Blue-fin Tuner is extinct

Via Stephen:

Bye Bye Blue-fin.

My announcement is premature but perhaps not by much. Up until a couple of months ago the blame was on fishing and particularly Malta. With the blue-fin getting rarer and the price for a fish up around a third of a million bucks it would hard to imagine that fishermen would stop going after this lucrative prey.

However, it seems that BP will strike the final blow. Giant underwater dispersant and oil plumes are creating huge dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and … that’s where blue-fin tuna spawn – and it’s the ONLY place they spawn.

So go buy a couple of tins and put them away somewhere cool and maybe in 50 years or so we can try to recreate the blue-fin from canned DNA – or just eat it when you get tired of soylent green.

oh, her old apartments, they’re like places of worship to colour and good living..

REQUIRED LISTENING: Thingy, a free EP from Daddy_Scrabble, released by Edinburgh-based netlabel Black Lantern Music.

Stayed up two nights in a row, not for any other reason except that I have, and maybe a little that I find it more and more difficult to sleep without Tony.

Earlier, across the street at the auto body shop, someone was using an overhead announcement system to have a speaker phone conversation in arabic. Without context, it sounded like a rehearsal run recording of a middle-east political rally speech, the sort blared from speakers mounted on the roof of a car, blues brothers style, solid, unexpected, surreal.

I liked it. Over here, at my apartment, I’ve been moving furniture while listening to electronic klezmer jazz, shifting everything out of my room, stripping the walls, preparing it for painting. Most of the furniture’s been moved, and all that’s left is my computer and the bed, the latter of which I am simply going to pull into the center of the room and abandon under a sheet. Initially my plan was to ready the bedroom, leave town, then paint it when I got back, after all the pesky cat hair had settled, but Nicole, bless her, stepped in today with some last minute corrections. Sure, ready the room, but don’t pick up a paint brush, she said. Instead, she’ll paint it for my birthday while I’m out of town! Leaving me only with the hard task duties of being glad, grateful, and moving everything back in.

I was pleasantly surprised when she suggested it though truthfully I felt immediately stupid that I didn’t see it coming. After all, it’s a sweet gesture. Sweet, thoughtful, and entirely within character, considering the trail of super improved apartments she’s littered behind her or the recent threats to professionally power-wash Wayne’s deck, the better to complement the flower gardens she’s been inflicting plant by tiny plant on his jungle-neglected yard. Nicole is many nice things, smart, attractive, witty, and fun, but when it comes to home improvement, she is also a dedicated angel with a fiery sword. Or, as in this case, a sopping wet paintbrush, out to murder some beige.

life, stuff, etcetera

File Taxes

My mother came over last weekend and stayed until four in the morning helping me figure out how to fill out my taxes. Turns out the reason I couldn’t make heads nor tails of any of it was that I was missing an essential piece of paperwork. Without this bit of paperwork, the main form can’t be filled out. Problem solved. All that’s left is some adding.

Finish Highschool

A completed application to sit the test at VCC on July 9th and 10th has been faxed to the Ministry of Education. I’m not sure the next step, if I receive confirmation or not, but I’m sure it will be fine.

Learn to drive

I passed my written Learner’s test today. My official Learner’s License will arrive in the mail in the next six weeks. Next step: unearthing patient friends with cars. Also, bizarrely, I was told I have two skytrain tickets, from a time when I did not live in Vancouver.


Next thing to do is tidy all the clutter, push some furniture into the livingroom, and cover everything else in sheets. If I were more together, this would be done by Friday, so the cat-hair could settle while I was away and it would be ready to smoothly paint when I come back to Canada. As is, left to my own devices, the best I will likely manage is to beat down most of the mess.

an apology, an explanation

As many probably know, my birthday is this Saturday. Traditionally, I have a big party every second year, generally in June, but I don’t know yet if I’m going to make it happen. When it comes to birthday planning, I feel like I’ve been asleep on the train this year. People have been asking, shaking me a little awake, as I ride the days closer to the date, but my eyes have barely focused on the question, other things have been too important. I’m still trying to find ways to pay my rent, still trying to find ways to earn my way, and too engrossed in that to place my attention elsewhere.

