Thursday News Chum

Cheer up. It’s Thursday, meaning tomorrow is Friday and the weekend is nigh. Here’s some lunchtime chunks o’ chum to help with the cheer:

  • From the “Interesting Juxtaposition” Department: Two articles in the LA Times today create an interesting juxtaposition: The first has to do with a major SF Valley employer: the adult film industry. It reports how an industry actress has tested positive for HIV, and discusses how that will impact the industry. The test indicated that so far her partners had clean tests, and she only works infrequently. On the same page, however, was an article about how LA County is launching a new campaign against sexually transmitted diseases, aimed primarily at black and Latina women below the age of 25, who make up a disproportionate number of those infected. Specifically, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is offering free in-home testing kits through a new mail-in service. Of course, how could they advertise this service? I wonder if there are any actresses familiar with STDs who might be looking for work? In related news, the WSJ is reporting (last item) that “Gentlemen’s Clubs” are also feeling the recession. In response, they are eliminating cover charges and lowering the price of drinks… however they do report an upside: “it’s easier to hire “exotic dancers” now that many women are being laid off from more buttoned-down, white-collar jobs. Among the new recruits at [two clubs in Dallas TX] are a laid-off paralegal, a laid-off fashion designer, a Bank of America banker, a former paralegal and two Los Angeles real estate agents.”
  • From the “Should YouTube Be Rated E/I” Department: The NY Times has an interesting article on how the childbirth experiences has changed in the Internet age: now women are watching childbirth videos on YouTube so they can be prepared for the pain. Better than books, women are typing “childbirth” into YouTube’s search engine, and getting links to thousands of videos, showing everything from women giving birth under hypnosis, to Caesarean sections, to births in bathtubs.There are a couple of interesting things in the article. First, they note how society has changed: “A hundred and fifty years ago women viewed birth on a pretty regular basis — they saw their sisters or neighbors giving birth. […] it wasn’t until the late 19th century that birthing moved out of living rooms and bedrooms and into hospitals. […] now, with YouTube, we’ve come back around and women have this opportunity to view births again.” The other interesting item was from a poster of such a video regarding the comments received: “…her comments section breaks down like this: excited and apprehensive moms-to-be; a few comments so obscene she refuses to post them; and lastly, comments from […] “repetitive guys” who are always like, ‘Whoa, I’m so glad I’m not a woman.’ ”
  • From the “Let’s Start Panicing” Department: If childbirth doesn’t scare you, how about the earth colliding with another planet. According to the SF Chronicle, it will happen. When? Five billion years or so. The time frame coincides with accepted theory that by the end of that same 5 billion years the sun will have burned up its hydrogen and in a cooler state will inflate itself into what’s called a red giant star, engulfing the entire inner solar system while the planets are still colliding. The odds of the collision are low: the scientitst sifted through 2,501 possible constructions of planetary orbits in the far future and found that only a single one led to possible encounters of Earth and either Venus or Mars, with other scenarios in the computer calculations depicting a variety of other inner solar system collisions, including Mercury smashing into Venus and Mercury even colliding with the sun. Now, what I like in the article is how it demonstrates the thought process of astronmers: “With 99 percent certainty, we can rely on the clockwork of the celestial rhythm – but with the remaining 1 percent, we are afforded a vicarious thrill of danger.”
  • From the “I Left My Heart… in a Green Trashcan in San Francisco” Department: San Francisco is poised to introduce a tough new garbage separating ordinance. The legislation calls for every residence and business in the city to have three separate color-coded bins for waste: blue for recycling, green for compost and black for trash. Failing to properly sort your refuse could result in a fine after several warnings. You’re probably saying: but what’s so hard about the separation… hell, even Los Angeles can do it. The devil is in the details. *All* food waste (including meat) and food grade paper goes in the *green* can (most folks are used to putting non-vegetable food in the black can, and paper in the blue). But seeming recyclables in other cities (such as styrofoam) goes in the black. Screw it up, and you get a warning, and keep screwing up, and you get a fine. I’d send in Penn and Teller to parody this, but they already have.
  • From the “Creative Recycling” Department: A woman in Lakemoor IL has found a way to reuse old bathroom fixtures: she turns them into planters. Her front yard is filled with discarded toilets and sinks filled with pretty flowers. You think her neighbors would be enjoying the display. Nope. Someone filed a complaint, and now police in the village, citing the village’s public nuisance ordinance, have given her 30 days to remove the commodes. If she refuses, she faces a fine of $25 to $500 a day. Shit.
  • From the “On the Bus From Van Nuys” Department: The last item is a bit more serious: beginning August 1, fares on LAWA’s Flyaway Buses are increasing by $1 (one-way). The article also notes how they are looking for a new operator for the Westwood run, and will be adding an Irvine run. This will give them four: the original Van Nuys operation, Westwood, Union Station, and Irvine. But wait, there’s more. Yup, Los Angeles World Airports is required to have a total of nine FlyAway stops by 2015, under the terms of a legal settlement reached nearly four years ago with the county, three cities and a community group opposed to expansion at LAX.