Sunday Reads: Let them drink tap water…Posted: January 12, 2014
I used to think of Twitter as a stream of consciousness thing, where
you type out a thought that comes to you…abstract, free-form and unassuming.
It just floated out there in the mass twit universe.
Facebook was more like a personal thought because it was “friends” or “family” that would see the shit you typed out into your little space on the wall.
More like a statement made out-loud…right?
I make statements out-loud at home all the time. Hell, don’t we all. I mean, sometimes I do it when no one is listening. (And lots of those times they include the words asshole and shithead preceded of course by the key adverb “fucking”) But when someone is listening in my home…they usually know what my thought process is and can complete the fragment of a statement I make even if I don’t state my case in a full and intelligent manner.
I realized the other day that I do the same exact thing here…in the comments. And it is funny because the same people who pick up on my cues here…are the ones who pick up on the shit I type out on my Facebook wall.
The was a little item in the news over the weekend, Rep. Steve King was talking out of his ass again…and of course it pissed me off. I mentioned it here and on my Facebook page. I think I called King a fucking asshole and posted a link to his comment:
Susan Wood, a George Washington University professor and former FDA official, told the all-male judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution that HR7 – which would make the Hyde Amendment permanent, ban federal subsidies for private insurance plans that cover abortion and would permanently block the District of Columbia from spending local tax money on abortion services – could “virtually eliminate abortion coverage from the private insurance market” and would especially hurt low-income women, threatening to push them “deeper into poverty.”
“While it may not seem like a big expense to a Member of Congress, in these tough financial times, for many people, abortion care costs more than their monthly rent, putting it out of reach for their family’s pocketbook,” Wood said.
When it came time to ask questions, Rep. King mocked Wood’s comparison of the cost of abortion to a month’s rent, wondering, “I wonder how many abortions a month does she need to keep up with the monthly rent check.”
My mind was working on his comical statement, considering his PLUBic stance on providing that woman and her fetus with funding for food stamps and other “welfare” assistance once that fetus pops out of the incubation hole and becomes a living breathing tax burden.
That is what I was thinking..but I didn’t write it all down. Do you all do that? I don’t know. Is it cause I am lazy. Or cause I just tend to write stuff here like you are my family and this is my way of talking to you all? It is a ridiculous observation…but there it is.
BTW, images are from The Antikamnia Chemical Company via BibliOdyssey:
After beginning his working life as a printer’s apprentice, Louis Crucius (or Crusius) completed the necessary requirements to graduate as a pharmacist in 1882 and a doctor in 1890 in St Louis, Missouri. While he was studying he worked in a pharmacy and made humorous sketches that were placed in the window of the store. A collection of these drawings was published in 1893 (‘Funny Bones’). He lectured in histology and anatomy and eventually came to be a Professor of Anatomy but died in 1898 from kidney tumours.
Although he gave most of his drawings away, Crucius sold a number of them to the Antikamnia (‘opposed to pain’) Chemical Company which had been established in St Louis in 1890. They produced antikamnia medicines containing the coal tar derivative, acetanilid, an anti-fever drug with pain relieving properties somewhat related to paracetamol, but which would be later shown to be a toxic compound not to mention addictive. Antikamnia was mixed with substances like codeine and quinine to enhance the pain relieving effects.
30 of the Crucius ‘dance of death’-inspired drawings were used to make 5 years worth of Antikamnia Chemical Company calendars – between 1897 and 1901. They had a fairly aggressive marketing campaign in which the calendars (aimed at the medical fraternity) as well as postcards and sample packs were distributed to doctors in the United States and overseas.
Now for the morning’s reads, starting with a series of links on the chemical spill in West Virginia.
As hundreds of thousands of residents faced a third day without water because of a chemical spill in a local river, a water company executive said on Saturday that it could be days before it was safe for them to drink tap water again.
Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, said that officials had set up four labs to test the amount of chemical in the water, but that it might take days to provide enough samples to determine whether the water was safe.
A state official also said that thousands of gallons more of the chemical had leaked into the river than was initially believed.
Not only that…but it turns out the company was not the one who notified authorities of the leak. It was the EPA. The amount of chemicals spilled was under-reported at first, and it sounds like the company Freedom Industries…fucking ironic isn’t it, is starting to cooperate a little more.
About 7,500 gallons of chemical was spilled into the river, about 2,500 more than previously estimated, said Mr. Dorsey, the state environmental official.
