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Mazda recalls vehicles because of a spider problem, again!

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In what might be the weirdest reason for a car recall, Mazda is contacting car owners because of an issue with spiders. On April 5, Autoblog reported on the latest Mazda recall. They say the issue has to due with a specific spider that is attracted to the fuel systems in the car.

The Yellow Sac spider is plaguing Mazda yet again. Just three years ago the car manufacturer was forced to recall some 52,000 of their cars for the same exact problem. The issue here though is that the problem isn’t faulty equipment, it is the wildlife.

The newest recall applies to the 2010 through 2012 models of the Mazda6 sedan. According to Mazda, the Yellow Sac spiders are somehow getting into the vent lines in the fuel systems because they are attracted to the hydrocarbons in the gas tank. The problem with the pesky spiders is that their webs are blocking the ventilation systems and causing pressure to build up in the gas tank.

The recall only applies to the Mazda6 vehicles with the 2.5 liter engines. Even more interesting, the spider problem has only been found in vehicles that came from the Flint, Mich. plant. Many speculate that the spider problem originated at that specific plant and made it’s way into the fuel systems due to mature spiders laying their eggs inside the cars.

Does this latest spider related recall mean that Mazda should redesign the fuel system of the Mazda6 altogether? That might be the only solution since other Mazda vehicles haven’t been impacted and no other auto maker is reported a fuel tank issue caused by spiders.

Maybe they should be doing something about an excess of Yellow Sac spiders in their Flint factory?

Last time my only comment was about a spring-loaded solution to the invasion.

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Written by Ed Campbell

April 20, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Myths and misconceptions about the Gulf oil spill

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In the months and years following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, telling fact from fiction regarding seafood safety and ecosystem health was supremely difficult. Is Gulf seafood safe to eat or not? Are there really deformed shrimp and black lesion-covered red snapper? Will the Gulf ever be clean again?

A large part of the confusion was due to the connected, yet distinct, seafood issues surrounding the spill. Whether the seafood was safe for humans to eat was mixed with stories of the future of Gulf fisheries; harm done to wild fish was conflated with health of the seafood supply.

To clear up some of the confusion, here are seven topics of concern, some still unresolved, about the Gulf Oil Spill, brought to you by the Smithsonian Ocean Portal and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). These should help you better understand the spill’s effects on seafood and wildlife.

#1: Once oil enters the Gulf, it will stay there indefinitely.

#2: If a fish or other animal eats oil, it will remain in its body forever and get passed up the food chain.

#3: All oil is poison.

#4: The mixture of oil and dispersant is more toxic than either one alone.

#5: The oil is mutating fish, destroying their populations, and putting our country’s seafood at risk.

#6: If fisheries were going to crash, we would have seen it by now.

#7: Anything bad that happens in the Gulf can be attributed to the spill.

Quite a long article summing up everything scientifically-valid about the oil spill and results from that spill. To date. Worth reading to update what you know about the spill. I certainly found it useful.

If you’ve relied on the usual news sources, this is especially useful. Traditionally conservative scientific methods produce reliable information albeit often containing a good deal less shock and awe than ideologues of any stripe may find appealing.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Kelpie sculptures illuminated for unveiling

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Scotland’s biggest art installation has been lit up as part of a spectacular launch event.

The massive steel sculptures are part of the Helix, a £43m redevelopment of about 350 hectares of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth.

Wish I was there, now. I know a couple of good mates of mine will be there the whole weekend enjoying a pint or two – or ten. And celebrating history and art.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 20, 2014 at 8:00 am

Fly me to Sochi or I’ll attack you with this chocolate bar!

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Something else for TSA to take away from passengers

A passenger on board a Hong Kong-bound Cathay Pacific flight, armed only with a Toblerone chocolate bar, demanded the plane fly to Sochi so he could watch the Winter Olympics, a court heard.

