Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

This is a blog devoted to Giant Panda enthusiasts, environmental wanna-bes and peace loving funimals, world-wide.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Governator Parts I, II, & III

Officials Reach California Deal to Cut Emissions

(from SACRAMENTO, Aug. 30 — California’s political leaders announced an agreement on Wednesday that imposes the most sweeping controls on carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, putting the state at the forefront of a broad campaign to curb the man-made causes of climate change despite resistance in Washington.

The deal between the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, calls for a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, and could establish controls on the largest industrial sectors, including utilities, oil refineries and cement plants. The state has already placed strict limits on automobile emissions, although that move is being challenged in federal court.
Since taking office in 2003, Mr. Schwarzenegger, who is seeking reelection in November, has supported efforts to fight climate change, most recently by signing an agreement with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain to do cooperative research on new clean-energy technologies.

Ah Governator! Thanks for taking that first step. You'd have my vote if I lived in your state. But wait! That's not all, there's more??

The Million Roof March

California Approves Legislation for Million Solar Roofs Plan
August 23, 2006-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger put the final pieces in place for his Million Solar Roofs Plan on August 21st when he signed Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) into law. Back in January, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) put the major piece of the plan into effect when it created the 10-year, $2.9 billion "California Solar Initiative" to offer rebates on solar power systems. However, because the CPUC only has authority over investor-owned utilities, the rebates were funded by the customers of those utilities and only available to those customers.

SB 1 expands the program to municipal utilities such as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water and allows the total cost of the program to increase to as much as $3.35 billion. It also increases the cap on the number of utility customers that can sell their excess solar power generation back to the utility. That number was previously capped at 0.5 percent of the utility's customers, but is now capped at 2.5 percent of the customers. And starting in 2011, SB 1 requires developments of more than 50 new single-family homes to offer solar energy systems as an option.

The Governator's on a roll this election year! However:

Assembly approves universal health care Passage of bill seen as election-year test for Schwarzenegger
08-29) 04:00 PDT Sacramento -- The Democratic-controlled Legislature is on the verge of sending Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a bill that would create a state-run universal health care system, testing him on an issue that voters rate as one of their top concerns in this election year.
On a largely party-line 43-30 vote, the Assembly approved a bill by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, that would eliminate private medical insurance plans and establish a statewide health insurance system that would provide coverage to all Californians. The state Senate has already approved the plan once and is expected this week to approve changes that the Assembly made to the bill.

Schwarzenegger has said he opposes a single-payer plan like the one Kuehl's bill would create, but the governor has not offered his own alternatives for fixing the state's health care system. As many as 7 million people are uninsured in the state, and spiraling costs have put pressure on business and consumers.

I can't blame the Gov for holding out on this one because this is BIG and could instantaneously impact the lives of millions of Californians the moment it takes effect. I am 100% behind the Gov in his hesitance to sign this bill, as this would make the state of California solely responsible for funding. I want change and when it comes to greenhouse gases, the state of California can strike out on its own and blaze new territory in setting an example to the other 49 to curb emissions. However, health care is a slightly different beast. It should be a NATIONAL issue, not a state one, and demands a cohesive, consistent, national plan. Otherwise the economic health of individual states will dictate the quantity and quality of the kind of health care its residents will receive and that's not much better than the system as it stands now.

I am no proponent of socialism BUT doesn't every man, woman, and panda deserve the same QUALITY health care? (alright let's be honest. Every panda in the United States receives WAY more health care than any of us ever will. Then again, their care is mostly privately funded. Hmmm, faulty analysis will be reviewed post-caffeine ...)

I don't know what the solution is and I'm not sure I really want the federal government wholly in charge of a national health care system anyway. But there is something dreadfully wrong with the system now. Private insurance companies are making waaay too much money without providing nearly enough coverage to enough people in a manner that can't even jokingly pass for 'efficient'. When both patients AND doctors complain about health insurance companies, that means something's not working. It's sad when the miracle of modern medicine is reduced to profit margins and patent infringement suits while the human body is reduced to an actuarial table.

Big rounds of applause to Governor Governor Ahhnold!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

quittin time ... and it's not even noon ...

does this mean i can leave?

Monday, August 28, 2006

LAST Week In God

"He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife."
Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

For more on religion and politics, Hugh Bris has posted an interesting discussion on the Mahdi Army here. While I would love to engage on the specific topic he writes about ,I lack a fundamental understanding of the situation (alright, and am only 1/4 of the way through the wikipedia link he provided). So there. BUT reading his did inspire me to post this which was started last week but I couldn't quite wrap my mind around what I was trying to say. At a certain point JUST HIT PUBLISH already.

