Friday, September 4, 2009

Rush might return in 2010.

ZOMG! From Noisecreep:
Rush fans take note -- the legendary progressive rock band could be back on the road with a new album in 2010. The trio would love to work again with Nick Raskulinecz, who co-produced the last studio album, 'Snakes & Arrows,' but he'll have to hang on a bit longer.

"I think Nick calls the office once a week," laughs guitarist Alex Lifeson, "just to make sure we're still planning on getting back to work at some point."

Lifeson, lead singer-bassist Geddy Lee and drummer/lyricist Neil Peart played 120 shows behind 'Snakes & Arrows' and "were pretty beat by the end of it," says Lifeson. "We'd been working constantly for the last eight years or so, and really needed a break, and decided to take a year off. We're sort of coming to the end of that period.

"Neil and his wife had a baby just a couple of weeks ago, so he's asked if we can just wait a little bit until he gets settled and see how he feels about getting back to work or when to get back to work. So we're sort of playing it open right now."

Lifeson says he's been doing a little writing at home in Toronto, "just getting myself back into the groove again with recording and stuff like that. I would guess that sometime in the early fall we would get back together and start writing again, and then hopefully by next summer, we'd be ready to tour."

Trivia: MuchMusic launched 25 years ago with Rush's "The Enemy Within."

Experience to extremes! From CTV:
It was Aug. 31, 1984, when J.D. Roberts, his hair styled in a bushy mullet, and Christopher Ward -- sporting pleated pants, a shiny grey jacket and a goofy smile -- introduced "Canada's first 24-hour music channel" with the help of some decidedly low-budget special effects and the promise of upcoming videos by the Spoons, Human League and Culture Club.

Yes, it's been nearly 25 years since MuchMusic launched with Rush's "The Enemy Within," followed by an interview with singer Geddy Lee and a Day One playlist that also included the Fixx, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Yes and Slade.

OK, so maybe one or two of those bands didn't exactly stand the test of time. [WTF?! --Coozer] But hey, in those early days, no one really thought the upstart station would ever survive for 25 years of scrutiny anyway.

"I didn't think about it lasting 25 minutes," Ward told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview.

"Maybe because it was so overwhelming and so new, we weren't thinking about what it was going to become. It was just trying to keep it as entertaining as possible in the moment."

A quarter-century later, those moments -- created spontaneously, with no scripts to speak of -- have left an indelible impact on those who grew up basking in Much's glow, the music fans who curated self-recorded VHS cassette compilations and scribbled down the names of tunes played during the station's countdown of top videos.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Egg industry tosses millions of alive baby male chicks into grinders.

I had no idea about this. Must Read:
An animal rights group publicized a video Tuesday showing unwanted chicks being tossed alive into a grinder at an Iowa plant and accused egg hatcheries of being "perhaps the cruelest industry" in the world.

The undercover video was shot by Chicago-based Mercy for Animals at a hatchery in Spencer, Iowa, over a two-week period in May and June. The video was first obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

"We have to ask ourselves if these were puppies and kittens being dropped into grinders, would we find that acceptable?" asked Nathan Runkle, the group's executive director, at a news conference in Des Moines. "I don't think that most people would."

The group said that tossing male chicks, which have little value because they can't lay eggs or be raised quickly enough to be raised profitably for meat, into grinders is common industry practice. United Egg Producers, a trade group for U.S. egg farmers, confirmed that.

The hatchery is owned by West Des Moines-based Hy-Line North America and is one of many operations in Iowa, the nation's leading egg producer.

The video, shot with a hidden camera and microphone by a Mercy for Animals employee who got a job at the plant, shows a Hy-Line worker sorting through a conveyor belt of chirping chicks, flipping some of them into a chute like a poker dealer flips cards.

These chicks, which a narrator says are males, are then shown being dropped alive into a grinding machine.

In other parts of the video, a chick is shown dying on the factory floor amid a heap of egg shells after falling through a sorting machine. Another chick, also still alive, is seen lying on the floor after getting scalded by a wash cycle, according to the video narrator.