After local officials complained of problems communicating with Freedom Industries, Mr. Dorsey said on Saturday that the company had been more cooperative. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to communicate well,” he said.
State officials said the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, used in coal processing, seeped from the ruptured storage tank on Thursday into the Elk River, just upstream from the intake pipes for the regional water company. Exposure to the chemical, which smells like licorice, can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation and difficulty breathing, according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
This story is only going to get more disturbing as the investigation starts to delve deeper into the spill and the companies involved. For that I turn to the local newspaper, The Charleston Gazzette. Check these articles out, they are excellent and you need to read them in full:
This one details the discovery of the leak…Freedom Industries cited for Elk chemical spill by Ken Ward- The Charleston Gazette
When West Virginia inspectors arrived at Freedom Industries late Thursday morning, they discovered that the company had taken “no spill containment measures” to combat the chemical spill that has put drinking water supplies off-limits for hundreds of thousands of residents.
The state Department of Environmental Protection said Freedom Industries violated the West Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Act and the Water Pollution Control Act by allowing the chemical “Crude MCHM,” consisting mostly of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, to escape from its facility, just upstream from West Virginia American Water’s regional intake in the Elk River.
“It’s a bad situation,” said Mike Dorsey, chief of the DEP’s homeland security and emergency response division.
Dorsey said the tank contained about 30,000 gallons of material at the time of the leak, and that the company had pumped the rest of the material out and shipped it to another of its operations.
Dorsey has said DEP officials began an investigation after receiving odor complaints from nearby residents starting at about 8:15 a.m. The DEP and Kanawha County emergency officials traced the odors to Freedom Industries, which had not self-reported any sort of leak or accident, officials said.
So the company did not notify EPA…it was residents in the area that started to smell this shit who called the local DEP…and they were the ones who contacted Freedom Industries and told them they had a spill on company property. WTF? This is where you want to pay attention to the matter:
In an air-quality enforcement order, the DEP said air-quality officials who arrived at the site at 11:10 a.m. “discovered that no spill containment measures had been initiated and that an accumulating MCHM leak pool was seeping thru a dike wall adjacent to the Elk River and a downstream oil sheen was observed.”
DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said more information needs to be gathered, but that it seems possible the spill into the river might not have been as bad if Freedom Industries had acted more quickly.
“Depending on when they knew [about the leak], had they put containment measures in place the instant they knew, it’s logical to deduce that there wouldn’t have been as much product in the stream,” Huffman said.
Oh yeah and you want more ridiculous ways Freedom Industries handled the situation?
Smells from the spill were reported early Thursday morning, but Freedom mostly stonewalled media inquiries — releasing only a bland news release through a public relations firm — until a 10-minute news conference Friday evening.
At the news conference, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern gave few details about the company, made several statements seemingly in conflict with what government officials have said, and was whisked away by a public relations handler with reporters still shouting questions.
Prior to the news conference, the most extensive public statement from anyone connected with the company came Friday afternoon from Kathy Stover-Kennedy, the girlfriend of Freedom Industries executive Dennis P. Farrell.
Stover-Kennedy stressed that the spill was an accident and said that Farrell has received threatening and frightening messages from people around the world.
“I’m not asking for anyone’s sympathy but a little empathy wouldn’t hurt. And just so you know, the boys at the plant made and drank coffee this morning! I showered and brushed my teeth this morning and I am just fine!” Stover-Kennedy wrote on her personal Facebook page.
“There has been criticism from many about how Freedom Industries is handling this,” she continued. “Denny is not a spokesperson and has no desire to be. His expertise was much needed elsewhere. If he had taken the time to talk to the numerous media networks, giving statements, he would not have been able to react to the situation and perform his job accordingly. It wasn’t his decision to hire a spokesperson and it isn’t his job to be one.”
Well, if you look at these links I am giving you here, it seems Denny did not do much…in the way of working his expertise. The Charleston Gazette is examining this leak, and the company, Freedom Industries, rather well…I wish there were reporters like these out there doing the same in other towns where industrial environmental disasters have devastated more than the water supply. (But then perhaps there is a reason for the silence too…) (And really, I could go further and add political governmental disasters as well but that would get me off on another tangent.)
Anyway, take a look at this…regarding the leak and what actions took place after it was discovered…and prior to? Why wasn’t there a plan? Key players knew of potential for Elk River spill By Ken Ward Jr. – The Charleston Gazette
Freedom Industries filed its “Tier 2” form under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. State emergency response officials got a copy. So did emergency planners and responders from Kanawha County.
