Monthly Archives: March 2013

Another Shooting

In the headlines this morning, two are dead after a shooting at a supermarket in Pennsylvania. The story from the Star Tribune is very brief, as this event occurred only minutes ago.

Apparently, the shooting occurred inside a supermarket in Philipsburg and is suspected to be a murder-suicide.

Trooper Matthew Reifer with state police in Clearfield said someone called 911 shortly after 10 a.m. to say there had been a shooting. Two people were found dead when police arrived, and no one answered the phone at the store later this morning.

Another source, The Republic out of Columbus, Indiana, offered a bit more information, but the matter is still under investigation.

According to The Republic, state police spokeswoman Maria Finn said the shooting was not random, and the two people were believed to be related. Apparently, their identities have been established, but will not be released until their next-of-kin are notified.

A manager from another store in the same shopping complex reported that squad cars filled the parking lot and that her store was on lockdown.

Apparently, a police officer had come in to tell staff and shoppers that several people had been shot nearby.

Emergency dispatchers said the scene was secure.

My first issue with this situation comes from some inconsistencies between sources. Some sources claim the shooting occurred at “County Market,” while others name the location as “Country Market.”

Secondly, I don’t know if shootings are actually occurring more frequently lately, or if it only seems that way due to media coverage.

That’s all the information I have so far, from sources such as The Washington Post, Fox News, The Associated Press, and ABC News.

At any rate, that’s what’s happening this morning. Another shooting.

Misfit News 3-28-13

I’m back! You know what that means…

Yes, Spring Break is over.

Also, it’s time for more Misfit News!

Prosecutor drops charges against groundhog

Well, we’re off to a good start.

Punxsutawney Phil predicts the Weather on Groundhog Day

Who the heck files charges against a groundhog in the first place?

An Ohio prosecutor said he is dropping charges against Punxsutawney Phil after the groundhog’s handler took responsibility for spring’s late start.

Michael Gmoser, Butler County prosecutor, filed court documents announcing he was dropping the fraud charges against the Pennsylvania groundhog as the animal “has a defense with teeth in it — his handler stepped up to the burrow to take full responsibility for misinterpreting said defendant’s prediction of an early spring.”

“In these serious times, I hope this case brought a light-hearted moment to all concerned with a warm welcome to spring ahead,” Gmoser wrote in the memorandum in support of his dismissal of the charge.

Is… Is this a real thing?

Judge for yourself. See the website here.

NEXT!

How about a science story?

Researchers find unidentified signs of life in the bottom of an Antarctic lake

Eureka! New life has been found! According to this story from abc 7 News in Chicago, some cool stuff is going on where it’s cold.

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An “unclassified” life form has been found in a recent sample taken from the bottom of an Antarctic lake.

The bacteria were found in an ice core taken from the bottom of Lake Vostok, which is covered by an ice sheet more than two miles thick.

Researchers tested the sample, saying that its DNA is different enough from existing records to count as its own species.

According to the Russian news site RIA Novosti, Sergei Bulat, a researcher at the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute, said:

“After excluding all known contaminants…we discovered bacterial DNA that does not match any known species listed in global databanks. We call it unidentified and ‘unclassified’ life.”

Full details of the discovery are still vague, though scientists are excited to have found signs of life in one of the coldest places on Earth. A U.S.-funded team has also drilled into a separate ice sheet in Antarctica, and says that they have encountered bacteria as well.

The sample may have been isolated as early as 17 million years ago, and this could be the first time the water has seen sunlight in millennia.

It’s amazing to think about how diverse this planet really is.

Okay… One more!

If you’re looking for a new scent, from the same website comes this interesting tidbit.

Zoils Oils: Scents of 18th Street in Pilsen — like tamales

tamales

From the folks at Zoils Oils comes a new line of perfumes designed to capture the essence of the Pilsen neighborhood.

