Pic of the Day


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Alberto Saiz

A man lays in a puddle of squashed tomatoes, during the annual “tomatina” tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol, 50 kilometers outside Valencia, Spain…

The streets of an eastern Spanish town are awash with red pulp as thousands of people pelt each other with tomatoes in the annual “Tomatina” battle that has become a major tourist attraction. At the annual fiesta in Bunol on Wednesday, trucks dumped 125 tons of ripe tomatoes for some 22,000 participants, many from abroad to throw during the hour-long morning festivities.

Phew! First look seemed like an outtake from the evening war news.

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Remember Hurricane Katrina


Click to enlarge

The ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is Friday (Aug. 29), and a handful of groups in the New Orleans area are planning theatrical events, rallies, benefits, days of service, and celebrations of recovery to mark the occasion.

Lots to remember. Especially since all the repairs, alterations and changes to poor and workingclass neighborhoods still ain’t complete.

Brain-eating amoeba found in Louisiana’s St. John Parish water system

The water system in Reserve, Garyville and Mount Airy has tested positive for a potentially deadly brain-eating amoeba, the state Department of Health and Hospitals said…Officials say the Naegleria fowleri amoeba was found in samples taken from St. John the Baptist Parish’s Water District No. 1, which serves 12,577 people in those east bank communities.

There are no known cases of illness from the amoeba. But officials warned residents to take precautions against getting water in their nasal passages, which is how the amoeba can move to the brain…

“Families can take simple steps to protect themselves from exposure to this amoeba, the most important being to avoid allowing water to go up your nose while bathing or swimming in a pool,” state health officer Jimmy Guidry. “It is important to remember that the water is safe to drink; the amoeba cannot infect an individual through the stomach.”

The St. John public school system has ordered water fountains turned off at all schools and was taping them up, school system spokeswoman Jennifer Boquet said.

Water District No. 1 was sampled as part of the state’s surveillance program and was found to be out of compliance for maintaining minimum disinfectant levels set to control the Naegleria fowleri amoeba. The state imposed higher disinfectant levels after a 4-year-old boy Mississippi boy contracted the amoeba during a visit to St. Bernard Parish and died.

St. John is now under an emergency order to perform a 60-day free chlorine burn on the water system, in which the water lines are infused with free chlorine. That is a stronger, faster-acting disinfectant than the normal infusion of chloramines, a combination of chlorine and ammonia.

Shouldn’t change the look and smell of Louisiana drinking water a whole boatload. When I lived in New Orleans it was usual to fill your bathtub with water green enough to look like a celebration rehearsal for St.Patrick’s Day.

The amoeba may not kill you; but, the crap the state of Louisiana adds to what passes for drinking water might.

Thanks, Mike

Married couples who smoke pot have less domestic violence

Hip American Gothic

Looking at couples over the first nine years of marriage, the study found:

• More frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives (two-to-three times per month or more often) predicted less frequent intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration by husbands.

• Husbands’ marijuana use also predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by wives.

Couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV perpetration.

• The relationship between marijuana use and reduced partner violence was most evident among women who did not have histories of prior antisocial behavior.

The study’s lead author is Philip H. Smith, PhD, a recent doctoral graduate of the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions and now associate research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University.

It is based on research data collected by lead investigator Kenneth Leonard, PhD, director of the UB Research Institute on Addictions. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to Leonard and a grant to Smith from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Exactly the sort of scientific research that can benefit society and law. Guaranteed to be ignored by the overwhelming majority of our lawmakers – and the idjits who vote for them.

Still, the important part is that scientists are unrelenting in their curiosity, the quest for knowledge regardless of opposition from Philistines.

University allows master to keep his Bassett on campus as a “very large cat”

The master of a Cambridge University college that banned dogs from accommodation has been allowed to keep his canine companion after persuading officials it was “a very large cat”.

