Tag Archives: E. coli

Friday Linkage 11/30/2018

I feel that this article on CNBC.com just about nails the past two years:

Donald Trump’s all-GOP government in Washington ends a two-year run as it began, by struggling to govern at all.

The president who vowed to make America great again has rattled financial markets, reduced farm exports and raised manufacturing costs with his tariff policies. As growth slows, he blames the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates and threatens General Motors for closing plants.

The president who promised law and order, having previously fired the FBI director, fired his attorney general over the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia investigation. The acting attorney general has been openly hostile to the probe.

The president who insisted Mexico would finance a border wall now wants American taxpayers to pay as a condition of keeping their government open. Congress doesn’t intend to build the wall, so the government could shut down next week.

Thus completes the chaotic circle of governance by Trump and the GOP Congress: fanciful promises, contradictory priorities, presidential provocations that Republicans won’t rein in. Voters responded this month by handing the House to Democrats.

Obamacare survived. The better, cheaper Republican alternative never existed.

The infrastructure plan Trump promised business and blue-collar supporters has not materialized. GOP congressional leaders prefer to spend on tax cuts.

Republicans delivered tax cuts, but not as advertised. Proceeds profited the wealthy far more than the middle class and ballooned the budget deficit, with no evidence of giving the economy more than a short-term stimulative boost.

Trump’s abandonment of the fight against climate change has not revived the coal industry, which keeps closing unprofitable facilities. The president answers his own government’s warnings about the climate by saying he doesn’t believe them.

Republican congressional leaders want cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to shrink government, reduce deficits and relieve pressure for tax hikes. Trump vows to protect those popular benefits.

Tough executive branch oversight, which preoccupied Obama-era Republicans, vanished when their party won the White House. Lawmakers who talked of prosecuting Hillary Clinton skipped past Ivanka Trump’s use of personal email for government business.

Unlike Obama, Trump has supplied a steady stream of genuine scandal. Cabinet members and senior presidential aides have departed under ethical clouds, while Trump’s former national security advisor and campaign chairman confessed to felonies.

Unprecedented turnover and turmoil hinder White House operations. Trump has filled just over half the administration jobs important enough to require Senate confirmation.

How Republicans attempted to retain power in this fall’s elections exposed the chasm between their policies and public sentiment. Most voters believe the GOP tax cut has not made them better off, so Trump promised a new one.

Republicans who earlier favored repeal ran as defenders of a principal Obamacare achievement — guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions. Trump accused Democrats, rather than his own party, of threatening Medicare.

On Election Day, Americans issued their verdict. They cast 9 million more votes for Democrats than Republicans in House races, the largest margin in midterm election history.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

On to the links…

Trump’s Latest Talking Points on Climate Change Will Make Your Brain Hurt So Bad—This is what happens when a minority of the American people elect a coddled man child with the intellectual capacity of a fifth grader throwing a temper tantrum about chicken nuggets.

The White House Talking Points About the National Climate Assessment Are Demonstrably False—There has to be a special place in hell for Sarah Huckabee Sanders who has spent her time in the Trump Administration glibly lying her way to a position as a commentator on Fox News.

Solar Energy Beats Coal On Critical Infrastructure Resilience—Remember when Rick Perry was going to save coal and nuclear plants by using an obscure national security rationale?  Looks like renewables are good for a resilient grid after all.

US Could Meet Paris Emissions Pledge with ‘Natural Climate Solutions’—Restoration and better management of our natural resources could go a long way in helping us mitigate the worst effects of climate change.  These are not exotic technological solutions waiting for discovery.

Climate Change: Report says ‘Cut Lamb and Beef’—No surprise here, but the evidence is getting to be as damning as that against smoking.  Eating beef and lamb is bad for the environment.  It’s just a question of how bad.

Massive 14-Year Oil Spill Ordered To Be Cleaned As Leaks Continue—It is appalling that this has taken fourteen years and over 150 million gallons of oil to finally come to this solution.