Is an ethical workaround inherently unethical?

A new way to create stem cells 'Pretty big technical leap' avoids destroying embryos
(from SF Chronicle online)
Scientists offered a new recipe Wednesday for producing stem cells without destroying human embryos, reshaping ethical arguments that have threatened to stymie experiments in regenerative medicine.

A report in the journal Nature describes the creation of two novel stem cell lines, each made from an early-stage embryo consisting of 8 to 10 cells. Only a single cell needs to be plucked from the embryo to make a stem cell colony, scientists said, leaving the rest of the embryo to develop normally.

"It's a pretty big technical leap, so that's important," said Christopher Scott, a bioethics expert and executive director of a Stanford University program on stem cells in society. "This is one more tool, one more technique, that helps us understand the rich biology behind cell differentiation."

Still others said they doubt it would solve their ethical objections, arguing that the technique is an offshoot of a procedure they consider morally dubious and potentially dangerous for embryos.

The new method, by researchers for Advanced Cell Technology Inc. in Worcester, Mass., is designed to piggyback on a procedure known as "pre-implantation genetic diagnosis," or PGD, done during in vitro fertilization when patients are concerned about passing on a genetic disease. In those cases, doctors do what amounts to a single-cell biopsy on the tiny embryo and perform genetic tests on that cell to be sure that the embryo chosen for transfer into the womb is free of the particular disease markers.....

Using a method to make stem cells without destroying the embryo "probably (emphasis added by me) makes it a little less objectionable, but you've already got a morally questionable act that begins this process," said Dr. David Stevens, executive director of the anti-abortion Christian Medical Association, based in Bristol, Tenn.

Some experiments involving the destruction of embryos have to be done merely to perfect the nondestructive methods -- another ethics roadblock. In the latest experiments, for instance, scientists used 16 frozen embryos, donated from in vitro fertilization clinics, and had to pluck a total of 91 cells to get the two stem cell lines.

There was a similar article in Reuters (which I unfortunately can't find now) where a religious publication mentioned in the article says Baptists for Life still won't support the research. The quotable words they used is "presumably from a process that destroyed embryos." Now that embryos may not even need to be destroyed, might it be okay to conduct research that could cure AIDS and save millions of lives? Resounding answer is still "NO." They probably should've reserved judgment at least until the technological and scientific advances caught up to the moral dilemma. A lot of these religious organizations have made the blanket declaration for the party line already as "stemcell research = bad thus must oppose at all costs" -- but how about now, in light of new research and new possibilities? Still probably and presumably NO.

It's amazing to me that some people really truly have a "moral" problem with stem-cell research on the basis of 'probably' and 'presumably'. Will they eventually come to be viewed as people on the fringe of society, as some other religious groups (none specific come to mind) who refuse modern medicinal treatments, in the name of religion? I don't personally understand it but if a grown competent person doesn't want to take antibiotics for a staph infection or chemotherapy for cancer because he or she believes that God said not to, I really don't have a problem with that. Live and let live, that's what I say.

However, if your "beliefs" infringe upon MY rights .... then we have a problem. A really big problem. Because when people try to impose their "moral" beliefs on others who don't agree, this is when things turn ugly. This is where zealots find the justification for [insert crime here] "in the name of [insert deity here]". MY belief is that I have a right to use medicine. I don't know about your relationship with your God, but MY God wants me to be as healthy as I can be, because otherwise I am a total bee-otch when I don't feel well and that just isn't "godly"under anyone's definition. :) I think I have a right to take advantage of technology and that means research, in all of its good and evil forms.

In light of this new discovery (and the discoveries I believe have yet to be made) these groups support an arcane viewpoint that a mass of cells can only constitute life and any alteration to life is immoral. I am not so narrow in my view of the world or of man's capabilities to improve (or destroy) it. I am hopeful that technology will not be the moral downfall of humankind (literal downfall maybe: we very well might all be crushed to death under mountains of dead cell phones that only work for one year-DIE-VERIZON-DIE! oops forgot, inside voice hehe) and that yes possibly more leukemia patients will be saved by treatment than saved by prayers alone.

My beef is that these groups (and I don't target just religious ones, but we'll just use them as the example here) who hold themselves out as spiritual leaders will "declare a policy" or declare which side of a political issue is THE ONE AND ONLY "morally correct" side. I assume these declarations are not made soley for the purpose of stroking the group leaders' collective egos, but for the purpose of giving the group direction on how to act, how to vote, how to THINK!

