Avoid Pistachios…until further notice

Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc. based in California, has voluntarily recalled more than 2 million pounds of roasted nuts shipped from its California plant to 36 wholesalers throughout the country after some pistachios tested positive for salmonella. The plant also ships nuts to Norway and Mexico. The FDA has received calls from at least 2 consumers complaining of gastrointestinal disorders after eating pistachios which have not been definitively linked to the California plant.

A number of companies have recalled some of their pistachio based products. Kraft Foods recalled a brand of trail mix and Kroger a brand of bagged pistachios as did Frito-Lay, reported the Dallas Morning News.

Frito-Lay PistachiosEven though 2 million pounds is only a fraction of the total output from the plant, Dr. David Acheson the assistant commissioner for food safety in an AP article cautions consumers to avoid eating pistachio products.

As of April 29, 606 pistachio products have been recalled. Tap on the link to see all the recalled products. And check back often because the recall is expected to expand.

List of Recalled Pistachio Products

CAL-PURE, a pistachio growers co-op in California has created a website containing all pistachio brands and products that do not contain pistachios from Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc., but be aware this information has not been verified by the FDA.

I like pistachios but the shells are sometimes a pain to open. I once cracked open a tooth on a pistachio shell and wound up with a gold crown. Good thing I wasn’t poisoned with salmonella too.

Have you ever had pistachio nut ice-cream? Why do they call it pistachio nut? Shouldn’t it just be pistachio ice-cream? Isn’t the nut part understood? I know, what about peanut and walnut? Well, the nut is part of the name; you wouldn’t just say pea or wal.

First it was peanuts, now pistachios. I guess there’s something about the P-nut that makes it especially susceptible to bacteria. What’s next, the Pecan?

Toilet Torcher Destroys Porta-Potties


On March 24, 2009, The Boston Metro reported that a “toilet torcher” had set fire to some 20 Porta-Potties causing $50,000 worth of damage at Construction sites around the San Francisco Bay area.  Seeing an opportunity to exploit the tragedy, the Clorox company announced a $5,000 reward and a years worth of cleaning supplies for any information leading to the capture of the elusive arsonist.  The Clorox Company issued a press release and a full page add in the San Francisco Examiner in an attempt to “flush out the outhouse arsonist” and has set up Potty Patrols so that citizens can “plunge into action”.

I’ll have to say that this is a clever campaign and I applaud the PR team for having a good sense of humor.  But $5,000 and a year’s supply of cleaning products.  Come on.  Can’t they do better than that?  Clorox had net earnings of 461 million in 2008 and 5.273 billion in sales.   If they are serious about bringing the “toilet torcher” to justice, they should jack up the reward to say $50,000 and offer a life time supply of Clorox products including useful stuff like Kingsford Charcoal, Brita Filters (yes these are Clorox brands) and the recently acquired Bert’s Bees personal care line.  I think this would be a deal sweetner certain to plunge the citizenry into action.

Elite 8 Mascots Set for Battle

100px-ul_cardinal_head_logoThere were two upsets last night.  The Cardinals of Louisville waylaid the unsuspecting Arizona Wildcats in a game reminiscent of the bird attacks in Hitchcock’s classic, The Birds.   And The Gonzaga Bulldogs must have got stuck in a tar pit as they struggled to take a bite out of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

In the other two games, the results were as expected.  The resourceful Sooners prevailed over the timid Orange.   The Orange looked more like the Kool-Aid man than the Orangemen.  And the military stratagem employed by the Spartans downed the Jayhawks, who squawked a great deal but could not walk the walk, turning the ball over 19 times.

And for the next two days, the Elite 8 will battle it out and by Sunday, the Final 4 will emerge.  Will there be 3 Big East teams; will the Big 12 have two representatives?  Here are my predictions based on mascot power.  The power ratings 1-16 precede the team:

Saturday’s Matchups

1 Missouri vs 4 UConn.  This should be a good game.  The mascots are somewhat evenly matched.  The Tigers have the edge, but a pack of Huskies should not be taken lightly.

3 Pitt Panthers vs 7 Villanova Wildcats.   If the Arizona Wildcats couldn’t handle a bird, it’s doubtful a Wildcat from Philly can handle a Panther.

