(Linked to Hodor.)
Avoiding kale, if not exactly a priority, has certainly been a factor on my task list, on the sensible basis that “flavorful,” that popular foodie term, does not, I believe, necessarily imply that the flavor in question is at all desirable.
But some foodies may soon be turning their backs on the stuff, not for flavor considerations, but for something a bit more intensive:
[A]lt-medicine researcher and molecular biologist Ernie Hubbard … began to notice an odd trend among some of his clinic’s clients in California’s Marin County, a place known for its organic farms, health-food stores, and yoga studios. Extremely health-conscious people were coming into to complain of “persistent but elusive problems”: “Chronic fatigue. Skin and hair issues. Arrhythmias and other neurological disorders. Foggy thinking. Gluten sensitivity and other digestive troubles. Sometimes even the possibility of Lyme Disease.”
Hubbard began to find detectable levels of a toxic heavy metal called thallium in patients’ blood samples at higher-than-normal levels as well as in kale leaves from the region. Meanwhile, “over and over,” he found that patients complaining of symptoms associated with low-level thallium poisoning fatigue, brain fog, etc. would also be heavy eaters of kale and related vegetables, like cabbage.
And he found, in the form of this 2006 peer-reviewed paper by Czech researchers, evidence that kale is really good at taking up thallium from soil. The paper concluded that kale’s ability to accumulate soil-borne thallium is “very high and can be a serious danger for food chains.” And here’s a peer-reviewed 2013 paper from Chinese researchers finding similar results with green cabbage; a 2015 Chinese study finding green cabbage is so good at extracting thallium from soil that it can be used for “phytoremediation” i.e., purifying soil of a toxin and a 2001 one from a New Zealand team finding formidable thallium-scrounging powers in three other members of the brassica family: watercress, radishes, and turnips.
Excuse me while I smile at “thallium-scrounging powers.”
Up until about the early 1970s, you could buy thallium sulfate at your local hardware store: it made a good rat poison. Turns out, of course, that it can poison lots of critters besides rats. Still, it’s not like the whole earth is just saturated with the stuff; while thallium is not exactly rare as elements go, the most common sources are industrial. One of those industries, however, is big in these parts: oil drilling.
It was almost exactly seven years ago when I contemplated the possibility of getting actual sidewalks on my postwar suburban-ish street, and I was sort of dubious about the prospects:
[D]oes it go on my side of the street, or on the other side? There’s a sidewalk around the corner which, if continued, would end up on my side. The city, I believe, would have no issues with taking out my elm tree, or the one next door, but I suspect they draw the line at having to relocate my water meter, which is even closer to the curb than the trees are. Argument for the opposite side of the street: it’s a lot flatter over there.
We learned this week, though, that they’re actually coming, along with resurfacing of all the east-west streets in the neighborhood, most of which are crumbling concrete with approximately one part per thousand of grass. (The Neighborhood Association was very high on both these prospects, and I can’t say as I blame them.) And yes, it’s going to be on my side, so I can presumably kiss that tree goodbye.
The pitch from the NA, which voted overwhelmingly for the sidewalk project:
Any homeowner whose front yard is in the path of development of the new sidewalks will lose approximately 5 square feet of their front lot. The benefit will be a greatly improved and beautified neighborhood, increased walkability, and likely improved resale values.
As Martha would say, those are Good Things. The “5 square feet” bit is bungled, of course: it’s five feet back from the curb. My lot is 60 feet wide up front, so I part with 300 square feet, less the area already covered by the driveway. As for that “flatter” bit, here come the graders: an incline of two degrees is as much as they’re going to tolerate, which means I’m also presumably getting some sort of retaining wall.
When this will happen, I do not know. The repaving ordeal begins in August and will take, they say, about a year: there are 15 blocks scheduled for repaving, so maybe three weeks per block. No timetable has been unveiled for the sidewalks. And how long does it take to move a water meter, anyway? If we’re going to be waterless for long, I need to plan an escape route.