This is why these groups have no business in politics! (For instant anguish over separation of church and state-and to skip the rest of this rant only slightly disguised as a discussion-jump to the Rep. Harris article below). I don't feel that we as humans can KNOW what the morally correct thing to do is 100% of the time. But most of us (religious or not) make an admirable attempt at being decent productive members of society without hardly even trying.

With that said, when groups or leaders start painting political issues in the light of "moral" and "immoral", that really angers me because the message to its members is "Hey, if you even think about thinking otherwise, you're already sinning! Gotcha!" or "Hey, if you had it in your mind that thinking or feeling on your own is a Godly thing, you're wrong!"

I don't trust a human to tell me what is right and wrong in my daily life. Why am I going to trust a human to tell me what is moral and immoral when it comes to, say an issue like stem cell research? Who is to say that through emerging research, we will one day be able to cure every disease without destroyong embryos? What if we could do it without harvesting cells but CREATE them in the lab? How can we ever get there if we shut our minds to the very possibility because we allow a few narrow-minded and agenda-driven individuals to speak for us? If you don't like technology and research, that's fine. But don't stand in my way or in the way of progress. You are not God, you don't know.

And while we're on the topic of people who hold themselves out as "leaders" ...

Rep. Harris: Church-state separation 'a lie'
MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris told a religious journal that separation of church and state is "a lie" and God and the nation's founding fathers did not intend the country be "a nation of secular laws."

The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate also said that if Christians are not elected, politicians will "legislate sin," including abortion and gay marriage.

Harris made the comments -- which she clarified Saturday -- in the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention, which interviewed political candidates and asked them about religion and their positions on issues.

Separation of church and state is "a lie we have been told," Harris said in the interview, published Thursday, saying separating religion and politics is "wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris said.

This is a woman, an elected official already in the House of Representatives, running for US Senate this year. Real people voted for her. And kept voting for her! But now she wants more!

Incidentally "Harris, 49, faced widespread criticism for her role overseeing the 2000 presidential recount as Florida's secretary of state."

(gasp!) I thought I recognized her from somewhere.

pan' - da, noun.

A panda walks into a bar, orders and eats a meal, pulls out a six- shooter, fires it into the air, and starts to walk out. The puzzled waiter looks at him and asks, 'Why?' The panda throws a dictionary on the table and says: 'I'm a panda. Look it up.' The waiter finds the definition and reads, 'Panda: Large black and white mammal, indigenous to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

LMAO across the pond

BP declares war on global warming
Oil giant BP wants every motorist in Britain to do their bit to beat global warming by signing up for a new scheme called Target Neutral. It's a web-based, non-profit way for drivers to fund ventures that cancel out the amount of carbon dioxide their driving adds to the atmosphere.

BP's UK boss Peter Mather said: 'An increasing number of members of the public want to do their bit and have a direct impact. Our research shows that people are aware of it but they don't quite know what to do about it.'

Responding to suggestions that many people would be dubious about a green scheme run by an oil company, Mather insisted: 'It's not about market share, it's about doing the right thing.'

Uhhhh because we trust BP to know what doing the right thing, is?

i will bet that Stephen Colbert has something truthiness to add to this gem of a story.

Now back to your regularly scheduled distraction. (Mars bars? No wait, Twix! They're ALL Twix! Am I right?)

payday payday!

Man trapped waist-deep in chocolate

KENOSHA, Wis. - It might sound like a chocoholic's dream, but stepping into a vat of bubbling chocolate became a two-hour nightmare for a 21-year-old man Friday morning.

Donovan Garcia, an employee of a company that supplies chocolate ingredients, said he was pushing the chocolate down into the vat at Debelis Corp. because it was stuck. But it became loose and he slid into the hopper.

"It was in my hair, in my ears, my mouth, everywhere," said Garcia, who has worked at the company for two years. "I felt like I weighed 900 pounds. I couldn't move."

The chocolate was 110 degrees, hotter than a hot tub, said Capt. Greg Sinnen of the Kenosha Fire Department.

Co-workers, police and firefighters tried to free the man but couldn't get him loose until the chocolate was thinned out with cocoa butter.

"It was pretty thick. It was virtually like quicksand," said police Capt. Randy Berner.
Garcia was treated for minor injuries at a nearby medical center and released.

mmmmm, chocloate quicksand, arghghhhhh ...

