mardi, février 24, 2009

mr. clean, meet mr. electrolyzed tap water

I love science. This seems like such a no-brainer that it would be great if consumers like me could purchase it for home use.
Simple elixir called a 'miracle liquid'
Electrolyzed water cleans, degreases -- and treats athlete's foot. The solution is replacing toxic chemicals.
By Marla Dickerson

February 23, 2009

It's a kitchen degreaser. It's a window cleaner. It kills athlete's foot. Oh, and you can drink it.

Sounds like the old "Saturday Night Live" gag for Shimmer, the faux floor polish plugged by Gilda Radner. But the elixir is real. It has been approved by U.S. regulators. And it's starting to replace the toxic chemicals Americans use at home and on the job.

The stuff is a simple mixture of table salt and tap water whose ions have been scrambled with an electric current. Researchers have dubbed it electrolyzed water -- hardly as catchy as Mr. Clean. But at the Sheraton Delfina in Santa Monica, some hotel workers are calling it el liquido milagroso -- the miracle liquid.

That's as good a name as any for a substance that scientists say is powerful enough to kill anthrax spores without harming people or the environment.

Used as a sanitizer for decades in Russia and Japan, it's slowly winning acceptance in the United States. A New York poultry processor uses it to kill salmonella on chicken carcasses. Minnesota grocery clerks spray sticky conveyors in the checkout lanes. Michigan jailers mop with electrolyzed water to keep potentially lethal cleaners out of the hands of inmates.

In Santa Monica, the once-skeptical Sheraton housekeeping staff has ditched skin-chapping bleach and pungent ammonia for spray bottles filled with electrolyzed water to clean toilets and sinks.

"I didn't believe in it at first because it didn't have foam or any scent," said housekeeper Flor Corona. "But I can tell you it works. My rooms are clean."

Management likes it too. The mixture costs less than a penny a gallon. It cuts down on employee injuries from chemicals. It reduces shipping costs and waste because hotel staffers prepare the elixir on site. And it's helping the Sheraton Delfina tout its environmental credentials to guests.

The hotel's kitchen staff recently began disinfecting produce with electrolyzed water. They say the lettuce lasts longer. They're hoping to replace detergent in the dishwasher. Management figures the payback time for the $10,000 electrolysis machine will be less than a year.

"It's green. It saves money. And it's the right thing to do," said Glenn Epstein, executive assistant at the Sheraton Delfina. "It's almost like fantasy."

Actually, it's chemistry. For more than two centuries, scientists have tinkered with electrolysis, the use of an electric current to bring about a chemical reaction (not the hair-removal technique of the same name that's popular in Beverly Hills). That's how we got metal electroplating and large-scale production of chlorine, used to bleach and sanitize.

It turns out that zapping salt water with low-voltage electricity creates a couple of powerful yet nontoxic cleaning agents. Sodium ions are converted into sodium hydroxide, an alkaline liquid that cleans and degreases like detergent, but without the scrubbing bubbles. Chloride ions become hypochlorous acid, a potent disinfectant known as acid water.

"It's 10 times more effective than bleach in killing bacteria," said Yen-Con Hung, a professor of food science at the University of Georgia-Griffin, who has been researching electrolyzed water for more than a decade. "And it's safe."

There are drawbacks.

Electrolyzed water loses its potency fairly quickly, so it can't be stored long. Machines are pricey and geared mainly for industrial use. The process also needs to be monitored frequently for the right strength.

Then there's the "magic water" hype that has accompanied electrolyzed drinking water. A number of companies sell so-called ionizers for home use that can range from about $600 to more than $3,000. The alkaline water, proponents say, provides health benefits.

But Richard Wullaert, a Santa Barbara consultant, said consumers should be careful.

"Some of these people are making claims that will get everybody in trouble," said Wullaert, whose nonprofit Functional Water Society is spreading the word about electrolyzed water. "It's time for some serious conferences with serious scientists to give this credibility."

Most of the growth has happened outside the United States.