Under the law, government officials are supposed to use chemical inventory information on Tier 2 forms, like Freedom Industries’, to prepare for potential accidents.
Armed with the forms, they know what facilities could explode, where large quantities of dangerous substances are stockpiled, and what industries could pose threats to things such as drinking water supplies. They can plan how to evacuate residents, fight fires or contain toxic leaks.
Sounds like that diagram from the movie Office Space, “Planning to Plan”
Those same agencies and public officials, though, have said they know little about the chemical involved. They’re all acting a bit surprised that this mystery substance was being stockpiled so close to a crucial water intake, and shocked that something like this could have happened.Water company officials are equally puzzled. For example, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre told reporters on Friday that his company didn’t know much about the chemical’s possible dangers, wasn’t aware of an effective treatment process, and wasn’t even sure exactly how much 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol is too much.
“We’re still trying to work through the [material safety data sheet] to try to understand the risk assessment of this product,” McIntyre said during a Friday-morning news conference. “We don’t know that the water is not safe. But I can’t say that it is safe.”
McIntyre said his company hadn’t at that point had any contact directly with Freedom Industries, and he wasn’t able to identify any previous efforts by the two firms to work together on emergency response planning.
“I can’t answer that question,” McIntyre said when asked about such planning. “I don’t have that information.”
Fred Millar, a longtime chemical industry watchdog in Washington, D.C., said the lack of better planning was an example of how the landmark emergency response law hasn’t been properly enforced around the country.
“Obviously, the whole idea of the chemical inventory reports is to properly inform local emergency officials about the sorts of materials they might have to deal with,” Millar said Friday. “It’s just head-in-the-sand to be ignoring this type of threat.”
But this next article is one that starts to peel at the toxic layer of protections “corporations” can muster when it comes to being people…Freedom Industries execs are longtime colleagues- by Dave Gutman The Charleston Gazette
Freedom Industries, the company whose chemical spill is responsible for the contamination of much of the Kanawha Valley’s water, has existed in its current form for less than two weeks.
On the last day of 2013, Freedom Industries, which distributes chemicals used in coal mining, merged with three other companies: Etowah River Terminal, Poca Blending and Crete Technologies, a Delaware company.
Poca Blending, in Nitro, and Etowah River Terminal, in Charleston, now comprise the two branches of Freedom Industries.
The company’s website says the Charleston branch, which spilled the chemical, “can process large volumes of chemical rapidly, and cost effectively.”
And what exactly is ‘Crude MCHM’? Few know – by Ken Ward Jr – The Charleston Gazette
That should really get you all up to speed on the spill in West Virginia. The rest of the links will be quick, in dump format after the jump.
The official state ceremony in memory of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will be held Monday at the parliament building in Jerusalem, officials announced.
Services for Sharon, who died Saturday at 85 after being incapacitated for years by a stroke, are expected to draw dignitaries from around the world and thousands of admirers in Israel.
h/t to NWLuna, this next link goes hand in hand with the following four links…so they make a set of misery…but if you are Rep Steve King…I guess it would be something you can laugh at because it deals with poor people not being able to afford certain things that wind up having a huge affect on their lives.
Doctors are warning that if Congress cuts food stamps, the federal government could be socked with bigger health bills. Maybe not immediately, they say, but over time if the poor wind up in doctors’ offices or hospitals as a result.
Among the health risks of hunger are spiked rates of diabetes and developmental problems for young children down the road.
The doctors’ lobbying effort comes as Congress is working on a compromise farm bill that’s certain to include food stamp cuts. Republicans want heftier reductions than do Democrats in yet another partisan battle over the government’s role in helping poor Americans.
“If you’re interested in saving health care costs, the dumbest thing you can do is cut nutrition,” said Dr. Deborah Frank of Boston Medical Center, who founded the Children’s HealthWatch pediatric research institute.
“People don’t make the hunger-health connection.”
A study published this week helps illustrate that link. Food banks report longer lines at the end of the month as families exhaust their grocery budgets, and California researchers found that more poor people with a dangerous diabetes complication are hospitalized then, too.
The researchers analyzed eight years of California hospital records to find cases of hypoglycemia, when blood sugar plummets, and link them to patients’ ZIP codes.