On that non-panda-related note: in the pudgy spirit of George Constanza's "Candy Line Up" here's a brand new game!! Trust me, it's harder than you think.

Pandodyssey (tm) Caveat: there's no scorekeeping function to facilitate bragging rights for this game. (Apparently gloating was not a high priority for the Science Museum of Minnesota, who bring us this terrific game aptly named "Name that Candybar").

I scored embarassingly low ... :(

Sunday, August 20, 2006

fair and balanced and FIRST, DAMN IT

Recognize this story a blast from pandodyssey (tm) past?

Stuffed Shirts

Washingtonians are an ambitious bunch when it comes to titles. President. Senator. Chief Justice. Chairman.

Guinness World Record Holder?

And so it was that Will Sharp, a 25-year old native Washingtonian who revels in "the hilarity of the absurd," enlisted David Alexander, his friend and former roommate, to be his T-shirt dummy in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record for the most T-shirts worn at once.

Just remember that your friends at pandodyssey (tm) broke this all-important news story first, nearly two weeks ago and on the front page mind you. That's big time people.

THIS JUST IN: it was reported by eyewitness accounts that, for the momentous occaision, the durkl representative sported a t-shirt masterpiece emblazoned with the slogan "Kim Jong Illin' " i want this shirt but it's not available at The Pandodyssey (tm) undercover team has sprung into action and are investigating now.

aaaaand THIS JUST IN....hugh bris is STILL hatin ... stay tuned here for more news than you care to know -- your source for more (or less) panda news FIRST!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

an indecisive day-i should just quit while i'm ahead

Didgeridoo acoustics - a scientific breakdown on how a didge (or yirdaki in the yolgnu language) makes that weird sound. Complete with color graphs and creepy high-speed video of didging lips. Gross but cool!

Global warming affects hurricane intensity: study
MIAMI (Reuters) - Global warming is affecting the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes, according to a new study by a university professor in Florida who says his research provides the first direct link between climate change and storm strength.

James Elsner of Florida State University said he set out to perform a statistical analysis of the two theories in a raging debate within the scientific community: Whether recent intense hurricanes are the result of climate change or natural ocean warming and cooling cycles.

I hesitate to post this for posterity, as even the good professor disclaims his work as just a study and not definitive by any means. But this is the first article I've seen on the connection between weather and global warming. Maybe it'll the last???? Surely there is less depressing news about the world today ...

This just in: a flight from london to DC has been diverted to Boston due to a conflict between passengers and the flight crew. I hope this was just a thirsty passenger and not something more sinister.

(Do you think Boston the city is like "uhhh, DC you know I got your back and all but why do I always have to accept your potentially terrorist-filled planes? Can't you ever send them to, oh I dunno, newark?") Ack where is my fluff news ...

(It was a false alarm.)

XM vs. Sirius: Endless Options Narrow to One
You've had it with the disappearance of musical variety on the radio. You spend all too many hours in the car and you'd like one source for sophisticated music choices, a range of news and talk, comedy, audiobooks, kids' programming, and as full a menu of sports as cable TV offers. You're finally ready to shell out $13 a month for what used to be free.
But you can't tell the difference between the Coke and Pepsi of the satellite radio business, Washington-based XM and New York-based Sirius.

What this wp article doesn't tell you is that the hired spokes-personalities for either are just that -- hired hands to give the satellite brand name recognition, so certainly don't base your decision on whether you like Oprah over Martha. Because chances are you won't hear a lot from either, on their own show or other shows which they've "produced." The exception to this being Howard Stern who, in being an actual radio personality, actually does his job (and does it superbly well I might add. Howard uncensored is hilarious!)

Unless you have stock in XM (and some might argue even if you have), Sirius is the way to satellite radio. Despite some hardware issues (overheating, backlight going out intermittently) it's still well worth the money. You wouldn't think that there could be much difference in programming non-stop music, but trust me there are!

I may be slightly biased as I have never owned xm, only sirius, but I can attest that satellite radio is WELL WORTH the money. It is cable for radio. You don't still watch network television do you? (DO YOU?????) And if you're still suffering through commercials and the bantering hack djs on "terrestrial radio," well all I can say is that you get what you pay for! If you love love love any type of music, satellite radio will be your new best friend so get thee to a best buy!

Or just wait, since the argument may be a moot point in three... two ...