It’s the work of Zorayda Ortiz, a research specialist at Rush University Medical Center. Five years ago, she started using her lab skills to create new and different scents.

She started with a line of scents based on Day of the Dead, but now her new scent line makes reference to Pilsen’s busy 18th Street, and one of the flavors is called “Tamale.”

Ortiz says her oils are for sale along 18th Street at Round Two Resale, Pilsen Vintage and Thrift, Wheel of Time bike shop, Smarty Pants boutique, the National Mexican Fine Arts Museum gift shop and various galleries and street fairs. She says the best way to get the perfume is to contact her directly.

If you’re interested in a perfume, Ortiz can be reached at lovezoils@gmail.com or (773) 759-1791. She says the perfume orders can be picked up from the Pilsen Vintage and Thrift, located at 1430 W. 18th St. in Chicago.

And there you have it. Add that “Tamale” cologne to your Christmas wish list!

That’s all, folks! Until next time.

Just because you’re offended…

…That doesn’t mean you can censor me.

Recently, a University of Central Oklahoma journalism student was nearly expelled for a simple blog post, much like the one I am writing now. I’m sure some people will disagree with my post today, but that doesn’t mean they can take away my right to publish. This is the 21st century, and the internet.

This student wrote a post titled “An Open Letter to Obnoxious Girls: Stupidity Isn’t Cute!” on her personal blog in early February. She described the behaviors of the “Obnoxious Girls,” but she didn’t reveal any names. So, is there any real harm in that?

Three girls in her class took offense to the blog post.

Let’s stop there for a moment. If you take offense to a personal blog post and your name isn’t mentioned anywhere, does that mean you have a guilty conscience? Aren’t we taught at a young age that it’s dangerous to assume things? I was always told that to assume makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’. Well, these three girls doing the assuming kind of sound like asses to me. Hopefully they don’t try to get me expelled.

Yep. The student that wrote the blog post was threatened with expulsion if she didn’t remove the post.

She also had to apologize to everyone in the class. A complaint was filed against her by her professor for disruption of class and intimidation.

Did I miss something here? There were no names in the blog post!

If you ask me, the only real case of intimidation occurred when the student’s professor and the chairwoman of UCO’s mass communications department told her she’d ruined her journalism career and threatened to expel her.

Really?

It’s just hard for me to wrap my head around this situation. I thought journalism in America was all about freedom of expression, protecting our rights as journalists or just as Americans and promoting free speech and less censorship. I hold very high the concepts of ethics and responsibility, but that doesn’t mean everyone else does.

To me, this is the essence of censorship. What this says to me is, “I don’t agree, I’m offended, so you should be punished.”

The fact that this happened right here in my home state of Oklahoma is even more disappointing. Where do we draw the line? It’s incredibly discouraging that a mass communications department at a university doesn’t have sense enough to handle such situations better.

Let’s step back again.

If the girls had been named in the post, I might almost be inclined to understand the claim of intimidation, or the supposedly offensive nature of the post, but I think even then that if it was a personal blog post, I’d support her right to publish it as long as she wasn’t threatening anyone.

Tasteless? Maybe. Does that mean she shouldn’t have the right to publish her opinions? Absolutely not.

I just don’t get it. Aren’t we stepping backward here?

Maybe you don’t agree with me. Guess what; that’s perfectly fine. Just don’t get the idea that you can keep me from publishing my blog posts simply because you disagree with me or find my content offensive.

I won’t go down without a fight.

 

I have an opinion!

There are few things that really prompt complaint from me. I try to look at everything with an open mind, and I try not to pass too much judgement beyond what my own simple humanity warrants.

BUT… People who ignore the rules, especially in the case of pure laziness, really get on my nerves.

Have you ever accidentally found yourself driving the wrong way down a one-way street? I have. In fact, a GPS system sent me on my (wrong) merry way down a one-way street.

But here’s the key word in all this: Accident.

Here’s my issue.