YoYo the bassett hound lives at Selwyn College with Roger Mosey…Mr Mosey said cats were allowed but dogs were “technically” banned.

However, after a past master set a “dog-owning precedent” decades ago, the college “tongue-in-cheek agreed YoYo could stay as a large cat”, he said…

“Many former masters have kept cats but the greatest master, Professor Owen Chadwick, did keep dogs during the 1950s, 60s and 70s,” he said.

Permission was granted by the council, and duly noted in the minutes: “i. College Animal – Noting precedent under the mastership of Professor Chadwick, Council approved the Master’s request to adopt a Very Large Cat in the Master’s Lodge.”

YoYo, a rescue dog, has now featured in publicity material for a veterinary course and other college material…”Students call her ‘the college dog’ and I very much want her to become part of life at Selwyn,” Mr Mosey said.

A particularly collegiate and British solution to a conflict between reality and the rules.

Grain piles up – as trains are dedicated to North Dakota oil

The furious pace of energy exploration in North Dakota is creating a crisis for farmers whose grain shipments have been held up by a vast new movement of oil by rail, leading to millions of dollars in agricultural losses and slower production for breakfast cereal giants like General Mills.

The backlog is only going to get worse, farmers said, as they prepared this week for what is expected to be a record crop of wheat and soybeans…

Although the energy boom in North Dakota has led to a 2.8 percent unemployment rate, the lowest in the nation, the downside has been harder times for farmers who have long been mainstays of the state’s economy. Agriculture was North Dakota’s No. 1 industry for decades, representing a quarter of its economic base, but recent statistics show that oil and gas have become the biggest contributors to the state’s gross domestic product.

Railroads have long been the backbone of North Dakota’s transportation system and the most dependable way for farmers to move crops — to ports in Portland, Ore., Seattle and Vancouver, from which the bulk of the grain is shipped across the Pacific to Asia; and to East Coast ports like Albany, from which it is shipped to Europe.

But reports the railroads filed with the federal government show that for the week that ended Aug. 22, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway — North Dakota’s largest railroad…had a backlog of 1,336 rail cars waiting to ship grain and other products. Another railroad, Canadian Pacific, had a backlog of nearly 1,000 cars.

For farmers, the delays often mean canceled orders from food giants that cannot wait weeks or months for the grain they need to make cereal, bread and an array of other products. “They need to get this problem fixed,” Mr. Hejl said. “I’m losing money, and my customers are turning to other sources as a result. I don’t know how much longer we can survive like this.”

This month, federal Agriculture Department officials said they were particularly concerned that Canadian Pacific would not be able to fulfill nearly 30,000 requests from farmers and others for rail cars before October. As a result, North Dakota’s congressional delegation and lawmakers in Minnesota and South Dakota have called on the Surface Transportation Board, which oversees the nation’s railroads, to step up pressure on the companies.

Farmers and agriculture groups say rail operators are clearly favoring the more lucrative transport of oil. Rail shipments of crude oil in North Dakota have surged since 2008, and the state now produces about a million barrels a day. About 60 percent of that oil travels by train from the Bakken oil fields in the western part of the state to faraway oil refiners…

RTFA. Ain’t anything there likely to surprise you.

Railroad officials beat their double-breasted Brooks Brother suits and claim they show no favoritism. That they are planning an additional investment of $400 million for more track and tank cars has nothing to do with which commodity is most profitable for them.

Obviously not Christians for they certainly don’t worry about being struck by lightning as liars, eh?

Thanks, Mike

Republicans continue to trip over the Gender Gap — and more

GOP women

When it comes to the Republican Party’s path to a Senate majority, so much of the focus has been on the red states. But the difference between the GOP pursuing a lasting majority and one that is temporary — or even elusive — is how it performs in purple and blue states like Colorado and Michigan. And our brand-new NBC/Marist polls of Colorado and Michigan show Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) leading Cory Gardner (R) by seven points among registered voters…in Colorado’s key Senate race. They find Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) ahead of GOP challenger Bob Beauprez by six points… They have Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) up over Republican Terri Lynn Land by six…in Michigan’s Senate contest. And they show Gov. Rick Snyder (R) leading Democratic challenger Mark Schauer by two points… So why are Udall, Peters, and Snyder all ahead in their contests?