Non-sequitor: Doubtful hugh but I will know for sure after pay day! This pandologist has been drinking too many lattes and taken too many days off this summer. :(

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

1.4 million gallons X $3.10/gallon =

awww, tai you don't look a day older than six months...

Large Oil Spill Occurs in Indian Ocean
TOKYO -- A Japanese tanker spilled about 1.4 million gallons of crude oil in the eastern Indian Ocean following a collision with a cargo ship, the tanker's operator said Tuesday. Japan's Kyodo news service said the spill - which would be about 4,500 tons - may have been the largest ever involving a Japanese tanker.

1.4 million gallons X $3.10 (US)/gallon = $4,340,000 (which is just the loss in retail gas.) How much is this going to cost in environmental clean up? A freakin LOT more that's how much!

Which makes me wonder how oil companies make money with this kind of liability hanging over there heads? When there is a spill or mishap *COUGH! BP! COUGHCOUGH* they scratch their heads and go "oopsie daisys! Oh well, what's a few million dollars down the drain? Guess we'll just have to raise gas prices again, la la la ..." (not that I'm complaining about the price of gas in the US. Well yes I am, but I acknowledge that less wealthy nations traditionally pay even more for gas than we do and, well, that aint right either. At least not the way that it is now.)

Maybe I'm cheap, but if it were my oil tanker and my profits at stake, each gallon would be triply, no! quadrupley protected inside ziploc(tm) baggies. The heavy duty, double-lined freezer kind. humph.

Total Non-Sequitor: Real pandas of genius present ... Get drunk at the Zoo.
It's a micro-brew fundraiser for the elephants! psa: pandodyssey advises removal of all alcohol-induced-rose-tinted-eyewear (beer goggles) prior to leaving this function with anyone/thing. You could wind up bringing home the entirely wrong kind of party animal ...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

we are winning the war on unemployed janitors

US Airports Raises Security
Government bans beverages, hair gels and lotions after London investigation reveals liquid explosives.

At airports across the United States, employees from the Transportation Security Administration distributed fliers with the new restrictions, and passengers dumped toiletries and other items into hastily provided bins.

Some passengers at Dulles gave away perfumes and other expensive cosmetics to strangers who were dropping their loved ones at the terminal. At banks of pay phones, on top of the phone books, stacks of abandoned tubes of toothpaste, jars of hand cream and bottles of eye drops piled up.

Airport janitors said the need to haul all the discarded items away was keeping them busier than they'd ever been.

There are gonna be a LOT of thirsty, ashy travelers with really bad hair all over the country today.

Today's threat level is: FF0033 Red Red Pink


One of my favorite anglers!

Mike Iaconelli, winner of the 2003 Bassmaster Classic and so-so breakdancer, is featured in a column in today's WP! Described as the "John McEnroe" of anglers, Mike Iaconelli IS the bad boy of fishing, and receives all the kudos (and the blame) that is part and parcel to such a distinction. He is one of the most widely recognized professional anglers in the world and is unsurpassed as an ambassador of the sport of bass fishing. (Yeah, I have a little bass angler's crush on the guy and Hank Parker. I have both their autographs. Don't ask and quit judgin'.)

The title of this post is a quote from Mike in the 2003 Classic. With under seven minutes left in the three-day tournament and anglers all around him leaving the water to go weigh-in, Mike made one last cast into an area where he had previously missed a fish. That one last cast turned into a nibble, then a bite. He set the hook and hauled in a modest fish, one which turned out to be THE tournament winner. Upon landing the largemouth, he knew instantly that the respectable 3-3/4 pounder gave him a good shot at the Classic title, which he announced to the world by screaming "Never give up!! Never ever give up!!"

This weekend the dc area hosts the 2006 Capital Clash Tournament, just one of several tourneys held on the potomac every season. (PSA - always catch & release.)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

good news from the left coast

1. The state of California is getting tougher on water quality issues and it's starting to show.

2. There a lot of good bass fishing in california!

3. Finally, a politician you want to be screwed by would YOU vote for Mary Carey?

i'm sensing a leitmotif here...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

what spill? part deux

Well, I am a fan of customer service and in their defense, BP actually responded to my polite chastisement and opinion of recent events. To review, first my email, then their response:

From : J Willis

FIX IT. This is the 2nd spill THIS YEAR. FIX IT, DAMN IT. You "claim" to be beyond petroleum. Guess what? You're no better (and I would argue far worse) than any other oil company and you are ALL responsible. Thanks for lining your pockets by screwing the environment. I am extremely disappointed in BP.