On my college campus here at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, there happens to be a short one-way path between the wellness center and the practice space. Of course, it’s one-way for a reason. It’s narrow, and has a specific guiding purpose. Also, unless you’re blind as a bat, it’s probably not even possible to miss the signs.

I’ve seen countless people travel the wrong way down said path. Because it’s the easiest way to get from point A to point B (there’s no other direct link between these two sections of campus), I assume it’s out of laziness.

That’s bad enough, right?

But more than anyone else, it seems to be Northwestern employees (namely the maintenance department) that commits this act.

“Commits this act.” I know. It sounds like I want them to go to jail or something. That’s not the case.

The fact of the matter is that there are rules in place for a reason. Someone could potentially get hurt when people disobey such simple rules.

And honestly, that doesn’t make the maintenance department look very responsible, now does it?

What a shame. I have a lot of pride in my university, but there are those groups and individuals that push my buttons, in a manner of speaking. The lazy people, rude people and irresponsible people on campus… They all just disappoint me.

It’s not like it takes more than a couple minutes to reach the other side of campus on a different route.

But wait… There’s more!

These same employees that demonstrate this lack of responsible behavior on a one-way street also demonstrate a lack of responsible behavior elsewhere on campus.

They drive a company vehicle across campus to reach jobs and projects, parking in the grass or wherever they see fit.

That’s fine. But SLOWWWWW DOWN. I shouldn’t have to be on constant alert in fear that I’ll be run over by a pickup truck on the sidewalk. This is a college campus. There are a lot of individuals walking to and from classes and buildings.

I don’t know about you, but I want to feel safe on my campus. And I want to know that each department at my university is maintained by responsible individuals that care about the people they serve.

After all, that’s what we students pay for, right?

 

Misfit News 3-14-13

Sorry for missing last week. I may not have posted, but the good thing is… Weird news doesn’t stop when I do!

Here’s the first headline that caught my eye this week:

Couple Accused Of Sticking Razor Blades In Doughnuts

I’m sure you’re probably asking, “why?”

Well, apparently they wanted to get some money (and internal bleeding?) out of the deal.

A couple in Draper, Utah, may get a taste of jail after being arrested for allegedly sticking broken razor blades in doughnuts in hopes of getting a settlement from a grocery store.

donuts+razor+blades

Carol Lee Leazer-Hardman, 39, and Michael Condor, 35, were arrested for filing a false police report after allegedly sticking the razor bits into doughnuts they purchased at a Smith’s Food and Drug store and then actually eating the blade-filled pastries, KSL-TV reported.

Hardman and Condor, who worked at a nearby Dollar Tree, were also charged with aggravated assault after allegedly letting one of their co-workers bite into one of their doughnuts knowing that there were razor blade pieces inside, according to MSNnow.

The couple made the claim last Wednesday. While the doughnuts were not made in the Smith’s bakery, rather they were sold in sealed, tamper-proof packaging and shipped from out of state, the items were immediately removed from the store shelvespending an investigation, KSL-TV reported.

Draper Police Sgt. Chad Carpenter said that as detectives looked at the evidence, it became clear that “things weren’t adding up,” and that the suspects had purposely eaten fingernail- to thumbnail-sized pieces of broken razor blades, according to the Deseret News.

Hospital X-rays revealed several blades in the stomachs of Hardman and Condor, according to a probable cause statement.

Police said Condor admitted that the two had planted the metal in the doughnuts so they could get a settlement from the store, KUTV-TV reported.

That’s the story from Huff Post.

This next story from National Geographic is a bit dated (November 2012), but the content is still plenty relevant. And weird.

What Lives in Your Belly Button? Study Finds “Rain Forest” of Species

Say what?

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Rob Dunn and his team of ecologists aren’t your average navel gazers. They’re professional navel gazers, thank you very much, and their new study details the microbial contents of 60 volunteers’ belly buttons.  The upshot? Belly buttons, it turns out, are a lot like rain forests.

