This Pink Hoodie zips over your face making you calm. Uh-huh!

Click to enlarge

❝In the late 1970s, a researcher named Alexander Schauss discovered something interesting about the color pink. It was a very specific color of pink — a Pepto, bubblegum shade created by mixing a gallon of white latex paint with a pint of red semi-gloss outdoor paint. He was the director of life sciences at the American Institute for Biosocial Research in Tacoma, Washington, and deeply interested in the work of psychiatrist Max Luscher, who hypothesized that a person’s color preference hinted at their emotional state. Schauss was curious if the flip side of that hypothesis was true: Could looking at certain hues encourage physiological and emotional changes?

After years of (somewhat questionable) research, Schauss suggested that this very specific shade of pink could slow a test subject’s heart rate and even reduce a propensity for aggressive, violent behavior. He believed the color, called Baker-Miller pink, had a calming effect akin to what you might experience during yoga or meditation. How a color might do this is still debated. “I think it’s based on associations rather than physiology,” says NYU psychologist Adam Alter, who wrote a book, Drunk Tank Pink, that examines this phenomenon. “I’m open to being convinced otherwise, I just haven’t been yet.”…

❝Steve and Nick Tidball, twin brothers who are advertising creative directors and avid adventure sports athletes, started the company…The hoodie borders on obsessive in its dedication to designing for relaxation. The brothers knew they wanted to incorporate Schauss’ color theory to reduce heart rate, so they designed a hoodie with a mesh visor that gives a pink tint to everything you look at…But that’s only one part of the problem. “We started to think, how can design influence the way you breathe?” Tidball recalls. They designed the mesh visor so it naturally encouraged athletes to breath through the nose…which ultimately slows down the rate of respiration. And they retooled the hoodie’s pockets so that when an athlete sticks his or her arms into the holes, they’re cradled like a broken arm in a sling. “Essentially it’s like wearing a straight jacket,” he says. The idea is to discourage the wearer from exerting any more energy than absolutely necessary.

Sounds like a natural for the LAPD. Though – at $330 a pop – I think it more likely early production will go straight to the NSA/CIA/FBI. You and I get to pay for them.

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When the Texas of Canada elects a government committed to the environment…

The starting line for the tar sands boondoggle

Alberta is sometimes called the Texas of Canada. It’s home to one of the largest rodeos in the world, a respectable number of annual tornadoes, and a plethora of oil and gas reserves. Falling in the not-quite-so-Texas category: blankets of winter snow, the way they pronounce their vowels, and most recently, a tax on carbon emissions.

The tax, which goes into effect January 2017, will add a few cents onto every dollar spent on coal, oil, and gas. When formerly cheap fossil fuels are forced to compete on even economic playing field with renewables, the thinking goes, people will choose sustainable energy…

A US Energy Information Administration study shows that a carbon tax like Alberta’s could reduce CO2 emissions by as much as half by 2040 (bearing in mind that comparing Alberta to the entire US is not quite apples to apples). You might recognize this strategy—using money to shape your behavior—from taxes on cigarettes, booze, and Keno. Pretty simple, pretty darn effective.

Cap and trade, the other economic climate strategy, is kind of like an inverted carbon tax. Instead of using taxes to reach a certain emissions goal, economists begin by deciding the maximum amount of carbon emissions they’ll allow. That’s the cap. But let’s think of it more like a pie, because then the regulators slice it up and auction the pieces off to energy companies.

“Some people look at tax like it’s a dirty word,” says Yoram Bauman, the economist who crafted British Columbia’s carbon tax. But taxes have their benefit, too. Many investors prefer a carbon tax because it doesn’t fluctuate along with external market factors. That stability lets them make long term plans. It’s also good for smaller economies, which is why Finland chose to implement the first in 1990.

Of course, given the choice most energy companies would choose neither tax nor cap—they’d just keep thrashing the commons. But the Paris climate talks are looming, and most world governments have already committed to some sort of emissions cuts. Heck, even Texas might come around.

But, uh, don’t hold your breath. The Democrats in Texas ain’t winning much and they don’t come close to the New Democrats in Canada.

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Photo essay – World’s largest solar farm

Click to enlargeMarcelo del Pozo/Reuters

Spain has made renewable energy a top priority. The government has paid over $76 billion in subsidies for clean energy projects since 1998.

And the investment has paid off: 42% of Spain’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2013, according to the country’s grid operator. The majority comes from wind power, but solar provided 13% of the country’s energy and is increasingly becoming a bigger part of the pie…

❝Spain is also home to the largest solar farm in the world, Andasol.

Here’s how Spain’s largest solar farm works — and why it could be a model for the future of energy around the world.

Click through to the article here. Lovely photos of the world’s largest solar farm.

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A Muslim Marine’s retort to Donald Trump


❝A former US Marine who inspired an online campaign by Muslim-Americans who oppose the idea of a religion-specific identification card says he’s had hundreds of messages of support from serving members of the US armed forces.