Hy-Line said the video "appears to show an inappropriate action and violation of our animal welfare policies," referring to chicks on the factory floor.

But the company also noted that "instantaneous euthanasia" — a reference to killing of male chicks by the grinder — is a standard practice supported by the animal veterinary and scientific community.

Company spokesman Tom Jorgensen said Tuesday an investigation was continuing, and once it's completed the company would release more information.

Runkle acknowledged that his group's ultimate goal was to get people to stop eating eggs. He said he believe many would refuse to eat eggs if they knew what happened to male chicks.

"The egg industry is perhaps the cruelest industry on the face of the planet," Runkle said.

Mercy for Animals also sent letters to the nation's 50 largest grocery store chains, including Walmart, Whole Foods, Safeway, Harris Teeter and Trader Joe's, asking them to include a label on egg cartons that says, "Warning: Male chicks are ground-up alive by the egg industry."

A spokesman for United Egg Producers called the proposal "almost a joke." Spokesman Mitch Head said Mercy for Animals had no credible authority, as well as questionable motives. "This is a group which espouses no egg consumption by anyone — so that is clearly their motive."

Mercy for Animals estimated 200 million male chicks are killed a year, which the United Egg Producers also confirmed.

"There is, unfortunately, no way to breed eggs that only produce female hens," Head said. "If someone has a need for 200 million male chicks, we're happy to provide them to anyone who wants them. But we can find no market, no need."

Using a grinder, Head said, "is the most instantaneous way to euthanize chicks."

There is no federal law that ensures the humane euthanasia of animals on farms or hatcheries, according to Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel of the Humane Society of the United States.

The Humane Society also says that virtually all egg farms, even those that sell cage-free eggs, get their hens from hatcheries that kill their male chicks.

Hy-Line says on its Web site that its Iowa facility produces 33.4 million chicks. Based on that figure, Mercy for Animals estimates a similar number of male chicks are killed at the facility each year. Hy-Line did not comment on that estimate.

Runkle, of Mercy for Animals, said most people would be shocked to learn that 200 million chicks are killed a year.

"Is this justifiable just for cheap eggs?" he said.

As to more humane alternatives to disposing of male chicks, Runkle said the whole system is inherently flawed.

"The entire industrial hatchery system subjects these birds to stress, fear and pain from the first day," he said.

Slow Russian customs officials kill over 4,000 rare, exotic fish.

From Gadling, courtesy of JenK.
Slow Russian customs officials accidentally killed over 4000 tropical fish when they failed to clear a cargo shipment in a timely manner.

The shipment weighed in at 18 tons, and was scheduled for delivery to the new Sochi Discovery World aquarium, the largest in the country.

The shipment cost just under half a million Dollars, and had been sent from China. The head of the aquarium went on record to day that the loss was an "atrocity unseen anywhere else in the world".

Temperatures in the black sea resort of Sochi were in the 80's, and even though tropical fish enjoy warmer waters, the hot sun warmed things up too much for the fish to survive. You'll be hearing a lot more of Sochi in coming years, as they are hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Nun goes on booze-fueled car rampage.

Jeez, even the nuns on Long Island drive drunk. Damn that delicious blood of Christ! From NY Post:
A Long Island nun's bad habit has her in trouble with police -- who say she guzzled half a bottle of gin and went on a wild ride that nearly killed a group of children, officials said.

Sister Lauren Hanley, 68, of the St. Frances de Chantal Church in Wantagh, is going to have to say a lot of Hail Marys to make up for her allegedly booze-fueled hell ride Tuesday.

Authorities say she narrowly missed a group of kids, sideswiped parked cars and finally plowed into a tree.

The naughty nun registered a 0.18 blood-alcohol level on a breath test -- more than twice the legal limit of 0.08, prosecutors said.

"They teach us about drinking and driving in school, and to see a nun do it is surprising," said 11-year-old Alex Stein. The Catholic schoolboy said he had to run for his life when Hanley drove a 2006 Toyota Corolla owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph up onto his lawn.

Paris mayoral feud blocks street.

This sounds like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. From BBC:
There has been traffic chaos in two Paris suburbs after their feuding mayors declared the same busy road one-way, but in opposite directions.

