South Dakota Court allows ‘pink slime’ lawsuit to proceed

The South Dakota Supreme Court is allowing a $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit to proceed against television network ABC over its coverage of a meat product that critics derided as “pink slime.”

The decision on Thursday allows the plaintiffs to potentially depose news anchor Diane Sawyer, two of the networks correspondents and other defendants.

Dakota Dunes-based Beef Products Inc. sued the network in 2012 for its coverage of the meat product the industry calls “lean, finely textured beef.” BPI alleges that the coverage led to plant closures and layoffs because it misled consumers into believing the product was unsafe.

Attorneys for ABC in court filings say the network in each of its broadcasts stated the FDA deemed the product safe to eat.

It just looks disgusting until you kill the beast and thoroughly cook it.

Then, consider the quality of politicians who think this crap is a taste treat.

Thanks, Mike

CO2 hits 400 parts per million, highest monthly average in human history

The World Meteorological Association announced Monday that the average monthly concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the northern hemisphere exceeded 400 parts per million in April, the highest monthly average on record.

A press release from the United Nations’ weather agency says crossing the “threshold is of symbolic and scientific significance and reinforces evidence that the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities are responsible for the continuing increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases warming our planet.”

According to the WMO’s release, CO2 levels have risen more than 40 percent, up from pre-industrial levels of around 278 ppm, since human’s began burning fossil fuels. CO2 can remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, longer still in the oceans. Because plants absorb more carbon dioxide during summer months when their foliage is more dense and plentiful, CO2 levels fluctuate from season to season and tend to peak in the spring. The northern hemisphere, due to higher levels of human industrial activity than the southern hemisphere, tends to have a more pronounced seasonal cycle.

But even with April’s reading representing a seasonal peak, Earth’s atmosphere hasn’t seen levels as high as 400 ppm for millions of years.

“This should serve as yet another wakeup call about the constantly rising levels of greenhouse gases which are driving climate change. If we are to preserve our planet for future generations, we need urgent action to curb new emissions of these heat trapping gases,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said…”Time is running out.”

Scientists are essentially conservative in the methodology they choose to analyze the real world; but, they are relentless. While skeptics prance about and prate this week’s talking points from the Koch Bros and the other fossil fuel barons – real science moves steadily onward. There may be dialectical moments of sharp new understanding. In general, though, the core characteristic is step-by-step until a qualitative level is raised.

And then the process starts anew.

Reserve junk science politics for philistines who put profits before people’s needs.

The Edward Snowden interview with NBC’s Brian Williams

Click to reach interview at NBC News site

Of course, there is a commercial before you get to part 1. And NBC News offers a page full of government punditry trying to counter the Snowden revelations. Just because Brian Williams scored the beat of the year with his interview of Edward Snowden – and did it in a fashion worthy of Edward R. Murrow – doesn’t transform NBC/Universal/ComCast into a bastion of free speech and democracy.

They’re covering their butts in predictable fashion.

Meanwhile –

Let me repeat my reaction right after the interview:

First, let me give credit where due to NBC and Brian Williams. I expected something better than Fox Noise or John Kerry. I was able to watch an essentially Socratic interview with interesting questions generally free of jingoism and pap. Maybe I should drop by and watch this wee corner of network television once in a while. At least on this single important issue, they did American journalism proud.

Second, Ed Snowden was about what I expected ideologically. Pretty much a centrist libertarian – that’s with a small “L” – who cares about the history and standards of our constitution. He was much more articulate and detailed in his defense of civil disobedience against a distorted and hypocritical government – than I expected. He was kinder to the pimps who malign him than I ever could be – but, then, he’s dedicated to a single issue, our privacy, our freedom to be Americans in the traditional sense that our government used to support. He did a great job.

I expect nutballs on the Right to be out of their mind with hating this interview. I expect Democrat apologists for the policies of Bush and Obama to be equally incensed. I’m confident those who supported Snowden before tonight – as I have – will continue. And will recommend – as I do – that you watch the video of the interview and draw your own conclusions.

MIT’s CityHome project seeks small space versatility

For many residents today, the idea of fitting furniture into a 600 sq ft condo or apartment has become a compact reality. Now a team from MIT’s architectural program have come up with the CityHome project; a versatile appliance-like solution, designed to increase usable space by two or three times.

The adaptable CityHome project works to help solve the timeless spatial problem of “How do you configure the dining room in your micro-space so guests don’t have to sit at a work station during supper?”

The concept is relatively simple: condense all the necessary amenities, such as the bed, entertainment unit, counters, work space, cooking unit and range, furniture storage, etc. into one transformable wall system. Looking like an intricate Italian kitchen unit, the CityHome project from MIT’s Kent Larson and Hasier Larrea not only solves the typical spatial issues associated with tiny condos and apartments, but does so via interactive touch elements, hand gestures, and voice control.

Internal motors connected to command units silently move out units selected by predetermined hand gestures (presumably registered by the control system using built-in cameras), so no physical effort is required. One gesture could, for example, draw the bed out of its space. Another instructs it to return to its original position, and then a work desk can be moved out (which also doubles as a dining table for six).

The team has also applied gestural commands to the lighting system, so that residents can adjust the ambiance in any area of the room as needed, and for control of the window blinds.

From a functional and ergonomic perspective, the bathroom, toilet and shower arrangement clearly needs further consideration. But the concept of providing a versatile living space for those crammed into undersized accommodations definitely has potential.

Poisonally, I’m not impressed with using hand gestures. Aside from making the system overly complex with sensors and interpretive software for the gestures – there ain’t anything wrong with a push button or touch surface. You might end up writing the script for a Woody Allen movie.

I haven’t looked at Japanese designs for small spaces in a few years; but, I imagine there may be comfortable ideas worth adapting to American butts.