Among patients from low-income neighborhoods, hospitalizations were 27 percent higher in the last week of the month compared with the first, when most states send out government checks and food stamps, said lead researcher Dr. Hilary Seligman of the University of California, San Francisco. But hospitalizations didn’t increase among diabetics from higher-income areas, she reported Tuesday in the journal Health Affairs.
Seligman couldn’t prove that running low on food was to blame. But she called it the most logical culprit and said the cost of treating hypoglycemia even without a hospitalization could provide months of food stamp benefits.
“The cost trade-offs are sort of ridiculous,” Seligman said.
Logic is something we haven’t seen in Washington DC in a long ass time.
It is hardly the kind of news that lawmakers in Congress would want to highlight during a week when unemployment benefits expired for more than a million Americans. But Congress has achieved something of a milestone.
For the first time in history, more than half the members of the House and Senate are now millionaires, according to a new analysis of financial disclosure reports filed last year.
The median net worth for lawmakers in the House and Senate was $1,008,767 — up 4.4 percent, according to the analysis, conducted by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, which examines the influence of money on politics in Washington.
Over all, at least 268 of the 534 current members of Congress had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, which is the year covered by the reports that each lawmaker had to file in 2013.
I think I am going to be sick.
No, I spoke too soon. Jack “Kids Should Sweep the Floor” Kingston Eats a Lot of Free Lunches | BobCesca.com
In December prior to the holiday break, Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) asked are there no workhouses?
KINGSTON: “But one of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria — and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch.”
Not very many people were amused by Kingston’s remarks, myself included, because there is a such thing as a free lunch and it turns out Jack knows all about that.
Local NBC affiliate WSAV dove into Jack Kingston’s expenses and found that he eats quite a lot of free lunches.
“Kingston and his staff expensed nearly $4200 in meals for business purposes to his congressional office, paid for by the American taxpayer,” WSAV 3′s Dan Kartunen reported. The amount could have purchased nearly 2,000 Georgia school lunches.
WSAV also found that Kingston also racked up $4,289 of free meals paid for by third-party groups like the Georgia Bankers Association and the Congressional Institute. Kingston has also travelled to a handful of continents on congressional business racking up $24,313 in costs. Those expenses include more than just meals. What’s more, Kingston also expensed $145,391 worth of meals for campaign events.
It’s clear that where poor students went wrong was not having a third party, a lobbyist, or their campaign pay for their lunch.
I’m not suggesting that members of Congress have no right to expense their meals if and when it’s appropriate, but not every member of Congress is out there saying we should make poor kids sweep the floor if they want to eat.
Kingston claimed that he was only expressing concern for the “work ethic” in America when he said kids should sweep the floor, but Kingston’s idea of work ethic is saying exactly what his top contributors want him to say while his constituents suffer the consequences.
This is the kind of asshole that is running for Chambliss Senate seat in my district…ugh.
And there was more talk about my redneck of the woods, well Appalachia and Poverty to be more precise:
Go and read No More Mister Nice Blog take on the back and forth between National Review’s Kevin Williamson and Krugman at the NYT…
ALTERNATELY, I SUPPOSE ALL THOSE EX-COAL MINERS IN KENTUCKY COULD JUST BECOME NEW-MEDIA ENTREPRENEURS
… the piece … has a moral: the big problem, it argues, is the way government aid creates dependency. It’s the Paul Ryan notion of the safety net as a “hammock” that makes life too easy for the poor.
… The underlying story of Appalachia is in fact one of declining opportunity.
Digby has her take as well: Hullabaloo
Snark is a tricky business
And should not be undertaken by humorless conservatives, especially when they’ve been publicly embarrassed for not knowing what they’re talking about. Read this and try to make sense of it…
Such terrible scenes of Photos: Ancient Tibetan town destroyed in blaze | Al Jazeera America
Heads up for those of you with Gmail: Your Gmail Is About To Get Even Less Private
Oh, and what the hell is going on with all that Google+ shit?
I love Blackadder…so this caught my eye: Baldrick Actor Sir Tony Robinson Calls Gove’s Blackadder Criticism ‘A Very Silly Mistake’
Next up, something I should know by now: More English Grammar and Punctuation Rules That Drive Us All Nuts | Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz
And on the writing topic…
…this magnificent visualization of the correlation between writers’ wake-up times, displayed in clock-like fashion around each portrait, and their literary productivity, depicted as different-colored “auras” for each of the major awards and stack-bars for number of works published, color-coded for genre. The writers are ordered according to a “timeline” of earliest to latest wake-up times, beginning with Balzac’s insomniac 1 A.M. and ending with Bukowski’s bohemian noon.
