Wednesday Reads: Apples, Rands and 3D Printed Food

6791622240_8b616a368d_oGood Morning

Storms are building up right over Banjoville as I type up this post, so I will be very brief with the commentary.

(I am also very sleepy, so yeah…brief it will be.)

The Immigration reform panel was somewhat productive yesterday: Senate panel passes immigration bill; Obama praises move | Reuters

A Senate panel on Tuesday approved legislation to give millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, setting up a spirited debate next month in the full Senate over the biggest changes in immigration policy in a generation.

President Barack Obama, who has made enactment of an immigration bill one of his top priorities for this year, praised the Senate Judiciary Committee’s action, saying the bill was consistent with the goals he has expressed.

Hmmm….really?

By a vote of 13-5, the Senate panel approved the bill that would put 11 million illegal residents on a 13-year path to citizenship while further strengthening security along the southwestern border with Mexico, long a sieve for illegal crossings into the United States.

The vote followed the committee’s decision to embrace a Republican move to ease restrictions on high-tech U.S. companies that want to hire more skilled workers from countries like India and China.

In a dramatic move before the vote, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, withdrew an amendment to give people the right to sponsor same-sex partners who are foreigners for permanent legal status.

Leahy’s colleagues on the committee – Republicans and Democrats – warned that the amendment would kill the legislation in Congress. Democrats generally favor providing equal treatment for heterosexual and homosexual couples, while many Republicans oppose doing so.

Well, like I said at the beginning of the post, I wasn’t going to comment much….but yeah, I will say Obama is getting what he wants. Definitely.

Immigration Reform Amendment For Gay Couples Withdrawn

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had to make what the New York senator called an “excruciating” decision on Tuesday to come out against including LGBT couple provisions in their immigration reform bill, citing the need to keep the fragile balance in the “gang of eight.”

Sounding disappointed, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) withdrew the amendment after debate during a markup on the bill.

“I take the Republican sponsors of this important legislation at their word that they will abandon their own efforts if discrimination is removed from our immigration system,” Leahy said. “So, with a heavy heart, and as a result of my conclusion that Republicans will kill this vital legislation if this anti-discrimination amendment is added, I will withhold calling for a vote on it. But I will continue to fight for equality.”

Leahy brought up his amendments on same-sex couples during a markup of the immigration bill after some uncertainty that he would force discussion on it at all. Under current law and the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples cannot petition for legal status for the foreign-born partner, even if they’re legally married in their state. That means that thousands are forced to live separately for months or years, or even leave the United States to be with their partners.

Even with all the steps forward lately, in the form of so many states passing marriage equality laws…this immigration bill puts LGBT rights several steps backwards…again.

Oh, and just note by the way, 2 More Antigay Attacks Are Reported in Manhattan

Just hours after hundreds of people held a rally in Greenwich Village to protest the killing of a gay man last week, two men were violently assaulted in separate attacks in downtown Manhattan because of their sexual orientation, New York City officials said on Tuesday.

The attacks added to a troubling increase in reported antigay crimes in the city.

“It is a shame that we have to get together to talk about some things that should never occur, that we always thought, you know, we’d gotten beyond that,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.

If you missed news about that hate crime in the Village, read about it here: Killing in Greenwich Village Looks Like Hate Crime, Police Say  and here Charges Filed in Greenwich Village Killing.

In other news from yesterday, Apple was in the Senate’s spotlight, here are a series of links on that story:

In Disarming Testimony, Apple Chief Eases Tax Tensions – NYTimes.com

Senators accuse Apple of ‘highly questionable’ billion-dollar tax avoidance scheme

Reuters TV | Reuters Breakingviews: Apple feels global tax heat

Apple Added More To Its Offshore Holdings Than Any Other U.S. Company Last Year: Study

In 2012, Apple added more to its offshore profit holdings than any other company, according to a March report by Citizens for Tax Justice.

The company’s method of holding profits overseas isn’t new — and it’s not necessarily illegal — but it was the focus of a Senate hearing on Tuesday in which Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the company’s tax strategies, which allowed Apple to pay a 2 percent tax on $74 billion in profits.

