Aunt Lowey's Fair and Balanced Handy-Dandy Blog

Miscellaneous fair and balanced (or balanced and fair, or unbalanced and unfair as the mood strikes) thoughts, links, rants, and cool stuff.
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-- Fred McFeely Rogers, 1928-2003

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Monday, May 19, 2003
Molly Ivins' column on the Texas Legislature's latest weirdness,Putting the Legislature out of our misery, contains this quote which illustrates, even more than the embarrassment to Pennsylvania that is Rick Santorum, the level of -- I was going to say "thinking", but that's definitely not what's happening; I guess "ideology" will have to suffice, especially since "ideo-" bears a resemblance to "idiot" -- that seems to pass for "logic" in the Republican party these days.

This piece of something that can't possibly have involved sentience comes from Debbie Riddle, a state legislator from Houston: "Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell."

To start with, Debbie apparently flunked American history. Free education has been around since colonial times, at least in some places (the Boston Latin School opened in 1635, and gave rise to such well-known Communists as Benjamin Franklin), and became widespread in the 1800s, when Russia still had Tsars and serfdom.

Debbie's no whiz at geography either. Last time I heard, hell was supposed to be hot, a description that does not fit Moscow, but does fit Texas to a T. It certainly was hotter'n hell the times I've been to Texas, where, by the way, my cousins, nieces, and nephews all went to public schools.

In fact, that kangaroo in Austria probably had a better grasp on reality than Debbie, Rick, and some of their fellow Rs seem to. It just didn't know how to duck cars.

Thursday, May 15, 2003
Proof that kangaroos can't spell (and aren't too good at geography either):

Kangaroo Dies in Hit-and-Run in Austria

Yes, Austria. Not that bigger place with an "ali" in it.

"A police officer in Steyr," a town described as "100 miles west of Vienna", "said that coming across a kangaroo - dead or alive - was 'extremely uncommon around here.'" I would think.
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Yahoo! News - Two Asteroids Collided, Showered Earth with Debris

Note the past tense.

"In ancient marine sediments across a large swath of southern Sweden, researchers found sand-sized grains of the mineral chromite that are low in iron, a sign of extraterrestrial origin. The stuff appears to have fell [sic] from the sky about 480 million years ago."

So you can relax: it wasn't recently! And unlike some other asteroid strikes of note, this one does not seem to be related to any mass extinctions.

Friday, May 09, 2003
Ranger 2, Yogi 0

Remember how Mr. Ranger always told Yogi Bear to stick to nuts and berries instead of pickle-nick baskets? He was smarter than your average cartoon bear!

This article from Weight Watchers may have a slightly overstated title ("8 super foods your body will thank you for eating") but it contains useful information.

The eight foods are:

Nuts. ... "they’re chock full of the antioxidant vitamin E, artery-unclogging monounsaturated fats and lots of other phytochemicals."

Chile peppers ... "Capsaicin, the substance that gives chiles their heat, acts as a disease-preventing phytochemical"

Tomatoes and tomato products. ... may help prevent prostate and breast cancer.


Leafy greens

Quinoa. "Pronounced KEEN-wah, this nutty-tasting food is . . . 'the only grain considered to be a complete protein'" (I don't think I've ever heard of it!)


And as previously blogged,


Sunday, May 04, 2003
I think I may have seen the Bad Human Factors Designs site before, but it was ages ago -- OK, in Internet time that means maybe 2 or three years -- long before I started blogging.
(From Library Juice
Friday, May 02, 2003
Springsteen to play PNC Park. Last December he played at the Mellon Arena, which leads the Post-Gazette to conjecture that the current tour is "a tour of venues named for banks"!

One thing about Bruce, you can always count on a fantastic night, which sadly is not always true for Pirates (PNC Park) or Penguins (Mellon Arena) games. Especially if you're a Pirates or Penguins fan. (The Bucs have a worse record at home than on the road so far this season.)

When hasn't been announced yet. Unless it conflicts with Torcon, though, I think I'll be planning to go. For various reasons I missed the December show, and I hate missing Bruce!
Thursday, May 01, 2003
This is almost science-fictional -- after almost three months, they've found survivors from Columbia. OK, not humans, nor even vertebrates, but it's something positive for once.

Lab worms survived shuttle crash

"Hundreds found alive amid shuttle debris."

"The worms are from a species known as Caenorhabditis elegans, primitive organisms that share many biological characteristics of humans. ... C. elegans have two sexes: males and hermaphrodites, which are females that produce sperm. A hermaphrodite worm can self-fertilize for the first 300 or so eggs but later usually prefers to accept sperm from males to produce a larger number of offspring."

(I suppose after 300 or so babies, you'd want a little variety in your sex life!)

Also found among the debris was some moss "known as Ceratodon, [that] was used to study how gravity affects cell organization. During Columbia’s flight, shuttle commander Rick Husband sprayed the moss with a chemical that destroyed protein fiber. He also sprayed the moss with formaldehyde to preserve it."

More excerpts:
"Technicians sorting through the debris at Kennedy Space Center in Florida didn’t open the containers of worms and dead moss cells until this week.
. . . Columbia contained almost 60 scientific investigations.
'To my knowledge, these are the only live experiments that have been located and identified,' said Bruce Buckingham, a NASA spokesman at the Kennedy Space Center.
"The worms and moss were in the same 9-pound (4-kilogram) locker located in the middeck of the space shuttle. The worms were placed in six canisters, each holding eight petri dishes.
"The worms, which are about the size of the tip of a pencil, were part of an experiment testing a new synthetic nutrient solution. The worms, which have a life cycle of between seven and 10 days, were four or five generations removed from the original worms placed on Columbia in January. . .
"NASA officials said they don’t know if the worms will still have any scientific value, since they were supposed to have been examined and unloaded from Columbia within hours of landing.
“'It’s pretty astonishing to get the possibility of data after all that has happened,' Sack said. 'We never expected it. We expected a molten mass.'”
May Day! May Day!

Happy May 1st, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Beltane, Labo(u)r Day/International Working Class Holiday (not here, of course), or whatever . . . and the flowers are gorgeous! Even the dandelions are beautiful.

The lilacs are out weeks early. I'm not sure that's wise of them -- we've been known to get snow in May; the last frost is often around Mother's Day -- but they're beautiful, and smell so wonderful!

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