Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Last Call

I've seen the future...and it is a silly place.

A would-be saboteur arrested today at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland made the bizarre claim that he was from the future. Eloi Cole, a strangely dressed young man, said that he had travelled back in time to prevent the LHC from destroying the world.

The LHC successfully collided particles at record force earlier this week, a milestone Mr Cole was attempting to disrupt by stopping supplies of Mountain Dew to the experiment's vending machines. He also claimed responsibility for the infamous baguette sabotage in November last year.

Mr Cole was seized by Swiss police after CERN security guards spotted him rooting around in bins. He explained that he was looking for fuel for his 'time machine power unit', a device that resembled a kitchen blender.

Police said Mr Cole, who was wearing a bow tie and rather too much tweed for his age, would not reveal his country of origin. "Countries do not exist where I am from. The discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone. It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I'm here to stop it ever happening." 

Damn you Higgs boson and your army of time travel lunatics!  Will we ever be rid of you?

On the other hand, free chocolate!

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 43

Time for another update on Japan and the fallout from Fukushima Daiichi disaster, and the latest figures from Japan's science ministry are devastating: some 8% of Japan's total land mass has been irradiated, including basically all of Fukushima prefecture, as well as significant parts of neighboring Gunma and Tochigi prefectures.

Japan’s science ministry says 8 per cent of the country’s surface area has been contaminated by radiation from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
It says more than 30,000 square kilometres of the country has been blanketed by radioactive cesium.

The science ministry defines places with a concentration of more than 10,000 becquerels per square meter as “areas affected by the nuclear accident”….  The science ministry fine-tuned its methods by subtracting levels of naturally existing background radiation.

This is pretty grim and devastating stuff.  Fukushima is going to be uninhabitable for generations and there's basically nothing anyone can do about it to fix it.  At some point Japan is going to have to bite the bullet and just write the prefecture off, and I don't think that will be long in the offing.

My heart goes out to Japan.  They're going to need a lot of help to get through this.

The Banana, Splits

Chiquita International is leaving Cincy for Charlotte, complaining it's just too far to fly to its Central and South American bases of operaations from Ohio.

Multiple media outlets in Charlotte are reporting that Chiquita Brands International is moving its corporate headquarters and more than 300 corporate jobs to that city.

Chiquita officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Meg Olberding, spokeswoman for City Manager Milton Dohoney, said she did not know if Chiquita had made a decision to leave.

"I don't have any information confirming that right now," she said.

The city had presented the company with its proposed incentives some time ago, she said, and has been waiting for a response.

P.G. Sittenfeld, who will be sworn in Thursday to Cincinnati City Council, said he got a text from a friend this morning saying it appeared his unusual effort to keep the company hadn't worked.

During his campaign, Sittenfeld passed out Chiquita bananas on Fountain Square. On the bananas were stickers that said, "Chiquita, don't give Cincinnati the slip!"

And that's exactly what Chiquita did.  The reason?

Charlotte has reportedly offered Chiquita a $4 million city, county and state incentive package to move. Miami was also trying to attract the company.

 $13,333 a job or so.  All's fair in love and war.  Considering the company's stock has lost nearly 45% this year, I'm not surprised they bolted.  It also means Chiquita's human rights issues are North Carolina's problem and not Ohio's now, so I'm not too terribly broken up to see them go.

Still, this kind of thing happen too often.  It's why red states like Florida are trying to eliminate corporate taxes to take as many jobs from other states as possible, rather than creating new ones.  We're cannibalizing ourselves in an interstate race to the bottom rather than working together to create jobs at a national level and the corporations are reaping the largesse.

You'd think somebody would notice.

Eschewing The Fat

CLEVELAND -- An Ohio third-grader who weighs more than 200 pounds has been taken from his family and placed into foster care after county social workers said his mother wasn't doing enough to control his weight.

The case is the first state officials can recall of a child being put in foster care strictly for a weight-related issue.

Lawyers for the mother say the county overreached when authorities took the boy last week. They say the medical problems he is at risk for do not yet pose an imminent danger.

