Darwin Award candidate

A Mexican veterinarian accidentally shot himself dead as he posed for a Facebook selfie with a pistol, police said.

Oscar Otero Aguilar, 21, had reportedly been drinking with pals in Mexico City last weekend when he pointed the loaded gun at his face for the snap…But the 0.45 caliber weapon discharged – and he was hit in the temple by the bullet.

Neighbors heard the gunshot and called cops.

Officers arrived to find him still alive, but they lost a battle to save him – and he was declared dead at the scene soon after…

Abner Campos Vives, with whom Aguilar was drinking, was detained for questioning…Another friend, known only by his nickname “El Paco,” went on the run soon after the incident.

I’d worry about any kind of doctor who couldn’t tell his left hand from his right.

Daylight is best medicine for nurses

In a forthcoming Cornell study…Rana Zadeh, assistant professor of design and environmental analysis, discovered nurses who had access to natural light enjoyed significantly lower blood pressure, communicated more often with their colleagues, laughed more and served their patients in better moods than nurses who settled for large doses of artificial light.

Letting natural light into the nurses’ workstations offered improved alertness and mood restoration effects. “The increase in positive sociability, as measured by the occurrence of frequent laughter, was … significant,” noted Zadeh in the paper.

Nurses work long shifts, during non-standardized hours. They work on demanding and sensitive tasks and their alertness is connected to both staff and patient safety. Past evidence indicates natural light and views have restorative effects on people both physiologically and psychologically. Maximizing access to natural daylight and providing quality lighting design in nursing areas may be an opportunity to improve safety though environmental design and enable staff to manage sleepiness, work in a better mood and stay alert, according to Zadeh…

Access to natural daylight, and a nice view to outside, should be provided for clinical workspace design, said Zadeh. In situations where natural light is not possible, she suggests optimizing electric lighting in terms of spectrum, intensity and variability to support circadian rhythms and work performance.

Yes, I know most folks would consider this an automatic goal. Tell that to some of the Scrooges who manage hospitals and clinics as if they paid for each lightbulb and window from their own pocket.

Why should ANY scientist cave in to anti-science, Luddite fears?

By Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief and head vegetable chef of VOX

I once asked Twitter to name the liberal equivalent of conservatism’s climate change denial: that is to say, an issue where the weight of liberal opinion had swung hard against the weight of scientific evidence. The most common candidate was liberal mistrust of genetically-modified foods:

This conversation came to mind when I saw this clip of Neil deGrasse Tyson slamming anti-GMO hysteria:

GMOs are actually an example of liberalism resisting the biases of its base. Though there’s a lot of mistrust towards GMOs and fury towards Monsanto among liberals, the Democratic Party establishment is dismissive of this particular campaign. You don’t see President Obama or Democratic congressional leaders pushing anti-GMO legislation…

Part of the reason comes down to people like Tyson. Political scientists will tell you that parties, and the ideological movements that power them, are composed of much more than officeholders and electoral strategists. They’re driven by interest groups and intellectuals and pundits and other “validators” that partisans and politicians look to for cues when forming their beliefs.

When it comes to environmental issues, one of those validators is the environmental news site Grist. It would’ve been easy for Grist to simply cater to the biases of their audience and go on a crusade against GMOs. Instead, they had journalist Nathanael Johnson do a huge series exploring the science, practice and controversy over GMOs. His conclusion? GMOs are basically safe, though their benefits are overstated by proponents. Grist could have spun the issue, or ignored the issue, and profited off the resulting traffic. But they didn’t. They pushed against the biases of their base.

When it comes to scientific issues, Neil deGrasse Tyson has emerged as a key liberal validator. But given the opportunity to cater to his base and send a clip viral by whipping up anti-GMO hysteria, Tyson does just the opposite. “We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables and animals, that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them. It’s called ‘artificial selection.’ That’s how we genetically modify them.” His basic advice to those worried about GMO foods: “chill out…”

The difference, at least for now, isn’t between liberals and conservatives. It’s between the liberal and conservative establishments…In that way, GMOs are actually an example of how differently the Republican and Democratic parties and their allied ideological movements have been responding to scientifically contested issues. Just as many conservatives distrust science that tells them the earth is warming and government needs to regulate private enterprise to stop it, many liberals mistrust science that says genetically manipulating seeds or injecting chemicals into children will lead to a better world.