Patrick Balkany, the conservative mayor of Levallois-Perret, initially made the D909 one-way to reduce the amount of commuter traffic through his district.

But Gilles Catoire, the Socialist mayor of neighbouring Clichy-la-Garenne, said this increased congestion in his area.

He made his section of the road one-way in the opposite direction.

With the contradictory road-signs in place, the unsurprising result was gridlock, prompting the deployment of municipal and national police to direct traffic away from the area.

"What Clichy has done is not a long-term solution, but it is a response to a unilateral decision by the town of Levallois," Clichy's deputy mayor, Alain Fournier, was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

But Mr Balkany insisted: "The mayor of Clichy has taken a position that is unreasonable and is hurting his own constituents."

Thousands of motorists pass between the two suburbs each day on their way into and out of the French capital.

Chubby Hubby supports gay marriage.

My all-time favorite ice cream has just turned gay. Which is apropos since I've popped many a chubby over Chubby Hubby. From Huffington Post:
To show support for a new Vermont law legalizing gay marriage, the iconic ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's has renamed its popular "Chubby Hubby" flavor. The new flavor, which Ben & Jerry's is producing in partnership with Freedom To Marry, will be called "Hubby Hubby."

For the next 30 days, Hubby Hubby will be available across Vermont. The product's packaging will feature two men in tuxedos getting married. Here's the Boston Herald:

"In the meantime, a wedding-themed Ben & Jerry's truck will hand out free "Hubby Hubby" across Vermont today. Scheduled stops include the Vermont Capitol, where lawmakers passed a gay-marriage law that takes effect today. Ben & Jerry's six Vermont ice cream parlors also plan to sell special "Hubby Hubby" sundaes during September."

Israel's wealthiest woman claims to see the future.

From a skeptical Washington Post:
[...] But the biggest jolt comes from the woman in the executive chair: Arison -- billionaire ($2.7 by Forbes's most recent estimate), perhaps the richest woman in the Middle East, a major force in Israeli philanthropy -- claims that she can see the future.

This is much bigger than a parlor trick. In her new book published this summer in Israel, the 51-year-old Miami native says she felt the Indonesian tsunami sweeping over the land two months before it happened and sensed Hurricane Katrina pummeling New Orleans. In an interview, Arison says she also "saw the writing on the wall" before the global economic crash. Reading about Arison's extrasensory perception makes you ache for a heads-up, maybe a blog entry or a tweet or a phone call to Brownie or Greenspan or somebody who might have helped.

Arison explains that she has finally dropped the fear that has held her back from doing more about what she has perceived. Armed with the insight gained through work with Florida-based psychiatrist Brian Weiss, a proponent of regression therapy and the exploration of (take your pick) deep memories or past lives, she says she is ready to go public with her visions and bring together her spiritual and business goals.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coolio gives performance at deli for free food.

Big deal, I'd sing to a crowd for a seven-layer burrito and a can of Bud. From Exclaim News, and thanks to Dan F.:
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Take, for example, rapper Coolio, who once sat perched upon the top of the world with hits like “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage” but is now enjoying the life of a C-list celeb. Earlier this year, he was arrested for possession of crack cocaine and a crack pipe, and if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s been revealed that Coolio recently performed at a deli, who paid him partially in chicken.

According to a report from TimesCall [via The Daily Swarm], Coolio recently performed at a restaurant called the Deli Zone in Longmont, CO.

As Deli Zone owner Jeremy King explains, his hope was that the rapper would help turn his restaurant into a reputable venue. “My hope is that Coolio is going to give us some recognition,” said Jeremy King. “I’m hoping to get a cool reputation as a cool place to come see music.”

What made it even better for the restaurant, however, was Coolio’s meagre demands. Allegedly, Coolio only asked for “$3,000, a bucket of chicken and a bottle of Patrón (he likes the Silver variety).” Maybe he does weddings too!

Cellphones cause brain tumors, says new report.

