Sunday Reads: Too hot…

Good Morning

The heat is really getting to me, and when you add the fact that last night was the Preston Sturges movie night on TCM…well, it is just too hot and too late for me. (As I write this it is 2:47am…) So excuse me if I start to wander a bit.

When I first saw this headline, I thought…maybe it is a joke?  Mormons quit in mass resignation Then I see that it is serious.

A group of about 150 Mormons quit their church in a mass resignation ceremony in Salt Lake City on Saturday in a rare display of defiance ending decades of disagreement for some over issues ranging from polygamy to gay marriage.

Participants from Utah, Arizona, Idaho and elsewhere gathered in a public park to sign a “Declaration of Independence from Mormonism.”

It sure takes a lot of work to become an ex-Mormon, take a look at that link to read about it…it is like someone in an Amway pyramid scheme decides they want to quit the cult like system, or like a Hollywood Movie Star former “Scientologist” decides to quit a marriage.  Consequences, lost jobs, pissing off Tom Cruise, you know…generally some pretty freaky stuff.

Anyway, another headline I saw on Saturday made me wonder, what kind of life some people out there have…obviously none. ‘Everything good is down’ — storm knocks Netflix, Instagram offline – Red Tape

The storm, which packed winds of up to 90 mph, knocked out power to millions of homes — and to some of Amazon’s Cloud services in Northern Virginia. That took Netflix offline.  Web users who went hunting for other distractions found even more frustration, as Pinterest.com was also knocked offline, and the Instagram photo-sharing service wasn’t working either.

Oh, the horrors!

Netflix users took to Twitter to air their disbelief at the service outage.

“Netflix isn’t working on possibly the most emotional night of my life. It’s official … this is NOT real life,” wrote one Twitter user.

“Everything good is down,” complained another.

Wow, I am speechless.

Meanwhile in the real life of Syrians trapped in a country experiencing a civil war: World Powers Agree on Syria Transition

The United States, Russia and other world leaders have agreed on a plan for a transitional government of national unity in Syria that they hope will pave the way for an end to the violence that has killed more than 15,000 people during the 16-month uprising.  The plan, drafted by International Envoy Kofi Annan, lays out a number of steps that, if followed, could lead to the Syrian people democratically determining their own future.  But it also leaves open the question of whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can be part of the transitional government.  Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from the site of the ministerial meeting in Geneva.

Introducing the plan, Annan said he hopes it will launch a Syrian-led political process that ultimately will enable the Syrian people to democratically determine their own future.

No where in this new Plan is Assad mentioned…

The plan grants full executive powers to the transitional governing body.  Both members of the government and opposition are to be included in the body.  Annan says the Action Group has drawn up guidelines, which are meant to be helpful to the Syrian people.

He said it is for the Syrians, themselves, not the international community, to determine the future of the country.  When given the opportunity, he says he believes the Syrian people will choose their leader wisely.

It is a tricky situation.

US

Despite this, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said the change in the revised text will make no difference.

“Assad will still have to go,” Clinton insisted. “He will never pass the mutual consent test given the blood on his hands.  The text also makes clear that the power to govern is vested fully in the transitional governing body, which strips him and his regime of all authority if he and they refuse to step down and leave.”

Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the meeting very important and useful.  He said he did not come to Geneva to rubber stamp a document, but to achieve an agreement that would be acceptable to all.

“We consider it to be of key importance that there is no attempt in the document to impose upon the Syrian side any kind of transitional process,” Lavrov said. “It is very clearly stated in the document that it is a Syrian led transition.  We have achieved a situation where there are no prior pre-conditions to the transitional process and the national dialogue and that there is no attempt to exclude any kind of group from this process.”

Reuters has more on this contradiction between US and Russia here: Assad’s fate unclear in world powers’ Syria plan

It is too late for me to wrap my head around all this…I am relieved that Hillary is Secretary of State, but I can’t help and ponder who will be the one to take her place.

