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Archive for October 7th, 2010

Religious nutball destroys controversial artwork

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A Montana woman was arrested Wednesday at a Colorado museum after she destroyed an artwork that some observers say depicts Jesus engaged in a sex act…Kathleen Folden of Kalispell, Mont., was taken into police custody after she entered the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Loveland, Colo., and destroyed a work called “The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals,” a lithograph by Enrique Chagoya. The police told The Denver Post that Ms. Folden had used a crowbar or similar tool to break the plexiglass in front of the work and then tore it up. She has been charged with criminal mischief, a felony punishable by a fine of up to $2,000.

For several days the museum has faced protests for displaying the work, which also depicts comic book characters, images from Mexican pornography and Mayan symbols. The Post reported that Daryle Klassen, a Loveland city councilman, objected to the display during a council meeting, calling it “smut” and adding, “That’s not what our community is about.” Some Roman Catholics in Loveland had also sought to have the work taken down.

Mr. Chagoya, a professor of art and art history at Stanford University, told The Post that the lithograph was a commentary on revelations of child abuse by Catholic priests.

“My work is about critiquing institutions and politics,” Mr. Chagoya said. “I wasn’t trying to portray Christ; it’s a collage of cutouts from different books.”

Folden screamed, “How can you desecrate my Lord?” as she smashed the plexiglass in front of the lithograph and then ripped up the lithograph.

No doubt she will defend her Christian act as being above the law.

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Written by Ed Campbell

October 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Weezer offered $10 million to split up

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A group of frustrated music fans want Weezer to break up, and they’re willing to pay them. Claiming the band has never improved on their 1996 album Pinkerton, the organisers of a new campaign hope to raise $10m to convince Weezer to pack it in and stop “disappointing” fans. “This is an abusive relationship,” the project’s creator said. “It needs to [end].”

“I’m tired of it,” James Burns explained to Seattle’s the Stranger. “Every year, Rivers Cuomo swears that he’s changed, and that [Weezer's] new album is the best thing that he’s done since Pinkerton, and what happens? Another pile of crap like Beverly Hills or I’m Your Daddy.” Instead of leaving snarky comments on the internet, Burns is urging like-minded haters to put their money where their mouths are. “I beg you, Weezer,” he said. “Take our money and disappear.”

Burns has a long way to go. At the time of writing, he has raised a grand total of $273 toward his $10m. But if Guardian readers suddenly flock to the campaign, remortgaging their homes to banish Weezer for good, it could conceivably work out. The band’s drummer, Patrick Wilson, commented on Twitter: “If they can make it 20[million dollars],” he wrote, “we’ll do the ‘deluxe breakup.’”

According to Burns, Weezer’s musical entropy doesn’t just affect fans – it affects everyone. “I have never been a fan of this band,” he said. “I think that they are pretty much horrible … [But Weezer fans] are our brothers and sisters, our friends, our lovers … I am tired of my friends being disappointed year after year.”

Can we steal the idea and use it on politicians?

Written by Ed Campbell

October 7, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Farmers next to GM fields benefit from pest reduction as expected

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Farmers growing conventional corn next to GM crops can benefit from the reduction in crop-destroying pests without paying the premium for GM seeds, a new study has shown.

The research, published today in the journal Science, examined 14 years of records in the top US corn-producing states of Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin, looking at the prevalence of the European corn borer, a moth whose caterpillars eat into corn stalks and topple the plants.

The so-called Bt GM corn varieties were first planted in 1996 and produce toxins taken from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, which is deadly to the pest. In GM fields, the pest is eradicated, but the data showed that in neighbouring non-GMO fields the pest populations shrank by 28-78%, depending on how much GM corn was being grown in the surrounding area.

The study also found that the caterpillar-killing GM varieties grown in the vast US corn belt had retained their potency 14 years after being first sown, showing the pests had not developed resistance.

Scientists said the demonstration of the “halo effect” was a triumph for genetically modified crops. Prof Bruce Tabashnik, an entomologist from the University of Arizona, who was not part of the research team, said: “It’s a wonderful success story. It’s a great example of a technology working how it should…”

The researchers, led by Prof Bill Hutchison at the University of Minnesota, also calculated the economic benefits over the 14 years of the GM corn-growing. They valued the extra corn harvested because of the reduction in corn borer numbers and took into account the extra $1.7bn farmers had paid for the GM seeds, equivalent to $10-20 per hectare. The total benefit was $6.8bn but they found it was not evenly distributed: non-GM fields gained two-thirds of the total benefit, despite making up only one-third of the land.

Another hundred years or so and there will be sufficient testing and records to show everyone whether or not GM food crops are a step forward. Probably enough to satisfy most.

And the naysayers will not change their objections one iota.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 7, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Better wages if you’re overweight – if you’re a man

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We have posted before on how obese women have a far harder time climbing the career ladder than their slimmer female counterparts, while men actually improve their chances of reaching the corner office when they gain weight.

Now, a new study goes a step further by showing that employers seem to treat women exactly the way the fashion industry does – by rewarding very thin women with higher pay, while penalizing average-weight women with smaller paychecks. Very thin men, on the other hand, tend to get paid less than male workers of average weight. Men earn more as they pack on the pounds – all the way to the point where they become obese, when the pay trend reverses.

The study is the first look at the effects of being very thin on men vs. women…led by Timothy A. Judge of the University of Florida found very thin women, weighing 25 pounds less than the group norm, earned an average $15,572 a year more than women of normal weight. Women continued to experience a pay penalty as their weight increased above average levels, although a smaller one — presumably because they had already violated social norms for the ideal female appearance. A woman who gained 25 pounds above the average weight earned an average $13,847 less than an average-weight female.