Tayyib Rashid’s post was prompted by remarks by Donald Trump, the presidential candidate who’s leading his Republican opposition. In a recent interview, Trump said that he’s open to the possibility of special security and surveillance measures targeting Muslims.

❝Rashid took a photo of his military ID and put it on Twitter along with a barb directed at Trump: “I’m an American Muslim and I already carry a special ID badge. Where’s yours?” Others soon began posting their own identification cards under the hashtag #MuslimID, which been used more than 10,000 times in the last three day

RTFA for many more responses.

I expect little or no truth-telling from these so-called debates from so-called Republicans.  The real shame is the cowardice of the journalists too candyass to challenge what they often know to be bald-faced lies.  I know they’re usually under orders from editors, network flunkies, to be polite at all costs.  That’s not what journalism is about, folks.

Backbone is part of the job description unless you think you signed-on to be a public relations flunky.

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Cartoon of the day

Kipling war

Same as it ever was.

Posted in History, Politics, Uncategorized, War | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Western states lead effort to let pharmacists prescribe birth control

Groundbreaking laws in two Western states will soon make access to birth control easier for millions of women by allowing them to obtain contraceptives from pharmacists without a doctor’s prescription.

Even as the Supreme Court prepares to consider another divisive case involving access to contraception, public health advocates hope these arrangements could spread across the country, as states grappling with persistently high rates of unintended pregnancy seek to increase access to birth control with measures that so far have been unavailable under federal law.

Most Western countries require a doctor’s prescription for hormonal contraceptives like pills, patches and rings, but starting sometime in the next few months, women in California and Oregon will be able to obtain these types of birth control by getting a prescription directly from the pharmacist who dispenses them, a more convenient and potentially less expensive option than going to the doctor.

Pharmacists will be authorized to prescribe contraceptives after a quick screening process in which women fill out a questionnaire about their health and medical histories. The contraceptives will be covered by insurance, as they are now…

About half of the 6.6 million pregnancies annually in the United States are unintended, a higher proportion than in Europe.

But, EU nations aren’t often controlled by fundamentalist Christian voting blocs.

Reproductive health groups and medical associations increasingly say the ultimate goal should be to make contraceptives available without a prescription, and some worry that the push for pharmacist-prescribed contraceptives could thwart that…

Cost is another possible drawback of over-the-counter sales. The Affordable Care Act does not explicitly require plans to cover over-the-counter medications, so women might wind up paying hundreds of dollars a year for over-the-counter birth control instead of obtaining it free with a prescription…

A New Mexico proposal that failed in 2012 is expected to be revised to reflect the Oregon and California measures, said Dale Tinker, the executive director of the New Mexico Pharmacists Association…

One unanswered question, however, is whether insurers will pay for the time pharmacists spend reviewing women’s questionnaires or helping evaluate options…

And then there will be the states ruled by politicians who believe the Old Testament is a better gauge of how a women’s life should be governed.

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Emerging markets leapfrogging rich countries to solar

Exhibition Center in Dezhou, China

❝We all know the story of how mobile phones took off in emerging markets. Suddenly small cocoa farmers in Africa who never had a landline or a computer were checking commodity prices on their smartphones.

Today something similarly profound is starting to happen with renewable energy.

❝For the first time, more than half the world’s annual investment in clean energy is coming from emerging markets instead of from wealthier nations, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The handoff occurred last year, and it’s just the beginning…

❝Last year, emerging markets invested a record $126 billion in clean energy, up 39 percent from the prior year, according to BNEF’s new report, called Climatescope. China dominated, adding 35 gigawatts of clean energy, or more than the U.S., U.K., and France combined. India may soon be a contender, with a plan announced this year to add 175 gigawatts by 2022…

❝The report, released today, ranks 55 emerging markets for their ability to attract capital for low-carbon energy projects. The top-scoring markets were China, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, and India.

❝Most emerging markets are rich in resources for wind, solar, and hydro power. Wind and solar are already competitive in price with grid electricity in some countries, and battery prices for large-scale electricity storage continue to fall…

❝But for populations still relying on expensive kerosine generators or who have no electricity at all, and for those living in the dangerous smog of thickly populated cities, this energy leap can’t come soon enough.

The stereotypical whining from developed nations over the course of growth in emerging nations and 3rd World countries would be boring if it wasn’t so often cloaked in colonialist smirks.  After all, most modern industrial nations – even when they weren’t directly stealing commodities – still profited from imperial theft.  Yet, they condemn nations with a young modern economy for skipping steps in environmental protection when they can’t afford to match growth with Green.

Fortunately, a principle side effect of the few progressive governments in the Industrial West who support replacing crap carbon-heavy energy with alternative means – is the economies of scale and competitive development of technology.  Which many of these emerging nations can now afford.

Sometimes, at a pace faster than the dominant [and domineering] Old Guard.

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Ending blowback terrorism!

❝Terrorist attacks on civilians, whether the downing over Sinai of a Russian aircraft killing 224 civilian passengers, the horrific Paris massacre claiming 129 innocent lives, or the tragic bombing in Ankara that killed 102 peace activists, are crimes against humanity. Their perpetrators – in this case, the Islamic State (ISIS) – must be stopped. Success will require a clear understanding of the roots of this ruthless network of jihadists.