Telecom is the new tobacco. Article here, and download the report here (PDF).
A new report, "Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern, Science, Spin and the Truth Behind Interphone," was released today by a collaborative of international EMF activists. Groups affiliated with the report include Powerwatch and the Radiation Research Trust in the U.K., and in the U.S., EMR Policy Institute, and The Peoples Initiative Foundation.

The exposé discusses research on cellphones and brain tumors and concludes:

- There is a risk of brain tumors from cellphone use;
- Telecom funded studies underestimate the risk of brain tumors, and;
- Children have larger risks than adults for brain tumors.

This report, sent to government leaders and media today, details eleven design flaws of the 13-country, Telecom-funded Interphone study. The Interphone study, begun in 1999, was intended to determine the risks of brain tumors, but its full publication has been held up for years. Components of this study published to date reveal what the authors call a 'systemic-skew', greatly underestimating brain tumor risk.

The design flaws include categorizing subjects who used portable phones (which emit the same microwave radiation as cellphones,) as 'unexposed'; exclusion of many types of brain tumors; exclusion of people who had died, or were too ill to be interviewed, as a consequence of their brain tumor; and exclusion of children and young adults, who are more vulnerable.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Disney to buy Marvel.

This is of course awful, except for a possible Iron Man vs. Wall-E match-up. From CNN:
The Walt Disney Co. announced Monday that it has agreed to purchase comic book and action hero company Marvel Entertainment for about $4 billion.

The deal pairs a comic book publisher that just recently began to produce its own movies with one of the largest international media companies in the world.

"This is perfect from a strategic perspective," Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger told "This treasure trove of over 5,000 characters offers Disney the ability to do what we do best."

On a conference call with investors, Iger said the deal will allow Disney to sell Marvel's vast array of characters and properties across different media platforms and in many more markets. For instance, Iger said that Disney's Pixar animation unit was excited about the opportunities that a Marvel acquisition could yield.

"Spider-Man will appear in 'A Bug's Life' sequel," joked Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente.

The deal would give Disney some content that appeals more to boys, a market it has been looking to develop, Iger said. Disney XD, a television station and video game unit, already had a deal with Marvel to use some of the comic book company's action heroes in its content.

"Disney is the perfect home for Marvel's fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses," said Marvel Chief Executive Ike Perlmutter. "This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney's tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Club goer beats self up, blames bouncer.

From NY Post:
A Queens man claimed a bouncer bloodied him when he got tossed from a strip club -- but a surveillance camera there told a different tale.

Khuram Murtaza, 34, called cops after he was tossed out of the Rouge Gentleman's Club, on 58th Street near 55th Avenue, shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday.

When cops arrived at the Maspeth club, his face was bloody and bruised and he claimed the bouncer had beaten him, sources said.

The bouncer, however, claimed he didn't hit the man and provided proof from the club's surveillance video, the sources said.

Cops viewed the video and it clearly showed Murtaza smashing his face against a car, cutting his own nose, according to court papers.

Murtaza was charged with falsely reporting an incident, said a spokeswoman for Queens DA Richard Brown.

If blood is red, why are veins blue?

I always wondered this, even before I became a sexy vampire. From Live Science:
Blood is red when it has oxygen in it. Without oxygen, it turns blue. So here's what happens:

The heart pumps blood to your lungs to pick up oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood is then pumped out to your body through your arteries. It's red at this point.

From your arteries, the blood flows through tiny blood vessels called capillaries, where it gives up its oxygen to the body's tissues. Your lips have a lot of these capillaries, which is why they're red.

Your blood, now exhausted of its oxygen and turning blue, then returns to your heart through your veins.

Iraq horrifically torturing, killing gay people.

Awful. From Gay City News:
In a 67-page report released on August 17, Human Rights Watch (HRW) — the most prestigious international human rights watchdog organization — has detailed an intensive “sexual cleansing” campaign of murder, torture, kidnapping, beatings, and blackmail carried out against those perceived to be gay in Iraq.

The report, entitled “They Want Us Exterminated: Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq,” is based on interviews recently conducted by an HRW team in Iraq with more than 50 men who identified as gay, as well as with doctors, journalists, United Nations aid officials, and others.