Colorado Joins California Low Emission Vehicle Program In Rebuke To Trump—Our federal government is hamstrung by the fact that the Senate is controlled by a minority of Americans.  However, the states with the most population and dynamic economies can move forward with climate sensible policies.

FedEx is Getting 1,000 More Electric Delivery Vans—FedEx has over 60,000 trucks so 1,000 is not a sea change, but it is a start.

Meanwhile In China, The Electric Mobility Revolution Is In Full Swing—There is a lot to dislike or even loathe about China—Muslim “reeducation” camps in the western part of the country for example—but the command driven economy is really moving forward on electric mobility.

The Case Against Cruises—Apparently, cruises are a disaster for the environment and the communities in which these mega ships port.  I always liked the line about cruises being the penultimate example of “premium medicore.”

Lettuce is Stupid and You Shouldn’t be Eating it Now Anyway—Lettuce is just a refrigerated water delivery vehicle.  Salads are a waste.  Never mind that eating lettuce is about the most likely way to get food poisoning anymore.

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Friday Linkage 9/5/2014

Big changes. The reason I have been somewhat radio silent the past couple of weeks is that I have been “reordering” my life. Nothing major like getting divorced or a death in the family—too much of that in recent years for my tastes. Rather, I decided of my own volition to make some adjustments in my approach to life for happiness and health reasons. I will get to the details later.

On to the links…

22.6% Of Homes Use Solar In South Australia—Damn, imagine if sunny states in the U.S. like California, Arizona, or Colorado approached a number like this? One can always dream.

Solar Makers Set for Record 2014 Shipments on Strong Demand—Why do I foresee a near term future where every headline is about a record with regard to solar?

Propane Made with Renewable Process for the First Time—This is kind of cool. Drop in biofuels are sort of the holy grail of the industry.

Communities Going into Power Business to Cut Cost, Carbon Footprint—Local control means that the communities can decide the path forward for their power generation. If left to private power companies it would be dirty coal. All the time.

Shell Submits a Plan for New Exploration of Alaskan Arctic Oil—After a disastrous initial campaign highlighted by the beaching of its massive drilling rig, Shell is back to try and drill in the artic again. Nothing has changed and this will more than likely end in ecological disaster.

Does Antarctic Sea Ice Growth Negate Climate Change? Scientists Say No—When are people, in general, and climate deniers, in specific, going to realize that it is global climate change brought about by a globally warmer climate. Some places will get wetter while others get drier. Some places will get colder while others get warmer. The dominant theme however is that the climate is going to get weird.

Seeing Discolored Lawns, California Businesses Apply Dab of Green—No matter what happens to the climate at least the invisible hand of the market has figured out a way for you to have a nice green lawn in the worst drought.

Why Coal Is (Still) Worse Than Fracking and Cow Burps—This is an interesting take on the compounds responsible for climate change. Read it and let me know what you think.

Sweden Now Recycles a Staggering 99 Percent of its Garbage—Damn. Regardless of how the Swedes got to this point, it is impressive.

Inside the Rainbow Factory Where Crayola Crayons Are Made—Factory tours are cool. Crayola Crayon factory tours are even cooler.

Tofu is not the Enemy

Tofu is a bad word for a lot of people.  Just the mere mention of the substance conjures images of hippies and natural food stores and other typical left leaning stereotypes.  I am sure Subaru Outbacks, Volvo Wagons, hemp shirts, and Birkenstocks are part of the iconography.

I have never really understood the visceral hate for tofu that a large swath of the American eating public harbors.  For the most part, it’s innocuous.  It takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with quite well.  It can be fried, which is a requirement for a lot of American cuisine.  It provides protein without the harmful health effects or ethical concerns of animal protein.  I am really missing why it is so disliked.