Apple of course isn’t the only company doing this. The tech giant, along with some of America’s largest companies, held at least $1.9 trillion in assets abroad, according to Bloomberg. General Electric, which held $108 billion overseas in 2012, topped Bloomberg’s list of U.S. companies with the most cash held offshore.

Apple chief calls on US government to slash US corporate tax

Apple has called for US corporate tax rates to be slashed after it admitted sheltering at least $30bn (£20bn) of international profits in Irish subsidiaries that pay no tax at all.

In a dramatic display of how threats from multinational corporations are driving down taxes across the world, chief executive Tim Cook warned Congress that he would refuse to repatriate a total of $100bn stashed offshore unless it acted to slash the 35% US rate.

Cook said the tax rate for repatriated money should be set “in single digits” to persuade companies to bring it back. Standard tax for US profits should be, he said, in the “mid 20s”.

He also revealed that Apple had struck a secret deal with the Irish government in 1980 to limit its domestic taxes there to 2%.

Three subsidiaries based in Ireland are also used to shelter profits made in the rest of Europe and Asia but are not classed as resident in any country for tax purposes – a tactic dubbed the “iCompany” by critics.

Cook’s testimony to a Senate sub-committee investigating multinational tax practices largely confirmed its findings that Apple had taken tax avoidance to a new extreme by structuring these companies so they did not incur tax liabilities anywhere.

Then you have Rand and his demand for an apology to Apple, Rand Paul: Senate should apologize to Apple for ‘spectacle’ hearing on taxes

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted his colleagues on Tuesday for holding a hearing to examine Apple’s methods for avoiding taxes.

“I frankly think the committee should apologize to Apple,” Paul said during a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Paul said he was offended by the “tone and tenor of the hearing.”

“I’m offended by the spectacle of dragging in executives from an American company that is not doing anything illegal,” Paul said.

The subcommittee released a report on Monday that found that Apple has avoided billions of dollars in taxes in recent years through a network of offshore shell companies.

What a Randian asshole that Rand Paul is…And, I still don’t get all this 3-D printer stuff…but here is another new way to use one of those special printers.

NASA asks: Could 3-D-printed food fuel a mission to Mars? – The Washington Post

NASA can send robots to Mars, no problem. But if it’s ever going to put humans on the red planet it has to figure out how to feed them over the course of a years-long mission.So the space agency has funded research for what could be the ultimate nerd solution: a 3-D printer that creates entrees or desserts at the touch of a button.

The audacious plan to end hunger with 3-D printed food – Quartz

Anjan Contractor’s 3D food printer might evoke visions of the “replicator” popularized in Star Trek, from which Captain Picard was constantly interrupting himself to order tea. And indeed Contractor’s company, Systems & Materials Research Corporation, just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype of his universal food synthesizer.

But Contractor, a mechanical engineer with a background in 3D printing, envisions a much more mundane—and ultimately more important—use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor’s vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.

Ubiquitous food synthesizers would also create new ways of producing the basic calories on which we all rely. Since a powder is a powder, the inputs could be anything that contain the right organic molecules. We already know that eating meat is environmentally unsustainable, so why not get all our protein from insects?

If eating something spat out by the same kind of 3D printers that are currently being used to make everything from jet engine parts to fine art doesn’t sound too appetizing, that’s only because you can currently afford the good stuff, says Contractor. That might not be the case once the world’s population reaches its peak size, probably sometime near the end of this century.

“I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently,” says Contractor. “So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”

Okay, is this like a step towards Solent Green?

I guess my mind, a comical combination of medicine induced haze, epilepsy impaired brain cells, crazy depressed emotional waves, medievalist mind at heart, twisted dark thought-provoking, sleepy, overweight, short, forty-plus woman can’t seem to grasp the concept behind these printers. Can someone explain to me, in the simplest of terms…what exactly are 3-D printers and how the fuck do these 3-D printer things work?

That is my question to you this morning. Y’all have a good day…hopefully things will be quiet and peaceful.


Don’t you love ’em…Open Thread

Angel...on her 12th Christmas.

Angel…on her 12th Christmas.

Good Afternoon!

