Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 13 April 2012

OOps - “Good Morning America” viewers in Colorado got hardcore pornography showing on the channel -

OOps - “Good Morning America” viewers in Colorado got hardcore pornography showing on the channel - 

Just in case their coffee hadn’t kicked in yet, some “Good Morning America” viewers in Colorado got an eye-opening jolt early Thursday when hardcore pornography briefly appeared on their television screens.

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Comcast cable subscribers tuned into local ABC affiliate KRDO-TV saw the explicit material due to an error made while trying to fix a technical glitch that caused a series of channels to appear on the station.

The porn — shown only for a few seconds — was followed by two hours of religious programming and a cross-feed of the ION Television network, the newspaper reported.

Clay Clarkson told the Gazette he first saw static while trying to watch the show.

“I usually watch ‘Good Morning America,’ and the channel was flickering, so I flipped to another channel,” Clarkson said. “When I flipped back, hardcore pornography was showing on the channel.”

He said he called the cable company and was told they were aware of the situation.

“The issue was a result of human error which has been resolved,” a Comcast spokeswoman told the Gazette.

In a statement, KRDO apologized for the programming interruption but said it did not come from their end.

“Of course, we are extremely upset that Comcast would air this material instead of our KRDO material,” KRDO general manager Tim Larson told the Gazette. “We are sure the offending material didn’t come from us.”

A statement on KRDO‘s Facebook page said simply that they were aware Comcast wasn’t airing their correct programming, though that did little to stop viewers from going online to vent their outrage, according to the Daily Mail.

“I’ve been on the phone already this morning after the porn that was broadcast while my daughter was eating breakfast! I’m outraged! Sick!” one parent wrote.


The U.S. government spends $40 million mowing lawns of empty homes -

The U.S. government spends $40 million mowing lawns of empty homes - 

The U.S. government owns 200,000 foreclosed homes. And to keep those empty homes looking spiffy for would-be buyers, the government has to keep up appearances — including the appearance of the lawn. As a result, we taxpayers are forking over $40 million for lawn-mowing at these uninhabited houses.

Now, in the vast scheme of government spending, $40 million doesn’t mean that much. But $40 million just to cater to this weird national lawn obsession feels over the top. Besides, there are so many other options for maintaining lawns! The government might want to look into no-mow lawn mixes, which tend to need little upkeep or chemical assistance and to do better in droughts. Alternatively, we hear that sheep do a great job mowing lawns while saving money. Think about it, Uncle Sam.


‘Pink slime’ is the tip of the iceberg: Look what else is in industrial meat -

‘Pink slime’ is the tip of the iceberg: Look what else is in industrial meat - 

You didn’t think I’d miss my chance to weigh in on the latest round of pink slime discussions, did you? Rather than recapitulate the horror that is your favorite form of “lean finely textured beef,” I will instead point you to my favorite statement in defense of pink slime. It was given by American Meat Institute Director of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren to NPR:

“This is not the same ammonia you’d use in cleaning supplies,” explains Betsy Booren of the AMI Foundation. “It’s a gas, it’s a different compound, and it’s a well-established processing intervention that has a long history of success.”

First off, the AMI Foundation? AMI’s own website identifies the group as “a national trade association that represents companies that process 95 percent of red meat and 70 percent of turkey in the U.S. and their suppliers throughout America.” Foundation my arse.

And granted, I’m no chemist — but my understanding is that the form of ammonia used in cleaning products is typically ammonium hydroxide. And the form used in pink slime is … ammonium hydroxide! The only difference is the household cleaner is a liquid and pink slime is treated with a gas.

But that’s not really the issue. When you have to defend your food production practice by saying, “Hey, at least we don’t use household cleaners on it!” you know you’ve got a big problem.

What pink slime represents is an open admission by the food industry that it is hard-pressed to produce meat that won’t make you sick. Because, I hate to break it to you folks, but ammonium hydroxide is just one in a long list of unlabeled chemical treatments used on almost all industrial meat and poultry.

Helena Bottemiller of Food Safety News dug up this United Stated Department of Agriculture document [PDF], which lists dozens of chemicals that processors can apply to meat without any labeling requirement. Things like calcium hypochlorite (also used to bleach cotton and clean swimming pools), hypobromous acid (also used as a germicide in hot tubs), DBDMH (or 1,3-dibromo-5,5-dimethylhydantoin, which is also used in water treatment), and chlorine dioxide (also used to bleach wood pulp), to name just a few.