Just a couple more links for you, 1st nuclear reactor to go online since Japan disaster meets with protests despite power crunch

Dozens of protesters shouted and danced at the gate of a nuclear power plant set to restart Sunday, the first to go back online since all of Japan’s reactors were shut down for safety checks following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Ohi nuclear plant’s reactor No. 3 is returning to operation despite a deep divide in public opinion. Last month, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ordered the restarts of reactors No. 3 and nearby No. 4, saying people’s living standards can’t be maintained without nuclear energy. Many citizens are against a return to nuclear power because of safety fears after Fukushima.

Can you imagine how these people feel…

Crowds of tens of thousands of people have gathered on Friday evenings around Noda’s official residence, chanting, “Saikado hantai,” or “No to nuclear restarts.” Protests drawing such numbers are extremely rare in this nation, reputed for orderly docility and conformity. A demonstration in Tokyo protesting the restart and demanding Noda resign was being organized in a major park Sunday.

Although initially ignored by mainstream local media, demonstrations across the country have grown, as word gets out through social media such as Twitter…

I don’t think we will really know the extent of the damage from the Fukushima disaster.

Protesters like Taisuke Kohno, a 41-year-old musician among the 200 protesters trying to blockade the Ohi plant, aren’t so sure. He said protesters were facing off against riot police and planned to stay there day and night.

“It’s a lie that nuclear energy is clean,” he said. “After experiencing the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, how can Japan possibly want nuclear power?”

Kansai Electric Power Co., the utility that operates Ohi, in central Japan, was not immediately available for comment Sunday. It said on its website that a nuclear reaction was starting at No. 3 Sunday, a key step for a reactor to start producing electricity.

Fukushima Dai-ichi, in northeastern Japan, went into meltdowns and exploded after the March 11 tsunami destroyed backup generators to keep reactor cores cool.

In the latest problem at the crippled plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., its operator, said it was still working to restore the cooling system for the pool for spent nuclear fuel at reactor No. 4, which broke down Saturday.

As you can see, they still have a mess on their hands.

Well, if nuclear radiation was key in causing the mutations that made Godzilla into a monster, than what about the kind of mutations that are caused by genetic engineering?  Why supermarket tomatoes tend to taste bland, I’ll give you a hint… its cause they are genetically made that way!

The mass-produced tomatoes we buy at the grocery store tend to taste more like cardboard than fruit. Now researchers have discovered one reason why: a genetic mutation, common in store-bought tomatoes, that reduces the amount of sugar and other tasty compounds in the fruit.

For the last 70-odd years, tomato breeders have been selecting for fruits that are uniform in color. Consumers prefer those tomatoes over ones with splotches, and the uniformity makes it easier for producers to know when it’s time to harvest.

But the new study, published this week in Science, found that the mutation that leads to the uniform appearance of most store-bought tomatoes has an unintended consequence: It disrupts the production of a protein responsible for the fruit’s production of sugar.

Doesn’t it make you want to dig into a nice big BLT ?

The study authors set out to pin down the genetic change that makes tomatoes lose their dark-green top. They focused their attention on two genes — GLK1 and GLK2 — both known to be crucial for harvesting energy from sunlight in plant leaves.

They found that GLK2 is active in fruit as well as leaves — but that in uniformly colored tomatoes, it is inactivated.

Adding back an active GLK2 gene to bland, commercial-style tomatoes through genetic engineering created tomatoes that had the heirloom-style dark-green hue. The darker green comes from greater numbers of structures called chloroplasts that harvest energy from sunlight.

The harvested energy is stored as starches, which are converted to sugars when the tomatoes ripen.

The vast majority — 70% to 80% — of the sugar in tomatoes travels to the fruit from the leaves of the plant. But the remaining amount of sugar is produced in the fruit. This contribution is largely wiped out in uniform, commercial-style tomatoes — and thus they won’t be as sweet.

