14 wounded

Did you hear about the mass stabbing in Texas?  I saw a headline on this today that read “14 wounded…”  Got that– wounded.  Now, a couple of them are in critical, but as of know, that’s 14 people attacked by a maniac with a weapon but none of them are dead.  The likelihood that such would be the case of the nut’s weapon had been a gun.  But, oh no, guns don’t kill people, people kill people do.  Right.  And cancer doesn’t kill people, your heart stopping after cancer has ravaged your bodies organs kills people.

Photo of the day

Thanks to reader Bob A for directing me to these hilarious photos of be-medaled (why not) North Korean generals.

Pretty impressive for a bunch of guys who haven’t actually even been in a war.  They might just need a suit of armor if they had been in battle.

GM potatoes

So, you know I’m intrigued by the political controversy over Genetically-modified foods.  Short version: there’s real concerns, but I think liberals can get a little knee-jerky (okay, a lot) on the topic.  I’m also fascinated on how potatoes are an amazingly efficient food in terms of producing calories per given acre of cultivation.

Thus, I really enjoyed this article last month in the Post about genetically-modified potatoes:

From the end of May until harvest, farmers such as Rodgers spray fungicides every seven to 14 days, depending on the weather.

The new, more aggressive blight immediately attacks the stems instead of the leaves, he said. “Anybody who has tried growing potatoes in their garden realizes it’s not so easy,” said Rodgers, scanning a 25-acre field still containing last year’s crop.

Without the sprays, the potato fields of Ireland would echo the destruction that began in 1845, when the blight took hold in Flanders and moved like wildfire to the British Isles. In Ireland, where a gentry descended from British settlers and absentee landlords farmed most of the land for income, an impoverished peasantry relied on the potato as its staple.

After the crop failures of 1845 and 1846 turned to starvation, British relief efforts were inadequate or inept and dealt more with reform “than with saving lives,” writes John Kelly, in a new account of the famine, “The Graves Are Walking.” In some instances, survivors were stashing bodies behind walls “for retrieval later, when the family came into coffin money.”

More than a million died of starvation and disease, and as many as another 2 million fled to Britain, North America and other lands, “the way a crowd flees a burning building,” Kelly writes.

Today, the combined population of the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland is still just three-quarters of the pre-famine population of Ireland.

No one suggests the GM potato stands between Ireland and another famine — the whole economic, political and agricultural universe has changed — but the research carries a special poignancy here. “There is no country that has suffered the ravages of blight more so than our country,” saidThomas Carpenter, a potato farmer in County Meath. “Our climatic conditions are very conducive to potato blight. It’s the single biggest threat to any potato farmer’s livelihood.”

The potato Mullins is testing is one of three varieties created seven years ago by scientists at the University of Wageningenusing donor genes from about half a dozen species of wild potato in Mexico and Argentina. Once the potatoes are successfully tested, the Dutch university will grant licenses to companies that want to introduce them, with European Union approval, but on a non-
exclusive basis to avoid monopoly control, said Anton Haverkort, project leader. In addition, the potatoes will be available free in developing countries with a humanitarian need.


Remember them

Sandy Hook Victims

Great 60 Minutes Story on Sunday about the families of Newtown victims who have pushed for sensible gun legislation.  As passionate as I’ve become on this issue, it is all too easy for it to become abstractions of public opinion data, the dysfunction of Congress, etc.  This story reminded me why I care so much.   I actually listened to the podcast while jogging yesterday and twice was brought up short and almost crying just listening to these parents.  No parent should ever have to go through this.  Is limiting magazine size going to halve our homicide rate?  Of course not.  But in my book, if it saves even one family the anguish of these families it is more than worth it.  That is a huge, huge, benefit.  The cost of some gun nut being convinced that their rights are being violated because now they only have ten rounds in their magazine or that they must now live in fear of being attacked by 11 intruders and not having enough bullets is a cost I can live with.  100 million of such inconvenienced gun lovers does not equal the tragedy of a single life needlessly lost in this fashion.  People kill people with guns.  And they can do it more effectively and kill more people with high-capacity magazines.

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