The whole thing started about two years ago. An undergrad’s only-in-a-biology-lab idea—sampling colleague’s navel bacteria for a holiday card—struck a chord with the North Carolina State University team, which had adopted a new focus on citizen science.

What better way to get the public interested in science than by showing them their skin‘s own thriving ecosystems? “And belly buttons are just ridiculous enough to appeal to almost everyone,” Dunn added.

What’s more, given the belly button’s status as one of the body’s most rarely scrubbed crannies, it offered researchers a chance to study as close to a pristine microbial landscape as is possible on the modern human.

So in early 2011 the team set up shop at the ScienceOnline science communicators’ conference and at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The researchers handed out swabs to 60 intrigued, if grossed out, volunteers. Back to the lab, the scientists examined the genetic makeup of their bacterial loot.

The Belly Button Biodiversity project had officially begun.

Welcome to the Jungle

From 60 belly buttons, the team found 2,368 bacterial species, 1,458 of which may be new to science.

Some belly buttons harbored as few as 29 species and some as many as 107, although most had around 67. Ninety-two percent of the bacteria types showed up on fewer than 10 percent of subjects—in fact, most of the time, they appeared in only a single subject.

One science writer, for instance, apparently harbored a bacterium that had previously been found only in soil from Japan—where he has never been.

Another, more fragrant individual, who hadn’t washed in several years, hosted two species of so-called extremophile bacteria that typically thrive in ice caps and thermal vents.

(Also see “Armpits Are ‘Rain Forests’ for Bacteria, Skin Map Shows.”)

Despite the diversity, themes emerged.

Even though not a single strain showed up in each subject, eight species were present on more than 70 percent of the subjects. And whenever these species appeared, they did so in huge numbers.

“That makes the belly button a lot like rain forests,” Dunn said. In any given forest, he explained, the spectrum of flora might vary, but an ecologist can count on a certain few dominant tree types.

“The idea that some aspects of our bodies are like a rain forest—to me it’s quite beautiful,” he added. “And it makes sense to me as an ecologist. I understand what steps to take next; I can see how that works.”

(Related: “Men’s Offices Have More Bacteria, Study Finds.”)

Method to the Madness?

But predicting which species might like to call the human body home is only the first step. To make the knowledge useful, scientists need to know why these bacteria show up.

“We’re all like the guys before Darwin who went out and brought this stuff on the ship and said, Check out this bird that’s totally weird—this has got to be important!

“They were still so far from understanding the big picture,” Dunn said. “That’s where we are.”

(Related: “Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in Four-Million-Year-Old Cave.”)

Hoping to answer those broader questions, Dunn’s team is already working on several hundred more navels—soon to be 600. They’ll use those new samples to start testing the correlation of the navel dwellers with everything from subjects’ places of birth to the makeups of their immune systems.

Making connections such as these could help shed light on the ties between our bacterial hosts and their effects on health. Researchers believe that microbes—not just in the belly button but in every nook and cranny of the human body—are involved in everything from immune function to acne to skin softness. The potential boon to medicine is enormous but out of reach until scientists can clarify what the microbes are doing in the first place, and why they’re there.

In the meantime, the lab has kicked off pilot studies for their next citizen-science spectacular: Armpit-pa-looza.

The new Belly Button Biodiversity project study was published November 7 by the journal PLOS ONE. Note: The subject of this story, Rob Dunn, is occasionally hired to write freelance articles for National Geographic magazine, which is affiliated with National Geographic News.

So you’re telling me that there are people out there that think eating razor blades is worth a shot at some monetary gain, and meanwhile, there are scientists out there checking out belly button bacteria?

Well, it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out who’s getting the better deal here.

That’s all for this week. Hopefully you’ve had your fill of Misfit News for awhile.I’m heading to Dallas next week! Spring break, and all. Who knows? Maybe I’ll come back with some Misfit News of my own.

Toodles.

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