, in rare cases, fatal kidney failure.
It’s not found in the intestinal tracts of cattle raised on their natural diet of grass, hay and other fibrous forage. No, O157 thrives in a new — that is, recent in the history of animal diets — biological niche: the unnaturally acidic stomachs of beef and dairy cattle fed on grain, the typical ration on most industrial farms.
thanks, MollyMagnet! [ 09.25.06 ]
The tightening of the border with Mexico, begun more than a decade ago but reinforced since May with the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops, has forced California growers to acknowledge that most of their workers are illegal Mexican migrants. The U.F.W. estimates that more than 90 percent of the state’s farm workers are illegal.
[ 09.25.06 ]
» Our next generation of health-givers will be more trustworthy. The brilliant SquidSoap stamps children's hands with a special ink that won't disappear until they have washed their hands for 15-20 seconds. (via cd) / (1) Comments / [ 09.26.06 ]
» Longtime Pocket readers will know that I am an enthusiastic promoter of handwashing. The Freakanomics fellows have a new article on a brilliant piece of social engineering that got doctors at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center to always wash their hands. [ 09.26.06 ]
» Its common practice for world editions of the same publication to run covers that correspond with local interests. So why is Newsweek doling out bad news to everyone in the whole wide world—but us? (via rc3) / (1) Comments / [ 09.26.06 ]
» Thrifty Infants: Money myths about affording a new baby. Um, washing diapers is "gross"? Honestly, if you can't handle a dirty diaper, you're simply not equipped for parenthood. There's plenty of grossitude ahead. / (1) Comments / [ 09.28.06 ]
» A Dumpling Manifesto: Why Americans Must Demand Better. "The Chinese dumpling is a magnificent product of the human imagination: At its best, it is charming in appearance, chewy and savory, and can trigger a head rush like sashimi or blue cheese. [...] For the most part, however, the dumpling has arrived here in bastardized form, as similar to the real thing as Kraft Parmesan cheese is to its ancestors. That's why it's time for a dumpling revolution." [ 09.28.06 ]
Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.
Update: Dahlia Lithwick weighs in:
Last time Congress rubber-stamped a major terrorism-related law no one had bothered to read in the first place, we got the Patriot Act. [...] But that's not all. Congress doesn't want to know what it's bargaining away this week. In the Boston Globe this weekend, Rick Klein revealed that only "10 percent of the members of Congress have been told which interrogation techniques have been used in the past, and none of them know which ones would be permissible under proposed changes to the War Crimes Act." More troubling still, this congressional ignorance seems to be by choice. Klein quotes Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican, as saying, "I don't know what the CIA has been doing, nor should I know."
Update: Rafe weighs in, and points to a piece from former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky that eloquently lays out the personal, practical, and moral implications of sanctioning even occasional "cruel, inhumane or degrading" treatment of prisoners.
Remember when the Abu Ghraib photos shocked all of us? The story then was that a few inexperienced/rogue soldiers got away from themselves, acted on their own, that it was a complete and utter anomaly. In the last few weeks, the pro-Administration stance has been that such treatment is sometimes necessary, and that humiliation, for example, isn't that big of a deal anyway. (Read Jeff's contributions to this thread to see what I mean.)
And we have just concluded a national debate about whether we need to uphold the Geneva Conventions by codifying the President's right to authorize these very practices.
We have lost the war on torture. It's devastating. / (2) Comments / [ 09.28.06 ]