[…]

Harry Klee, a specialist in the chemistry of fruit flavor at the University of Florida who was not involved in the study, said the work was a good step toward a better understanding of tomato flavor.

“This is not the entire reason the modern tomato stinks — but it’s a real significant part of it,” he said. “I promise you, if I gave you two tomatoes that were 10% different in their sugar contents, you’d be able to tell the difference…. This is a very nice piece of science that really illustrates the pitfalls of breeding without knowing precisely what you’re doing.”

The lesson for consumers is that tomatoes with less-uniform hues are a better flavor bet.

“If this information gets out there, you could see people saying, ‘If I see this tomato is not uniformly ripe, that means that it’s not the cardboard junk that they’ve been producing for the past 30 years,'” Klee said.

“It’s almost like a badge of honor.”

You know, when you got folks complaining that their life is ruined because Netflix and Pinterest is down…I don’t think they are going to be too concerned about learning the importance of tomatoes that are not uniformly ripe. I can’t help but think we are really heading to an Idiocracy society. Where people will sit in front of their TV watching “Ow, my balls” and eating some kind of yellow goo that comes out of a plastic bucket…of course, brought to you by Carl’s Jr.


58 Comments on “Sunday Reads: Too hot…”

  1. HT says:

    I want tomatoes that taste like those when I was a child, and I don’t care what they look like. It’s amazing when you go to the market – they all look the same.
    I do have netflix because I do not have cable or satellite. I watch netflix perhaps twice per week. These people whining about netflix down – are they not familiar with reading a book, going out for a walk and appreciating nature, going to a community pool and taking a swim etc etc?

    Idiocracy – love that movie, but it scares me more and more as it’s becoming more prescient than what I would like, especially for my children.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The little grape tomatoes in the supermarkets are pretty good. Regular store tomatoes have been tasteless for at least a generation. Home grown Indiana tomatoes are the very best. I hope there will be some left by the time I get out there this year.

      And what about supermarket corn? Ugh.

      It’s hot as the blazes here. I just went out to the store to get some cold weather food, and I may stay inside for the duration of the heat wave. Drink lots of water everyone!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Plus, we probably have Fukushima radiation in everything we eat now.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        I love corn, but now I’m afraid to eat it. GMO? Probably.

      • Beata says:

        BB, it’s supposed to be 101 degrees here again today. Same for the rest of the week. I hope your mother is okay and keeping cool. You too, of course, and all the Sky Dancers! Staying inside is a good idea.

      • RalphB says:

        Believe it or not, this has been a fairly cool summer in Austin despite a couple of really hot days. Right now it’s 75 and semi-rainy with a predicted high of about 90, which I doubt we will hit. Last year at this time it had been much worse.

        Make no mistake though, the heat is coming and July and August are usually brutal. I only hope they aren’t worse than normal. Good luck to everyone and stay cool!

      • HT says:

        BB even the grape tomatoes although tasty don’t taste the same, and no I’m not an old cranky lady. I remember very well, cause I used to eat tomatoes constantly – fresh off the vine (with a bit of salt of course), fried, roasted, barbequed – you name it, I ate it. Now they are all just not the same.
        Take care in the heat, it’s brutal. Lots of water. I walk millythewonderdog at 5:45 every morning and after 8 at night because I don’t want her out in the heat.
        I hope every sky dancer is being careful out there. Where I live, our temps are not as brutal as some – we were over 100 degrees yesterday, however that is so unusual. To all those deniers Climate change is not a hoax.

        • dakinikat says:

          It’s awful here. I’m keeping my shades completely shut in all the windows but the north facing ones. I feel like I live in a home full of vampires because of the lack of sunlight but it just beats in here. My dog doesn’t want to go out at all. She’s very reluctant to step outside the door right now. She stuck her nose out the door a few nights ago and decided to go back to the AC vent. She usually likes her night walk too.

      • bostonboomer says:

        No, the grape tomatoes don’t taste the same,. but at least they have some flavor. I’m very fussy about tomatoes. I don’t even bother buying them unless I can get some off the vine in summer.