All these chemicals can go on meat. Not that you’d know it, because both the industry and the USDA keep it on the down-low. In fact, they work together on this. The USDA requires processors to label certain approved antimicrobials, such as salt, spices, and even lemon as ingredients, but not their hard-to-pronounce brethren. Why not? Perhaps because it might shock and disgust consumers to know how thoroughly their meat must be chemically disinfected before it can be sold. USDA’s head of food safety Elizabeth Hagen told Bottemiller recently that, “Just being honest, I don’t think your average consumer probably knows a lot about how food is produced.” She’s right. We don’t know the half of it — and the more we find out, the angrier many of us get.

Andy Bellatti recently wrote a piece he called “Beyond Pink Slime,” in which he enumerates all the problems with industrial meat production that led it to this point. And in many ways pink slime is the perfect embodiment of a food industry gone off the rails.

In short, they took meat that was too dangerous to feed to humans, disinfected it so thoroughly that a block of the stuff will make your eyes water, and then celebrated the fact that they’d created a two-fer (it’s a food! it’s a disinfectant!).  The industry embraced their creation so completely that around 70 percent of all supermarket ground beef now contains the stuff. But this goes way beyond hamburger. As Tom Philpott points out, pink slime is used in a huge variety of products including “hot dogs, lunch meats, chili, sausages, pepperoni, retail frozen entrees, roast beef, and canned foods.” By industry standards, it is nothing short of a food “intervention” success story.

The irony, of course, is that the 2010 debate over pink slime brought to light evidence that this treated meat product is not nearly as reliable a disinfecting agent as its maker asserted. It was likely those indications that led the fast food industry, in most ways farther ahead of the food safety curve than supermarkets or school food providers, to abandon the ingredient late last year. And now that the mainstream media has taken notice of pink slime, even the USDA has had to back off its wholehearted endorsement for it in school lunch.

But don’t let the appearance of a back-and-forth debate fool you. Pink slime is truly worse than other forms of disinfected treated meat since the trimmings used in pink slime are known to harbor pathogens at high levels before treatment. Should it disappear from store shelves, however, we can rest assured the meat that remains will continue to be treated with other industrial chemicals. Because that’s — pure and simple — the only way the industrial meat industry can prevent its products from making people sick.

I’d like to see more consumers and media outlets asking why exactly that is.


Seven Things You Didn't Know About Friday The 13th -

Seven Things You Didn't Know About Friday The 13th - 

It's considered the unluckiest day on the calendar, associated with mishap, misfortune, mistake and just plain misery.

Yes, in case you haven't noticed, today is Friday the 13th, and we're sure you're aware of all the negative connotations that come when you combine the day and number.

That said, RadarOnline.com is going to take a closer look at the mystique behind the infamous date, and how it came to be that way, with seven things you didn't know about Friday the 13th.

7. Yes there's a formal term: People who fear the day suffer from a condition doctors have labeled "Paraskevidekatriaphobia." The root of the word is a combination of Frigga (the Norse goddess who the day of the week is named for) and triskaidekaphobia, which means fear of the number 13.
6. Unlucky 13: There are many theories as to why 13 is considered a bad number, to varying degrees of believability. Among them include the notion that since 12 signifies wholeness for many things (clocks, months of the year, the tribes of Israel, Apostles of Jesus, constellations in the Zodiac), 13 upsets that balance. Experts estimate 85% of qualifying buildings do not designate a 13th floor (calling it the 14th floor, instead) because of the stigma attached to the number. 

5. Unavoidable: Mathematicians have figured out that every calendar year will have at least one Friday the 13th. In 2012 -- already fraught with Armageddon anxiety as the Mayan calendar expires -- we've got three of them, with the next one coming in July.

3. Checkered Past: Living up to its name, a lot of bad things have occurred on this date in history: Many believe Jesus was crucified on this day; in 1307, French monarch Philip IV tortured hundreds on monks he felt were guilty of heresy; in 1970, the Apollo 13 was badly hindered when a liquid oxygen tank burst; in 1992 a Turkish earthquake killed almost 2,000 citizens, leaving another 50,000 with no place to live.

2. Fear Factor: North Carolina's Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute reported in 2004 that anywhere from 17 to 20 million Americans will alter their plans -- avoiding flights, work, and in extreme cases, leaving the house -- so as not to tempt fate on the allegedly unlucky day. The overall damage: $800-$900 million in lost revenues, the Institute said.

1. Even The Rich & Famous Can't Avoid It: Names famously associated with their distrust of the day known include former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and industrialists Paul Getty and Henry Ford. Not bothered by it? Songstress Taylor Swift, who has the number 13 on the back of her Twitter ID (TaylorSwift13). She tweeted Friday, "I love it when it's the 13th. Clearly."

Read more -