Sunday’s Matchups

5 Michigan State Spartans vs 15 Louisville Cardinals.  The Birds are well fed after their Wildcat feast and may have trouble getting off the ground.  The Spartans won’t  need a trebuchet – a couple of spears should do.

13 Oklahoma Sooners vs 14 UNC Tar Heels.  The Boomer Sooners should smoke the Tar Heels.

Final Four:  Sooners, Panthers, Tigers and Spartans.

Who do you favor?

Top Mascots advance to Elite 8


After the first night of Sweet 16 play, the 4 teams with the most imposing mascots advanced to the Elite 8 as predicted. The top ranked Missouri Tigers defeated the Memphis Tigers, who were a better team as Memphis State. The Villanova Wildcats easily trounced the timid and depressed Blue Devils of Duke. The Pitt Panthers ambushed the anachronistic Muskateers who gave a good fight, but misfired in the end. And the rabid Huskies of UCONN drove the Boilermakers to the basement for good.

Here are the results from last night with their mascot rankings:

1 Missouri Tigers 101 2 Memphis Tigers 92

3 Pitt Panthers 60 10 Xavier Muskateers 55

7 Villanova Wildcats 77 11 Duke Blue Devils 54

4 UConn Huskies 72 12 Purdue Boilermakers 60

Tonight should be a night of upsets as mascot power prevails.

#6 Arizona Wildcats should defeat #15 Louisville Cardinals. Cat takes a bird every time.

#9 Gonzago Bulldogs should take a bite out of the #14 North Carolina Tar Heels.

#5 Michigan State Spartans should have a master military plan to take down the flying #8 ranked Kansas Jayhawks. Maybe a trebuchet?

And in a matchup of two of the worst mascots, the #13 Oklahoma Sooners should defeat the #16 Syracuse Orange, which as a fruit or a color is simply defenseless.

Tap on the link for mascot power ratings.

CNN’s Ed Henry Asked Two Questions – Fair?

Much has been made of CNN Correspondent Ed Henry’s AIG question and the President’s terse answer, but did anyone notice that Henry bucked protocol and asked two distinct and lengthy questions wrapped into one?  Obama took on the second of Henry’s questions related to concern about the legacy of a crippling national debt, a “fiscal mess” that could be left behind for the next generation, but it was a question others had asked and that Obama had already answered in detail.  I think Obama was a little irritated and could have said simply that he had already addressed it, but took it on anyway.  When President Obama completed his answer, Henry asked a follow-up – essentially his third question, about his first question, which related to why the administration waited two days to express outrage over the AIG bonuses.  The President responded curtly, but I think appropriately so.

In the end, Ed, you only get one question and a follow-up.   Here’s the exchange and a link to the complete transcript.  What do you think?

President Obama’s News Conference

Okay. Ed Henry. Where’s Ed? There he is.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You spoke again at the top about your anger about AIG. You’ve been saying that for days now. But why is it that it seems Andrew Cuomo seems to be, in New York, getting more actual action on it? And when you and Secretary Geithner first learned about this, 10 days, two weeks ago, you didn’t go public immediately with that outrage. You waited a few days, and then you went public after you realized Secretary Geithner really had no legal avenue to stop it.

And more broadly — I just want to follow up on Chip and Jake — you’ve been very critical of President Bush doubling the national debt. And to be fair, it’s not just Republicans hitting you. Democrat Kent Conrad, as you know, said, quote, “When I look at this budget, I see the debt doubling again.” You keep saying that you’ve inherited a big fiscal mess. Do you worry, though, that your daughters, not to mention the next president, will be inheriting an even bigger fiscal mess if the spending goes out of control?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Of course I do, Ed, which is why we’re doing everything we can to reduce that deficit. Look, if this were easy, then we would have already had it done and the budget would have been voted on and everybody could go home. This is hard. And the reason it’s hard is because we’ve accumulated a structural deficit that’s going to take a long time, and we’re not going to be able to do it next year or the year after or three years from now.

What we have to do is bend the curve on these deficit projections, and the best way for us to do that is to reduce health care costs. That’s not just my opinion; that’s the opinion of almost every single person who has looked at our long-term fiscal situation.