Echochamber.js bills itself as “All off [sic] the commenting, none of the comments.” This is what they mean:
Echochamber.js is a third-party script you can install to add a simple comment form to your blog post or website.
why not just use disqus?
Because then there’d be a chance that someone would read the comments. You might have to read those comments. You don’t want that.
When a user submits a comment, echochamber.js will save the comment to the user’s LocalStorage, so when they return to the page, they can be confident that their voice is being heard, and feel engaged with your very engaging content. It does not make any HTTP requests. Since LocalStorage is only local, you and your database need not be burdened with other people’s opinions.
The script is simple, and is fed from a reliable source: Amazon Web Services.
(Via Brianna Wu. Don’t say it.)
I can’t even think of an intro for this:
A woman is in a coma after her butt implants exploded while doing squats at a gym. Serena Beuford, 27, was working out for an Instagram video when she heard a loud pop. Soon after, she fell to the floor screaming in agony … saying that her butt was gone.
According to Beuford’s sister Jackie, Serena had visited an unlicensed clinic to get a 64-inch bottom. She said her sister wanted to become famous on Instagram.
On a scale of 1 to Donald Trump’s speechwriter, how pathetic is this?
And while we’re at it, what if your butt was gone?
What’s the single worst aspect of our current and probably future health-care system? If you ask me, it’s the fact that situations like this are possible:
[A] few months ago a doctor told me I should have a test, an angiogram, just to be safe. How much would it cost? The doctor had no idea. Nobody had any idea. If I wanted I could call up my insurance and be put on call waiting for half an hour to finally be told they had no idea. But, hey! Everybody wants to be safe, right?
Today I got the bill. Turns out it cost $7300. Who knew?
I’m not complaining that the test is too expensive. They had a big room with bright lights and computer monitors and machines going “ping!” Machines that go “ping!” cost money. I am complaining that I would have had to file a subpoena to get a ballpark figure for what it would cost. I was like, “Is it over $1000? Is it bigger than a breadbox?” Nobody knew.
How do they not know this stuff? Do they just make the numbers up afterwards?
Not enough people demand prices up front. Dr. Smith, who’s been there before, explains:
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the obligation of the seller to provide and display prices to the buyers. It’s not the obligation of the buyer to discover prices that are probably hidden. And in healthcare, most of the time they are. As a seller, if I say “here is what I am, here is what I do, and here is what I charge for it,” then the buyer can very deliberately determine whether that represents a value or not. They can comparison shop. And they can do it without revealing anything or providing any commitment whatsoever to me, the seller. This is present in every industry in the U.S. but it is largely absent in healthcare. Fortunately it is a growing phenomenon and more and more people are realizing that it is incumbent upon the seller to provide prices.
Worst-case scenario, which is actually the norm: prices are based on what the government will fork over.
[T]he government ultimately gets everything wrong. If they guess what my price should be, they’re either going to guess too low, which means I’m not going to provide the service, or they’re going to guess too high, which means resources are wasted.
Any attempt by anyone in a top-down central planning type of fashion to guess what the prices for services or products should be, is going to be wrong. Real prices emerge from competitive activity.
And avoiding competitive activity is at the very heart of American health care, a situation which the ACA does absolutely nothing to alleviate but then, it was never intended to.
A chorus and a verse of “Let It Go” for a Maryland politician who apparently can’t:
A Democratic state delegate in Maryland who is rumored to be considering a run for Congress was charged with trespassing and indecent exposure after exposing her breasts to her ex-husband and his fiancée at their home, according to court documents obtained by the Washington Post.
Del. Ariana Kelly was dropping off her children at their father’s home in Bethesda, Md. when she became enraged that her ex-husband’s fiancée was present.
Her ex, wisely, took pictures:
Barak Sanford captured video of the incident, which according to court documents revealed that Kelly exposed her breasts to the camera “with one breast in each hand [shaking] them up and down.”
After being told by police that she could be arrested for indecent exposure, Kelly said, “Arrest me then” and extended her hands towards the officers to be arrested.
And, well, you didn’t have to tell them twice.