As a result, no, I do not have any plans for the giant even-numbered party yet, for which I am legitimately sorry. I do know, however, that I’ll be in Seattle for the actual date this year. Folklife is this weekend, the mad and glorious folk festival that Rafael helps run, and taking a few days off to dance barefoot in the grass sounds pretty darned spectacular right now. If Vancouver people would like to join me there, we have space for people to crash at our place. So far David and Nicole are considering coming, and Lung might be meeting us there on his way back up from California.

I’m sure when I get back, there will be cake, but until I get my finances sorted out, even if only just enough to take care of essentials, I can’t justify taking the time and effort required to make something happen, not even for my birthday. Rent is coming up. I have to concentrate.

SCIENCE!! (the future is now)

Craig Venter and his team have built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell to make what they call the world’s first synthetic life form

The single-celled organism has four “watermarks” written into its DNA to identify it as synthetic and help trace its descendants back to their creator, should they go astray.

“We were ecstatic when the cells booted up with all the watermarks in place,” Dr Venter told the Guardian. “It’s a living species now, part of our planet’s inventory of life.”

Dr Venter’s team developed a new code based on the four letters of the genetic code, G, T, C and A, that allowed them to draw on the whole alphabet, numbers and punctuation marks to write the watermarks. Anyone who cracks the code is invited to email an address written into the DNA.

Photosynthesis relies on quantum entanglement: Berkeley scientists shine new light on green plant secrets

“This is the first study to show that entanglement, perhaps the most distinctive property of quantum mechanical systems, is present across an entire light harvesting complex,” says Mohan Sarovar, a post-doctoral researcher under UC Berkeley chemistry professor Birgitta Whaley at the Berkeley Center for Quantum Information and Computation. “While there have been prior investigations of entanglement in toy systems that were motivated by biology, this is the first instance in which entanglement has been examined and quantified in a real biological system.”

The results of this study hold implications not only for the development of artificial photosynthesis systems as a renewable non-polluting source of electrical energy, but also for the future development of quantum-based technologies in areas such as computing – a quantum computer could perform certain operations thousands of times faster than any conventional computer.

Stem-Cell Dental Implants Grow New Teeth Right In Your Mouth

Dr. Jeremy Mao, the Edward V. Zegarelli Professor of Dental Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, has unveiled a growth factor-infused, three-dimensional scaffold with the potential to regenerate an anatomically correct tooth in just nine weeks from implantation. By using a procedure developed in the university’s Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, Dr. Mao can direct the body’s own stem cells toward the scaffold, which is made of natural materials. Once the stem cells have colonized the scaffold, a tooth can grow in the socket and then merge with the surrounding tissue. Dr. Mao’s technique not only eliminates the need to grow teeth in a Petri dish, but it is the first to achieve regeneration of anatomically correct teeth by using the body’s own resources.

BP and Oil Spill Update: please pass it on

As of today it’s been one month since the April 20th Gulf oil spill explosion. Given the fickle nature of news on the internet, it seems clear that there’s only a narrow window of opportunity in which to harness the global attention being given this catastrophe. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the information that’s been, pardon the pun, floating around.

While BP’s Oil Gushes, Company Keeps Information to a Trickle

BP hasn’t yet been able to stop the flow of oil, but it’s been more successful at controlling the information coming out about the Gulf disaster.

McClatchy reported on Tuesday that BP has been withholding the results of “tests on the extent of workers’ exposure to evaporating oil or from the burning crude over the Gulf.” The data is important to determining whether current conditions are safe for workers in the Gulf, researchers told McClatchy. BP said it’s sharing the data with “legitimate interested parties,” but would not release it publicly. […]

BP has maintained there’s “just no way to measure” the oil flow, even as the company turned down scientists offering to measure it with techniques that could yield a more accurate result. A BP spokesman told The New York Times that calculating the flow is “not relevant to the response effort.”

Shocking NASA Image: Never-Seen-Before Southeast Oil Slick Arm

A startling new image released by NASA today shows a massive column of oil extending out Southeast towards the open ocean. This column has not been visible in any satellite photos taken so far and will no doubt change the estimated extent of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

Coast Guard Now Enforcing BP’s Oil Spill Viewing Rules

When a crew from CBS News tried to film an oil-covered beach in Louisiana, they were stopped and threatened with arrest by a group of BP contractors and members of the Coast Guard. “This is BP’s rules, it’s not ours.”

