moldybluecheesecurds 2

Monday, November 30, 2009

Industrial Thanksgiving

A fascinating piece on about the impact of industrial food processing on your Thanksgiving food:

"A 1990 patent secured by food processor Swift-Eckrich (now Armour Swift-Eckrich) describes a method for freezing turkeys faster than traditional air-chilling. Salt, water and propolyene glycol — a major and generally nontoxic component of airplane de-icers — are cooled down to less than minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Because the propylene glycol and salt lower the freezing point of the water, the liquid remains unfrozen. The turkeys are either sprayed with the solution or immersed in it, in a tank like the one below."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Two thoughts on health care

First, where do people get the notion that America has the best health care system?  I suspect that they really mean it's the best one they know.  And they should know better:
The United States ranks 31st in life expectancy (tied with Kuwait and Chile), according to the latest World Health Organization figures. We rank 37th in infant mortality (partly because of many premature births) and 34th in maternal mortality. A child in the United States is two-and-a-half times as likely to die by age 5 as in Singapore or Sweden, and an American woman is 11 times as likely to die in childbirth as a woman in Ireland.
As my friend RL notes, we have to be careful of cherry-picking our rankings.  But whether or not we're the best in a select group of industrial nations, we are definitely not number 1.

Then there's the hyperbole of health care opponents.  A selection:
Critics storm that health care reform is “a cruel hoax and a delusion.” Ads in 100 newspapers thunder that reform would mean “the beginning of socialized medicine.”

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page predicts that the legislation will lead to “deteriorating service.” Business groups warn that Washington bureaucrats will invade “the privacy of the examination room,” that we are on the road to rationed care and that patients will lose the “freedom to choose their own doctor.”
Oops, wrong debate.  As the Times' Kristof points out, these are statements from the Medicare debate in the 1960s.  They were wrong about Medicare and they're wrong about the current health care bill. 

Of course, they do illustrate a third point: hyperbole is not a new tactic in politics.  Something we should all keep in mind.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When I die, burn me and use the heat

Clean Break: "The amount of natural gas and electricity used to cremate one body is the equivalent of driving a car from coast to coast...Given this post-humus environmental footprint — and given our concern about climate change — innovation in this area is on the rise. In Denmark and Sweden, some municipalities are taking the waste heat from their local crematoriums and using it as part of their district heating systems."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where Should I Eat? A Fast Food flowchart

Fast Food Edition (Flowchart): "With this simple to follow flowchart you will never have to decide which to listen to, your brain or your stomach. Now you can save those precious braincells for better decisions…like plaid or argyle…"
Click through to see a hilarious step-by-step process to select your next meal in a hurry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Laptop Steering Wheel Desk: Electronics "Wow is this thing great! I use it as a 'mini-bar' when the friends and I go out to the bars. I can quickly fix multiple shots of tequila for myself and the friends as we drive from one bar to the next."
You should definitely check this out, especially the product images and reviews...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Deficit spending moralism "I’d be a little more forgiving of the nonsense if all the people screaming about the deficit were sincere. And some are. But many, if not most, are perfectly happy to incur huge unfunded liabilities for the wars they want to fight, and/or to eliminate inheritance taxes for the heirs of multimillionaires. It’s only deficits incurred to help working Americans that get them all moralistic."

Friday, November 06, 2009

Baby Einstein Videos make Baby DumbStein

There's a reason people call it an idiot box.
MinnPost: "a 2007 study involving children (some in Minnesota) aged 8 to 16 months found that for every hour a child spent watching a Baby Einstein or other type of baby-oriented DVD or video, the child understood six to eight fewer words than same-aged babies who didn’t watch them." [emphasis mine]
Einstein didn't watch TV when he was a kid.

Social Isolation is not a technology problem

The conventional wisdom is that people who spend too much time on the web or their phone increase their social isolation. Turns out it isn't that simple. In fact, technology-connected folks are actually more socially connected (as measured by metrics such as visiting parks and cafes, and volunteering for local organizations).

But the tradeoff seems to be social connectedness outside your geographic area: "People who use social networks like Facebook or Linkedin are 30 percent less likely to know their neighbors and 26 percent less likely to provide them support."
What about neighbors who you also know on Facebook?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

CDC says sick people should stay home, but in the U.S. that means giving up a paycheck

Wonk Room: "Actually, almost 50 percent of private-sector workers in the U.S. have no paid sick days. A survey last year by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that “68 percent of those not eligible for paid sick days said they had gone to work with a contagious illness like the flu.”" [emphasis mine]
And once again, when it comes to health care, "The U.S. is the only developed country without a policy mandating some form of paid sick leave."

This is just embarrassing.

The British Go Bank-Busting — Is There A Lesson For The U.S.?

Wonk Room: "Indeed, as Felix Salmon put it, for these companies to be successful, they need to be boring"
I think that collateralized debt obligations serve no useful social purpose. Holding money and lending money do. Let's make banking boring again.