Disappointed, J Willis

And BTW, on this application, don't pre-check "I consent for my personal data to be used for marketing" - that's total crap. Typical of a money grubbing oil company though, isn't it? Thanks for exacerbating everything that's wrong with this country.

[Like I said, I was mad to begin with and preselected opt-out boxes really make me scorching eyeballs mad! oooh, I'm mad again just thinking about it but that's for another post. Onto the response.]


(BP U.S.) Inquiry Response (43250)

From : bp us
Date : 08/08/06 16:58

Dear Ms. Willis,

thank you very much for contacting BP. We deeply regret that it has been necessary to shutdown a portion ofthe Prudhoe Bay oil field. We are taking this action as a precaution to protect the environment and to ensure the integrity of supplies of oil. We believe we must fully investigate the corrosion issues, and to do that some of the lines that connect oil wells to the Trans AlaskaPipeline System (TAPS) must come down. Many have asked why we did not have a corrosion detection and prevention program. We have had a regular program of ultra sonic surveys to evaluate the condition of the lines, as well as an ongoing corrosion prevention program that includes the use of chemical agents. We believed this was an acceptable and adequate program, particularly given that most of these lines are above ground. This method was chosen because in the early 90s, "pigging" the lines was found to be difficult because of the amount of scale and solids. However, we will be working to revise our corrosion prevention program based on newinformation and technology. BP is committing all the human and financial resources to complete the work that has to be done, as quickly and as safely as possible. In the meantime, we are working in cooperation with state and federal regulators to restore production. BP is also aggressively seeking international sources of supply to replace production that will be lost due to this shutdown. We apologize for the impact these measures are having on the nation and the State of Alaska.



You know what? BP didn't even address the part of my letter about the fact that it's their second spill this year. OR even address what they intended to do about the environmental damage. It's almost as though they didn't even bother to read my letter (sniff!) . . .

For a brief history about BP before it was "beyond petroleum," heck before it was even "british petroleum," check out hugh bris's lastest post : Obscure History Lesson.

huh? spill? what oil spill?

Democrats Call on Congress to Probe BP Shutdown
ReutersMonday, August 7, 2006; 2:58 PM

NEW YORK - Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday called on the U.S. Congress to hold hearings into BP's operations in Alaska following a second oil pipeline rupture at its Prudhoe Bay operations over the weekend that will shut the 400,000 barrel-a-day oilfield.

"It is appalling that BP let this critical pipeline deteriorate to the point that a major production shutdown was necessary," said Rep. John Dingell, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement.

Siwwy powitician. Actually, it is appalling that BP let this critical pipeline deteriorate to the point that a major spill occurred AGAIN. This is the second BP spill in Prudhoe Bay THIS YEAR. Why should a wealthy-a$$ company like BP be allowed to profit at the expense of both the state of Alaska and the environment?

Oh yeah, and expect oil prices to go up. Not that they weren't already.

My email letter to BP: write to them yourself!

FIX IT. This is the 2nd spill THIS YEAR. FIX IT, DAMN IT.

You claim to be beyond petroleum. Guess what?? You're no better (and I would argue far worse!) than any other oil company and you are ALL responsible. Thanks for lining your pockets by screwing the environment.

Disappointed, J Willis

And BTW, on this e-mail application, don't pre-check "I consent for my personal data to be used for marketing" - that's total crap. (Typical of a money grubbing oil company though, isn't it? Thanks for exacerbating everything that's wrong with this country. Regards)


I've never had any success with letter writing campaigns, but boy am I hot over this and who better to rant to than they who deserve it most? In fact, I might just bookmark this page to write to BP whenever I feel like it.

I will admit, I've been really cranky these past few days. Home improvement projects will do that to a panda. And speaking of panda...

a little something to smooth down that ruffled panda fur! (I've checked the site out somewhat and it doesn't appear on first glance that any of the products sold here are made of panda, so i think it's legit. Or at least panda-cruelty-free!)

i've been waaaaaaiting, for a cub like you, to come into my zoo

Psychics: Zoo Panda Will Give Birth
ATLANTA -- Two psychics are predicting that a giant panda at Zoo Atlanta will give birth to a cub this year.

Of course, it helps to know that Lun-Lun was artificially inseminated last March. But panda pregnancies don't always go that well, so the psychics were brought in.
One psychic said she telepathically connected with Lun-Lun and learned from the panda that she will give birth to a male cub in early September.
Zoo officials said they will have definite word on the panda's condition sometime this month.

