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Wednesday News

Good day Conflucians!!

I’d say morning, but I sort of missed that train. It’s been a busy week for me. Damn that slave driving boss. Just between you and me, he’s a complete idiot. Wait, I’m my boss.

Let’s take a quick look at some news for the day. First, Happy Cinco De Mayo!!! For the ultimate source in understanding this holiday, let’s turn to MTV:

Cinco de Mayo (“the fifth of May”) is much more than an entertaining way to forget an entire day’s worth of events. The holiday owes its origins to the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, when the Mexican army overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to defeat invading French forces from conquering the state of Puebla. The victory remains a cause for commemoration nearly 150 years later.

Interestingly enough, Cinco de Mayo isn’t celebrated in Mexico nearly as much as it is in the United States, as the country’s most widely recognized national patriotic holiday is actually the Mexican Independence Day on September 16. But Cinco de Mayo gets plenty of attention in the U.S. not just from Mexican-Americans, but also from anybody interested in seeking out new forms of cultural exposure — largely due to the efforts of liquor companies and Mexican restaurants.

And my next favorite bit of news, marijuana is legal in DC!! OK, medical marijana, but still:

On Tuesday, the D.C. Council gave final approval to a bill establishing a legal medical marijuana program. If Congress signs off, District doctors — like their counterparts in 14 states, including Rhode Island, where Chopra works — will be allowed to add pot to the therapies they can recommend to certain patients, who will then eat it, smoke it or vaporize it until they decide they are, well, high enough.

The exact dosage and means of delivery — as well as the sometimes perplexing process of obtaining a drug that remains illegal under federal law — will be left largely up to the patient. And that, Chopra said, upends the way doctors are used to dispensing medication, giving the strait-laced medical establishment a whiff of the freewheeling world of weed.

Now I don’t have to feel so paranoid when I go to DC for meetings. No wait, I’ll probably be more paranoid.

In some comedy news, Obama promises to be “relentless” in his response with the oil spill:

President Obama said Sunday his administration has mounted a “relentless response” to the oil spill unleashed by the sinking of an offshore drill rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama met with local, state and federal officials involved in the cleanup in southeastern Louisiana, the closest stretch of coastline threatened by the massive spill. Afterward, he said that despite “the most advanced technology available,” the spill may not be stopped for many days.

“I’m not going to rest, and none of the gentlemen and women who are here are going to rest or be satisfied, until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil on the Gulf is contained and cleaned up and the people of this region are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods,” he said. “We will spare no resource to clean up whatever damage is caused.”

And we all know what an Obama promise is worth. I think it involves squatting and some sort of diddley.

An enormous jelly fish was found and videoed. Follow the link to watch:

Diver and underwater photographer Scott Gietler contacted me this week about his latest adventure.

“A few days ago I found a giant, fifteen-foot jellyfish!” he told me. “It was so exciting. We were diving in the middle of the ocean, in 2,000 feet of water! We went down on scuba to 100 feet deep and found this giant jellyfish.”

Scott said this is a purple-striped jellyfish (Chrysaora colorata). Note the fish swimming underneath it. Fish often cruise next to large jellies like this for protection from predators. This particular jellyfish species has a very powerful sting, but Scott said he and his colleagues were well covered.

An interesting article about Twitter being the new CNN:

A new study paints the popular micro-blogging service Twitter in a whole new light and sets it up to take on traditional news media.

Here’s something I’ve always known about Twitter: It’s about information not socialization. Twitter’s called a “micro-blogging” service, after all. If it were all about social interaction, perhaps it would be described as a micro-social network. Of course, with millions and millions of users, Twitter is anything but micro.

And now, my Twitter hypothesis has some academic support. A group of Korean researchers recently completed and presented the results of a unique quantitative study that paints Twitter, in fairly stark terms, as the likely future of news.

Read more for some interesting details.

And finally, yea, brief news post I know, the cheese of the week is (drum roll):

The Cheese: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

Made from pasteurized cows’ milk

Greensboro, Vermont

I know, I know: cheddar. It seems so obvious. But anyone who’s tasted this cheddar knows that it isn’t the Cabot that your local grocer stocks. This is the stuff dreams are made of. (At least mine are.) Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is a special cuvee of cheese borne of a partnership between Cabot Creamery and Jasper Hill Farm, which began as a two-brother operation in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom (way, way up there) and is now home to the largest cheese caves in the country. In their cellars, this Cabot is coddled and loved on by their affineurs, or cheese maturers, who bandage the cheese with cloth, smear it with lard (delicious lard!), and turn it every few days during its twelve-month stay in the caves. The flavor is sweet and nutty, midway between a cheddar and a Parmesan, with hints of grass and earth. After one head-turning bite, you’ll never look at another cheddar.