Ah! The holidays…a time for frantic shopping, decorating trees and emergency room visits. Well, that last one about the ER is something we celebrate on a regular basis in my family. My brother Denny fell down the step of the front porch this morning…and he is sitting in the Banjoville ER waiting on x-ray results. If he has a broken wrist/arm they will need to put a cast on him, and that is not going to sit too well with him.

I promised my daughter that we would get the Christmas tree today, something she has nagged about…I told her the tree will be au naturale this year, which means only white lights, strung popcorn and ribbon.

Anyway, since so much is going on today, I am posting this afternoon thread earlier than usual.

Apple has announced it is moving some of the manufacture jobs to the US…for a review check this post out by Emptywheel: The ameriMac

Presumably because of Apple’s rocky PR and financial results of late, Tim Cook gave two purportedly “Exclusive!” interviews, to NBC News and Businessweek. The big takeaway from both “Exclusives!” was the same, however: that Apple will move some production of the Mac back to the US next year.

You were instrumental in getting Apple out of the manufacturing business. What would it take to get Apple back to building things and, specifically, back to building things in the U.S.?
It’s not known well that the engine for the iPhone and iPad is made in the U.S., and many of these are also exported—the engine, the processor. The glass is made in Kentucky. And next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013. We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we’ll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people, and we’ll be investing our money.

Thus far, I have not seen any acknowledgment that this move comes just two months after Lenovo made a similar announcement, that it was going to bring production of formerly IBM products back to Tim Cook’s old stomping grounds in IBM’s former production hub of North Carolina.

Well, personally I love Lenovo products….but this news that jobs are coming back the states is something good to hear about. I just hope that things don’t go the way of Toyota.  When they moved manufacture from Japan to Tennessee, the product quality went down…for reasons I don’t know. I guess we just have to see how it goes.

This week the Senate (GOP Ratfukkerz) voted against the UN Disability treaty, it seems that there is a buzz going on about something Inhofe said, via Little Green Footballs: Inhofe and Monckton Bring the Theocratic, Creationist Texas Eagle Forum to the UN to Deny Climate Change

Watch the full video (available later today) at:

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow: The future of climate and energy policy featuring Lord Christopher Monckton and US Senator James Inhofe

The current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, COP 18, is ongoing in Doha, Qatar and like all previous COPs there is an abundance of representation of global interests, not the least of which are foreign ministers (or their deputies) of many nations, and a swarm of international press.

And, as usual and like moths to a light, these COPs attract a very wide range of what most of us perceive as “fringe” organizations and individuals, as well as many serious foreign policy organizations.

Relatively few however hold press briefings in the main press conference room, yet somehow Senator Inhofe managed to get 30 minutes in front of the press to present a video by himself and a live brief by Christopher Monckton, as well as a spokesman for the “Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.”

And they brought one more person to speak: Cathie Adams, of the Texas Eagle Forum.

We all know of the long running connection between Inhofe and Monckton and various monied interests (especially fossil fuel companies), and Senator Inhofe’s fundamentalist Christian beliefs and his own theocratic tendencies are well documented.

Where the hell do they get these committee names from? Double speak? You bet your ass! Anyway, back to the idiots, and their constructive tomorrows:

But what of Cathie Adams? Fortunately for us TFN did a short backgrounder on her when earlier this year she resumed being head of the Texas Eagle Forum after even the Texas GOP party had quite enough of her as their leader:

Cathie Adams Is Back!

– Adams sees religious diversity as a threat to this country. From an October 1999 TEF letter:

‘(W)e must place our faith in the ONE true God, then humble ourselves, pray and seek Him and repent for our sins. Then God will forgive us and heal our land. Do you think that a jealous God will tolerate ‘religious pluralism’ and allow us to come to Him any way we please? Absolutely not!’

– Adams believes that the United Nations is paving the way for the ‘anti-Christ.’

From a 2000 TEF letter:

‘The Bible tells us that in the end times there will be a world government headed by a world leader, called the anti-Christ, who will profess a world religion, but did you ever think you would live in the day when these things would come into being? That is exactly what the United Nations is doing behind the backs of most Americans.’

From a January 1999 TEF newsletter:

‘In the future, the anti-Christ will use the pleas for human rights, economic equity and a promise to ‘end all wars’ to found global government… . God is not the author of global government, the anti-Christ is, and the UN conspicuously manifests his warmongering spirit.’