There are a few things to consider here. First and foremost, the physical health of the child. 200 pounds at eight years old is dangerous. His body is developing, and his weight can negatively affect several things, from blood sugar to muscle development. There is also the emotional and mental health of the child to consider. If he is physically healthy, does he have an eating disorder or behavioral issue that can be treated? Something is amiss here, and this child deserves the best care to find it and help him live healthier. I disagree with the lawyers who say his weight doesn't post an immediate risk.

I also find the phrasing above curious. It says the mother didn't do enough to control his weight. What she has done would be important. Did she not do enough, did she refuse to do anything at all, or did she try everything and hit a wall? It's clear the boy needs a check-up at best, and a lot of help at worst, but without a description I don't know if taking him from the mother was for his benefit or to make a point.

What do you think, guys?

Mad Cow Disease Affecting Classical Music

Regulations which tightly control the use of certain types of animal tissue are unwittingly threatening the centuries-old technique of making musical instrument strings out of beef gut.

The craft is covered by the same strict controls on raw materials from cows, even though campaigners say that to catch Creutzfeldt – Jakob disease, (CJD) – the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy – from violin or cello strings from an infected animal you would need to eat several metres of them.

The musicians warn that regulations are threatening the industry and could force gut string manufacturers to close, with disastrous consequences for the 'period orchestra' movement, which aims to recreate every aspect of music as it was first performed in the years 1650-1750.
Without gut strings, they argue, it would be impossible to play the music of Purcell, Handel, Vivaldi and Bach as the composers intended it to be heard.

This is the stuff I find fascinating. I never expected this to come in on my violin news alerts. It's interesting, but I wonder if it can be changed in a way that accomplishes the goal while protecting the production of strings. It's important to reproduce the strings exactly to get the intended sound.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Hey, they know who their base is.  That base needs motivation.  Best way to do that is the FOX way: a steady diet of red meat and Obama Derangement Syndrome.  That's how, as Dave Weigel points out, this NY Times article:

Obama’s alternative path to victory, according to Teixeira and Halpin, would be to keep his losses among all white voters at the same level John Kerry did in 2004, when he lost them by 17 points, 58-41. This would be a step backwards for Obama, who lost among all whites in 2008 by only 12 points (55-43). Obama can afford to drop to Kerry’s white margins because, between 2008 and 2012, the pro-Democratic minority share of the electorate is expected to grow by two percentage points and the white share to decline by the same amount, reflecting the changing composition of the national electorate.

..becomes this FOX Nation headline:

Screen shot 2011-11-28 at 1.34.59 PM

"Because Obama Hates White People" is the official campaign slogan of the GOP in 2012, folks. And this will go on for another year, minimum.

En-Tire-Ly Too Much Fail

Things that are difficult to hide from Google Earth #7461:  A quarter of a million discarded tires covering nearly 50 acres.  Treehugger:

Chances are that at some point, you've procrastinated by looking for your house on Google Earth. Now we can speculate if Michael Keitt, Jr. of New York ever zoomed in the lot he owns in Calhoun County in rural South Carolina and wondered about the clearly visible, giant pile of tires. Although the lot has no address, it couldn't have taken him too long: It measures 50 acres and is home to more than 250,000 discarded tires.

The tire pile was first brought to the county's attention about a year ago. Under normal circumstances, the maximum fine for littering would be $475, but fortunately the state Department of Health and Environmental Control has taken over the case and is pursuing a case against an Easley, SC man, George Fontella Brown, 39. The charges of violating the state's solid waste act carry four-digit fines and up to a year in prison.

Besides the obvious issue of an enormous pile of un-recycled (and thus wasted) rubber, the tires collect water and form a mosquito breeding ground. A Florida company has been contracted to collect and properly dispose of the tires (not that hard, it turns out).

Just...really?  You didn't think anyone would notice over 250,000 discarded tires, such a large amount that it was visible from satellite?

This guy should get prison time just on general principle.



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