Antti Oskari Manselius, 23, from Finland, also made a false bomb threat on the February 14 flight from Amsterdam and said he was robbing the plane…

Two flight attendants told the court that they saw Manselius walking towards the cockpit. He had two economy-class blankets wrapped around his head and was wearing another like a cape. He held the Toblerone chocolate bar “like a sword”…

“He said, ‘I am robbing the plane now. I want to see the Olympics in Sochi and I need to get off the plane now,” attendant Leung Hiu-lun was quoted as telling the court. “He was furious. He made me feel like he was trying to endanger the aircraft.”

Leung said the passenger was not violent, only waving the bar as he talked. Leung told him the service was a direct flight and would not stop in Russia.

Manselius was later handcuffed under the orders of the captain.

“A Finnish passenger, a former policeman and an aircrew safety trainer handcuffed Manselius with the help of a cabin crew manager. They also cuffed his legs and fastened his chest with an extra seatbelt,” the Post said…

Manselius was arrested in Hong Kong and sent to a psychiatric center

Aside from all the healthful attributes of chocolate consumption I get to post about with delightful frequency it appears chocolate can still pose a danger – in the wrong hands.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 20, 2014 at 2:00 am

Wanting a big butt may be deadly!

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The demand for bigger buttocks in Venezuela means some women will even have banned injections to achieve them, putting their health at risk.

It is with tears in her eyes that Denny recounts how she woke up one day to find a bump the size of a football in her lower back…She could not walk or bend down, and the pain was intense.

Even before she saw a doctor, Denny, a 35-year-old Venezuelan lawyer, knew the bump must be a side-effect of liquid silicone that had been injected in her buttocks.

It had moved into her back and was putting pressure on her spine…

Buttock injections are one of many common cosmetic procedures Venezuelan women undergo to achieve what society deems to be beautiful.

The injections were banned by the government in 2012, six years after Denny had them…

But the practice continues in spite of the ban. Up to 30% of women between 18 and 50 choose to have these injections, according to the Venezuelan Plastic Surgeons Association…

The injections are made using a biopolymer silicone. The fact that this is injected freely into the body makes it more dangerous than implants, where silicone gel is contained within a shell.

The big attraction is that they are much cheaper than implants. An injection can cost as little as $318 and the whole procedure doesn’t take more than 20 minutes.

But the risks are incredibly high.

“The silicone can migrate into other areas of the body, because it doesn’t have any barriers. The body can also react immunologically against a foreign material, creating many problems,” says Daniel Slobodianik, a cosmetic surgeon…

Figures are unclear, but the Venezuelan Plastic Surgeons Association fear that at least a dozen women die every year from these injections.

RTFA. Many more personal examples. A decent discussion of the social pressures, the beauty queen ideology that seems to have taken hold across the whole of Venezuelan society.

And, of course, symptoms of the same silliness appear around the world.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 19, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Pic of the Day

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Woman carries her baby as she walks through a wheat field on her way to a polling station to cast her vote in Shabazpur Dor village
Click to enlargeREUTERS/Adnan Abidi

A woman carries her baby as she walks through a wheat field on her way to a polling station to cast her vote in Shabazpur Dor village, in Amroha district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh April 17, 2014.

We forget – caught up as we are in the historic corruption of our 2-party system of bought-and-paid-for politicians – how difficult, how meaningful it is for the poorest of the poor to vote in other countries. They know corruption from the highest to lowest of elected officials. They may risk death and at the least discrimination for months – for having the courage to vote.

Still they vote. Still they fight however they may to vote and try to change the future for their children and grandchildren.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Fundamentalists’ greatest fear – species discovered where the females have penises

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Female insects with “penises” have been discovered in Brazil – the first example of an animal with sex-reversed genitalia, scientists say.

Neotrogla females insert the erectile organs into males’ vagina-like openings…The elaborate structure, dubbed a “gynosome”, is used to suck out sperm and nutritious seminal fluids…Copulation lasts an impressive 40-70 hours, the researchers report…

“Although sex-role reversal has been identified in several different animals, Neotrogla is the only example in which the intromittent organ is also reversed,” said lead author Kazunori Yoshizawa from Hokkaido University in Japan.