[…]

So, Inhofe arranges for someone who thinks the UN is a front for the Anti-Christ be his spokesman at a climate change conference, to convince us all that climate change is a hoax.

Please…it is beyond ridiculous and embarrassing. As LGF points out:

Oh, and of course:

Adams is an anti-science zealot.

Criticizing evolution in an October 2003 email to TEF activists during the Texas State Board of Education’s debate over proposed new science textbooks:

‘Did you evolve from an ape or were you created by God? This is NOT a rhetorical question. Your child or grandchild WILL be taught according to what you choose now.’

Yes, she’s a die hard literal creationist.

This is who Inhofe sends to put up in front of the world to argue climate change is a hoax.

The UNFCCC has many problems and (not uncommon with other forums that include most of the nations of the world) has proven to be rather ineffective at addressing climate change.

Yet to add to that ineffectiveness, Inhofe, Monckton, and Adams got prime speaking time in the UNFCCC press briefing room to spout conspiracy theories and wingnut fantasies.

This is a new low for the UNFCCC, and that is saying something.

I think it is more of a new low regarding the world’s opinion of United States Senators, and the dumb asses who elect them.

Alright, here’s the rest of today’s reads:

Handyman kidnapped ‘to do repair’ –From the Independent…and here I thought the crazy Inhofe/Adams thing was bad optics for our reputation in the global scheme of things. This couple kidnapped a dude to fix their dishwasher.

A man and a woman were arrested in San Jose, California after they abducted a local handyman and forced him to repair their dishwasher.

Jason DeJesus, 36, and Chanelle Troedsen, 33, invited the 50-year-old handyman to their home When he arrived, they beat him and threatened him with further violence if he failed to comply with their demands. During his eight-hour ordeal, the man dealt with the faulty kitchen appliance, as well as a broken door.

In Naples, Italy, things never change: Mafia hitmen kill rival in Naples nursery playground

Mafia hitmen chased a rival gangster into a nursery school in northern Naples and shot him dead while four-year-olds were singing Christmas carols just yards away, it has emerged.

Even battle-weary citizens of the area’s bloody Camorra drug wars were horrified by the latest killing. Within minutes of the hit on Tuesday morning, panic-stricken parents arrived at the school clamouring to see if their children were safe.

After the killers fled the children were led to safety by teachers. “We were practising songs for the Christmas recital,” said a teacher at the Eugenio Montale pre-school. “We took them out through a back door and they didn’t see the body.”

And…check this out: Seeing in color at the nanoscale

A new microscopy tool promises to revolutionize nanoscale imaging. Left, a design schematic of the so-called “campanile” microscopy tip. Right, an electron micrograph of the tip and, inset, the UC Berkeley campanile bell-tower for which it is named. Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

If nanoscience were television, we’d be in the 1950s. Although scientists can make and manipulate nanoscale objects with increasingly awesome control, they are limited to black-and-white imagery for examining those objects. Information about nanoscale chemistry and interactions with light—the atomic-microscopy equivalent to color—is tantalizingly out of reach to all but the most persistent researchers.

Read more about nanoscience at the link.

Enjoy your Thursday evening, this is an open thread.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!

Last night, George Zimmerman, the man who shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin and triggered nationwide outrage was booked on second degree murder charges and is now in Seminole County jail. He will appear before a judge this morning.

George Zimmerman arrived at the Seminole County Jail this evening, about two hours after officials announced that he will face a second-degree murder charge in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Special Prosecutor Angela Corey announced the second-degree murder charge at the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville tonight, more than six weeks after Trayvon and Zimmerman’s fatal encounter.

If convicted, Zimmerman would face up to life in prison on the first-degree felony charge. He arrived at the Seminole County jail about 8:30 p.m. tonight, greeted by a throng of reporters shouting questions.

George Zimmerman's booking photo

I’m not a doctor, but I’ve seen broken noses before. Zimmerman’s doesn’t look like the ones I’ve seen, but as I said, I’m not a doctor.

I just have a few more links related to this story. Trayvon Martin’s parents have behaved with dignity and grace during a time that for them can only have been nightmarish. Via Raw Story, yesterday, they reacted to the arrest and charging of the man who killed their son in an interview with the AP. When asked what they would do if they had an opportunity to talk with George Zimmerman.