Here’s an explanation: mind the gaps — the gender gap, the Latino gap, and the independent gap. In Colorado, Udall is up by 12 points among female voters…as Democratic groups like Senate Majority PAC are up with TV ads…on abortion and contraception. Indeed, 70% of Colorado voters in the NBC/Marist poll said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who supports restrictions on the use of contraception. And in Michigan, Peters is ahead by 13 points with women…

But the gender gap isn’t the only notable gap in our new polls — also look at the Latino gap. Our NBC/Marist poll shows that Latinos make up 16% of registered voters in Colorado, and Udall is winning them by 31 points…

And then there’s the independent gap. In Colorado, both Udall (by 50%-34%) and Hickenlooper (by 52%-35%) have the advantage with independent voters. By contrast, in Michigan, Gov. Snyder holds a 14-point edge among independents — which explains his narrow lead in this Democratic-leaning state. Remember: It’s often easier to win independent voters as a Republican governor or gubernatorial candidate in a blue state, rather than as a GOP Senate candidate…And Snyder won his 2010 GOP primary and then general election due to independent voters…

Kind of a catch-all article. Hardly any poll analysis is as tidy as Pew or fivethirtyeight.com. Still, the groupings examined in this portion of the NBC/Marist poll would have it appear that under-represented portions of the American population are pissed-off enough to vote in their own interest.

So-called facts you find in the Creation Museum

When BuzzFeed journalist Matt Stopera went to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY for the Bill Nye–Ken Ham debate, he learned a lot of really crazy stuff that creationists make up about creationism and evolution.

“First off, the museum is HUGE. It’s also REALLY nice. Like one of the nicest museums I’ve ever been to. It took me over three hours to go through it. Through the course of those three hours, I learned just about everything I could possibly ever want to know about creationism.”

Here is a sampling of some of the things he learned in his surreal experience. Honestly, these kooks just make this stuff up. I’m a Christian. Why can’t other Christians reconcile God with science as I have? But nooooo, they (some of them) have to be as stupid as humanly possible.


Graffiti is a sign of the abandonment of God


Adam and Eve did it in a forest surrounded by dinosaurs


Animals used trees knocked down by the great flood as rafts to get around


Fork it over!

RTFA for lots more useless crap. All images via Matt Stopera of BuzzFeed.

The magic words today are “profit center”.

Time for a cute fix


AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Panda cub Bao Bao hangs from a tree in her habitat at the National Zoo in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Saturday marked her first birthday and the the zoo held an event with a traditional ‘Zhuazhou’ ceremony, a Chinese birthday tradition symbolizing long life to mark the event.

Haven’t posted a Panda in a while.

Reality TV – coppers kill “COPS” crew member

Omaha police say officers who opened fire while disrupting a robbery killed a crew member with the Cops television show and the suspect, who was carrying a pellet gun.

Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Wednesday that witnesses and officers thought the robbery suspect’s Airsoft handgun was real, but that it fires only plastic pellets.

Schmaderer said he believes the three officers involved acted properly during the attempted robbery Tuesday at a fast-food restaurant in midtown Omaha.

Schmaderer says 38-year-old Bryce Dion who worked for Langley Productions and the suspect, 32-year-old Cortez Washington, were killed…

Schmaderer said the incident will be investigated and all three officers are on leave.

Using a realistic pellet gun wouldn’t be any defense for the robbery – or the police response to what looked like an armed and dangerous robbery in progress.

What will be truly important to deal with is that now investigators know the thief was using a pellet gun – the bullet that killed a member of the film crew could only have come from one of the patrolmen.