Wisconsin using cheese to clear icy roads — uh huh!

In a state whose license plates advertise it as America’s Dairyland, where lawmakers once honored the bacterium in Monterey Jack as the state’s official microbe and where otherwise sober citizens wear foam cheesehead hats, road crews are trying to thaw freezing Wisconsin streets with a material that smells a little like mozzarella.

This month, Milwaukee began a pilot program to repurpose cheese brine for use in keeping city roads from freezing, mixing the dairy waste with traditional rock salt as a way to trim costs and ease pollution.

Local governments across the country have been experimenting with cheaper and environmentally friendly ways of thawing icy thoroughfares, trying everything from sugar beet juice to discarded brewery grain in an attempt to limit the use of road salt, which can spread too thin, wash away and pollute waterways.

Snow science experts say an attempt to recycle the salty brine that flavors cheese was only a matter of time, particularly in a state like Wisconsin.

“We’re just trying to make every possible use of cheese,” said Tony Zielinski, an alderman who represents the Bay View district, adding that local governments in other states have called him to learn more about the program. “If this takes off, if this proves to be a success here, I’m sure that it will be used in cities all over the country.”

But in this dense urban setting, Milwaukee officials are reviewing a list of potential problems that come with cheese-coated streets: Would a faint odor of cheese bother residents? Would it attract rodents? Would the benefits of cheese brine, said to freeze at a lower temperature than regular salt brine, be enough to justify the additional hauling and storing requirements..?

Chuck Engdahl, the wastewater manager at F & A Dairy Products in northwestern Wisconsin, said his company now donates most of the excess liquid to a handful of municipalities willing to cart it away, including Milwaukee, saving about $20,000 a year in hauling costs…

So far, there has been little complaining. Abut odor, anyway. That may be a rap on Wisconsin cheese, after all. I couldn’t imagine folks saying they didn’t notice a change in the aroma of their streets if the region made a superb camembert or an appenzeller.

They’re still waiting to hear from the mice.

Tech contracts now requiring data storage offshore from USA

Firms in the UK and Canada are reportedly updating their cloud contracts to demand that their data be kept out of the US. The report doesn’t contain enough details, however, to say if this is a trend or an isolated incident.

Is this the backlash? A handful of companies are requiring cloud service providers to promise — in writing — that they won’t store any client data in the United States, according to Bloomberg.

The report says that a British grocery chain and a Canadian pharma company have responded to the ongoing US surveillance scandal by adding language to existing contracts that mandate suppliers to segment their data and keep it out of America.

The report of the revised contracts comes as the cloud computing industry continues to digest news that America’s National Security Agency is tapping underwater cables and infiltrating the servers of storage providers as part of a sweeping counter-terrorism program…

So does the Bloomberg report portend the start of a trend? It’s too soon to say. The report, which also claimed a Canadian agency had asked for the “no data in USA” clause, was based on a single source (an Indiana security firm known as Rook Consulting) and did not name any of the companies involved.

And, while such reports are eye-catching, they also provide a public relations opportunity for cloud providers outside of the US.. to drum up business. In the meantime, it’s unclear if European cloud providers have the capacity to take over existing large-scale data storage contracts, and to what degree companies’ existing cloud contracts dissuade them from switching services.

Are we to give thanks to the NSA for providing a great reason for offshoring business from the United States? Roberts’ article doesn’t ask the important question: What idiots in our government skipped past the question of how being the most intrusive Big Brother in the World would affect American businesses dependent on guaranteeing security to their clients?

If I was working in communications with valuable data there is no way on Earth I would trust an American corporation to provide me with anymore privacy than the American government seems to allow. Which is damned little.

Priest says woman hypnotized him and stole church donations


He said she hypnotized him?!

A woman stole a Padua, Italy, church’s Christmas offerings after hypnotizing a 71-year-old priest, police said.

The woman, described as a Roma, or gypsy, about 35, made off with 1,800 euros collected by Padua’s Santa Giustina abbey during the Christmas period…adding she entered the cloister area of the church where the presence of women is forbidden.

The priest learned of the theft and alerted police after he came out of the hypnosis-induced trance

Uh-huh.

Anyone else think there may be a chance the “trance” was induced by something other than hypnosis?

Colorado issues first marijuana sales licenses

The first licences in the United States that permit retailers to sell marijuana for recreational use from 1 January were issued in Colorado on Friday.

Owners of cannabis dispensaries lined up to collect the permits in Denver: an initial batch of 42 licences were issued, most to growers but around a dozen to shops.

Colorado voters approved a new law during the November 2012 general election that would expand the state’s laws allowing the production and sale of medical marijuana to cover recreational uses…

The state already licenses more than 500 medical marijuana dispensaries, and only those outlets may apply to sell it for recreational use. State authorities have already approved 348 recreational sale licences but businesses also require a local licence, the first of which were those issued in Denver on Friday.

A festive atmosphere took over at the normally staid city licensing office in Denver on Friday. Justin Jones of Dank Colorado in Denver picked up his grower’s and retailer’s licences for recreational pot on Friday to add to his newly-acquired state licence in readiness for expanding his medical business for recreational purchases…

“Most people have been doing this illegally for so long that they are just ready to celebrate the fact that they can now purchase marijuana legally. I look forward to ending this version of prohibition,” he said.

Colorado last year also brought in a new law specifically to cover the offence of driving under the influence of drugs, which sets a limit of 5 nanograms of the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, in the blood while operating a vehicle…

“We are waiting to see how the science works out. We are waiting to see how many elements of the new law will pan out,” he said.

He said he hoped employers who currently have a zero tolerance policy on drug use among their workers would “adapt to the cultural changes” now accelerating in Colorado.

Of course, we can just sit back and elect a flock of Confederate Republicans to Congress and they can start the fun and games of Prohibition all over again. It would fit what passes for religion among folks with 14th Century minds.