If I had asked my five year old daughter if she wanted tofu, I would have gotten an off look.  Why?  Because it was an unknown.  But, dredge cubes of extra-firm tofu in flour, pan sear those cubes in a little oil until crispy, and serve with a Chinese-inspired sauce like caramel fish sauce or General Tso…I guarantee that the stuff will disappear.  How do I know?  I watched my daughter—who turns her nose up at beef, chicken, and most pork without any prodding from mom or dad—wolf down her plate and proclaim how she loved the chicken.  Informed that it was not really chicken but vegetables only heightened her love.  Now we make “vegetable chicken” once a week.  Even my tofu-averse wife is a fan when it is prepared this way.

My nearly two year old son just eats everything on his plate, points at a cube of tofu on our plate, and cries out, “Meat!”

This is all part of my effort to move my family almost totally away from eating meat like beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.  Most of that meat is produced in just terrible ways—witness the industry’s attempt to silence activists who document animal abuse through the passage of “ag gag” laws—and the production of meat is a potent force in terms of environmental degradation.  Don’t believe your pork chop is bad news for the planet?  Drive by a CAFO on a sweltering summer day in Iowa, take a whiff, and tell me that there is not bad stuff going down.

Sure, the production of soy beans is not all roses but it is a far cry better than how most animals are raised for meat.

If vegetable based proteins are not the enemy, maybe ground turkey is the enemy.  Never mind the horrific conditions that these animals live and die in; the end product is essentially filled with bacteria from shit.  To be all scientific, the meat is usually tainted with salmonella, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and enterococcus.  Somehow, I do not think the term “poop burger” is going to take off anytime soon.

Just like the shocked meat industry person in Fast Food Nation said, “There’s shit in the meat?”

Friday Linkage 6/8/2012

A little heavy on the food related links this week.  It was nothing intentional, I just found a lot of stories about food and the modern food system to be fascinating this week.

On to the links…

Prius Success Undermines EV Attacks—Does anyone remember when the Toyota Prius was the target of attacks by the right wing blowhards?  Not since the Prius became one of the bestselling vehicles in the world.  What will the story be with the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf in a couple of years?

How Cheap will Algae Bio-Fuel Really Get—Maybe the goal should not be parity with gasoline—granted, the price of a gallon of gasoline does not include the externalities of pollution cost or wars or propping up bad regimes—but rather commercial scale and availability.  If I were able to purchase a biofuel made from algae the price premium would be worth it.

A Failed Food System—A food system is not just about production.  It is comprised of production, distribution, and nutrition.  This article about India highlights that it does not matter if you increase your food production by 50% if you cannot effectively distribute that food.  The problems may be inefficient infrastructure, too much corruption, or simply lack of processes, but the end result is that people do not get enough to eat.

Is Your Supermarket Chucking Foods Before Expiration—In India, the food goes to waste at distribution centers.  In the U.S., our supermarkets throw food away before it is expired.  The system is doomed to failure.

Small Scale Slaughterhouses Keeping it Local—One major problem with getting truly local meat is that the approved facilities to slaughter and process an animal are getting fewer and farther between.  Not to mention these facilities are often controlled by the large firms responsible for so many bad things about meat today.

Why Do Humans Crave Crispy Food—Why do we crave crispy food?  Because it is oh so good.  Oh wait, there might be a scientific reason why.

Your Burger Just Got a Little Safer…Thanks to Uncle Sam—Sometimes I think we need to say thanks in spite of Uncle Sam.  I love how the major meat packers try to persuade regulators that certain strands of E. coli are benign additions to meat and thus need not be regulated.  Huh?  It’s E. coli.  Like the famous line in Fast Food Nation: there’s shit in the meat.

The Food Movement’s Final Frontier: Taking Care of Workers—Whether it’s grape pickers in California or tomato pickers in Florida or illegal immigrants working in a packing plant in Iowa the food movement needs to make sure that the workers are taken care of as well as we expect to be taken care of by the food these people help produce.  There can be no real change unless social justice, environmental justice, and good food intersect.

