Friday, February 27, 2009

American taste for soft toilet roll 'worse than driving Hummers'

According to this article from The Guardian:

"The tenderness of the delicate American buttock is causing more environmental devastation than the country's love of gas-guzzling cars, fast food or McMansions, according to green campaigners. At fault, they say, is the US public's insistence on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply products when they use the bathroom."

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some photos

of mid-seventies David Bowie. It amazes me that these candid shots of the man are so similar to the on stage/screen/magazine shots that are so carefully scripted and honed.
The shots are taken by Geoff MacCormack who accompanied Bowie on the Ziggy, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs, and Young American tours. An intriguing document of a unique time.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Naah, nothing crooked here....

Chris Kelly from HuffPo:

Sarah Palin's $159,050 Conflict of Interest

While you read this, Alaska's First Dude, Todd Palin, is riding a snowmobile -- I'm sorry, snow machine -- 1971 miles from Big Lake to Fairbanks. In the course of performing this awesome feat, his Arctic Cat's powerful two-stroke engine will emit the same amount of hydrocarbons as an automobile driving from Chicago to San Francisco and back 150 times.

A small price for the rest of us to pay to honor the indomitability of the human spirit and one man's ability to sit and hold on.

It's not just a blaze of glory and aromatic hydrocarbon. A conventional two-stroke engine emits as much as a quarter of its fuel unburned, directly into the air. This week, as a participant in the Iron Dog™ snow machine race, Todd Palin will release as many cancer-causing and smog-forming pollutants as a Chevy Malibu driven around the Earth at its equator 28 times.

Seems like a lot of work, just to get away from Sarah Palin.

But Todd's not just doing it because he hates his home life and likes things that make loud noises and emit benzene. He does it because it's there. And for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from corporations who do business with the Governor's office.

For riding a snowmobile.

Something you could train a bear to do.

The Emperor Nero used to clean up at the Olympic games. It was eerie. He won everything. According to Suetonius, he once won a chariot race despite falling off and not finishing the course. That's how good he was. He also never wore the same clothes twice. So he would have fit right in with the Palins there also.

I'm not insinuating anything. I'm just saying.

The total purse value of this year's Iron Dog™ is $159,050. The sponsors include the petroleum giants Tesoro and Conoco-Phillips; State Farm, Wells Fargo, Frontier Airlines, Alaska Airlines and the Alaska First National Bank.

The Iron Dog™ has fewer than 40 entrants a year, and one of them is always Todd.

Does this smell? I'm probably the wrong person to ask. I hate the cold and I think motor sports is an oxymoron. But he is Alaska's First Lady, and Tesoro is an oil company.

Let's say this was Louisiana in the '30s. If Texaco sponsored a pancake-eating contest, and Huey Long's wife kept winning it, there would have been talk.

To be fair, Todd can't win the whole purse. There are lots of little door prizes just for rookies and women and steak dinners for Cutest Hat. Just like in Jack London days.

And, to be fair, Todd doesn't always walk away from the camping trip with the hundred grand first prize. He's only won four times.

Once after Sarah was elected to the Wasilla City Council, once after she was elected mayor, the year she was appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission, and the year she was elected governor.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Will Capitalism Collapse Under Its Own Contradictions?

Different in kind, different in scale, is this the big one? Via Alternet:

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Australia Ablaze

I cannot begin to imagine what is happening in Oz. There's 108 confirmed deaths and the photos are just mind-boggling. From The Guardian:

At least 750 homes have been destroyed and more than 330,000 hectares burnt out, while authorities said some fires could take weeks to contain.

Jim, from Tanjil South, was seeking refuge in his swimming pool with embers dropping in the water around him when he called ABC radio to describe his ordeal. He said it was as dark as midnight, and "we can smell the fire... we're still in the pool here and we can hardly see here, it's so dark".

You get used to stories of brushfires from Australia, but this is a whole 'nother level of bad. The Guardian published this illustration--check out the numbers--20,000 hectares on fire, 2,000 hectares on fire, 210,000 hectares on fire.

Linked from the Guardian website

There's also an interactive map from Google Australia here. And The Guardian has two dozen photos here--some of these are unreal, showing a wall of smoke shot through with flames over four stories high.  There is also two minutes of video that give some slight sense of the speed with which the fire is moving--five minutes from there to gone.
For a broader overview of what's happening, check out Natalie Bennett's column The 'Continent of Smoke' is still burning.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Marburg--in the US

This is from AP via  Macleans and is really not good news:

First US case of Marburg fever has been confirmed in Colorado

February 7, 2009 - 19:15


WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. - The first U.S. case of Marburg hemorrhagic fever has been confirmed in Colorado.

Authorities say the patient - who contracted the rare illness while travelling in Uganda - has since recovered.

The disease, caused by a virus indigenous to Africa, spreads through contact with infected animals or the bodily fluids of infected humans.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Dave Daigle said no previous cases have been reported in the United States.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

6' 30" with David Attenborough

Take a break. Enjoy the story. As PZ Myers says "a bit too phenomenological and definitely too animal-centric, but who cares?"

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