Governor Jimmy

Jimmy McVillain
Jimmy "McVillain" (created by Tim)

Jimmy McMillian stole the show at the recent NY Gubernatorial debate at Hofstra University.  The candidate from the Rent Is 2 Damn High party left little doubt about where he stood on every issue.  From taxes to Medicare to political corruption, his refrain rang clear.

The rent is too damn high.

Although I couldn’t help but think while watching him with the mutton chops, the black gloves, and the self-professed expertise in karate, this guy was just a house cat short of super-villainy.  So I took the liberty of reimagining the reign of governor Jimmy.

Once ensconced in Albany, he’ll flip the switch on his evil plan and announce:

“Your rent is now… ONE MILLION DOLLARS!”

Just how ga-ga over Gaga are you?

Gaga Meat Dress
Lada Gaga in her dress of meat at the 2010 MTV Awards

Halloween is near, and for reasons as yet unexplained by science, there exist many Lady Gaga fans out there who want to dress up as her.

Gaga’s recent outrageous redefinition of hot couture as an outfit made of beef has left costume makers in a pickle as the stunt was too recent for them to have fashioned faux frocks and gotten them into stores.

But die hard fans are undeterred. Several are planning to visit their local butcher and sew their own cow suits together.  A move several butchers are advising against.

There are several problems prospective partiers may incur with the meat dress.  Among them:

  • unexpected wardrobe malfunctions from meat tearing along grain lines
  • furious party hosts as you sit on their furniture and leave raw blood stains behind
  • spoilage and the accompanying stink if you stay too long at the party
  • being attacked by packs of feral dogs on your way into or out of the event.
  • unwanted advances from guys dressed as bottles of A-1 sauce.

If for any reason wearing raw meat seems like a good idea to you, you do not need advice from a butcher.  Your mother, any friend not hoping to score YouTube hits at your expense, or your therapist (I’m sure you have one) will be happy to set you straight.  This is a level of ick that just one shower afterward will not fix. You will regret this more than last year’s drunken hook-up with Darth Vader.

Just say no.

Fed rethinks cadmium limits, leaves foxes guarding the hen house

Sample of Cadmium metal

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has now ruled that 12 million “Shrek” glasses pulled by McDonald’s last spring because of cadmium levels exceeding federal limits are now okay.  This change didn’t happen because the glasses were improperly tested, but rather because the allowable limits for cadmium have been tripled.

Further, the CPSC has said they will not insist on mandatory limits.  Instead, they are making recommendations they hope will be adopted by a private-sector group, which includes representatives of the jewelry industry and consumer advocates.  The federal agency has said they were obligated to let a legitimate voluntary standards process unfold.

In other words, the private sector is being asked to do the right thing and police itself.  The CPSC has said that it would impose mandatory limits if the industry did not self-regulate, but it would seem that in light of the recent financial meltdown and the BP oil spill that private industry shouldn’t be readily trusted to sacrifice profit in the name of public safety.  Too often, by the time we become aware that the self-regulation has failed, we already have a full-blown disaster on our hands.

Yet even the new voluntary guidelines are concerning.  The new level of 0.1 micrograms/kilogram of body weight/day is in line with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the threshold below which no health effects are expected—provided the exposure lasts less than one year.  Back in January, the CPSC announced the first ever recall of jewelry when excessive cadmium was found in Chinese made and Disney branded children’s items being sold through Wal-Mart.  Under the new less stringent guidelines, many of these metal trinkets will remain on the market.  And most kids will find the bling appealing for more than a year of their lives.

Cadmium is an extremely toxic metal that accumulates in the body for years.  At even very low doses, the toxin causes kidney damage and brittle bones.  It can be ingested as well as inhaled.  Cadmium in children’s jewelry is particularly insidious because of the tendency of kids to put the trinkets in their mouths where small amounts of the metal may be swallowed.  It has recently become a problem entirely because a federal ban on lead in children’s jewelry posed a problem for Chinese manufacturers, who inexplicably then switched to the even more toxic cadmium as a substitute.

Jewelers like cadmium because it has heft as well as being malleable, shiny, cheap, and can be worked at low heat levels.  But there’s nothing about jewelry making that requires cadmium, and what can’t be emphasized enough… it is highly toxic.  There’s simply no good reason to allow more than naturally occurring traces of it to be in jewelry (or glassware for that matter).  It should be subject to the same sorts of regulations and restrictions as lead.