Russians are putting electrolyzed water down oil wells to kill pesky microbes. Europeans use it to treat burn victims. Electrolyzing equipment is helping to sanitize drinking water in parts of Latin American and Africa.

It's big in Japan. People there spray it on sushi to kill bacteria and fill their swimming pools with it, eliminating the need for harsh chlorine. Doctors use it to sterilize equipment and treat foot fungus and bedsores. It's the secret weapon in Sanyo Electric Corp.'s "soap-less" washing machine.

Now Sanyo is bent on cleaning up Japan's taxis with a tiny air purifier that fits into a car's cup holder. The device uses electrolyzed water to shield passengers from an unwelcome byproduct of Japan's binge-drinking business culture: vomit.

"There was some concern about the spreading of viruses and bacteria via the taxi, not to mention the . . . stinky smells," Sanyo spokesman Aaron Fowles said.

Sanyo's taxi air washer isn't yet available in the U.S.; commuters will have to hold their noses for now. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have approved electrolyzed water for a variety of uses.

PuriCore of Malvern, Pa., and Oculus Innovative Sciences of Petaluma, Calif., have developed treatments for chronic wounds. Albuquerque, N.M.-based MIOX Corp. sells municipal water-purifying systems. EAU Technologies Inc. of Kennesaw, Ga., caters to both ends of a dairy cow, with alkaline water to aid the animal's digestion and acid water to clean up its manure.

Integrated Environmental Technologies Inc. of Little River, S.C., is working with oil companies to keep wells free of bacteria and with high schools to sanitize sweaty wrestling mats and grungy football equipment that spread skin infections.

Electrolyzer Corp. of Woburn, Mass., is going after the hospitality market. The Sheraton Delfina purchased one of its machines. So has the Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Trump International Beach Resort near Miami.

Patrick Lucci, Electrolyzer's vice president of marketing, likes to bombard prospects with scientific studies, then give 'em the old razzle-dazzle. He'll swig the processed salt water before he mops the floor with it.

"Try that with bleach," he said.

The unit in Santa Monica looks a little like an oversized water heater, with two tanks side by side -- one for making the hypochlorous acid sanitizer, the other for the sodium hydroxide cleanser.

Rebecca Jimenez, director of housekeeping, heard grumbling from the cleaning staff when the hotel brought the machine in last fall. Housekeepers doubted that the flat, virtually odorless liquids were really doing the job. Some poured the guest shampoos into their bottles to work up a lather.

"If it doesn't suds up, it doesn't work," Jimenez said. "That's the mentality."

Still, she said, most have come around and are enjoying working without fumes and peeling skin.

Minnesota food scientist Joellen Feirtag said she was similarly skeptical. So she installed an electrolysis unit in her laboratory and began researching the technology. She found that the acid water killed E. coli, salmonella, listeria and other nasty pathogens. Yet it was gentle enough to soothe her children's sunburns and acne.

She's now encouraging food processors to take a look at electrolyzed water to help combat the disease outbreaks that have roiled the industry. Most are dubious.

"This sounds too good to be true, which is really the biggest problem," said Feirtag, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. "But it's only a matter of time before this becomes mainstream."

dimanche, février 22, 2009

smoke this recession

It's high time we did this. Bring it, Governator.
Smoke This Recession
It's simple: First we tax the booze. Then we legalize the pot. Done.
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, February 20, 2009

It is a time of strange bedfellows and bizarre contortions and extraordinary responses to extreme situations, all overslathered with gobs of panic and dread and oh my God, I might have to sell the Range Rover.

In other words, it is a time -- like you don't already know -- of plentiful alarmist rhetoric, resulting in weird outbursts of ingenuity and wanton ethics-loosening, all in a desperate effort to suck up some much-needed cash.

Translation: Money's tight, baby. City's in trouble. State's deep in the hole. Nation's broke.

Solution? Upend the system. Think differently. Get creative. Demolish Ye Olde Ways. And maybe get a really nice buzz on while you're at it.

Where to begin? How can the city/state refill their empty coffers and further gouge the populace to make ends meet? Increased bridge tolls? A new per-mile driving tax? Heavier parking fines? State parks abandoned and left to seed? Child's play, darling.