It is not yet clear whether this will affect Kelly’s reported interest in Maryland’s 8th District Congressional seat, about to be vacated by Chris Van Hollen, who is seeking to replace the retiring Barbara Mikulski in the Senate.
(Via Robert Stacy McCain.)
Our old friend Cripes Suzette is in Las Vegas, and as always, she’s determined to find out what’s going on:
I wondered what was in the “Intimacy Kit” on the minibar on this hotel room so I picked it up to see.
Feel free to see for yourself. There is, of course, a downside:
And now I’m going to have a $32.00 charge on my bill for moving it off the sensor.
Curiosity killed the Carte Blanche.
A lot of different things happen during a car crash, none of them good and several of them loud. Mercedes-Benz is trying to offset that noise:
When your ear hears a sudden loud noise, the acoustic reflex contracts the stapedius muscle in the middle ear to block out the sound, protecting the sensitive eardrums and other bits of the inner ear.
Mercedes has taken advantage of this in the E-Class, with a new feature called Pre-Safe Sound. When the car senses an imminent impact (using onboard cameras and ultrasonic sensors), the stereo plays a loud static-type noise around 85 decibels. It’s not so loud that it hurts, but it’s loud enough to trigger the acoustic reflex and protect the ear from the much louder sound of the accident that arrives a moment later.
This strikes me as eminently more useful than, for instance, the recent tendency of automakers to pipe engine noise into the cabin.
(Via The Truth About Cars.)
This song was never supposed to have been on Meghan Trainor’s album Title:
In fact, it was never supposed to have been a ballad, let alone a duet; Trainor reportedly conceived it as a reggae tune, possibly usable as a demo. Old friend Chris Gelbuda persuaded her to blow the dust off of it, and the two of them, playing all the instruments, assembled it into a workable track.
John Legend is involved because he and Trainor share management and record companies he’s on Columbia, she’s on Epic and once he heard it, he wanted to be part of it. In the time-honored Modern Duet style, neither of them was in the studio at the same time. But they sang it together at this year’s Billboard Music Awards, and somehow it was right.
Facebook’s Lord Zuckerberg will know who you are if it kills him. No, wait, not him. You:
Jemma Rogers, 30, a holistic therapist, from Lewisham, south-east London, set up a profile on the social network in 2008.
Wanting to avoid annoying friend requests from old friends and strangers, she created the profile under the pseudonym Jemmaroid Von Laalaa.
But last month she got a message from Facebook asking her to send identification to prove it was a genuine name and account.
It’s that “Von.” Makes her look like one of the nobility.
Confused but worried she’d be locked out, Jemma admits she desperately tried to photoshop her bank cards to prove that was her real name.
One day later, Jemma’s account was suspended and she couldn’t get in. She emailed Facebook explaining what she’d done and sent over her real ID begging them to let her back in. But she was told they could not confirm her identity and her account was suspended.
In a desperate bid to get the profile back, she changed her name by deed poll and is now officially Ms Von Laalaa.
“Desperate” doesn’t even approach this level of, well, whatever the hell it is.
Von Laalaa has now obtained new credentials driver’s license, credit cards and Facebook subsequently relented. Since she’s, you know, all real and stuff.
Remind me never, ever to engage Ms. von Laalaa’s services as a “holistic therapist”. With so much stupid in the air, I might never recover!
I’d hate to have that much emotional webbing tying me to a social network. Especially that social network.
Deborah Mailman, forty-three today, was the first Aboriginal to win the Australian Film Institute (now Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts) Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, for her 1998 performance in Radiance. (In 2015, she co-hosted the AACTA award show with Cate Blanchett.)
And Mailman truly delivers: she’s been nominated five times for AACTA awards, and won every time.
Among her most notable TV work is Offspring, which ran five years on Network Ten and was cancelled, partially because the showrunners had new projects to work on, and partially because the show had run 65 episodes, meaning no further subsidies from Screen Australia.
El Nuko celebrates the beginning of his tenth year behind a blog dashboard with a list of ten predictions, two of which I figured I ought to pass on:
- The huge NSA data collection center at St Louis will be totally breached, and all of the information will be released into the open. The US economy will be thrown into a deep depression as credit availability evaporates overnight due to lack of confidentiality.