If born in early August, new-stick will be a Leo. If late, a Virgo.

Giant Baby Panda Born to a Giant Panda!
***WARNING!!! Gratuitous photo of giant baby panda's giant uncut umbilical cord at the above link! This pandologist was not so lucky. Lunch could not be saved. As a PSA, I've pasted the text of page 1 of the article below.***

BEIJING (Reuters) - A giant panda in China has given birth to the heaviest cub born in captivity after the longest period in labor and elsewhere twin pandas each gave birth to twins, Xinhua news agency reported.

Six-year-old Zhang Ka delivered the baby on Monday at the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center in the mountainous southwest, Xinhua said.

The cub weighed just 218 grams (half a pound), but was still the heaviest panda ever born in captivity, where most cubs are born at between 83 and 190 grams, Xinhua said.

"It is very rare for them to be even near 200 grams," it said in a report late on Monday. But the size and the fact that it was Zhang Ka's first meant a "painstaking and eventful" birth for the mother, who was born in the wild.

"The whole process lasted about 34 hours and was the longest in the history of panda reproduction," Xinhua quoted Zhang Hemin, head of the Wolong center, as saying. Both mother and baby were doing well, the agency said.

Monday, August 07, 2006

tell me about it - hypermiling, that is!

Hey there lead foot! The next time you're playing nascar on the beltway and have an itch to lay the horn on a hokey-pokey snail doin a hokey-pokey 55 in the charge lane, don't! He might be getting 70 miles to the gallon (and grinning all the way to the bank).

This excerpt (from article and chat linked above) comes to you from, where staff writer Josh Zumbrun just replaced Carolyn Hax as my favorite writer of columns dispensing semi-useful advice with humor (and much eye-rolling, but I can neither confirm nor deny those allegations.)

Fairfax, Va. : I have one year of college left, and plan to get a car after I graduate. If I spend the money for a hybrid car, would I save enough money in the long run to make it worthwhile? My number one concern is the environment, but also as a poor college student, I have to be careful with the money. Any other suggestions for college students making their first car purchase would be great!

Josh Zumbrun: Alright, it's math time!
Check this out: I drive about 500 miles a week or about 25,000 miles a year. Now, let's assume that for the last year we've had an average of $3 per gallon gas.

At 75 miles per gallon, the best I can get, that's 333 gallons of gas this year. At $3 per gallon, that's $1,000.

At 60 miles per gallon, which you can easily get with a hybrid and a few of these techniques, 420 gallons of gas or $1,250.

At 40 miles per gallon, what you could possibly get in a typical sedan, 625 gallons of gas, $1,875.
But once you start talking about the way most people drive, it adds up faster.

At 25 miles per gallon, 1000 gallons of gas, $3,000.

At 20 miles per gallon, you'll end up paying $3,750.

If I were at 10 miles per gallon in my squirrel-squashing, deer-smacking Canyonero SUV (hahaha!!) -- $7,500 a year in gas. And some drivers get even worse mileage than that.

So it depends how much you drive, mostly. And how much you've got to spend. Nothing is going to be cheaper than that 1988 grey Ford Escort you inherit from your great-grandma.

cranky pandas

"Hey Bob, it's hot as fuck outside. Want to go put on a shit load of T-Shirts so we can get free beer and impress the babes?"

free beer and impressing babes. What more could you want? (And how many world records did YOU break this weekend monsieur Bris??????)

Personally, I think Hugh takes issue with the fact that pandodyssey(tm) broke this hot dc news bite all by my lonesome, beating all one two three & four guys to the punch. Or is posting drunk again... ya'll'll (yes that was a double contraction of a non-existant word) have to forgive him. (he's canadian, poor thing ...)

Friday, August 04, 2006

the most important news out of dc this week!

washington, d.c. is not only home to cute baby pandas and politics. It now also calls itself home to a new Guinness Book of World Records ... Record!

Last Saturday, history was made when the long-standing record for Most T-Shirts Worn at One Time (107, held by Charlie Shiner from somewhere in the uk) was broken, no shattered, by a local dc resident. The new record stands at an impressive 121 t-shirts. An eyewitness account of the grueling 4-1/2 hour ordeal confirmed that the event actuallty did happen and that it was recorded for posterity and official Guinness world record recognition.

Congratulations "way too many t-shirts at once" guy & to amusing t-shirt sponsor,!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

i so-don't-heart-blogger-right-now...