You want to raise funds in an instant? You want a sure-fire, double-barreled source of nearly limitless funds from a wary, burned-out citizenry? That's easy. Go after its biggest vices, its most beloved balms.

Up first: booze. Already local governments are quietly proposing jacking up the alcohol tax and loosening sales restrictions because, well, why the hell not? Aren't you, right this very moment, as you prepare your taxes and weep over your gutted portfolio and stare down one very bleak 2009, more in need of a drink or three than at any time in recent history except for the entirety of the last eight miserable, Bush-stabbed years? Well, there you go. Tax increases on cocktails, here they come.

But it's not just governments. Check out the happily shameless TV networks who, for the first time in a whocares number of years, are allowing ads for alcohol and K-Y lube during prime-time programming. Oh the outrage! Oh the debauchery! Who, pray who, will protect the children? Oh wait, the children are out buying daddy some more beer and applying for a job at Starbucks to help pay rent. Never mind.

New taxes on the other Great American vices: porn, gambling, prescription meds, pro sports, obesity, Mylie Cyrus? Watch for it.

Now, let's get serious. Because there are, of course, bigger fish to fry in the sea of potentially lucrative, all-American inebriates. There is a far more potent, obvious solution to the state's budget woes, a huge, untapped revenue source, and now might be the perfect time to, you know, light it up.

Really now, could there be a better time to decriminalize/fully legalize pot? Or, more fully, to decriminalize pot, and then spread respectable pot shops and vending machines and dispensaries far and wide, instill quality control and decent oversight and then tax the living hell out of the glorious, stress-reducing goodness, as we stop wasting billions fighting its grand ubiquity and instead sink into profitable pools of warm, hazy progress? Don't you already know the answer?

It's difficult to imagine that some intrepid legislator hasn't already walked into Arnie "Pot is not a drug" Schwarzenegger's office and said, "Governator, now is the time. Light it up. Inhale the new reality. Pot is, by a huge margin, the single largest cash crop in the state unless you count porn stars and celebrity rehab. It rakes in upwards of $14 billion a year -- maybe a lot more than that -- and that's just from five clever hippies and a couple intrepid grandmas in Ukiah. Imagine what we could do if we went all-in."

Are the discussions ongoing? Are they passing the bong of possibility around the state Senate chambers? You're damn right they are. What's holding them back? Probably the usual: the negative PR, looking "soft" on crime, encouraging permissiveness, pressure from prison lobbies, and so on. Don't worry, Sacramento. Everyone's already plenty drunk/high on prescription meds trying to alleviate fears of losing their job to care about that nonsense right now. Get to it.

There won't be much pushback from D.C. President Obama's already stated that his upcoming appointee to head the DEA is going to knock it the hell off with the insidious raids of harmless medical pot shops in California, and wants to quit using federal resources to bash hippies and circumvent state laws.

Look. Is there really anyone left who doesn't already know the "War on Drugs" is a pathetic joke, an abject failure and a taxpayer nightmare, and the only reason it survives at all is to fund the CIA and fellate the prison guard unions and support a shameful prison system, and to let politicians say they're "tough on crime" so they can to deflect all those uninformed parents who relentlessly whine about pot in public schools just before dashing off a wine-tasting party to snort a nice line of Bolivian coke?

Anyone left, furthermore, who doesn't know that pot is far safer than booze, less addictive, nonviolent, more transportable, easier to light, and generally won't interfere with your ability to crawl across the carpet and lick cookie crumbs from your lover's thighs? And sure, while heavy, daily usage can make you slow and stupid and rather useless to the world, well, so can a six-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper and six hours of TV every day. Gateway drug? That's on Channel 2, right after "Oprah."

And another thing. Maybe it wouldn't be merely tax 'n' puff. Maybe California, already the pot-growing capital of the nation, could become something more. A hub. A world-class research center. Pot education, study, medicine, import/export, the works. We could ship our crop to various nations in desperate need of chilling the hell out, like Israel. Palestine. Pakistan. Russia. The N-Judah on a Friday afternoon. We could become the largest research and manufacturing center in the world. How proud we would be. You know, sort of.