Chime in with your news of the day and anything else. Open thread as usual.

43 Responses

  1. Cool, the Mayans had pressurized plumbing:

    A water feature found in the Maya city of Palenque, Mexico, is the earliest known example of engineered water pressure in the new world, according to a collaboration between two Penn State researchers, an archaeologist and a hydrologist. How the Maya used the pressurized water is, however, still unknown.

    “Water pressure systems were previously thought to have entered the New World with the arrival of the Spanish,” the researchers said in a recent issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science. “Yet, archaeological data, seasonal climate conditions, geomorphic setting and simple hydraulic theory clearly show that the Maya of Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico, had empirical knowledge of closed channel water pressure predating the arrival of Europeans.”

  2. A bit more on the secret flying twinkie:

    The liftoff of an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral this month will mark one of the most secretive U.S. Air Force spaceflights in decades. Guessing the nature of the secret has become a sport among aficionados.

    “This is one odd bird,” military space historian Dwayne Day told IEEE Spectrum. “They’re spending an awful lot of money for a test program that seems to have no real end user.”

    The 6000-kilogram, 8-meter X-37B OTV-1 is often called a flying Twinkie because of its stubby-winged shape. It was built in the Boeing Phantom Works high-security facility in Seal Beach, Calif. In the flight test, the craft is supposed to orbit Earth for several weeks, maneuver in orbit, and glide its way to a landing strip at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California.

  3. My brother and I are always searching for really good cheddar. Sounds like a good Christmas present for him!

    We both love really, really aged cheddar, the kind that makes the roof of your mouth tingle.

    We also are after really aged Swiss, which is getting harder and harder to find. (Oh, my mouth is watering just thinking about the tang of very, very aged Swiss!)

    Both are becoming more and more expensive as well….

    • I used to live about a block away from The Coffee Trader on Milwaukee’s East Side, and the also carried an extensive variety of cheeses. It’s were I discovered Caerphilly, a fantastic crumbly cheddar from Wales. Now, it’s very hard to find and costs dearly. Then, it was affordable….

    • I like very sharp cheddar for cooking mac and cheese and also grilled cheese. though I have been making grilled cheese with Swiss the last few years. I agree, the tangier the better. Everything else (except Mozzarella on Pizza and lasagna) is a waste of calories.

  4. “..giant, fifteen-foot jellyfish!” Impressive and beautiful.

  5. As a kid growing up along the Jersey shore, I was terrified of jellyfish. And that one? Gives me the heebie-jeebies just looking at it.

    Here’s hoping the BP dome works in the next few days. Otherwise . . . ???

  6. When Obama says (as he did):

    “I’m not going to rest, and none of the gentlemen and women who are here are going to rest or be satisfied, until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil on the Gulf is contained and cleaned up and the people of this region are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods,” . . .

    and says he will “not rest,” does he mean he also won’t play golf or goof off in some other way?

    • Hahahahaha!

    • He probably means he will play golf more energetically. You can hardly call golf resting, after all. All that arm swinging and cart-driving.

    • Yea, he was working really really hard on it at the WH Correspondence dinner last weekend. Presidentin’ is hard!

  7. Well well well. Guess who got exempted under the Obama administration from environmental impact studies?

    The Interior Department exempted BP’s calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis last year, according to government documents, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.

    The decision by the department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) to give BP’s lease at Deepwater Horizon a “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on April 6, 2009 — and BP’s lobbying efforts just 11 days before the explosion to expand those exemptions — show that neither federal regulators nor the company anticipated an accident of the scale of the one unfolding in the gulf.


    BP also gave Obama more money than any other candidate running. Coincidence? I think not. I have zero issues with capitalism. I’m all for capitalism. But this is incestuous crony capitalism, with the politically favored getting free rein while smaller or not-so-connected competitors are crushed with the assistance of the govt.. And both the Left AND the Right of the rank and file are fucking sick of it.

    • Well, well, well, how very interesting. Funny how these sorts of things seem to work out, isn’t it.

      • Dandy, I have a family member who is as conservative as it gets. We disagree a lot on how much the federal govt should do. But we wholeheartedly agree on this. He said to me last week, “Until we can get the govt and the corporations out of bed with each other, we can’t even have a national conversation on how much or how little we want the govt to do. Until we end this rigged cronyism, we are ALL fucked, Left, Right, and Center.”

    • “Well well well.” said!

    • This is one of the results of government corruption which always goes hand in hand with crony capitalism. Bribes (ahem, donations) are made so that the businesses can cut corners with safety, and the next thing you know mines collapse, rigs explode, bridges and buildings fall down… we really should agitate for criminal charges, imo.