“I would probably give him the opportunity to apologize,” said Sybrina Fulton, Travyon Martin’s mother. I would probably ask him if there was another way he could have helped settle the confrontation that he had with Trayvon, other than the way it ended, with Trayvon being shot.”

Tracy Martin, the boy’s father, said he would ask Zimmerman what his motive was.

“Why was he patrolling the neighborhood with a 9mm gun?” he said. “What was it about my son that made him suspicious? What made him decide to disobey the dispatcher, who is trained to handle 911 calls? Why does he feel his life is so altered and does he understand that he altered his own life by refusing to stay in his vehicle? Was it really worth it? Was it really worth taking an innocent child’s life?”

The right wing site the Daily Caller, which has had access to Zimmerman family members reported that George Zimmerman used the My Space handle “datniggytb.”

George Zimmerman, the Hispanic Floridian who killed black teenager Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, had a MySpace account whose username was “datniggytb,” The Daily Caller has learned.

According to a family member whose identity The Daily Caller has agreed not to reveal for safety reasons, the “datniggytb” name is not a racial slur, but a friendly nickname that referred to George himself.

“That was an old nickname his black friends gave him,” the Zimmerman family member said. “He didn’t have an issue with the profile name.”

The family member at first denied that George had a My Space account, and later came up with the “black friends” explanation. I hope someone in the Justice Department reads The Daily Caller.

In other news, the US Justice Department has filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Apple and three publishers for conspiring to fix the price of e-books in order to force Amazon to charge higher prices.

The announcement, made in Washington by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Sharis A. Pozen, the acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, capped a long investigation. The inquiry hinged on the question of whether publishers, at the urging of Steven P. Jobs, then Apple’s chief executive, agreed to adopt a new policy in 2010 that in essence coordinated the price of newly released e-books at the price offered in Apple’s iBookstore — typically between $12.99 and $14.99.

At the time, Apple with its blockbuster iPad was trying to challenge Amazon’s hold on the e-book market. Amazon, the online retail giant, had become a kind of Walmart for the e-book business by lowering the price of most new and best-selling e-books to $9.99 — a price meant to stimulate sales of its own e-reading device, the Kindle.

Publishers, looking for leverage against Amazon, saw Apple as their white knight. The Justice Department complaint, using language that could have been inspired by a best-selling white-collar crime novel, describes how executives from the publishing companies met to discuss business matters “in private rooms for dinner in upscale Manhattan restaurants,” tried to hide their communications by issuing instructions to “double-delete” e-mails, all the time complaining of Amazon’s increasing influence over the e-book market.

Ultimately, the Justice Department charges, the publishers and Apple conspired to limit e-book price competition, increasing Amazon’s e-book retail prices and causing “consumers to pay tens of millions of dollars more for e-books than they otherwise would have paid.”

Three publishers have already settled with the Justice Department. As a Kindle owner, I’ve long hoped this would happen. Steve Jobs made me pay more for books, and I strongly resent it.

Yesterday, while promoting “the Buffet rule,” President Obama used the sainted Ronald Reagan as a stick to beat Republicans with. From Raw Story:

He described for the audience the actions of one of his predecessors in the Oval Office, a president who “gave a speech where he talked about a letter he had received from a wealthy executive who paid lower tax rates than his secretary, and wanted to come to Washington and tell Congress why that was wrong. So this president gave another speech where he said it was ‘crazy’—that’s a quote—that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary.”

“That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior,” he said, “was Ronald Reagan.”

Mitt Romney is still struggling to convince women that He and other Republicans aren’t waging war on them. He’s trying to do this by accusing the Obama administration of a war on women, but he can’t articulate how that war works, according to Talking Points Memo.

The campaign faced a number of questions in [a] press call as to just how Obama’s supposed “War on Women” worked, none of which produced a direct answer. Asked by TPM on the call to explain how another president taking office in January 2009 might have affected the gender gap in job growth, Romney adviser Lanhee Chen only said that the pattern was unusual compared with other recessions and that he believed a president like Romney would have gotten different results….

Chen was pressed again by another reporter to explain why women were disproportionately affected and what “difference in policy” would have changed the equation.