The most important caveat of all, of course, is that there are countless factors that shape a writer’s creative output, of which sleep is only one — so this isn’t meant to indicate any direction of causation, only to highlight some interesting correlations: for instance, the fact that (with the exception of outliers who are both highly prolific and award-winning, such as like Bradbury and King) late risers seem to produce more works but win fewer awards than early birds.
That is a cool image thingee…go look at it.
Remember when this book came out? BEST OF THE SOUTH BOOK REVIEW: A New Biography of John Kennedy Toole :: Oxford American – The Southern Magazine of Good Writing
Well…here is the Documentary based on the book:
One more literary link for you:
Here at Flavorpill, we’re great fans of artistic ephemera, endlessly fascinated by everything from the journals of creative geniuses to postcards from famous authors. After all, once you’re famous, there’s just no way to keep your private papers out of the hands of the curious masses — not that we’re complaining: sometimes, the best way to learn about someone is to see the way they correspond to those closest to them. To that end, we’ve collected a few beautiful letters from great artists to their friends and family, each one as visually evocative as you’d expect.
Some new stories about an old section of NYC: BBC News – The changing face of New York’s real Little Italy
For generations Arthur Avenue has been home to thousands of immigrants who crossed the Atlantic but never forgot their homeland. The sounds and smells in the traditional butchers, bakers and pasta makers are all reminiscent of the old country.
But there is also a new wave of Italian immigrants in New York coming to America in search of a better life.
The new arrivals tend to be fluent in English and better-educated. However, unlike their predecessors, fewer emigrate with whole families and choose to settle in the same communities as other Italians.
A fish that looks like an April Fool hoax: Elephant Shark Like A ‘Living Fossil’; Callorhinchus Milii Hardly Changed For 400 Million Years
Doesn’t it? Elephant Shark Genome Decoded
That is one strange looking fish.
Another animal story, this one is an update…Mystery Picket Fence in Amazon Explained – News Watch
The animal that built the strange picket fence structure has been found.
Six months ago, visitors to the Peruvian Amazon discovered a mysterious picket fence structure nicknamed Silkhenge. Despite watching the structure for several days, naturalists at the Tambopata Research Center couldn’t figure out what type of animal (or fungus) was building it.
I thought for sure it was a spider…the way that middle part looks like a spindle full of spun yarn. Like the thin single cotton stuff you spin on a charka. ————–>
In December, Tambopata scientist Phil Torres, who helped first discover the spider, along with University of Florida entomologists Lary Reeves and Geena Hill and photographer Jeff Cremer, returned to the small island where they had first found the small picket fences built on the sides of trees and tarps. For a week, they staked out the area, taking careful notes and watching the miniature structures very closely.
Along a 650-foot (200-meter) stretch of trail, the scientists identified 45 different picket fences. Their week of eagle-eyed watching paid off when they discovered spiderlings hatching from three of these fences. (See National Geographic’s spider videos.)
A spiderling seen in December 2013. Photograph by Jeff Cremer, Solent News/Rex Features via AP
Next up…a few “techie” links:
The students doing advanced computer science work in high school remain overwhelmingly white and male. According to data from the College Board compiled by Georgia Tech’s Barbara Ericson, only a small percentage of the high-schoolers taking the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam are women. Black and Latino students make up an even lower percentage of the test-takers.
Ericson’s analysis of the data shows that in 2013, 18 percent of the students who took the exam were women. Eight percent were Hispanic, and four percent were African-American. In contrast, Latinos make up 22 percent of the school-age population in the U.S.; African-Americans make up 14 percent. (I don’t need to tell you that women make up about half.)
So it is nice to see this next article about an Australian girl interested in science and getting some feedback…
An inquiry from a hopeful 7-year-old has prompted the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, to issue an apology — about the failure to research dragons.
Let’s end this extremely long ass post with something wonderful: Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) Shared a Whole Bunch of Original Star Wars Set Photos on Twitter Last Night | Geekosystem
This is how amazing life would have been if we had Twitter back when the original Star Wars movies came out… and if everyone knew what a huge and lasting success they’d be. Better late than never, we got a whole bunch of set photos from the original trilogy from Peter Mayhew on Twitter, and here are some of our favorites.
These are just a fraction of what he posted, so you should also head over to his Twitter and check out the rest to get your nostalgia on.
Y’all know I would pick that particular photo!
Have a great day, and share a thought in the comments!