Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ethanol's Not Green. Dental X-rays. Medical Errors. Obamacare. Toxic Toys. Another Pet Treats Recall. First Jukebox. Birdman of Alcatraz.


For "Summary Saturday", or News Day, Some Old, Some New:

Gasoline Additive Contributing To Massive Habitat Loss

"Robert Malsam nearly went broke in the 1980s when corn was cheap. So now that prices are high and he can finally make a profit, he's not about to apologize for ripping up prairieland to plant corn.
Across the Dakotas and Nebraska, more than 1 million acres of the Great Plains are giving way to cornfields as farmers transform the wild expanse that once served as the backdrop for American pioneers.

America's green energy policy, which requires oil companies to blend billions of gallons of corn ethanol into their gasoline. In 2010, fuel became the No. 1 use for corn in America, a title it held in 2011 and 2012 and narrowly lost this year. That helps keep prices high.  "It's not hard to do the math there as to what's profitable to have," Malsam said. "I think an ethanol plant is a farmer's friend."

image What the green-energy program has made profitable, however, is far from green. A policy intended to reduce global warming is encouraging a farming practice that actually could worsen it.
That's because plowing into untouched grassland releases carbon dioxide that has been naturally locked in the soil. It also increases erosion and requires farmers to use fertilizers and other industrial chemicals. In turn, that destroys native plants and wipes out wildlife habitats.

It appeared so damaging that scientists warned that America's corn-for-ethanol policy would fail as an anti-global warming strategy if too many farmers plowed over virgin land.
The Obama administration argued that would not happen. But the administration didn't set up a way to monitor whether it actually happened.  It did.

Grassland turns to farmland
More than 1.2 million acres of grassland have been lost since the federal government required that gasoline be blended with increasing amounts of ethanol, an Associated Press analysis of satellite data found. Plots that were wild grass or pastureland seven years ago are now corn and soybean fields."  More at:


As Crop Prices Rise, Farmland Expands—and the Environment Suffers

image "For instance, it’s bad news for wildlife, because corn fields are much less inviting habitat for a wide range of wild creatures, from ground-nesting birds to insects, including bees. Corn and soybean fields are increasingly encroaching into the Prairie Pothole region of the Dakotas and Minnesota, the most important breeding habitat for waterfowl in North America."   More at:


Some Dental X-Rays Have Nine Times More Radiation than Necessary

"For children and teens, routine dental and orthodontic visits are a major source of excessive radiation. Most dentists use outmoded x-ray film, called D-speed film, which requires about 60 percent more radiation than faster films. It's unclear to me why some dentists don't upgrade to lower radiation film for the benefit of their patients—or better yet, digital x-rays that reduce radiation exposure by 80 to 90 percent.

Part of the problem is, there has been no push from state dental boards toward practitioners to convert to safer imaging technology.

Contributing to the radiological load on children, orthodontists are now using a new CT-like scanning device that generates 3-D images, called a cone-beam scanner, which emits far more radiation than older devices. It's not uncommon for a teen to receive one to four cone-beam scans during the course of his orthodontic treatment.

The problem with these scans is they subject your child to hundreds of times more radiation exposure than conventional x-rays, and there is absolutely no grounds to justify the risk. In fact, orthodontists could simply use a digital camera image, which requires no radiation, to get many of the same images—it just takes a little bit longer. The point is, with so many x-rays and other radiological diagnostics being done, there is a huge opportunity for errors—errors that can have dire consequences for you and your child.

40,000 Medical Errors are Made Every Day in the U.S.

It is a sad reality about our medical system that more than 40,000 medical mistakes are made every day in the U.S., according to HealthGrades, which has been studying the quality of care in the nation's hospitals since 1988. A 2008 study reported that one in seven Medicare beneficiaries are harmed by the medical care they receive while hospitalized. Forty-four percent of these medical errors were deemed "clearly or likely preventable."

Here are a few more statistics that may shock you:

The U.S. ranks 49th in the world for both male and female life expectancy, down from 24th in 1999.

The U.S. is 41 places behind other countries in infant mortality.

If you are 45 or younger, your number one risk of dying is from being treated by a physician!

There are about 450,000 preventable medication-related adverse events in the U.S. each year.

Between 1976 and 2006, 62 million death certificates attributed cause of death to inpatient medication mistakes."  From:


Obamacare Is Hurting Texans

"Senator Cornyn called for ending the Obamacare navigator program on FOX News.  "The idea that you are not going to vet these people for criminal convictions and other things in their background that would disqualify them from collecting sensitive personal information, from possibly engaging in some sort of identity theft is unbelievable," said Sen. Cornyn.  "This is another symptom of how poorly the federal government has prepared to implement Obamacare in the last three and a half years."

Additionally, Sen. Cornyn shared stories of Texans whose health care has been negatively affected by Obamacare in a speech on the Senate floor.

“Mr. President, earlier this month I launched a web site where my constituents in Texas could describe their experiences with Obamacare. As of this morning, that site has received more than 500 submissions, and the stories are simply maddening."    More at:



"As an organization that’s spent more than two decades working to draw attention to the risks of toxic common chemicals, the last couple of months have been surreal head-spinners as not one, not two, but three different consumer product powerhouses said things we have always dreamed we’d one day hear.

Let’s recap.

In August, Proctor & Gamble quietly announced via its website that it intends to phase out its use of endocrine-disrupting phthalates as well as the hazardous antibacterial agent triclosan. Then in September, retail giant Walmart said it would require suppliers to disclose all the ingredients used in the products it sells and will target 10 high-priority chemical hazards for action. This was followed by an announcement from Target that it will begin rating products for sustainability and will heavily penalize those containing any toxins found on certain independent regulatory lists.

image We’re not breaking out the champagne just yet. It remains to be seen if these moves mark a legitimate shift toward concrete sustainability or are simply feel-good PR moves that ultimately will mean little or nothing. As we think about the toxic toys so many kids will play with this holiday season, we certainly hope it’s the former."  More at:


True Raw Choice Pet Treats Recall

November 20, 2013 — "Health Canada has announced Your True Companion Pet Products is recalling its True Raw Choice Bulk Dehydrated Natural Pet Treats due to possible contamination with Salmonella bacteria.