The female is always on top during copulation – which lasts up to 70 hours…The gender-bending insects were found in a cave in eastern Brazil and represent four distinct species in the Neotrogla genus.

Once inside a male, the membranous part of the female gynosome inflates. It has numerous spines which anchor the two insects together.

When the researchers attempted to pull a male and female apart, the male’s abdomen was ripped from the thorax without breaking the genital coupling…

Who would have expected the AntiChrist to appear as a flying insect? :)

Written by Ed Campbell

April 19, 2014 at 8:00 am

FDA proposed E-Cigarette regulation leaked to industry first

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After years of FDA foot-dragging amid calls for action on electronic cigarettes, an industry group nearly stole the agency’s thunder with an apparently leaked copy of an impending draft regulation.

The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA) put up a picture of the scanned document on its website Friday, indicating it was the “Deeming Tobacco Products to be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act; Regulations on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products.”

However, the e-cigarette advocacy group said it decided not to go ahead with plans to release the document following informal discussions with the agency on Friday.

“[W]e all decided that [it would be] in the best interest of the regulatory process, as well as the industry and the public, not to post the document on Tuesday,” TVECA explained in a brief note on its website…

The title of the document shown by TVECA appeared to fit expectations that the FDA’s move will be to bring e-cigarettes under largely the same regulatory scheme as other tobacco products, which would involve blocking sales to minors and restricting marketing.

The agency has had e-cigarettes on its agenda for years, but finally sent a draft proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last fall; action was further delayed by the partial government shutdown.

The document was still with the OMB as of last month. Whether the copy obtained by TVECA indicates an impending release for public comment wasn’t clear.

Anyone surprised? Anyone expect documents which might affect corporate profits and the health of Americans to be leaked to scientists or public interest advocates? Our government is working harder than ever to squash the possibility of another Edward Snowden popping up, say, in the FDA or USDA.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 19, 2014 at 2:00 am

Red Moon, Green Beam — Apache Point Observatory

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red moon, green beam
Click to enlarge

This is not a scene from a sci-fi special effects movie. The green beam of light and red lunar disk are real enough, captured in the early morning hours of April 15. Of course, the reddened lunar disk is easy to explain as the image was taken during this week’s total lunar eclipse.

Immersed in shadow, the eclipsed Moon reflects the dimmed reddened light of all the sunsets and sunrises filtering around the edges of planet Earth, seen in silhouette from a lunar perspective. But the green beam of light really is a laser. Shot from the 3.5-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory in southern New Mexico, the beam’s path is revealed as Earth’s atmosphere scatters some of the intense laser light.

The laser’s target is the Apollo 15 retroreflector, left on the Moon by the astronauts in 1971. By determining the light travel time delay of the returning laser pulse, the experimental team from UC San Diego is able to measure the Earth-Moon distance to millimeter precision and provide a test of General Relativity, Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Image Credit & Copyright: Dan Long (Apache Point Observatory) – Courtesy: Tom Murphy (UC San Diego)

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

April 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Hawaii coppers fail at exemption allowing sex with prostitutes

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Hawaii lawmakers in both chambers agree that legal permission for police to have sex with prostitutes should end.
House and senate members are still negotiating on the version of House Bill 1926 they will send to the governor. But they concur that the crime bill should revoke a peculiar exemption that permits police in Hawaii, in the course of their duties, to have sex with prostitutes.

The bill began in the house and was amended as it passed out of that chamber’s judicial committee. At the time, Honolulu police told lawmakers that vice-officers needed the exemption in law to prevent pimps and prostitutes from knowing the limits of police methods.

The Associated Press wrote about the successful police lobbying against removing the sex exemption after the bill passed the house. When the senate judiciary committee took up the bill, lawmakers revised it again to reflect the backlash against the exemption, with many expressing strong convictions that police should not have the legal ability to bed prostitutes.

Honolulu police, while assuring the public that their internal policies prevent such abuse, dropped their opposition to removing the exemption.

Nice try, guys. You realize you’ve probably set an example for Congress to try the same stunt.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm

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