Men were also penalized for violating stereotypes about ideal male appearance, but in a different way. Thin guys earned $8,437 less than average-weight men. But they were consistently rewarded for getting heavier, a trend that tapered off only when their weight hit the obese level. In one study, the highest pay point, on average, was reached for guys who weighed a strapping 207 pounds…

Do you see body-image stereotypes at work in your workplace?

BTW, Professor Judge has a good thing going. He did a related study in 2003 which indicated that taller people made more money.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Israel prepares to pass “Jewish” loyalty oath – UPDATED

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Israeli “democracy” in action
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

In a move likely to fuel tensions with its minority Arab population, Israel moved a step closer to passing a law that would require new citizens of the country to declare their loyalty to a “Jewish state.”

In a statement released Wednesday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his support for adding language to Israel’s citizenship and entry law that would declare a new citizen’s allegiance to “a Jewish and democratic state.”

“The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people. This principle guides government policy, both foreign and domestic, and is a foundation of Israeli law,” Netanyahu declared in the statement…

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Ask your friendly neighborhood teabagger how they feel about enforcing a mandatory Christian United States? They’d probably offer the usual Judeo-Christian folderol. It gets to sound more inclusive.

Arab Knesset member Ahmed Tibi from the Ra’am-Ta’al party criticized the move, saying that ” the values of Jewish and Democratic cannot be in the same definition because democracy is the equality of all the citizens. But an ethnic definition as Jewish is the preference of the Jew over that of the Arab and therefore it fixates an inferior status to 20 percent of the population…”

In an updated statement, Netanyahu said “Israel is a democratic state that gives full civil equality to all its citizens. We uphold this in our foreign and domestic policy, and in the peace negotiations.”

Which is another lie.

None of the populations under the thumb of Israeli occupation are allowed to vote in anything other than a strictly local election. They have no voice in the larger political entity ruling their lives.

UPDATE: The Israeli cabinet adopted the bill.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 7, 2010 at 9:00 am

Bee pastures: floral havens for pollinators

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Blue orchard bee on a California five-spot flower

Beautiful wildflowers, perhaps as alluring to bees as they are to people, might someday be planted in “bee pastures.” These floral havens would be created to help propagate larger generations of healthy, hard-working bees.

Pesticide-free bee pastures can be “simple to establish and—at perhaps only a half-acre each—easy to tend,” says entomologist James H. Cane. He’s with the Agricultural Research Service’s Pollinating Insects Biology, Management, and Systematics Research Unit in Logan, Utah, about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Cane has conducted bee-pasture-related experiments for about 4 years, working both in a research greenhouse and at outdoor sites in Utah and California. He says species of pastured pollinators could include, for example, the blue orchard bee, Osmia lignaria. This gentle bee helps with pollination tasks handled mainly by the nation’s premier pollinator, the European honey bee, Apis mellifera…

In their experiments, Cane and colleagues have studied wildflowers that might be ideal for planting at bee pastures in California. In particular, the team was interested in early-flowering annuals that could help bolster populations of blue orchard bees needed for pollinating California’s vast almond orchards. The research resulted in a first-ever list of five top-choice, bee-friendly wildflowers for tomorrow’s bee pastures in almond-growing regions.

These native California plants are: Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), California five-spot (Nemophila maculata), baby blue eyes (N. menziesii), lacy or tansy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia), and California bluebell (P. campanularia)…

Cane estimates that every 10 square yards of pasture that is planted with a mix of these five attractive flowers could provide enough pollen and nectar to support 400 mother bees. In turn, these pastured parents could produce enough progeny to—the following year—pollinate 3 acres of almond trees…

Cane notes that the bee-pasturing approach could perhaps be developed for other regions where other tree crops that blue orchard bees pollinate are grown, such as the cherry, apple, or pear orchards of the Pacific Northwest.

Bravo!

Now, the discussion in my own household will begin. My father-in-law will be rolling back into New Mexico with his 5th-wheeler, soon – and he used to be a beekeeper.

We have the space here at Lot 4. And this seems to be a self-perpetuating ecosystem once past propagation.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 7, 2010 at 6:00 am

Canadian driver follows GPS into swamp

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An Ontario woman had to be rescued from the roof of her flooded car after a GPS system steered her astray into an isolated marsh. The incident happened Tuesday night in the Murray conservation area, northwest of Trenton, as the 25-year-old woman was driving to a friend’s home…

Officers from two OPP detachments and local firefighters had trouble locating the motorist, who had used her cellphone to call 911, in the large, remote area.

The dispatcher kept her on the phone and asked her to honk her horn to help direct rescuers, said Chief John Whelan of the Quinte West Fire Department. Firefighters dressed in floatation immersion suits used all-terrain vehicles to reach the woman, whose newer-model Mazda was stuck in waist-deep water.

She was checked by waiting paramedics, but was uninjured. “She was just wet and cold and scared,” Chief Whelan said.

The woman had followed a narrow trail into the middle of the swampy marsh when her car slid off the roadway and began filling with water shortly before 9:45 p.m., he said. She was about a kilometre off the main road.

There still is no patch for stupidity.

Not to say I’m not capable of something equally silly. I remember one time on a mountain just across the valley from the Eiger…

Written by Ed Campbell

October 7, 2010 at 2:00 am

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