Let's phrase this grand scenario in another way: Why the hell not try it? What have we got to lose? What, we could go more broke? We could get more desperate and anxious? Fact is, economic nightmares need not breed only miserable stories of lost homes and lost jobs and shuttered businesses. They can also spawn creative solutions, innovative thinking, widespread munchies. Now is the time.

Let's not get carried away. Pot's only one little inebriate, one mild and -- let's just admit it -- relatively boring feel-good plant. California is $40 billion in debt and we're running low on water and we can't give away those hideous tract developments out in Stockton. Milking the pot cow for all she's worth might net us, at best, a few billion a year. To get out of this massive hole, we'd have to legalize Ecstasy too. (Someday, honey, someday).

But it's something. It's radical new thinking that's not the slightest bit radical, or new, and in fact the notion is now even more obvious than it's been for the past 30 years. What are we waiting for? A match?
Via Aaryn

vendredi, février 20, 2009

hey jealousy

I'm going to go out on a limb here and ask "baths, Sandra? Really?"
Chimp in Conn. attack had unusual bond with owner
By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press Writer
Thursday, February 19, 2009
(02-19) 22:56 PST Stamford, Conn. (AP) --
Travis the chimpanzee's relationship with his owner was closer than those of some married couples.

Sandra Herold gave him the finest food, and wine in long-stemmed glasses. They took baths together and cuddled in the bed they shared. Travis brushed the lonely widow's hair each night and pined for her when she was away.

If she left the house alone, Travis would give her a kiss.

"If I left with someone Travis would get upset," Herold said Wednesday.

Experts say the unusually human relationship would have been confusing for any animal. It may have also played a role in Travis' savage attack Monday on Herold's friend, 55-year-old Charla Nash of Stamford.

"This is a crazy relationship," said Stephen Rene Tello, executive director of Primarily Primates, a sanctuary for chimps in Texas. "He was probably very bonded with her. I can kind of see it in his eyes this is his surrogate mother."

And chimps like 14-year-old Travis, who was shot and killed by police, protect their mates and turf.

"If there is another person entering his space, he might consider it a threat to his territory, or even his mate," Tello said.

Police say Travis attacked Nash when she arrived at the house to help lure the chimp back into Herold's house. Herold speculated that Travis was being protective of her and attacked Nash because she had a different hairstyle, was driving a different car and held a stuffed toy in front of her face to get the chimp's attention.

Nash suffered massive injuries to her face and hands, requiring more than seven hours of surgery by four teams of doctors to stabilize her. She was transferred in critical condition Thursday to the Cleveland Clinic, which two months ago performed the nation's first successful face transplant.

Hospital officials say Nash is being treated for her injuries and it's unknown if she will be a candidate for a face transplant.

Monday's attack was not the first time Travis bit someone, a former Stamford resident now living in Atlanta said Thursday.

Leslie Mostel Paul told The Associated Press the chimp grabbed her hand and bit it hard enough to draw blood in 1996, while the animal was sitting in Herold's car in a Stamford office parking lot. Paul said she had tried to shake Travis' hand after Herold gave her permission to say hello.

Paul described Herold as being more aggravated than upset about the incident, and said she had to get rabies shots because Herold was slow in producing Travis' medical records.

"My impression was she was more like, 'Oh, this is gonna be a pain in the neck,'" Paul said.

Paul said she reported the incident to police but received no follow-up calls.

"I told them this was serious," said Paul, who spoke by phone from New York, where she was visiting relatives. "If it was a child, it could have ripped the hand off or an arm out a socket."

In an earlier interview on NBC's "Today" show, Paul said, "I honestly believe if they had followed through, maybe the laws would have been changed sooner and this other woman wouldn't be in the hospital, fighting for her life now."

Herold did not return a call seeking comment Thursday about Paul's claims. Police say they have no record of complaints, aside from a 2003 incident where Travis escaped from a vehicle and led police on a two-hour downtown chase before he was caught.