      • Yup. And the big boyz with lots of donor bucks get a pass on regulations that smaller or less favored companies have to comply with. How the hell is that “competitive”? It’s not.

    • Thought BP was the “Beyond Petroleum” green oil company. That must have been the branding.

  8. Seems like those spy-and-harassment tactics are still going on long after Kent State:

    A 22-year-old anti-war activist from The Evergreen [State] College will get $169,000 as part of a settlement with the State Patrol and two other law-enforcement agencies over allegations that their officers engaged in political spying and harassment.

    Philip Chinn was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving by state patrol troopers in May 2007, while traveling to an anti-war protest at the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen. According to court documents, Chinn was pulled over after police had broadcast an “attempt to locate” his car, which was described as containing “three known anarchists.” The criminal charge was dismissed after tests showed Chinn had no alcohol or drugs in his system. Chinn sued last year, alleging false arrest and violations of his right to free speech.

    The ACLU took up Chinn’s cause because it believes the case and other allegations suggest that spying on dissidents by local enforcement, at the behest of the military, “appears to be far more pervasive than we had thought,” said ACLU spokesman Doug Honig.

    The arrest pretense:

    “Chinn was “braking erratically” and driving below the speed limit. While troopers smelled no alcohol or marijuana, according to the documents, Chinn was subjected to field-sobriety tests, which he passed, according to the documents. He was arrested after one trooper concluded he was high based on “raised taste buds and a white coating on the back of his tongue,” according to the pleadings.


  9. And another reminder from the fox cohort to watch the chickenhouse:

    U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to state governors and insurance commissioners they should re-examine any WellPoint rate increases in their states “to the extent you have authority to do so.”

    Sebelius asked them in the letter, sent Tuesday night, to check whether any “mistaken assumptions” were made in their states. “Even small errors can mean unaffordable premiums for policyholders,” the letter said.

    Last week, WellPoint’s California subsidiary, Anthem Blue Cross, withdrew plans for individual insurance premium increases that averaged about 25 percent after state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said an independent audit found the hike was based on flawed data. Poizner said the application for rate increases – which would have stretched to 39 percent for some customers – contained mathematical errors and double counting of data. WellPoint, based in Indianapolis, said in an e-mail Wednesday it believed the miscalculation was unique to its California individual insurance business.

  10. An oil refinery has exploded here in San Antonio. It does mostly military and jet fuel. A truck at the loading dock exploded first, now the whole refinery is up in flames, and they are evacuating neighborhoods a mile out.

    Local twitter says that locals are also seeing jet fuel spilling into the san antonio river from a tank damaged in the blast.

  11. Excuse the source, but this just pisses me the hell off. UMMMM…MAYBE SHE WAS OUT IN THE KITCHEN FIXING OBAMA A SAMMICH?

    She Wasn’t Even in the Room [Richard Grenell]

    Now comes word that United States ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice wasn’t even at the U.N., let alone in the committee room, when U.N. members voted Iran onto the Commission on the Status of Women committee. Not only was our ambassador not in the room for the vote, she wasn’t even in the building. Wouldn’t you think that a female American ambassador would understand the importance of standing up against a country that has some of the world’s most hostile laws toward women? Shouldn’t Rice want to use the opportunity to highlight the regime’s record on women’s rights?


    • We are gaining ground fast on hostile laws toward women right here at home. And, we are slow to fix our limited laws against domestic violence and rape and equal pay and and and…

    • Frankly, no. I’d actually think any female American ambassador in this Admin would know her place and exactly what’s expected of her.

    • LOL, I agree with those who say a woman in this administration knows her place.

      But I chuckle about the National Review and their feministic tendencies.


    • Have you forgotten The “Council on Women and Girls” that was formed in March 2009? They have been meeting regularly as promised and announced many many worthy initiatives that have given women and girls hope for a better tomorrow.

      Oh wait.

    • she was not there on purpose I bet.. making nice with Iran is much more important to Obama than the rights of women. Of course he does still support the right of women to wear the Hijab in public.

      • I for one am grateful to our uterus monitoring overlords that I’m allowed to wear a hijab in public.

  12. My favorite cheddar comes from Quebec and is aged for 3 years. It is fantastic–very strong but smooth tasting, kind of crumbly. I’m addicted to the stuff. But Vermont cheddar is very good.

    • Oh, I love Canadian cheddar. Not a big fan of Cabot, a few of their varieties (like the three year) are really good, but a lot of them are kind of eh. I could totally live on cheese if it weren’t so expensive. 🙂

  13. Zabar’s has the best cheese in NYC.

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