Disney to Stop Allowing Junk Food Advertising—This is how things start.  A company decides to take action on an issue where it has a critical mass—like Disney does with kids—and suddenly people start realizing the world has not flown off its axis.  Do not think it’s possible?  Just look at the cigarette industry.

Reagan was a Keynesian—It is an article of faith held by most conservatives that Ronald Reagan slashed taxes and spending while beating back the Soviet menace himself.  That might be a little bit over the top, but just wait until the Republican nominating convention.  I just love Paul Krugman detailing how Reagan was not quite the darling conservatives have made him out to be in the past two plus decades.

China Wants Foreign Embassies to Stop Commenting on Air Quality—This is almost something I expect to see from James Inhofe.  There is no global warming because I do not recognize its existence.  Of course you cannot say the same thing about god.  Huh?  It’s amazing that people forget just how clean the air has gotten.  Here is Pittsburgh in the 1940s:

Of course, here is Beijing today:

What Cleaning Meant to Me

When I was a kid deep cleaning meant one thing: bleach.  My mother would get a bucket of hot water and pour a capful of bleach into the water.  A pair of elbow length rubber gloves and a disposable sponge completed the preparations for cleansing war.  By the end of the day the entire house would be effused with eau de Clorox.

I would not say I am smarter now, but definitely more aware.  Bathing one’s home in a diluted solution of chlorine bleach may kill the germs you fear, but it is trading one evil for another.  Ignoring for the time being that one can create a low grade chemical weapon by mixing chlorine bleach and ammonia together, there are some things to consider before reaching for the nuclear weapon of home cleansing. Chlorine, depending on the concentration, can be caustic meaning burns to exposed skin.  It can create organochlorines, which are suspected of being carcinogenic compounds, and if ingested chlorine bleach can be fatal.

So, what is a boy supposed to do when the tried and true disinfectant of his youth is tarred and feathered as a vanguard of the toxic home cleaning crew?

For a lot of my house I clean surfaces with a diluted solution of vinegar and water.  According to experts, the ability of vinegar to kill germs and other pathogens has not been adequately documented.  It may not be the best choice when one wants to make sure that a surface is free of nasties like E. coli.

Vinegar can be used in conjunction with hydrogen peroxide to produce a powerful antiseptic cleaning combo.  Susan Sumner has shown that plain white vinegar and the commonly available hydrogen peroxide used for wound cleaning or gargling sprayed one after the other on a surface, the order is not important, kills pathogens as effectively as chlorine bleach and other commercially available cleaners.  The powerhouse combo killed salmonella, shigella, and E. coli bacteria, which are like the horsemen of household doom.

You cannot mix the two liquids into one spray bottle because that dulls the effectiveness to the point of danger and when exposed to light hydrogen peroxide breaks down rendering it ineffective as well.  The good folks at Root Simple lay it all out.

Maybe I am lazy, but I like the idea of a one bottle solution under the counter in the kitchen that I can grab for a quick spray down of a countertop before and after prepping dinner.  At the local big box store—not freakin’ WalMart which has become some kind of bad student art film trying to ape The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari—I ran across method’s  anti-bacterial bathroom cleaner in a spray bottle:

The claims all seemed to be solid—natural, botanical derived, etc.—and I have been pleased with the other method products that I use in my home.  The active ingredient in this product is thymol.  Thymol is derived from—wait for it—thyme oil that has anti-bacterial properties that are fairly well documented.  In addition to its household use, thymol has long standing medicinal uses in treating things like nail fungus.

This seemed to be the one bottle solution that I was looking for.  One complaint was that the product stinks to high heaven.  I agree it has a strong odor, but it is not offensive.  It is not the spearmint that it claims.  More like the off kilter mash up of spearmint and thyme as imagined by Danger Mouse.  Assuming that the product works in killing over 99% of household germs I am happy.  It is so much better than a day spent bathing the chemical soup of a deep cleaning with chlorine bleach.