Be careful how you treat the guy who drives the bulldozer!

An apparent disgruntled worker has been blamed for driving a bulldozer into a Houston auction house and causing $1.5 million in damage.

Officials with Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers are not sure why 52-year-old Lynn Benson of Houston was upset. The lot inspector operates the bulldozer as part of his regular duties.

Nobody was hurt Monday night after the auction business closed for the day and Benson allegedly went on his destructive spree. The building was heavily damaged, including a broken water main and destroyed office equipment.

Benson was being jailed Wednesday on a charge of criminal mischief

Operations vice president Frank Wilson says company officials want to help Benson, who was arrested at the scene.

I’d want to help him, too. He might get pissed-off, again!

New Zealand’s parliament takes first step legalizing gay marriage

The New Zealand parliament has voted 80 votes to 40 in favour of the first step towards legalising gay marriage in the country.

The vote on Wednesday took place in front of a full public gallery, and is the first vote of three New Zealand’s parliament must take, before the bill can become law…

Polls show that around two-thirds of New Zealanders support gay marriage…

New Zealand already accords many legal rights to same-sex couples under same-sex civil union laws, however activists argue this does not give them equal social status…

The movement towards the law was prompted by President Barack Obama in May, who stated his support of gay marriage.

Such a public declaration is credited with prompting John Key, New Zealand’s centre-right prime minister, to say he was “not personally opposed to the idea”.

Bob McCoskrie, founder of the conservative lobby group Family First, said…blah, blah, blah.

Yes, I noticed that I left out the bullshit statement from the rightwing nutball who would deny civil rights to LGBT couples. Why shouldn’t I?

This is not a pantywaist forum open to spreading garbage from the minds of people who would keep this planet locked into the ideology of hatred and bigotry. There is no shortage of sources to provide such crappola. McCoskrie has his own homophobe blog. TV talking heads, newspapers dedicated to being one or another flavor of corporate mouthpiece, “official” spokespeople dedicated to accomplishing nary a single change to life on this Earth – in their lifetime.

I’ve fought against backwards ideology, philosophy, politics and humbug for over a half-century. I haven’t time left to waste on being beloved and acceptable to dimwits.

Arctic sea ice levels hit record low – and continue to diminish

The amount of sea ice in the Arctic is at an all-time low, suggesting that climate change is leading to a dramatic shift in the north…

In an analysis released this week, the U.S.-based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said that Arctic sea ice cover has melted to a record low, breaking the previous record set in 2007.

Satellite data from August 26 showed that sea ice extent fell to 4.10 million square kilometers, the lowest amount ever seen since observations of the polar cap began three decades ago.

On September 18, 2007, the date of the previous record low, sea ice extent was measured at 4.17 million square kilometres.

“By itself it’s just a number, and occasionally records are going to get set,” said NSIDC scientist Walt Meier. “But in the context of what’s happened in the last several years and throughout the satellite record, it’s an indication that the Arctic sea ice cover is fundamentally changing…”

With two to three weeks left in the summer melt season, scientists expect that this year’s minimum ice extent could fall even lower. NSIDC will release a full analysis of the melt season in early October.

Arctic sea ice cover has been in a long-term decline, falling about 13 per cent per decade, a figure scientists say is a strong signal of global warming.

RTFA for anecdotal tales how this affects wildlife, First Nation communities, future commerce. No one likes to make qualitative changes in their lives and lifestyle unless it is by choice. Changing the context of people’s lives, seasonal changes affecting whole species, fit the definition of crisis whether they are survivable – or not.

Archbishop Tutu refuses to share a platform with Tony Blair

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pulled out of an event because he refuses to share a platform with Tony Blair.

The veteran peace campaigner said Mr Blair’s support for the Iraq war was “morally indefensible” and it would be “inappropriate” for him to appear alongside him.

The pair were due to take part in a one-day leadership summit in Johannesburg, South Africa…

In a statement, Dr Tutu’s Office said: “Ultimately, the archbishop is of the view that Mr Blair’s decision to support the United States’ military invasion of Iraq, on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, was morally indefensible.

“The Discovery Invest Leadership Summit has leadership as its theme. Morality and leadership are indivisible.

“In this context, it would be inappropriate and untenable for the archbishop to share a platform with Mr Blair…”

Tony Blair’s office responded by saying – blah, blah, blah…

Desmond Tutu reminds all of us that there have always been leaders whose religious standards care most of all about fighting for peace and freedom. A special contradiction this week as we get to witness Cardinal Dolan making a special appearance at the Republican Convention to emphasize their shared ideology on the repression of women, willingness to deny civil rights to folks in the LGBT community. No doubt he wouldn’t have the least problem sharing the stage with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Kudos to the Archbishop with a heart and conscience.

Scientists create biological tissue with embedded wiring

Under its human skin, James Cameron’s Terminator was a fully-armored cyborg built out of a strong, easy-to-spot hyperalloy combat chassis – but judging from recent developments, it looks like Philip K. Dick and his hard-to-recognize replicants actually got it right. In a collaboration between Harvard, MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital, researchers have figured out how to grow three-dimensional samples of artificial tissue that are very intimately embedded within nanometer-scale electronics, to such an extent that it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. It could lead to a breakthrough approach to studying biological tissues on the nanoscale, and may one day be used as an efficient, real-time drug delivery system – and perhaps, why not, even to build next-generation androids.

Putting aside futuristic cyberpunk dreams, embedding electronics deep within biological tissue has concrete and immediate uses in the applied sciences of today, because it could lead to a finely tuned, two-way communication link between the biological and the synthetic. On the one hand, nanoscale sensors could be used to monitor cellular activity on a scale and precision never seen before; on the other, electrical signals could regulate the cells’ activity on a hyperlocal scale. One day, tying the two together could create a feedback loop capable of emulating much of the same functionality of our very own autonomic nervous system…

If we are to monitor and interact with biological tissues more effectively, we need a new approach that can gather data from deep within the tissues, and do so without damaging or even affecting them. One way would be to create three-dimensional structures in which nanoscale sensors reach all the way inside the tissue. The technique developed by the Boston-based researchers does exactly that…

In preliminary experiments, heart and nerve cells were grown inside the nanostructured scaffolding. Using the networks of nanowires, the researchers could detect the cells’ electrical signals generated deep within the tissues and measure how they responded to cardio- or neurostimulating drugs. Then, they constructed bioengineered blood vessels with embedded nanowiring networks and showed that they could measure changes in pH, which normally happen in response to inflammation.

A couple dozen small steps in the direction of expanding understanding of physiological and neurological processes. Someday, affecting those processes in a positive way.