“The president’s policies in general, whether it’s Obamacare or Dodd-Frank or any of the policies they have pursued have really hurt both men and women,” he said. “This president has demonstrated that he’s doing everything in his power to scare away job creators and that’s had a disproportionate impact on women. That’s just a statistical fact.”

Asked a third time to explain the origins of this gender divide and how Romney would tackle the ratio of job losses specifically, Chen again said “it is a fact” that women have suffered disproportionately but offered no specific answer.

“[Romney] would undo the damage that President Obama has done,” he said. “He would take the economy in a very different direction and, as a result of that, produce very substantial job gains and growth for men and women.”

Al-righty-then.

Dakinikat covered that story really well yesterday, so if you haven’t read her post yet, be sure to check it out.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus announced yesterday that he isn’t backing down on his comparison of the notion of a Republican war on women to a war on caterpillars. Politico:

Reince Priebus said Wednesday he has no intention of taking back his “war on caterpillars” comment that landed him at the center of criticism last week — in fact, the chairman of the Republican National Committee vowed he’d gladly “double down” on the remark.

“I’m not going to walk back — I’ll double down on it,” Priebus said on MSNBC when asked whether he wanted to walk back or clarify his choice of words. “This war of women is a fiction that the Democrats have created, and the real war on women is the war that this president has put forward on the American people by not following through on his promises, by having women disproportionately affected by the Obama economy.”

He continued, “Go read Anita Dunn’s book if you want to go read about a war on women in the workplace — go read that book and you’ll see what the White House’s record is on women.”

Yes, Obama treated women working in the White House like shit. I read Confidence Men. So because Obama is a dick, Priebus wants us to vote for the party of personhood bills, vaginal probes, and birth control bans? A plague on both their houses.

Remember “killer bees?” A beekeeper in East Tennessee was stung 30 times by “partially Africanized bees” AKA “killer bees.”

Africanized bee swarm

A swarm of as many as 100,000 bees attacked a Tennessee beekeeper last month, and genetic testing of the angry critters has now revealed that they were partially Africanized bees. This is the first time that Africanized bees have been found in Tennessee.

Africanized bees, often referred to as “killer bees,” are a hybrid cross between the bee species normally found in America and African honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata), which were originally introduced to the Americas as a productive source of honey. But the African honey bees take over hives wherever they spread, killing the hives’ original queens and hybridizing with resident populations. The hybridized Africanized bees are significantly more aggressive than other bees and more likely to attack in massive swarms when defending their nests. Their stings are no worse than those of other bees, but the sheer number of them can create more life-threatening situations, especially in anyone who is allergic to bee stings.

According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, genetic tests on the recent swarm found that the bees were less than 17 percent Africanized, which is why they are considered “partially Africanized.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture considers truly Africanized bees to have 50 percent African genetics.

Eeeeeek!

In related news, Africanized bees are suspected in a recent Texas swarm that attacked three people and a horse. The horse, which was observed almost completely covered in bees, later died from allergic reactions to the stings.

Finally, Connie from Orlando (AKA ecocatwoman) sent me a link to an interview that Terry Gross conducted yesterday with singer/songwriter Carole King. I grew up listening to Goffin-King songs, so I plan to listen to it ASAP. The occasion for the interview was her memoir A Natural Woman.

King, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, has written for everyone from Little Eva to Aretha Franklin to James Taylor. Her 1971 solo album Tapestry spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts, and stayed on the charts for more than six years.

But King was just 15 when she and three classmates formed a vocal quartet called the Co-Sines at James Madison High School. At night, she attended disc jockey Alan Freed’s concerts — a veritable “who’s who” of rock ‘n’ roll performers — and later set up a meeting with Freed, an internationally known rock promoter she thought could help her break into the songwriting business. Freed told her to look up the names of record companies in the phone book.

She recounts the story in her new memoir, A Natural Woman, explaining that she called Atlantic Records and arranged a meeting. Soon after, she wrote her first big hit — the Shirelles number, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” — with Gerry Goffin, who would later become her husband.

So in honor of the woman who helped to create the soundtrack to my pre-teen and teenage years:

Now what’s on your reading and listening list today?