you learn something new every day

.. and he’s not going to take it anymore

But now we have to listen to self-appointed experts on airplanes frightening their seatmates about the profession I have practiced for more than 30 years. I’d had enough. I turned around and politely told the lecturer that he ought not believe everything he reads. He quieted and asked me what kind of farming I do. I told him, and when he asked if I used organic farming, I said no, and left it at that. I didn’t answer with the first thought that came to mind, which is simply this: I deal in the real world, not superstitions, and unless the consumer absolutely forces my hand, I am about as likely to adopt organic methods as the Wall Street Journal is to publish their next edition by setting the type by hand…

…Critics of “industrial farming” spend most of their time concerned with the processes by which food is raised. This is because the results of organic production are so, well, troublesome. With the subtraction of every “unnatural” additive, molds, fungus, and bugs increase. Since it is difficult to sell a religion with so many readily quantifiable bad results, the trusty family farmer has to be thrown into the breach, saving the whole organic movement by his saintly presence, chewing on his straw, plodding along, at one with his environment, his community, his neighborhood. Except that some of the largest farms in the country are organic—and are giant organizations dependent upon lots of hired stoop labor doing the most backbreaking of tasks in order to save the sensitive conscience of my fellow passenger the merest whiff of pesticide contamination. They do not spend much time talking about that at the Whole Foods store.

The most delicious irony is this: the parts of farming that are the most “industrial” are the most likely to be owned by the kind of family farmers that elicit such a positive response from the consumer. Corn farms are almost all owned and managed by small family farmers. But corn farmers salivate at the thought of one more biotech breakthrough, use vast amounts of energy to increase production, and raise large quantities of an indistinguishable commodity to sell to huge corporations that turn that corn into thousands of industrial products…

Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin:

You might think half a muffin over an entire day wouldn’t matter much, particularly if you exercise regularly. After all, doesn’t exercise turn fat to muscle, and doesn’t muscle process excess calories more efficiently than fat does?

Yes, although the muscle-fat relationship is often misunderstood. According to calculations published in the journal Obesity Research by a Columbia University team in 2001, a pound of muscle burns approximately six calories a day in a resting body, compared with the two calories that a pound of fat burns. Which means that after you work out hard enough to convert, say, 10 lb. of fat to muscle — a major achievement — you would be able to eat only an extra 40 calories per day, about the amount in a teaspoon of butter, before beginning to gain weight. Good luck with that.

Fundamentally, humans are not a species that evolved to dispose of many extra calories beyond what we need to live. Rats, among other species, have a far greater capacity to cope with excess calories than we do because they have more of a dark-colored tissue called brown fat. Brown fat helps produce a protein that switches off little cellular units called mitochondria, which are the cells’ power plants: they help turn nutrients into energy. When they’re switched off, animals don’t get an energy boost. Instead, the animals literally get warmer. And as their temperature rises, calories burn effortlessly. (See TIME’s health and medicine covers.)

Because rodents have a lot of brown fat, it’s very difficult to make them obese, even when you force-feed them in labs. But humans — we’re pathetic. We have so little brown fat that researchers didn’t even report its existence in adults until earlier this year. That’s one reason humans can gain weight with just an extra half-muffin a day: we almost instantly store most of the calories we don’t need in our regular (“white”) fat cells.

All this helps explain why our herculean exercise over the past 30 years — all the personal trainers, StairMasters and VersaClimbers; all the Pilates classes and yoga retreats and fat camps — hasn’t made us thinner….

…The problem ultimately is about not exercise itself but the way we’ve come to define it. Many obesity researchers now believe that very frequent, low-level physical activity — the kind humans did for tens of thousands of years before the leaf blower was invented — may actually work better for us than the occasional bouts of exercise you get as a gym rat. “You cannot sit still all day long and then have 30 minutes of exercise without producing stress on the muscles,” says Hans-Rudolf Berthoud, a neurobiologist at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center who has studied nutrition for 20 years. “The muscles will ache, and you may not want to move after. But to burn calories, the muscle movements don’t have to be extreme. It would be better to distribute the movements throughout the day.”

This tends to work for me. I exercise because it helps keep back problems at bay, and because it’s just fun to run fast every once in a while. But changing my eating habits permanently is the only way I’ve ever been able to lose weight.

Obama may be a badass flykiller, but he doesn’t compare to this guy

UPDATE: Iowahawk: Widow of murdered fly seeks White House apology, shit

Make money off retired cell phones, save the planet, and support developing countries at the same time*

* Link thanks to Corinne

I’m not a real fan of weather that’s so bitter-cold it’ll freeze your eyeballs, so I’ve never seen these in real life:

On the evening of March 31st, 2009, Tim Tevebaugh was driving home from work east of Craigmont in the southern Idaho Panhandle (see map below). Across the rolling hay fields, Tim saw a very unusual phenomenon. The snow rollers that he took pictures of are extremely rare because of the unique combination of snow, wind, temperature and moisture needed to create them. They form with light but sticky snow and strong (but not too strong) winds. Some snow rollers are formed by gravity (i.e. rolling down a hill), but in this case, the snow rollers were generated by the wind.

These snow rollers formed during the day as they weren’t present in the morning on Tim’s drive to work.

Based on estimations from Tim as well as the blades of grass in the picture, most of the snow rollers were about 18″ in height, while the largest rollers were about 2 feet tall.



Link thanks to Seablogger

My grandmother, who saw Lindbergh’s plane flying over Ireland on the way to Paris, used to say things like this all the time. She was always telling me how bad it was in the old days. They had to walk down the hill, just to get water. Then they had to carry it up. And don’t even get her started on the horrors of inkwells and fountain pens, and the mess they’d make. She never understood why people didn’t appreciate airplanes, bic pens and indoor plumbing.

And, speaking of new and amazing things – how about korean BBQ tacos? (found through Twitter)

Thanks to Vagabondish: Riot Tourism…2009’s Best International Hotbeds of Anarchy & Dissent

France and Italy

France’s infamous 2005-2006 uprising against the First Employment Contract (which allowed employers to end job contracts for anyone under 26 at any time during a two-year period without explanation or warning) has led speculators to believe that social welfare cuts and economic reform in the wake of the credit crisis could lead to another spirited reaction from the French people. Italy is in a similar predicament, and still feels the effects of 2001’s anti-G8 riots in Genoa which left a protester dead in the street.

In many European countries, where so much of a country’s infrastructure depends on government programs, changes and cuts aren’t received well by the people. Unhappy situations are rapidly escalated by political rhetoric and radicalized community organizing. With every government tightening belts in attempts to balance their budgets, the people will probably feel the repercussions of their government’s mismanagement soon. And that could lead to violent reactions in volatile countries like France and Italy.


Denmark’s extremely militant squatting network in otherwise affluent Copenhagen makes it another country to get lucky in if you’re traveling to find a riot. In 2008 we saw violent repelling of the police around the “Free State of Christiania,” as cops and local politicians continued to put pressure on the squatter community that has operated semi-autonomously since the 1970s. Police were pelted with firebombs, stones, and bottles while attempting to navigate blockaded roads to deal with increasingly successful attacks by youth. As 2009 sets in, Denmark’s resistance community will be ready to oppose another forcible eviction. Like most of Europe, the motorcycle helmet is an unbelievably popular accessory during uprisings in Denmark, as is the gas mask, so dress accordingly.


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