      • I slept until 5pm today…the heat is melting my mind and spirit.

    • It seems like every day we are getting closer to that world of dumb, corporate sponsored masses…gives me the creeps!

  2. ecocatwoman says:

    Lovely overview adeptly pointing out the fact that we are screwed. While innocent people continue to be killed in Syria and the people of Japan are taking to the streets to express their opposition to nuclear power, average Americans are having their own meltdown. Why? Because they can’t get their Netflix or Instagram sites. Oh my, now that’s SERIOUS!

    Is it just me or does it seem as if the majority of Americans have no clue what is happening not only in America but around the world? I bring up topics – either discussed here or that I hear on NPR – and most of my co-workers look at me like I’m speaking Klingon. And I’m talking about mostly college educated co-workers. In less educated work environs I have to assume the discussions are about anything Kardashian or the TomKat breakup. Again, we are so screwed.

    Now to expose my lack of knowledge. I followed a link this AM to The Hill. I thought it was just a non-partisan news site, but the comments about the EPA official who is now working at The Sierra Club were toxic Right Wing blathering. (see link at right under Memorandum) So, The Hill is another Right Wing propaganda machine?

    And, your clip at the end, is that from the movie Idiocracy with the other Wilson brother? I’ve accidentally channel surfed to it a few times, but it was later in the film. I couldn’t take more than about 5 minutes of it. However, the clip – definitely on target. It demonstrates why the Right continues to undermine education & fight abortion rights. Keep ’em stupid and pregnant & we can do whatever we want, whenever we want to control the world.

    Thanks jj, another homerun/touchdown/3 pointer.

    • RalphB says:

      What Connie said! Definitely a 3 pointer. We are screwed.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t know if The Hill is a right wing propaganda site. It’s just that most corporate media outlets are Republican/Conservative, e.g., WaPo. Even the NYT isn’t particularly liberal IMO.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Dak will love this. Bobby Jindal just cut ALL funding for public libraries in Louisiana. All unemployment and welfare business has to be done on-line there, and poor people need to use computers in libraries. But so what? Jindal needs the money for private charter schools.

    http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/bobby-jindal-libraries-we-dont-need-no-stin

    • RalphB says:

      Good grief, that guy may be worse than Perry! That’s no small feat either.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Did his parents never take him back to India for visits? Or is he trying to turn LA into India in America? He must want the majority of Louisiana’s population to have to struggle for food & clean water. Maybe I am misguided, but I expect people who immigrate from other countries (or whose parents have) to be more “worldly” than average Americans. That’s not intended to be racist or anti-immigrant – it’s just been my experience that average Americans, in general, have little knowledge of how the rest of the world actually lives.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Jindal is well educated himself. He was even a Rhodes Scholar. I guess he things things like education and books are just for the elites–like Romney does.

      • dakinikat says:

        He knows what he’s doing is ruining the state. I know advisers around him that say as much. He’s readying his record to be acceptable to the nationwide Right Wingers for his run at the presidency in 4 years. It’s pure naked ambition with this one.

    • What an asshole, I’m heading back to bed, the news today is making me mad…ugh.

    • HT says:

      One heckuva a governer eh. those folks in LA who elected him must be elated. The rest of the folks who didn’t vote for him – meh, he doesn’t care.
      This is an abominable act – truly abominable. Libraries are more than just repositories of books. They are meeting places, research places, lending movies etc etc, plus in our area when heat alerts are issued (stay indoors etc) people flock to the libraries. It’s truly a disgrace that one pompous little napoleon can remove funding when he knows that will close the libraries down.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Please, don’t leave out Florida. Our lawmakers are trying to PRIVATIZE libraries: http://www.republicreport.org/2012/lobbyists-in-florida-work-to-privatize-public-libraries/

      • bostonboomer says:

        Your governor also says he won’t take the federal money to expand Medicaid. He’d rather have Florida’s citizens die for lack of health care.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        My governor, but I didn’t vote for him & I hope he’s a one term governor. I have a Pink Slip Rick bumper sticker. Seriously, he makes my skin crawl.