Besides lying to everyone about the extent of the damage, and the company’s culpability in the spill, BP has started to wield its power over the US government by having the Coast Guard keep prying journalists from seeing the effects on Louisiana’s shoreline. Governor Bobby Jindal had recently visited the site, telling reporters, “This wasn’t just sheen, we were seeing heavy oil out there.” When the CBS News crew arrived to film the area, BP’s muscle showed up, too.

Blackwater’s PR Guy Has a Few Words of Advice For BP

BP’s image is so damaged at this point, more than three weeks into the catastrophe, that it’s hard to think of a company that’s been so universally reviled in the past. Actually, it’s not. There’s Blackwater. The private military company was so despised for its conduct in Iraq—which included killing Iraqi civilians then bribing people to be quiet about it—that it had to change its name to Xe Services. So we called up Xe’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, and asked him if he had any advice for BP. […]

Of course, BP’s first public relations gambit was blaming Transocean, the company they leased the oil rig from. “Nobody’s buying that. It shows that you’re living in this bunker mentality.”

Also, don’t say that the immeasurable environmental, personal and economic catastrophe you’ve created is “tiny,” no matter how besieged you feel by the media and the public. “Don’t go and sell that one,” Corallo said. “You’re already on a life raft with one paddle. This is like saying ‘Hey let’s throw the other oar into the water and make sure we throw chum to the sharks so they come and get us.'”


Gulf oil spill leak now pegged at 95,000 barrels a day

The latest video footage of the leaking Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico show that oil is escaping at the rate of 95,000 barrels — 4 million gallons — a day, nearly 20 times greater than the 5,000 barrel a day estimate BP and government scientists have been citing for nearly three weeks, an engineering professor told a congressional hearing Wednesday.

The figure of 5,000 barrels a day or 210,000 gallons that BP and the federal government have been using for weeks is based on satellite observations of the surface. But NASA’s best satellite-based instruments can’t see deep into the waters of the Gulf, where much of the oil from the gusher 5,000 feet below the surface seems to be floating. […]

He said the calculation could be off by 20 percent — meaning the spill could range from between 76,000 to 104,000 barrels a day. But Wereley said he would need to see videos that were not compressed and showed the flow over a longer period so that it would be possible to get a better calculation of the mix of oil and gas from the wellhead. “The true extent of this spill remains a mystery,” Markey said. He said the BP had said that the flow rate was not relevant to the cleanup effort. “This faulty logic that BP is using is… raising concerns that they are hiding the full extent of the damage of this leak.”

BP Spill Responders Told to Forgo Precautionary Health Measures in Cleanup

Fishermen have never seen the results from the air-quality monitoring patches some of them wear on their rain gear when they are out booming and skimming the giant oil slick. However, more and more fishermen are suffering from bad headaches, burning eyes, persistent coughs, sore throats, stuffy sinuses, nausea, and dizziness. They are starting to suspect that BP is not telling them the truth.

And based on air monitoring conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Louisiana coastal community, those workers seem to be correct. The EPA findings show that airborne levels of toxic chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds like benzene, for instance, now far exceed safety standards for human exposure.

In Gulf Spill, BP Using Dispersants Banned in U.K.

BP is using two products from a line of dispersants called Corexit [4], which EPA data [2] appear to show is more toxic and less effective [5] on South Louisiana crude than other available dispersants, according to Greenwire.

Salazar calls for tighter regulations covering petroleum industry

The massive spill that has pumped oil into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly a month has laid bare the need for regulations covering the industry to be tightened, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday. “Do the laws need to be changed?” he asked the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in one of his two Senate committee appearances of the day. “The answer is yes.” […]

Many of the nation’s environmental sensitivity index maps, which summarize what coastal resources are at risk if an oil spill occurs nearby, are outdated, said Jane Lubchenco.”Twenty-one of 50 atlases are more than 10 years old,” said Lubchenco. “Many of them do not reflect current information.” […]

NOAA has suspended fishing in 19 percent of the Gulf over which the federal government has jurisdiction, Lubchenco said. That’s up from 10 percent that NOAA had ordered closed to fishing Monday. The expansion means 45,728 square miles are now closed to fishing.

Matter of Trust using donated hair, fur, fleece, feathers and nylons to clean up oil spill

“Your Haircut is a Life Saver” is the slogan on one of the posters of the national nonprofit ecological organization Matter of Trust, which has called upon the nation’s hair salons, groomers, wool and alpaca farmers and individuals to donate hair clippings and nylons to help make hair mats and hair booms that will soak up the oil still spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.