It says doctors and morgue attendants routinely see horrifically mutilated bodies of gay men. HRW said doctors have confirmed an earlier Gay City News report of men being killed by having their anuses glued shut before being force-fed laxatives, causing painful and slow death.

Since March 2006, Gay City News has reported, in a series of articles, on the anti-gay murder campaign by fundamentalist death squads targeting Iraqi LGBT people. The HRW report confirms the deaths of hundreds of Iraqi sexual and gender dissidents in the wake of the security chaos created by the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, but it is largely focused on the changing face of the sexual cleansing campaign, which has intensified greatly since the beginning of this year.

Typical of the heartrending testimonies gathered by HRW is that from one man, identified as Hamid, 35, who developed a speech impediment and went into hiding after the murder of his lover of ten years. Speaking through tears to HRW just three weeks after his partner’s murder, Hamid said: “They came to take my partner at his parents’ home. Four armed men barged into the house, masked and wearing black. They asked for him by name; they insulted him and took him in front of his parents. All that, I heard about later from his family. He was found in the neighborhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.”

Hamid continued, “Since then, I’ve been unable to speak properly. I feel as if my life is pointless now. I don’t have friends other than those you see; for years it has just been my boyfriend and myself in that little bubble, by ourselves. I have no family now — I cannot go back to them. I have a death warrant on me. I feel the best thing to do is just to kill myself. In Iraq, murderers and thieves are respected more than gay people.”

Mexico City bans plastic bags.

From last week, but forgot to post it. What's interesting is how more progressive and proactive places like India and China are than the US in this area. From CNN:
Mexico City's thousands of stores went green Wednesday, as amended ordinances on solid waste now outlaw businesses from giving out thin plastic bags that are not biodegradable.

The law affects all stores, production facilities and service providers within the Federal District, which encompasses the city limits. Nearly 9 million people live inside the district and another 10 million reside in surrounding communities that make up greater Mexico City.

Mexico City becomes the second large metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw the bags. San Francisco in March 2007 enacted an ordinance that gave supermarkets six months and large chain pharmacies about a year to phase out the bags. Los Angeles is set to impose a ban if the state of California does not enact a statewide 25-cent fee per bag by July.

About 90 percent of the bags used in the United States are not recycled.

Bans and other restrictions on plastic bags are in place in several countries.

China has adopted a strict limit, reducing litter and eliminating the use of 40 billion bags, the World Watch Institute said, citing government estimates. Although compliance has been spotty, violation of the law carries a possible fine of 10,000 yuan ($1,463), World Watch said.

In Tanzania, selling the bags carries a maximum six-month jail sentence and a fine of 1.5 million shilling ($1,137).

Mumbai, India, outlawed the bags in 2000 and cities in Australia, Italy, South Africa and Taiwan have imposed bans or surcharges. Ireland reported cutting use of the bags by 90 percent after imposing a fee on each one.

Robot cats purrrrfect for killing us all.

From Yahoo! News circa last week:
Robot cats and other man-made companions could help Britain's elderly, according to a report by the Royal Academy of Engineering. The report recommends that autonomous devices could provide a variety of different services to older people, ranging from basic companionship to medical monitoring. Devices with the appropriate sensors could act as fire detectors, or flash lights when doorbells or phones ring.

"This is not constrained by the technological possibility of it so much as by the desire to do it -- and that is bound up with all sorts of social factors," said Professor Will Stewart of Southampton University, who contributed to the report, speaking to Reuters.

"It is not a complete replacement for your kid calling you once a week. What you want is continuous attention and that is very difficult," said Stewart.

Maybe older Brits could start with the Dream Cat Venus, an autonomous robotic feline that is already available for about $110 in Japan.

I'm also interested in how the right device could extend the companionship offered by an organic pet. Consider Huggable, a robotic teddy bear developed by MIT that seems to fit the bill specified by the Royal Academy of Engineering. It has full-body sensors for electric field, temperature and force, inertial measurement unit, cameras embedded in the eyes and microphones in the ears.

If you think that this is a rather science-fictional scenario, you're right. In Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? robotic pets are routinely used by most people.