How NOT to kill a spider

Fire officials say a West Seattle man was using a lighter and a can of spray paint to kill a spider in his laundry room when the house went up in flames.

Fire crews were called to a home in the 10200 block of 34th Avenue SW just before 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Firefighters originally battled the blaze from a distance after learning there may be ammunition inside. Crews were eventually able to extinguish the fire, but not before it did significant damage to the structure.

A man who lived at the home told fire officials he was trying to kill a spider in his laundry room using a can of spray paint and a lighter when the wall caught fire, according to Kyle Moore with the Seattle Fire Department. The man wasn’t able to put the fire out himself, and he left the home when it began to spread.

“I don’t want to encourage people to do this, but that’s what he did,” Moore said. “The spider tried to get into the wall. He sprayed flames on the wall, lit the wall on fire, and that extended up to the ceiling…”

There are safer, more effective ways to kill a spider than using fire,” Moore said. “Fire is not the method to use to kill a spider.”

BTW, Kyle Moore from the Seattle Fire Department opined, “I’m pretty sure the spider did not survive this fire…”

Thanks, Mike

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Having fun in Denmark

Here’s the simplest idea for a theme park ride yet. In fact, it’s not even a “ride” at all, unless you count the elevator trip up. The Sky Tower in Tivoli Friheden, Denmark, is an actual free fall, with no ropes or kill switch. You go up 100 feet, get strapped into a safety harness just for the short time it takes to get from the platform to a hang over the edge, then the harness is unhooked. It takes a mere second to get back down. Guaranteed to cure you of ever thinking about what it would be like to jump from a building. This video shows the experience from all angles.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

82-year-old man missing for three-days — drone pilot finds him in 20 minutes

Drone

A search involving dogs, a helicopter and hundreds of volunteers came to a happy conclusion after a drone owner lent his gadget to the efforts.

The case for consumer drones got a boost after an amateur pilot ended a search-and-rescue effort last weekend by locating a missing ophthalmologist, who suffers from dementia, in a bean field in Wisconsin.

David Lesh, who normally uses the drone to make videos for his ski and snowboard business in Colorado, says he decided to try and help after learning of the search while visiting his girlfriend.

“I never thought that I would be using it to find somebody,” Lesh told NBC, saying he spotted 82-year-old Guillermo DeVenecia, who was found shoeless but unharmed, in 20 minutes after scoping a 200-acre field from the air.

The help from Lesh and his drone spared volunteers hours of trudging through a muddy field, and ended a three-day effort that had involved search dogs, a helicopter and hundreds of people.

The incident may also put additional pressure on the FAA to review its policy on the use of drones, many of which weigh under five pounds. The aviation regulator has so far taken a hard line on drones, banning their commercial use altogether, and ordering a well-known Texas-based search-and-rescue organization to ground its drones (the Texas group has since defied the order after a recent court ruling).

A significant portion of resistance to personal drone use is based on concerns for dangerous, intrusive or creepy use of the hardware and cameras. Like any reasonable geek, I think there are plenty of laws already on the books dealing with dangerous, intrusive or creepy behavior. No need for additional rules governing utilization of technology.

If behavior is unlawful — use existing law and make an arrest.

What Halliburton fracking chemicals polluted an Ohio waterway?

On the morning of June 28, a fire broke out at a Halliburton fracking site in Monroe County, Ohio. As flames engulfed the area, trucks began exploding and thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals spilled into a tributary of the Ohio River, which supplies drinking water for millions of residents. More than 70,000 fish died. Nevertheless, it took five days for the Environmental Protection Agency and its Ohio counterpart to get a full list of the chemicals polluting the waterway. “We knew there was something toxic in the water,” says an environmental official who was on the scene. “But we had no way of assessing whether it was a threat to human health or how best to protect the public.”

This episode highlights a glaring gap in fracking safety standards. In Ohio, as in most other states, fracking companies are allowed to withhold some information about the chemical stew they pump into the ground to break up rocks and release trapped natural gas.

The oil and gas industry and its allies at the American Legislative exchange Council (ALEC), a pro-business outfit that has played a major role in shaping fracking regulation, argue that the formulas are trade secrets that merit protection. But environmental groups say the lack of transparency makes it difficult to track fracking-related drinking water contamination and can hobble the government response to emergencies, such as the Halliburton spill in Ohio.

This was true when I worked along the Gulf of Mexico decades ago. Ain’t nothing changed especially.

Trade secrets claims are a ruse to keep folks concerned with a living in a safe environment from finding out what crap the drilling companies are pumping into Mother Earth. Industry competitors will find out what they’re using for drilling and fracking if it appears to provide an advantage. Believe me.

No – the scumbags all the way up to the top of Halliburton and the American Petroleum Institute consider nothing to be as critical as optimizing the profits they suck from the ground. Whatever crap they leave behind, which poisons remain behind or pose a danger above-ground like the Monroe County fire – is only a concern if it makes a difference in dollar$ in their quarterly report to Wall Street and shareholders.

Worried about hobbling government response to emergencies? Go high enough up the state and federal food chain and the only handicap you’ll run into is making the mistake of thinking that hand is out to greet you. That palm is there to be greased with green.

Pic of the Day

solar filament eruprs
Click to enlargeImage Credit: NASA’s GSFC, SDO AIA Team

What’s happened to our Sun? Nothing very unusual — it just threw a filament. [Kind of like a plasma furball]

Toward the middle of 2012, a long standing solar filament suddenly erupted into space producing an energetic Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The filament had been held up for days by the Sun’s ever changing magnetic field and the timing of the eruption was unexpected. Watched closely by the Sun-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, the resulting explosion shot electrons and ions into the Solar System, some of which arrived at Earth three days later and impacted Earth’s magnetosphere, causing visible aurorae.

Loops of plasma surrounding an active region can be seen above the erupting filament in the ultraviolet image…

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Colbert lampoons Steve Pearce – New Mexico’s primo Republican hypocrite

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 3.20.46 PM

Like any politician skewered by Colbert, Pearce has now passed beyond the deer-in-the-headlights stage and has his minions running hither and yon – trying to soften the effect of Colbert and his army of fans who laugh at what passes for a conservative in 21st Century America.

Thanks to Steve Terrell

Israelis shell a UN emergency shelter — kills 15, injures 200


This is how Israel brings Western democracy to the Middle eastMichael Longari/AFP/Getty Images

At least 15 people have been reported killed and 200 injured in the Israeli shelling of a UN school in northern Gaza which was being used as a shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside…

In an interview with Al Jazeera Chris Gunness, the spokesman for UNRWA, the UN’s humanitarian organisation in Gaza, said his organisation had been in contact with Israeli forces as fighting closed in on the shelter.

“We gave the Israelis the precise GPS co-ordinates of the Beit Hanoun shelter. We were trying to co-ordinate a window [for evacuation] and that was never granted…”

He called the attack “tragic and appalling”…

Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA told Al Jazeera there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed.

This is a designated emergency shelter,” he said. “The location was conveyed to the Israelis.

“This was an installation we were managing, that monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.

Thoughtful, concerned citizens of many nations want a UN investigation into Israeli war crimes like this and others. Of course, that doesn’t include representatives from the United States government. It really doesn’t matter how many civilians are killed by Israel’s military – to Congress, the White House, to the less-than-courageous journalists of the center and right mass media.

It has never mattered to the Israeli government or their kriegsmaschine.