Authorities have not said whether Herold will face criminal charges. Connecticut state law allowed her to own the chimp as a pet, though several state leaders are calling for tighter restrictions in the wake of Monday's attack.

Herold, who was known to buckle Travis in her car for rides and dress him in baseball shirts, tried to rescue Nash by stabbing Travis and hitting him with a shovel. "I stabbed something I raised as a son," she said Wednesday.

It's not known why the chimp suddenly attacked. Herold has given differing accounts on whether she treated the agitated chimp with Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug that had not been prescribed for him. She has also said it suffered from Lyme disease. A test for rabies was negative and results from a necropsy won't be available for weeks.

Lynn DellaBianca, a former Stamford animal control officer, said Thursday that she warned Herold after the 2003 incident that the pet's behavior was worrisome and that she needed to make sure he was kept under control.

"Certainly my concern was for public safety," DellaBianca told The Associated Press. "Male chimpanzees once they reach maturity can be aggressive. I'm sure I did express that to her."

Herold told her she expected to eventually have to give up the chimp, DellaBianca said.

"She did say that herself. She knew someone day he would probably have to go to a sanctuary," DellaBianca said. "She knew chimpanzees, they can get more difficult to handle as they get older."

Mental health professionals say a strong bond between pet owners and their animals is generally good because it can be therapeutic and comforting. The boundaries get blurred, though, when owners treat the animals like humans rather than pets, and expect a reciprocal relationship similar to what they would have with a family member.

David Baron, professor and chairman of the Temple University School of Medicine's psychiatry department, said in cases such as Herold's, the grief of losing loved ones could have made it easy for her to view Travis as a surrogate child and friend. Her husband died in 2004 and her only daughter was killed in a car accident several years ago.

"I wouldn't say that she shouldn't have a pet, but this may be something that should be looked at as part of a grief reaction that's beyond normal," he said.

Earl Mason, whose son married Herold's daughter, remembers when Herold got Travis. The chimp would ride a tricycle.

"He grew up like a youngster," Mason said. "He did everything a kid would do. He was a cute little guy."

Travis loved ice cream and even knew the schedules of the ice cream trucks, Mason said. He ate breakfast at the table with Herold and her husband.

But even was the chimp was a baby, Mason was amazed at his strength. When Travis would jump on him, Mason said he would slam into his chest.

"To me he was beating the crap out of me," Mason said. "He had just tremendous strength."

Don Mecca, a family friend, said Herold knew chimps became more difficult to handle as they get older, but she had a hard time parting with her beloved pet.

"Sandy would always say he would will himself to die if they were separated," Mecca said.

Mecca was reluctant to criticize his friend.

"I think he was lost," Mecca said of Travis. "He belongs in the jungle with the rest of them."

mercredi, février 18, 2009

right-wing extremism, average writing skills and susceptibility to snow jobs

Zealotry + denial = hypocrisy.
As usual, Aaryn's Citybeat column made my morning. But I think she's being too generous on the writing skills.
Nefarious claims
Can we all just finally agree that the Holocaust didn’t happen?
By Aaryn Belfer

“At JP Catholic we have an event called On Mission. The night consists of a guest speaker speaking about living out your Catholic faith in business or media, and after that there is confession and Eucharistic Adoration.”

So begins a Feb. 9 student blog post on the website of the unaccredited John Paul the Great Catholic University located in Scripps Ranch. Now, maybe you’re snickering about the “speaker speaking.” Or perhaps the mention of “Eucharistic Adoration” gives you a mysterious hankering for a Carr’s Water Cracker followed by a session of heavy petting.

But what’s notable in the post is not the redundancy in an opening paragraph by a kid who needs the guidance of a publicly validated learning institution. Nor is it a sudden, overwhelming hunger for crudités and kink. Rather, it’s the who who spoke, and what he said.

“Recently at JP Catholic,” the blogger continues, “Jim Holman, founder and editor of The San Diego Reader and a pro-life supporter, recently spoke to the students about the recent election cycle and Proposition 4 in California.” I think it’s fair to say our author effectively established that the speaking happened recently.