We wouldn’t allow Gatorade to sweeten their drinks with antifreeze, even in small amounts.  Why would we take a chance by allowing cadmium to be added to things we give our kids?  The CPSC needs to rethink this again.  They exist to protect the safety of consumers, not the profits of industry.

Obama hosts science fair at White House

Photo by Mark Wilson at Getty

Hooray science!  That’s the message coming out of the White House today where President Barack Obama kicked off a week-long science fair at noon by announcing winners in a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions.  Obama said, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”

Obama also announced steps his administration, in conjunction with leading companies, are taking to advance STEM education.  The focus is on expanding the tools of invention so that more students can directly be the “makers of things.”  The steps include placing 3D printers in 1000 schools and an initiative by Autodesk to make new easy-to-use design tools freely available to students.

The President has long been an advocate for science and technology as essential to the country’s prosperity and success.  His science adviser, Dr. John Holdren, even has pictures in his office of the President peering through telescopes, examining solar panels, and honoring scientists and engineers.  And last October, the President held Astronomy Night at the White House where more than 20 telescopes were set up on the White House lawn and focused on various objects the invited students could observe.  This is a refreshing change from the relatively science hostile Bush administration.

Certainly not least, Obama also announced he would be appearing on the December 8, 2010 episode of Discovery Channel’s MythBusters.  The show has been instrumental in making science fun and accessible to the general public, despite its incessant warnings to not try this it home.  For one night, at least, the President will be the envy of geeks everywhere.

Hooray science, indeed.

Amazing Race Speculation

Amazing RaceTonight is Episode 4 of this year’s Amazing Race.  The trailer shows they will be headed to the Arctic for this week’s adventure, which prompted some dinner table speculation this afternoon about what might be in store for the nine teams remaining.

As it’s the Arctic, it seems only fitting the episode run a Sarah Palin themed day.  We think it might (or at least it should) go something like this.

After arriving at a remote outpost, teams will have to drive a snow machine 7 miles to a hunting camp, where they will be given their next clue.  The clue is a Detour called “Moose or Squirrel”.  In it, teams must choose one of the two challenges.

In “Moose”, teams must locate one of the recently shot moose in the surrounding woods and properly field dress the carcass.  Once the moose is dressed to the huntsman’s satisfaction, he will give them their next clue.  Teams that aren’t squeamish can cut through this task quickly.

In “Squirrel”, one team member must play the TV reporter and the other will play the politician.  The reporter must ask pointed topical questions while the politician must squirrel out from giving answers of any substance while incorporating the word freedom, constitution, or mama grizzly into the response.  Once three questions and answers have been recorded, teams must hand the video to the Producer, who will given them their next clue.  Teams with lots of hot air can float through this task with ease.

Next, teams will encounter a Roadblock, which is a task that must be performed by only one member of the team.  In this Roadblock, teams must choose a pilot who will fly them over the tundra where we have placed nine wolf shaped targets.  Teams must tag an unmarked target with their paintball rifle while the pilot flies by.   Once they have shot a wolf, the pilot will give them their next clue, which contains instructions to the Pitstop for this leg of the race.

As you will recall, last week’s last place finishers, father and son team Michael and Kevin, found out this leg of the race is a non-elimination race.  Meaning this team will encounter a “Speed Bump”, a task only this team needs to perform, somewhere during this leg.  In the Speed Bump, Michael and Kevin must search a house looking for the proper window from which they can see Russia.  Once they’ve spotted Russia, they may proceed with the rest of the leg.

Also new this year, and being introduced tonight, is the “Secret Fast Forward”.   A Fast Forward is normally a task where the first team complete it may proceed directly to the Pitstop without completing the remaining tasks.  A Secret Fast Forward is like a normal Fast Forward except that teams are not informed ahead of time what the Fast Forward is.  Rather, they must realize, based on the theme, how to complete the Fast Forward.

In the Secret Fast Forward, the first team to complete half the tasks, and then simply declare they are quitting to pursue other legs of the Amazing Race may proceed directly to the Pitstop.

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait for 8:00 to get here…