    • dakinikat says:

      I absolutely hate this man. I know it’s very unBuddhist of me but he’s the DEMON of personal ambition. Our small old Carnegie branch does so many things for the poor kids around here. They have reading sessions and computers to use. The elderly poor around here use it too.

      • bostonboomer says:

        He sure is accumulating a lot of bad Karma.

        • dakinikat says:

          Yup. But he’s a “charismatic Catholic now”. Whatever that is. Every thing he does is only aimed at making setting himself up for the next higher office. He’s really really evil.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Whatever happened to that popular slogan of several years ago: WWJD (what would Jesus do)? No expert here, but I’m willing to wager that removing access to books, computers and education wouldn’t be on Jesus’s agenda. At least not the Jesus I was taught about growing up.

      • Beata says:

        I know all about charismatic Catholics. My grandmother was one. She was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and spoke in tongues. This is same grandmother who tried to kill me with an ax a number of times when I was growing up because she thought I was “demon possessed”. I don’t think Karma ever visited her.

        Evil comes in many guises.

        • dakinikat says:

          Omigosh what a story! I got the impression Rome is none too fond of the sect from various friends raised around here and that it appears to be a southern thing. Sorta mysterious.

      • HT says:

        Thank Jeebus Beata that your grandma didn’t succeed, otherwise we wouldn’t have the benefit and pleasure of your company.

        In my previous comment I failed to mention the benefits of a library to children (gosh I’m aging too fast). Libraries provide reading courses to children who are not school age, they provide reading courses to people who need to learn english, they provide venues for book clubs etc. I go to the pool every day which is in the same building as the library and there is not a day when that library is full of people. Closing them down is criminal to my mind. BTW, we had a similar controversy up here when the mayor of the largest city in Canada wanted to remove funding, close some branches and reduce hours at the rest of the branches. It was breathtaking when Margaret Atwood got involved, the brother of the mayor admited he had no idea who she was. Ignorant scum. Anyway, here’s one of Atwood’s PSAs.

      • bostonboomer says:

        OMG, Beata! And Jindal assaulted a sick woman and tried to exorcise her “demons.” I always thought “charismatic Catholic” was a contradiction in terms.

      • HT says:

        Forgot to add, once Margaret Atwood was involved and making PSA’s the issue went viral across the country (and if truth be told, over in Europe). The “mayor” (idiot) had to back down. No one gets away with showing disrespect to one of our icons, the recepient of so many internation book awards I can’t name them all. Perhaps the good folks in LA need to emulate Atwood’s lesson – you’ve lots of legendary musicians and actors – get them involved and embarass the little tin napoleon to death!

      • I read that the amount was not large in the entire scheme of things either. This story gave me nightmares…literally!

    • WTF? Bobby Brady Jindal needs to go back to the 70s…

      • dakinikat says:

        The 1870s actually. He’s like the plantation overseer. The only good news is that my dad the die hard republican thinks he’s crazy. He’s got limited appeal once you actually spend time watching him talk. He’s a fast talker; literally.

  4. RalphB says:

    The Overton Window Falls out of Frame, Lands on Slippery Slope

    The big problem for the Romney campaign—aside from the fact that the nominee comes across as a less sensitive, more entitled Thurston Howell III—is that Willard had to take extreme positions throughout the primary to secure the nomination, and he daren’t pivot to the center now for fear the rabid wingnut base will eat him alive.

    The solution? Define extremism down:

    Start by declaring Drudge and Breitbart as centrist media. Yuck.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      I wonder if one of those super pacs on the left could get the rights to a Gilligan’s Island clip to use in an Obama campaign ad. They wouldn’t even have to say Mitt & Ann – I think lots and lots of people would get the point. Is there an any more elitist, privileged couple as well known by such a large chunk of the population than the Howells?