“He made an interesting comparison that rocked my world,” the blogger wrote of Holman, whose speech centered on his beloved-yet-failed parental-notification initiative last November. The conspicuous overlord of the gay-loathing, right-leaning, dressed-up-in-alt-weekly-clothing publication best used as an Ambien substitute—since it’s both sleep-inducing and non-addictive—inspired this student to “stand up vocally” on behalf of the unborn, by comparing abortion with the Holocaust.

Which raises the question: Didn’t Holman get the memo?

Pssst! Holman! The Holocaust never happened! And I’m not just making this up on a whim. This information is all over the news lately and is being spoken about quite matter-of-factly by a representative of the very church to which you and Blogger Boy belong.

The newly re-embraced Bishop Richard Williamson has stated repeatedly—and, it should be noted, recently—that roughly 200,000 to 300,000 Jews died in World War II and not the radical, yet widely accepted number of 6 million. It is tough to get one’s head around a number that big. It seems so entirely impossible that it must be. Williamson also has it on good authority that there was never any gassing. Auschwitz, mouschwitz.

Certainly, there are the conspiracy theorists falling over themselves to ostracize the bishop. These wild-eyed Holocaust historians seem to have him outnumbered; their outcry was so deafening that Williamson was removed from a seminary post last week in response to his unwavering comments.

But these folks are mere outliers in a giant fairytale, the nutty hook-line-and-sinkers demanding Williamson recant his denial of what purportedly took place at Auschwitz-Birkenau. And Belzec. And Chelmno and Majdanek and Sobibor and Treblinka. Who can pronounce those words, anyway? As if innocent human beings really died there: Men, women and children separated from family, huddled naked with strangers and dumped, still clinging to each other, into mass graves. It’s preposterous. Never happened.

Bishop Williamson is nothing if not open-minded. Though he doesn’t have any plans to stand with ghosts while touring the Auschwitz showers or contemplate his reflection in the ash pools there, he’s agreed to give the record another long-distance glance down his turned-up nose. The bishop would like historic evidence.

It’s not unreasonable for Williamson to demand proof. After all, this is a stance he’s maintained for more than three decades. Williamson is a proof-or-pudding kind of guy, not a show-me-a-miracle kind of guy. It’s not as if he bases his entire existence on something as flimsy and unreasoned as faith. For example, rather than relying on stories originating with Jews, I’m sure he has impervious proof of Jesus’ existence, more solid even than a crematorium, more permanent than tattooed registration numbers. The bishop must have in his possession a shroud. Or some DNA. Or at least a hair sample. Or a rusty nail with dried blood stains.

Speaking of blood stains, I disagree with the self-important Jim Holman when he equates the mass deaths of human beings to the removal of a clump of unviable cells from a uterus. In fact, not only do I support a woman’s right to choose every single time, but I’m in favor of retroactive abortion—an abortion time machine, if you will.

It could be made available to people like, say, Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother. Or Dick Cheney’s. Or Hitler’s. Then again, that last one may be unfair given the Holocaust fable. In reality, Adolf was probably little more than a misunderstood regular guy, looking for a girl to love him. Sure, it sounds like something straight out of Notting Hill, but the only thing more improbable than Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant falling in love has got to be the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and extermination of 84.5 Qualcomm Stadiums-full of Jews.

But it didn’t happen, and if the Holocaust didn’t happen and the Catholic leadership backs this notion, then comparing abortions with it at a Catholic “university” seems to be a self-defeating analogy. An educated person would be skeptical of, and offended by, such an argument. Unless that “educated” person holds a degree equivalent to one earned from Sally Struthers, in which case, it’s world-rocking material. Thanks to JP Catholic and its speaking speakers, we can be assured of a whole bunch of mini-Holmans flooding the business and media industries in the near future with their right-wing extremism, average writing skills and susceptibility to snow jobs.

Write to and

mardi, février 03, 2009


Holding grudges against people is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die. (You only hurt yourself. The other person is usually clueless.)

Via Kristen