(sorry - the title belongs to 10 minutes ago when GAH! - I lost my entire post due to the vagaries & mysteries that is, was, and still are part of Not that the post was all that AND a bucket o' fried chicken. But it's still frustrating.)


Su Lin turn One!
Native San Diegoean (sp?) A Little Bit of Something Very Cute (translated as 'Su Lin' in her native tongue) turns one year old today! Her pictures are gratuitously splashed all over blogs as far away as the east coast. Who would do such a thing?

A butterstick in the oven?
Lun Lun, a panda at the zoo in Atlanta, might be in a cub-ly way. Or might not. Either way, we'll find out in a month when the cub is (or is NOT) born.

This might be a good opportunity for a pandodyssey (tm) road trip (precursor, Rally '07??). However it is too brutal outside to even think about visiting a city with "hot" already in its nickname!!

(A scene this morning at 3001 Connecticut Ave. Fujifilm habitat.)
Tai Shan: Geez mom, it's really hot out here. What gives?
Mei Xiang: mphhggpppgpphhhh... (stuffing her face with bamboo)

Tai Shan: No really. Why do we have to live in DC? The weather here is nothing like the motherland.
Mei Xiang: (pauses, sticks her head out from the bamboo) What do you know about the motherland?

I got a didjeridoo! (Or "How I Alienated My Neighbors")

cool glowing stick man danced to every song the entire weekend.

(Not panda related so if you're looking for pandas go here now.) After the All Good (or All GREAT!) festival, and the INSANE didjeri-licious musical stylings of one mister Xavier Rudd, I wanted one, BAD! Here it is! Mine is unfortunately not an authentic aboriginal didge, but a plain "modern" didge. Unlike most wind instruments, most people can play a didge on their very first attempt. (Basically get your lips going like you're giving someone a raspberry - then stick the mouthpiece of the didge to your buzzing lips and voila! that's how you play!) Most people can play it, but the difficult part is to keep on playing. Didge artists can play entire songs without stopping. (Wiki claims that there are recordings of 45 minutes up to an hour of didge!)

From the first toot I was in love. Eric also loves to didge. The didge bone must run strong in the willis genes - his mom is the best of us all!

I just made up "didge bone" not to be confused with "didjeribone" which actually does exist (and my apologies to jesse for falsely accusing him of talking dirty!!)


Starbucks hit as sales miss
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp. (SBUX.O: Quote, Profile, Research) shares suffered their biggest one-day drop in six years on Thursday after it posted its weakest monthly same-store sales rise since 2001, missing Wall Street estimates and stoking concerns about a consumer spending slowdown.

You can ask my bank account. This is not my doing.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

aaand coming down the home stretch ...

"It was a battered yellow Citroen 2CV which had had one careful owner but also three suicidally reckless ones."
The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, Douglas Adams

A Panda Leads the Mongol Rally! As of the date of this post, Team Mongol Mary (a fiat) is in the lead, almost to the border of Mongolia.

Go pandas go!

Summer Swelter
Aside from the awesome Rally, which really should be televised next year (hellOO, travel channel???) summer break is in full swing at pandodssey (tm)hq. (And by "break" I mean I'm still coming to work, just trying not to do any). I blame global warming.

In the
Post today:

22 Cities Join Clinton Anti-Warming Effort
"Twenty-two of the world's largest cities announced yesterday that they will work together to limit their contributions to global warming in an effort led by former president Bill Clinton.

The Clinton Climate Initiative -- which will create an international consortium to bargain for cheaper energy-efficient products and share ideas on cutting greenhouse gas pollution -- includes Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York as well as Cairo, Delhi, London and Mexico City.

Yay, buuuuut...

"Climate experts said the effort could help but by itself it will not achieve the major reductions needed to curb global warming. Drew Shindell, an atmospheric physicist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said emissions must be cut in half by mid-century to keep Earth's temperature from reaching dangerous levels. "They can make progress, but it will be quite limited, I would think," Shindell said."

Which leads me to a question a coworker and I discussed recently:

IS global warming just an unusual but normal weather trend (like the Ice Age)?
Or is man really to blame for altering the Earth's climate? (It's hotter today in NYC than in most of TX! Why?)

If the former, this is a good time to start thinking about the possibilty that the latter could happen. If it really is the latter though, put your tray tables in the upright position, put your head between your knees and kiss your Earth goodbye! Doom & gloom is a heck of a lot more frightening when it comes from a scientist, as opposed to a politician.

There's just no way to know for certain which it is, until it's too late ... eeeek!