True Raw Choice Pet TreatsRecalled products include:

  • Duck Feet (Lot 228870)
  • Duck Wings (Lot 213825)
  • Chicken Feet (Lot 214733)
  • Lamb Trachea (Lot 225215)
  • Chicken Breast (Lot 154339)

A total of 280 total cases of the affected treats were sold in bulk at various pet food stores across Canada.

Editor’s Note: Even though the recalled products may have been purchased in Canada, they may also have been carried home to pets in the United States. So, be sure to check your own records for purchase information.  More at:


On this Day:

S.F. Gin Joint Hears the World's First Jukebox, Nov. 23, 1889:

For a nickel apiece a thrilled group tunes in on a screechy jukebox of the 1890s.
Photo: Bettmann/Corbis

"The first jukebox is installed at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. It becomes an overnight sensation, and its popularity spreads around the world.

That first jukebox was constructed by the Pacific Phonograph Company. Four stethoscope-like tubes were attached to an Edison Class M electric phonograph fitted inside an oak cabinet. The tubes operated individually, each being activated by the insertion of a coin, meaning that four different listeners could be plugged in to the same song simultaneously.

Towels were supplied to patrons so they could wipe off the end of the tube after each listening.

The success of the jukebox eventually spelled the end of the player piano, then the most common way of pounding out popular music to a line of thirsty barflies.

The machine was originally called the “nickel-in-the-slot player” by Louis Glass, the entrepreneur who installed it at the Palais Royale. (A nickel then had the buying power of $1.08 today.) It came to be known as the jukebox only later, although the origin of the word remains a bit vague. It may derive from “juke house,” a slang reference to bawdy house, where music was not unknown."  (Source:


The Birdman of Alcatraz is allowed a small taste of freedom, Nov 23, 1959:

"Robert Stroud, the famous "Birdman of Alcatraz," is released from solitary confinement for the first time since 1916. Stroud gained widespread fame and attention when author Thomas Gaddis wrote a biography that trumpeted Stroud's ornithological expertise.

Stroud was first sent to prison in 1909 after he killed a bartender in a brawl. He had nearly completed his sentence at Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas when he stabbed a guard to death in 1916. Though he claimed to have acted in self-defense, he was convicted and sentenced to hang. A handwritten plea by Stroud's mother to President Woodrow Wilson earned Stroud a commuted sentence of life in permanent solitary confinement.

For the next 15 years, Stroud lived amongst the canaries that were brought to him by visitors, and became an expert in birds and ornithological diseases. But after being ordered to give up his birds in 1931, he redirected his energies to writing about them and published his first book on ornithology two years later. When the publisher failed to pay Stroud royalties because he was barred from filing suit, Stroud took out advertisements complaining about the situation. Prison officials retaliated by sending him to Alcatraz, the federal prison with the worst conditions.

In 1943, Stroud's Digest of the Diseases of Birds, a 500-page text that included his own illustrations, was published to general acclaim. In spite of his success, Stroud was depressed over the isolation he felt at Alcatraz, and he attempted suicide several times. The legendary "Birdman of Alcatraz" died in a Missouri prison in 1963 at the age of 73."



It was raining quite a bit went I got up, then it started storming.  At 8.20am the power went out, just as I was getting the critter's breakfasts ready.  It was so dark and gloomy that I had to do it by flashlight.  The outage was pretty widespread, as the traffic light near my house was out, too.  When I called the power company, a recording said that it would be fixed by 10.00am. HaHa!

I went next door to tell Ray, and we knew that we couldn't install more screen wire as the stapler that we use for that, is electric, so we opted to fix a cabinet that is in the guest house.  Hand tools and cordless screwdrivers would do that.  Jay had done something to it years ago, and it had come apart again, then Ray had 'fixed' it again, but it was lopsided.  Shay often  complained that she couldn't 'cook straight', as her pots were all leaning crooked when on the stove. With Thanksgiving coming up, I didn't want to leave it that way, anyway I don't like to leave things un-fixed.

When we said we were going to fix it, Shay started bitching that she would have to take everything out of the cabinet.  I asked her if she wanted it fixed or not, so she complied.  Can't please some folks, they would gripe if they were hung with a new rope!

Dashing between the rain drops, Ray and I carried it to the workshop, and squared the cabinet up with pipe clamps.  It took quite a while, but we got all the parts back in their tracks, glued and screwed it together, making reinforcements where necessary. 

Then one of the doors wouldn't close.  The door was held on with metal dowel-type pins, so was no way we were going to take the darned thing apart again.  We tried all kinds of tools to try to shave a bit off the side of the bottom shelf which was making the door bind, and eventually got that sorted out.

Apparently, the middle shelf hadn't been in use for quite a while as the ledger board had come loose, so we fixed that, only to find out that Jay must have put it in crooked, with one side higher than the other.  So we had to move the ledger board to the correct height.  I asked Shay if the shelf was always cattywhompus, and she said yes.  Whatever next! 

Then we carried the cabinet back into their kitchen, with a level, and made sure that there would be no more 'crooked cooking', sideways or back to front.  We had to put a couple of shims on the bottom, and it is all level now.

Of course, as soon as we were done, the rain stopped, and the power came on for the rest of the day.

1 comment:

Dizzy-Dick said...

I guess you found a way to keep busy when the electric was off.