- Obama will propose microchip implantation as the solution, which will be agreed to by both parties, with the exception of 2016 hopeful Mike Huckabee, who sees this as the “mark of the beast.”
Expect Mitch McConnell to offer token resistance at first, because that’s what he does best: token resistance.
“Haircut,” in the financial-crisis sense, sounds cheery, especially when you consider the reality of the matter:
Haircut. It sounds so droll; you can imagine a sharp banker in a fine suit cocking an eyebrow and sighing about someone having to take a haircut, when the truth of the matter is someone dragged to a stump and made to put his head in the blood of the last guy they brought up on stage. Hold still, it’ll be easier for you. The correct metaphor would probably be “have several layers of skin removed by rubbing a hot brick all over the body,” but it would seem as if there’s something unfortunate going on.
Why, everyone has a haircut, eventually.
And with it, probate. Probably.
The Z Man reminds us that we’ve seen this sort of thing before:
Failing up is so common today it feels like it is new, but it has been a feature of the human condition for a long time. Alcibiades is a guy who would be comfortable in today’s culture of failing up. Instead of screwing up the invasion of Syracuse, he would have run a bank into the ground and then run for the Senate.
In prior ages, society could afford precious few of these sorts of people. Mistakes were simply too costly to tolerate having too many idiots in powerful positions. In the post scarcity world of today, it feels like we can tolerate an unlimited supply of losers, grifters and charlatans.
Certainly we’re never going run short of such individuals there are times when I think we’re breeding them deliberately though I have to admit that I’m not quite sure exactly which of those three descriptors, or which combination thereof, he means to apply to Republican candidate Carly Fiorina:
A fair number of people who think of themselves as diehard conservatives are fans of Fiorina. She is polling in the single digits, but the GOP will find some reason to get her on the debate stage. The reason, of course, is she is a woman. To her credit she says the sorts of things you expect a Republican to say, which says a lot of about the state of the party, but the only thing that matters is she lacks a penis.
As distinguished from several Republicans of past and present who lacked testicles.
Looking ahead, then:
Fiorina is smart enough to know she is not winning the nomination. This is the long con and that means angling for the VP spot or maybe a cabinet position. She will get on the stage and look good in the debates. By spring of next year she will be out of the race and have a good idea as to who will win the nomination. She will make a big show of endorsing that person and campaigning on their behalf.
In 2017 she will be nominated as Secretary of HHS and she will do to health care what she did to Bell Labs.
Quite a shame, really. One of the things Fiorina has going for her is a record of firing people, something that doesn’t get done nearly often enough in Washington.
Flying somewhere used to Not Suck. Really, it did:
Airport (the 1970 movie) portrayed air travel as it was back then; glamorous, bordering on exotic … a thing the hoi polloi could only dream of doing. Okay, put aside the part where the crazy guy exploded a bomb on the plane; that’s not my point. Back then, stewardii were all hot babes, your knees were not serving as backstops for the seat back in front of you, your seatmate was not wearing a Dumb and Dumber tanktop, carrying on luggage was considered tres gauche, and you were served food, on plates with silverware no less. As everyone knows, it’s not like that anymore.
I always spelled it “stewardae,” but then I was somewhat perverse in that era, and besides, I never actually got on a plane until 1972. After that, though, I logged some ridiculous number of miles in the next three years. (Somewhere in the low five digits, anyway.)
Airlines have become the Greyhound bus of the 21st century … and I am not saying that in a pejorative way. Yes, the relative luxury of air travel 40 years ago is gone and we can bemoan that. However, air travel today is fast, relatively inexpensive, and reasonably convenient. The price we have paid is being packed in so tightly with our fellow passengers that, if we were pigs headed for the slaughter house, there would be animal cruelty ordinances to prevent it. The animal analogy is a good one and, again, I am not being pejorative. Realistically, the only way airlines can move millions of people and their stuff around every day is to treat them like cattle. It works.
And we get farther from free-range every day.