Wednesday, April 30, 2008

since being short on food isn't enough....

According to today's New York Times, shortages in "the most essential ingredient of modern agriculture" is yet another reason world food prices are skyrocketing and that we could be (as a planet, not a country) in serious trouble. The cost of fertilizer, critical to producing the high yields in food we are accustomed to, has tripled in the last year due to serious shortfalls in supply.

Excerpt: "“This is a basic problem, to feed 6.6 billion people,” said Norman Borlaug, an American scientist who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his role in spreading intensive agricultural practices to poor countries. “Without chemical fertilizer, forget it. The game is over.”" (NYtimes)

(cough) eign (cough)

Monday, April 28, 2008

girl scout cookies kill things

Okay, everyone loves girl scout cookies, right? Nothing "nova" about them, right? I just finished off the three boxes I ordered back in February. Good stuff. Those Do-Si-Dos are amazing.
But wait! I may just have helped kill an orangutan. Crap!

Two middle school girl scout students "were doing research to earn a Girl Scout Bronze Award when they discovered the habitat of orangutans in Indonesia is being threatened by the production of palm oil." Palm oil is a central ingredient of the group's cookies. Since their research the two Michigan girls have stopped selling cookies and sold magazines instead. (fox news)

Who wants magazines. I want cookies. Girl scouts of america cookie manufacturers please heed this advice: find a new ingredient so I can enjoy your tasty, tasty cookies again next spring.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The silent (ie: non-liquid) tsunami

We've talked about it here before, and I'm sure we'll talk about it again... In what The Economist is calling "The 'Silent Tsunami', food prices are causing misery and strife around the world."

And one of the leading causes, we're told, of this growing problem is the increased use of food products being used to fuel (relatively useless and surprisingly more expensive) alternative energies. Ah, don't you miss the days when gas was under a dollar and food wasn't used to help make Mrs. Suburb Soccer Mom's gigantic SUV get 7 miles a gallon of what I like to consider MY corn on the cob?
But it's not all about me, despite what I try and make everyone believe. From the above article, "Roughly a billion people live on $1 a day. If, on a conservative estimate, the cost of their food rises 20% (and in some places, it has risen a lot more), 100 [millon] people could be forced back to this level, the common measure of absolute poverty." Yikes. (the economist)

So, taking it a step further, Marketplace is asking, "Are biofuels hurting the planet?" The answer seems obvious, but you may want to listen and form your own opinion. (marketplace)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good News Wednesday IV - The pleasing yourself edition

News men all over the world have (secretly?) been waiting for: Masturbation cuts the risk of prostate cancer! (bbc)

Apparently preventing cancer takes a lot of work... From the BBC: "Men who ejaculated more than five times a week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life." However, "they say sexual intercourse may not have the same protective effect because of the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, which could increase men's cancer risk." Sigh.

But I'm sure this is still good news for most men. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

happy earth day

Today is Earth Day. Remember that?
So there won't be any posts involving stories about earth going nova today. Just a little thought for you to chew on, one that makes me worry about the impending nova anyway...


Once a year just doesn't seem to be enough for us to do anything about the (environmental) problems facing our planet. So, maybe, we should celebrate earth day ever day.

UPDATE (4.23.08): Per reader comment: Crude oil hit an all time high ON EARTH DAY. (bloomberg)

Monday, April 21, 2008

The immigrants will continue to find a way, but the animals won't.

Attention US government officials, causing species extinction is so 1980s, get with the program.

"The debate over the fence the United States is building along its southern border has focused largely on the project's costs, feasibility and how well it will curb illegal immigration. But one of its most lasting impacts may well be on the animals and vegetation that make this politically fraught landscape their home." (wapo)

Endangered animals such as the ocelots, jaquars, and the sonoran pronghorn, the latter of which only 100 are currently thought to exist in the world, will soon face potentially insurmountable obstacles (ie: a big wall) to their species survival.

Three cheers for the current US administration waving environmental protection laws in order to build one costly fucking wall. (sfgate)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Space has got some Junk in its Trunk

Watch out for more of those damn supercriticality effects. (Wow, that sounds like a pretty frightening word...)

"A successful Chinese missile test last year that destroyed one of China's own aging satellites has substantially added to space debris around Earth, increasing the danger that a chain reaction of colliding space junk could threaten parts of the world's satellite network" (la times)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Good News Wednesday III

Wow. it doesn't get much better than this. Maybe the Earth will survive after all. Coral reef around the island of Bikini Atoll (in Micronesia), which was used for multiple nuclear tests, 23 in fact, in the 1940s and 50s, is apparently thriving.

Scientists "report a thriving ecosystem of 183 species of coral, some of which were 8 metres high. They estimate that the diversity of species represents about 65% of what was present before the atomic tests."

One possible explanation of it's regrowth, "the lack of human disturbance is helping its recovery. Although the ambient radiation is low, people have remained at bay." Who would have thought, a lack of humans have caused a species to flourish. (New Scientist Environment)

Good luck my little coral friends.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


A Virginia elementary school outside of Washington, DC has BANNED TAG. Okay. This. Goes. Too. Far.

Principal Robyn Hooker enacted the ban because the game has gotten out of hand and become a game "of intense aggression." Clearly Ms. Hooker must have had an extremely sheltered childhood.

