I think it's alarming that teenaged pirates in crummy little dinghys are threatening to take on the world's mightiest military power; I heard a story yesterday, amid stories of the Maersk-Alabama crew's happy homecomings, that pirates are vowing to go after US-flagged ships. This from Boston.com:
A pirate whose gang attacked the aid ship admitted yesterday that his group was targeting American ships and sailors.
Local news from across Southern California
"We will seek out the Americans, and if we capture them we will slaughter them," said a 25-year-old pirate based in the Somali port of Harardhere who gave only his first name, Ismail.
(Do you think his name is really Ismail?)
But while I was Googling away on whether this is a threat from one kid or an organized pirate network that raked in an estimate $150 million last year, I got sidetracked reading stories about the Maersk Crew homecomings and then I went, as web searches often go, straight to the sewer.
I'm talking about this thing called a Pee Poo bag. I'm just minding my business reading stuff on the internet when here is this irresistable headline about a bag, really called a Pee Poo bag, that converts human waste into real, useable fertilizer.
Here's an excerpt from the Discover Magazine article:
Taking recycling to a whole new level, the Peepoo bag allows you to, well, pee and poo in a bag, which can then be planted to help your garden grow.
For slums in the developing world where human waste is an unregulated nightmare and flying toilets are common practice, the bag provides a means of waterless sewage disposal and organic fertilizer all in one easy, biodegradable step.
The bag is lined with Urea, a common fertilizer that breaks down urine and feces into ammonia and carbonate. Pathogens in the waste, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, are killed within anywhere from a matter of hours to several weeks.
They've even taken into consideration the diets of people in that part of the world to estimate the amount of fertilizer that can be produced. And the bag itself turns into nothing, and comes from almost nothing:
The pH value increases as the material is broken down, and plants eat up the ammonia byproduct as the bag degrades in the soil. At the moment, the Peepoo bag is made from 45 percent renewable materials, but the developers are striving to get to 100 percent.
It's a story you look at for giggles with images of long road trips, but then ignites the imagination with the idea that simple solutions to the world's hunger problems can be found right under our, er, noses. Making lemonade, if you will, out of life's lemons. Give me a minute and I may come up with another one.
Anyway, moving on. Another story kind of like this one is on our website today (alarmingly, two of MY columns appear directly underneath it when you search "poop" on NBCLA.com.) It's about buses running on poop. The story is about city buses in Oslo:
City officials in Oslo, Norway have created a biofuel made from fecal matter converted to methane, and are planning to power the city's buses with it. With each resident excreting about 2.1 gallons' worth of diesel per annum, 250,000 people can operate 80 buses for 62,000 miles each, according to city reps quoted in Slate.
Oslo's reps go on to explain how crap is the petrol of the future: The extracted biofuel is obviously carbon neutral, it's way cheaper to produce, it'll reduce carbon dioxide emissions in relatively tiny Oslo by 30,000 tons a year (so imagine what it could do for a place like Mexico City), and the vehicles will be "92 percent less noisy." (No, this last part is not explained.)
The writer goes on to express hope that the bus exhaust won't smell like .. well, you know.
Also in my meanderings today, I have to mention a new USA Today poll called "Save our Shows." It's Thursday, and that means the highly anticipated (by me, at least) second episode of the NBC show "SouthLAnd" will be on tonight at 10. USA Today has this story out today about the unusual number of spring premieres, and which shows will make it.
The crowded slate of latecomers makes it tricky for the networks to decide which will stay and which will go when the plans for next season are announced in mid-May. And it swells the ranks of the "on the bubble" series in USA TODAY's 12th annual Save Our Shows poll, which asks viewers to weigh in on which shows deserve to stick around and which should be put out to pasture.
NBC has a special challenge in the fall, with five fewer late timeslots:
NBC is wiping out five weeknight time slots at 10 ET/PT — four of which featured dramas this season — for its new Jay Leno show this fall. That means two Law & Order series and both Medium and Southland (if either returns) would need to find earlier homes, reducing Chuck's chances. Heroes will return for about 18 episodes, down from 25 this season, and will likely share its time slot with a new series.
If you missed the first episode of SouthLAnd, you can watch it here now and tune in tonight. The reviews and the ratings for the first episode were good. Here's one from the Winnipeg Free Press:
From Chicago docs to L.A. cops isn't really that far to travel, in TV-format terms, but it's asking a lot to expect viewers who remained loyal to ER to the bitter end to develop an instant affinity for Southland's cast of SoCal crimesolvers before they've even had time to finish grieving the loss of the County General crowd.
The wish here is that they'll get over the ER exit quickly enough to give Southland the ratings push it needs to earn a full-season renewal for 2009-10, because Wells' new effort has the makings of a show that could become NBC's next Thursday-night mainstay.
In other words, give it a shot! the LA times Showtracker offers a little bit of insight into the ratings for last week's premiere:
At 10 p.m., "Southland," the new police drama from "ER" producer John Wells, faced off against another premiere, CBS' thriller, "Harper's Island." In total viewers, "Harper's" pulled off a fairly narrow victory, 10.5 million versus 9.7 million. But a closer look reveals that NBC really took the prize. "Southland" performed more strongly among young adults, with a 3.2 rating/9 share versus 2.7/8 for CBS. More important, NBC's cop show grew its audience slightly during the hour, while "Harper's" shed viewers -- usually a clear sign of audience rejection for a premiere.
I liked it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. And for those of you who stuck with me to the end today, I offer you this. Sorry.
Editor's Note: Lemonade out of lemons... ha ha ha ha... classic... ahhh, that kind of humor is refreshing.