The difference is that conservatism’s mistrust of climate science has taken over the Republican Party — even politicians like Mitt Romney and John McCain have gone wobbly on climate science — while liberalism’s allergy to messing with nature hasn’t had much effect on the Democratic Party. And part of the reason is that the validators liberals look to on scientifically contested issues have refused to tell them what they want to hear.

That may be how conservatives want scientists to behave; but, they don’t. Liberals asking the same of scientists are on a fool’s errand and most of them realize it. I hope.

The abuses of science by corporations are no less criminal than abuses by governments. Monsanto’s greed is no less evil than the destruction visited upon Hiroshima by a government run by the Democrats in 1945. Neither example makes a case for rejecting humane and beneficial use of the same technologies.

Unless you prefer ignorance, superstition and ideology over rational opportunity.

A chance to fight for oversight and the right to control direction of implementation of scientific discovery trumps smashing machines and setting fire to crops – every time.

Monday morning reminiscence of Italy over breakfast


Click to enlarge source

A gentle rain, this morning. One of the delights of monsoon season, sometimes, in high desert country. Sunrise shining through the rain. Felt and smelled like nothing but my Italian grandparents’ farm in New York state – or Tuscany, which never got so cold in the winter.

My notes about a morning in Bivigliano are over at my friend Om Malik’s personal blog. The link is behind the photo above, taken in his vacation, the R&R he’s still immersed in – in Tuscany.

And Monday breakfast often depends on leftovers. I ate just a tad extra of my wife’s pork stew, yesterday; so no meat in the most important meal of the day – yet. Only my second cup of coffee with a touch of cinnamon in the brew, dark roast and strong as usual.

I’d baked a couple of long slender loaves of Italian bread, last week, instead of the usual boule. A quarter whole wheat, three-quarters unbleached white flour per usual. I turned one into broccoli bread the way the maestro did it at the Grand Bakery in my old Fairhaven neighborhood. I stuffed the loaf with steamed broccoli, minced garlic lightly sauteed in e.v. olive oil, dried red chile fragments.

The two heels of that loaf remained from the weekend. So, I split them, leaving a little broccoli in each piece. Toasted them till the sharp edges of the bread were just turning brown. Rubbed the stiff crust with a clove of garlic and brushed each surface with more of my favorite Sicilian extra virgin olive oil, and just a few grains of Malden sea salt.

Sat down with my coffee and Paul Desmond on Pandora streaming. “So long, Frank Lloyd Wright”.

The rain should stop, soon. Sheila’s a true New Mexico dog and won’t come outside for a walk with me until it does.

Panasonic wants Singaporeans to eat its veggies


Click to enlargePanasonic competitor, Sky Green Farms

Japan’s Panasonic Corp, best known for its television sets and home theater systems, wants to feed Singaporeans its radishes and lettuce.

A unit of the electronics conglomerate last week started selling to a chain of Japanese restaurants in Singapore fresh produce grown in what it says is the first licensed indoor vegetable farm in the island state.

The move ties Panasonic’s deeper push into farming technology with land-scarce Singapore’s ambition to reduce its near-total reliance on food imports…

The facility, which presently has a small production capacity of 3.6 tonnes annually, produces 10 types of vegetables such as mini red radishes and baby spinach.

Indoor farming has found favor with other hi-tech Japanese companies as well. Fujitsu Ltd is growing lettuce at its Fukushima province plant, while Sharp Corp is testing growing strawberries indoors in Dubai.

In Singapore, Panasonic’s 248 square meter farm is located inside a factory building on the outskirts of the city, where standard fluorescent lighting gives way to a pinkish-purple glow from LED lights brought in to nurture the plants. The company restricts visitors to maintain the controlled levels of temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide.

It aims to grow more than 30 crop varieties by March 2017 and account for around 5 percent of local vegetable production. It said the vegetables grown at its facility could be half the price of those flown in from Japan.

Agro-technology expert Lee Sing Kong said Singapore can improve its food security for perishable items like vegetables, which cannot be stored for long periods unlike grains, by using new techniques of cultivation to increase productivity.

Hey, it works for ganja. Why not for vegetable calories and nutrition.