      • HT says:

        Honestly, I liked Mrs Howell (Natalie Schaffer) and Mr Howell (Jim Backus also Mr Magee) was a buffoon but also likeable so I’m not sure if that’s a winning ad. Perhaps you could choose a millionaire/billionaire who is so totally unlikeable, yet very recognizable. Someone like Gordon Gekko – Greed is good man.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Do you mean Mr. Magoo? I don’t think it matters whether the Howells were likeable–I didn’t think anyone on that Island was likable–they’re clueless and selfish. Gordon Gecko has already been brought up. But he was powerful and mean–not buffoonish. Making Romney look like an idiot would be better.

  5. dakinikat says:

    It’s Brown V Board all over again … a bunch of southern governor’s refusing to put laws into effect …

    Jindal’s on board with this too … and now Florida’s whacko governor….

    http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Gov-Scott-Says-Fla-Wont-Comply-with-Health-Care-Law-160943495.html

    • dakinikat says:

      Jindal was on Meet the Press today. He’s so obvious. Everything he does down here has nothing to do with anything but setting up his run for POTUS.

    • RalphB says:

      It sure is Brown v Board once again. Probably a variant of forced busing is going to be needed to get implementation done. Looks like these Govs really do want to secede.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Grey and 66 degrees up here in Seattle. Our local weather guru:

    Let’s look at the differences from climatology (the anomalies) for the past week. First for maximum temperature. Extraordinary cold from central CA into the Northwest, with some locations 9-15F below normal, which equally strong but warm anomalies east of the Rockies. ….

    The reason for all this contrasting weather is due to a highly persistent atmospheric flow pattern with a stubborn trough over the eastern Pacific and a big ridge over the Rockies and middle part of the country. Here is the mean upper level (500 hPa) flow and the anomaly from climatology. You can see the troughs on both coasts and the big ridge over the middle of the U.S. The trough off our coast represents a very large anomaly from normal, if that makes you feel better.

    • dakinikat says:

      It just clouded over here. I’ve never been so glad to see gray skies in my life. The temp is decreasing.

    • northwestrain says:

      Summer?? We might have a day or two of really warm weather (80 degrees) but I do believe we on the Pacific coast will again be breaking the coldest summer ever records.

      New travel ads — Seattle is a cool place to visit — really cool.

  7. RalphB says:

    TPM: Stop the Stupid!

    I’ve got a question: Just how stupid are all you reporters? No, that’s not a rhetorical question. Whether you want to call the ACA health care mandate a tax or not is mainly a semantic point. It’s a penalty or tax or perhaps a tax penalty on people who refuse to purchase health insurance, even after they received subsidies that make it possible. But Republicans are now saying it’s the ‘biggest tax increase in history’ — either of America or the universe of whatever. But this is demonstrably false.

    The Congressional Budget Office says the mandate penalty will raise $27 billion between 2012 and 2021. $27 billion over a decade. Anybody who cares to can do the math. But if you want to call it a ‘tax increase’ — which is debatable — it’s clearly one of tiniest ones in history.

  8. northwestrain says:

    Leave it to JJ to post the bit about the ex Mormons rebelling — in their own way.

    My grandfather was one of the early ones who left the LDS in the early 20th century. Both my grandparents were raised as Mormons.

    I noticed that one of the persons interviewed had done genealogy research — about Joseph Smith’s time in Illinois — proof that Smith’s religion was one based on sex. It is unknown how many of the children born were his — this is a very long list of offspring which could be his or the other guy’s.

    LDS – a racist/sexist cult.

  9. Linda C says:

    Access to quality public education as well as public libraries has been the cornerstone of this country. It was the equalizing opportunity to throw off the historical status quo class system in Europe since our colonial days. Our public education has become so corrupted that most citizens are hardly aware that public education is part of our national identity and the most radical endeavor this country has undertaken short of the revolution.