Later in the article, which comes by way of the Washington Post, "Many schools nationwide have whittled down playground activities in response to concerns about injuries, bullying or litigation. Dodge ball is a thing of the past in many places, and contact sports are often limited at recess."

When I grew up tag was an aggressive sport. As was dodge ball, or the game we called "execution" that involved a tennis ball, a giant wall, and plugging people in the back that couldn't catch. Dodge ball was even sanctioned IN GYM CLASS. Considering I wasn't the best (but far from the worst) athelete in school, I took my share of "pluggings," but I think it was an important part of growing up.
Denying children from playing these "rough" games, and other stupid things like giving EVERYONE a trophy in team sport leagues is sheltering children from important life lessons... like: NOT EVERYONE WINS IN LIFE! Sometimes you will and sometimes you won't, and when you don't, you're NOT GOING TO GET A FUCKING TROPHY. And when you do win, you're also not going to get a trophy, except maybe of the wife variety.

Monday, April 14, 2008

weekend updates

a few things we've talked about here at EIGN before. consider these follow-ups:

Food Shortages Herald "New Era Of Hunger" (cbsnews)

South Korea confirms latest deadly bird flu strain. (reuters)

shrink. bam! boom. sigh.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

water. water. everywhere.

here's something I can relate to: water in your basement. only this time it's lots 'n lots of it.

The country's water infrastructure is quickly deteriorating. leading to countless (ie: millons) of gallons of water a day that are simply leaking into the ground, creating flooded plains, city sink-holes and so much wasted water it's amazing.
Take this little factoid: the estimated amount of water lost daily in one of the (HUGE) water pipes that brings clean water into New York City would meet the daily demands of a city the size of Raleigh, NC. (which just happens to be in the middle of an "extreme drought".) (AP via wapo) (NOAA)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Good News Wednesday II

Okay, so this may only be good news for people in the EU countries. Or rather good news for the small (or large?) percentage of assholes in the EU. For you annoying shits, you will soon be able to use your cell phone while on EU flights. Thankfully the US hasn't lifted this ban, and if they do I'll never fly again. (AP via fox news)

Good news for breast lovers: Apparently a television station in Venezuela pulled the animated cartoon 'The Simpsons' off of it's airwaves because of concerns that it is inappropriate for children. The BEST part is what it was replaced with... Baywatch Hawaii. And unlike the simpsons the channel has received no complaints about the baywatch airings in the 11am timeslot. Go figure. (sfgate)

This is only good news because it is so funny: "A 70-year old Wal-Mart worker beat a 81-year-old fellow employee with a pricegun inside a Florida Wal-Mart." (consumerist)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mad-Cow. Global Warming. good times.

"Millions of people could face poverty, disease and hunger as a result of rising temperatures and changing rainfall expected to hit poor countries the hardest, the World Health Organization warned Monday." (AP)

Two people in Spain recently died from mad cow disease. Everyone get to five guys and eat a burger soon! (bbc)

Monday, April 7, 2008

will we ever learn from our mistakes?

You think we would have learned a lesson from the past, but I guess this is just further proof of our decrepit education system. someone, anyone, please teach our children history. or math. or science. or ANYTHING. please.

From the bbc: "The first manned, hydrogen-powered plane has been successfully tested in the skies above Spain, its makers say."

Doesn't anyone remember the hindenburg?

Okay, so I get it, modern hydrogen powered planes are nothing like a gigantic balloon filled with a flammable gas. Hydrogen fuel cells are safe. But so was the hindenburg.
Oh, wait...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Crawling Fish found.

Either evolution has an unusual sense of humor or pollution is starting to cause some really excellent mutilations on sea-life.

A newly discovered fish that CRAWLS instead of swims. It may be of an entirely new family of fish. Hopefully this means I can be part of an entire new family of humans... that can fly. (AP via nytimes)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

BUM-BOT in atlanta

A local bar proprietor in Atlanta has created a new way of dealing with an increasingly large homeless population that congregates near the entrance to the bar. A ROBOT....
"An infrared camera and a 2 million-candlepower spotlight are mounted on the turret under a homemade cannon, which squirts jets of cold water at up to 200 pounds per square inch."
How long until this thing turns on its creator?
But, it turns out, it's remotely controlled by the owner. So maybe it's not going to be taking over anytime soon.
Even more scary is the sick enjoyment patrons are getting when they show the interactions with the BumBOT and the poor homeless people. "the Bum Bot's camera feeds into a big-screen television back at his pub, giving patrons a hyperlocal dose of reality TV." Hyperlocal reality tv will be the death of us all. (sfgate)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Good News Wednesday

We here at EIGN (well, it's usually just me but occasionally pete comes along and posts something cool about 12.21.2012), enjoy bringing you depressing stories about the seemingly eminent end of the world. But we figured we'd try and bring you a more positive story or two on wednesdays. Look at it as an homage to hump day.

This week:

- Can solar thermal electricity save us from fossil fuels? (

- Buy a tree and watch it grow on google earth. for only $5.50. (via

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Make it and we'll sue.

"The builders of the world's biggest particle collider are being sued in federal court over fears that the experiment might create globe-gobbling black holes or never-before-seen strains of matter that would destroy the planet." (msnbc)

Hmm... how much do we really need to know about "dark matter" or things that happened 13.7 billion years ago or things we will NEVER be able to see, and is it worth creating a small black hole that can get big enough to become a "matter-sucking maelstrom?"