❝Painful as it is to admit, the West, especially the United States, bears significant responsibility for creating the conditions in which ISIS has flourished. Only a change in US and European foreign policy vis-à-vis the Middle East can reduce the risk of further terrorism.❞

❝The recent attacks should be understood as “blowback terrorism”: a dreadful unintended result of repeated US and European covert and overt military actions throughout the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and Central Asia that aimed to overthrow governments and install regimes compliant with Western interests. These operations have not only destabilized the targeted regions, causing great suffering; they have also put populations in the US, the European Union, Russia, and the Middle East at significant risk of terror.❞

❝The public has never really been told the true history of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, or the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Starting in 1979, the CIA mobilized, recruited, trained, and armed Sunni young men to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The CIA recruited widely from Muslim populations (including in Europe) to form the Mujahideen, a multinational Sunni fighting force mobilized to oust the Soviet infidel from Afghanistan.

❝Bin Laden, from a wealthy Saudi family, was brought in to help lead and co-finance the operation. This was typical of CIA operations: relying on improvised funding through a wealthy Saudi family and proceeds from local smuggling and the narcotics trade.

❝By promoting the core vision of a jihad to defend the lands of Islam (Dar al-Islam) from outsiders, the CIA produced a hardened fighting force of thousands of young men displaced from their homes and stoked for battle. It is this initial fighting force – and the ideology that motivated it – that today still forms the basis of the Sunni jihadist insurgencies, including ISIS. While the jihadists’ original target was the Soviet Union, today the “infidel” includes the US, Europe (notably France and the United Kingdom), and Russia.❞

RTFA. Worth your time even if you already appreciate the events referenced in Jeff Sachs’ article.

Being a really old cranky geek, I would take the analysis even further back in time. At least understanding where and when we “overthrow governments and install regimes compliant with Western interests”. We being not only the United States; but, the UK, France, Belgium, the whole range of Euro Colonial gangsters. I was already trying to figure out what Western Imperialism did when CIA thugs overthrew the first democratically-elected government of Iran. In 1953.

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FDA finally approves the AquAdvantage Atlantic Salmon

An AquAdvantage salmon, top, next to control salmon same ageAP/Guardian

❝Based on sound science and a comprehensive review, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking several important steps today regarding food from genetically engineered plants and animals, including the first approval for a genetically engineered animal intended for food, AquAdvantage Salmon. The agency is also issuing two guidances for manufacturers who wish to voluntarily label their products as containing ingredients from GE or non-GE sources: a draft guidance on labeling foods derived from Atlantic salmon, and a final guidance on foods derived from GE plants.❞

❝The FDA has approved AquaBounty Technologies’ application for AquAdvantage Salmon, an Atlantic salmon that reaches market size more quickly than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. The FDA regulates GE animals under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, because the recombinant DNA construct introduced into the animal meets the definition of a drug. In this case, the rDNA construct introduces a trait that makes the AquAdvantage Salmon grow faster.

❝“The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty Technologies regarding AquAdvantage Salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat,” said Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.❞

❝Based on a comprehensive analysis of the scientific evidence, the FDA determined that AquAdvantage Salmon meets the statutory requirements for safety and effectiveness under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Among the requirements the sponsor had to meet are that food from the fish is safe to eat; the rDNA construct (the piece of DNA that makes the salmon grow faster) is safe for the fish itself; and the AquAdvantage Salmon meets the sponsor’s claim about faster growth. In addition, the FDA determined that food from AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe to eat and as nutritious as food from other non-GE Atlantic salmon and that there are no biologically relevant differences in the nutritional profile of AquAdvantage Salmon compared to that of other farm-raised Atlantic salmon.❞


The article goes on into regulatory language, labeling [voluntary], etc.. Approval is years overdue and I’m glad the folks at AquAdvantage had the buck$ and heart to stick with the problems of being first on the street with something new and advanced. Guaranteed to burn the hair of every Luddite worth their subscription to Rodale Press publications.

However, real, peer-reviewed science takes forever. When confronting what passed for courage in the FDA, longer becomes interminable. Yes, I’m looking forward to preparing my favorite recipe for tea-smoked salmon with filets from one of these critters. I won’t name which of my kin or non-kin in the Great White North has already taste-tested these salmon; but, he couldn’t tell the difference between the real deal caught in the North Atlantic and the fishies from a test tank.

Of course, my family has only been catching and eating Atlantic Salmon this side of the pond for a couple of centuries. What do we know?

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How to piss off an industrious woodpecker

Though the video titling references a squirrel, local experts, knowledgeable folks agree the critter putting away calories for the winter probably was a woodpecker. Either way, that is going to be one very angry animal when it gets to be time to consume those stored nuts – and they’re gone.

See hole rh-side of the dish cover where the acorns entered at 10 seconds in…

Thanks, Ursarodinia

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