Now, how do we — how are we going to reduce health care costs? Because the problem is not just in government-run programs, the problem is in the private sector as well. It’s experienced by families. It’s experienced by businesses. And so what we’ve said is, look, let’s invest in health information technologies, let’s invest in preventive care, let’s invest in mechanisms that look at who’s doing a better job controlling costs while producing good-quality outcomes in various states, and let’s reimburse on the basis of improved quality as opposed to simply how many procedures you’re doing. Let’s do a whole host of things, some of which cost money on the front end but offer the prospect of reducing costs on the back end.

Now, the alternative is to stand pat, and to simply say we are just going to not invest in health care; we’re not going to take on energy, we’ll wait until the next time that gas gets to $4 a gallon; we will not improve our schools, and we’ll allow China or India or other countries to lap our young people in terms of their performance; we will settle on lower growth rates, and we will continue to contract both as an economy and our ability to — to provide a better life for our kids.

That I don’t think is the better option.

Now, have — am I completely satisfied with all the work that needs to be done on deficits? No. That’s why I convened a fiscal responsibility summit, started in this room, to start looking at entitlements and to start looking at the big drivers of costs over the long term. Not all of those are reflected in our budget, partly because the savings we anticipate would be coming in years outside of the 10-year budget cycle that we’re talking about. Okay?

QUESTION: So on AIG, why did you wait — why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage?


QUESTION: It seems like the action is coming out of New York in the attorney general’s office. It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, look, we’re outraged. Why did it take so long?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak. (Laughter.) All right?

Sweet 16 Mascot Breakdown

boilermaker1We’re down to 16 teams.  You know who the favorites are by their seedings.  You can look at individual player and coaching matchups.  Statistics.  Even academic ratings, which I blogged about yesterday if you’re interested.  And you can look at what I think is one of the more important and largely ignored categories – mascots.    I’ve reseeded the Sweet 16 by strength of mascot.  Two teams not even mentioned in the Princeton Review’s compilation of the 368 best colleges in the United States lead the way in mascot power.  From top to bottom, here are the mascot seedings for the 2009 members of the Sweet 16.


  1. Missouri Tigers.  I list Missouri first, even though the Memphis Tigers are a better team.  And I do so partly out of an obligation to give Missouri some props for being a reputable academic institution particularly for its school of journalism which is top notch.  While Missouri was ignored by the Princeton Review, it was listed in the Fiske Guide to the Best Colleges.  And for the record, I am not a Missouri graduate and have no allegiance to the state or the University, though I once went spelunking near the Arkansas border.
  2. Memphis Tigers.  Probably the best team in the tournament.  Ferocious on both offense and defense.  But I have to say I liked John Calipari better as a UMASS Minuteman.  And Memphis a little better as Memphis State.
  3. Pittsburg Panthers – Panthers are tough cats and not to be taken lightly.  I don’t think they’d stand a chance against a tiger, but would have no trouble with any of the other mascots.  Pitt fans must be drooling at the prospect of another championship in 2009.
  4. U Conn Huskies –  I don’t know if a husky could take down a wildcat, but some of the wildcats I’ve seen look little more than stray cats with pointed ears.  Huskies may not be vicious, but they are tough.
  5. Michigan State Spartans – the ancient Greek state of Sparta was a feared military power whose Spartan soldiers were skilled and relentless.  With the right weapon, a Spartan would be no match for a husky, but the point here is that it would take a weapon.
  6. Arizona Wildcats – Some wildcats are wilder than others; that is a wildcat from the West scares me a little more than one from Philly.
  7. Villanova Wildcats.  Wild, but not as wild as found in the Wildjayhawk Wild West.
  8. Kansas Jayhawks.  It’s a helicopter, right?  Or Woody the Woodpecker.
  9. Gonzaga Bulldogs.  Bulldogs look tougher than they are.   Should have gone with a Pit Bull as the mascot, or a Pit Viper.
  10. Xavier Musketeers.  Ok, a little out of date, but armed, so I rank them higher than say a Sooner or a Boilermaker.
  11. Duke Blue Devils.  What is a blue devil anyway?  Beats the devil out of me.
  12. Purdue Boilermakers.  Hard workers no doubt, like basement miners.
  13. Oklahoma Sooners.  What is a Sooner you ask?  I don’t know either and I’m too lazy to google it.
  14. North Carolina Tar Heels.  Something to do with tobacco, but inspires neither fear nor toughness.
  15. Louisville Cardinals.  It’s a bird!
  16. Syracuse Orange.  Used to be the Orangemen and is now simply the Syracuse Orange.  The fruit or color?  Either way, not too intimidating.  Why not add Blood to Orange.  Or adopt a different fruit like a pineapple; now that’s some armor!

Sweet 16 Reseeded – Duke favored

Now that the grueling second round NCAA tournament games are over and we have a Sweet 16, I thought it would be interesting to reseed the teams based on measures other than basketball talent.  So I picked up the 2007 edition of the The Princeton Review of The Best 361 Colleges and ranked the teams based on academic reputation, selectivity and diversity.  To my surprise, Duke scored highest in all three categories.  I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Duke had the largest endowment of any of the teams left in the tournament.   Louisville, Memphis and Missouri were not listed in the guide, perhaps undeservedly so, and are seeded 14, 15 and 16 respectively, in alphabetical order.

Based on the new seedings, assuming the highest seed always wins, Duke, North  Carolina, Arizona and Connecticut will make the Final Four.  Duke will defeat UCONN to become the national champion.

Here are the Sweet 16 reseedings:

  1. Duke
  2. Villanova
  3. North Carolina
  4. Syracuse
  5. Gonzaga
  6. Connecticut
  7. Pittsburg
  8. Arizona
  9. Xavier
  10. Kansas
  11. Oklahoma
  12. Michigan State
  13. Purdue
  14. Louisville
  15. Memphis
  16. Missouri

EU Bans Gender Titles

Is this taking PC to the extreme?  I generally support gender neutral language for job positions.  Workers, for workman – wait staff as opposed to waitress.  Flight Attendant – how long has it been since you’ve heard stewardess?  But the EU Parliament has outlawed gender based titles considered offensive and has published a “Gender-Neutral Language” pamphlet, which I would love to get my hands on.   Miss and Mrs. are out along with Madame and Mademoiselle.  I would presume Mr. and Sir are considered offensive too.  Will the Queen lose her title? And the knighted, what happens to them? Well, let’s follow the EU down that slippery slope, shall we?

Ok, first, if you ban a title, you have to replace it with something.  How about You for starters when you don’t know someone.  Hey You.  Excuse me You.   You, you dropped your glove.

Hey you, standing in the road
Always doing what you’re told,
Can you help me? – Pink Floyd

What’s next.   Let’s see.  Oh, gender pronouns.  This would work well for babies.  How many times have you seen a baby and not known whether it was a girl or boy.   So instead of risking embarrassment and getting the gender  wrong –  “he is so adorable” (when it’s a she) or vice versa,  just refer to the baby as it.  “It’s so cute.”  Or  “that is so cute.”  Or “nice baby you got there.”  And thing works too, especially for twins –   Twin girls or boys could be Thing 1 and Thing 2, a Dr. Seuss suggestion from the 60’s.

And names are suspect too.  But there are some solutions.  If you are a Patrick or Patricia, you’d have to be known as Pat in public.  Remember Pat from Saturday Night Live?  What was Pat in the end?  Did we ever find out?  If you are a Robert, Roberto or Roberta, you’d need to adopt the moniker Ro.  Barbara and Bart, how does Ba sound? Madison is out – you know the son at the end won’t do.  And Madi is too feminine.  So Madison, it’s Mad, from here on out. And I’m afraid last names with gender markers will need some tweaking too.  Goodman, Workman, Hoffman, Johnson – would change to Good, Work, Hoff and Johnson, Johnson is a tough one.  You can’t say John, or Jo; I guess all you Johnsons will have to go by J.

There are so many gender specific first names that I guess folks in the EU will just have to go by their initials, like being in a Kafka novel.  This works unless of course your initials are MR, MRS, MAM, MAN, MOM, MME, DAD.  You’d have to drop one of the letters.  MME, could just be ME.

What’s your name you?


Yes, You.

It’s ME.

Hello, it’s me
I’ve thought about us for a long, long time
Maybe I think too much but something’s wrong
There’s something here that doesn’t last too long
Maybe I shouldn’t think of you as mine – Todd Rundgren

There are some gender neutral names that are good to go.  Robin, Stacy, Jess, Kim and wasn’t there a boy named Sue?