Friday News Bites: FDA vs. Cheesemongers, Gun Violence Stats, SPACE! + More

Happy Friday, Persephoneers! Let’s work on our night cheese, and catch up on some stories that caught my attention this past week.

Actually, I meant to post this link last week and it got lost in the shuffle: Seattle has approved a $15/hour minimum wage, and contrary to naysayers, the city isn’t crumbling and ceasing to function.

Take a look at this map that shows the number of U.S. school shootings since Newtown (which was only a year and a half ago), and you’ll see why President Obama saying that Americans need to do some “soul searching” about gun control is an understatement.

Further Political Maneuvers: JK Rowling has donated £1m to Scotland’s anti-independence campaign, saying that “Scotland is an ‘exceptional’ country but [she] is convinced that independence would carry serious economic risks.” I don’t know enough about the pros and cons of Scotland leaving the UK to offer an opinion, but maybe some of you will have thoughts in the comments.

There was a link floating around this week about a “Supercomputer” passing the Turing Test “for the first time.” Yeah, that’s not really true:

[Y]ou don’t get to run a single test with judges that you picked and declare you accomplished something. That’s just not how it’s done. If someone claimed to have created nuclear fusion or cured cancer, you’d wait for some peer review and repeat tests under other circumstances before buying it, right?

In other SCIENCE! news:

NASA has plans for a warp drive that works around that whole pesky speed-of-light thing. I’m really resisting the urge to work in some sort of Spaceballs “He gone LUDICROUS” joke here.

Tesla Motors have made all of their patents free and open to the public. The company says they’e done so “in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.”

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, sometimes called myalgic encephalomyelitis or abbreviated as CFS/ME, is set for a diagnostic overhaul through a new $1-million Institute of Medicine study requested by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Since this is an illness I have, I’m curious to see what happens with the study.

Netflix is rebooting Magic School Bus in 2016 as a computer-animated show with updated technology, which is super cool.

Step Off With Your Cheese Rules, Maaaan:

Recently, the FDA tried to institute a new rule that would ban aging cheese on wooden boards, claiming that it was unsanitary — despite centuries of scientific evidence to the contrary.

The people who make cheese were (understandably) miffed and issued the following statement about the safety of the aging process.

And once consumers of cheese got in on the protest, the FDA backed down:

The FDA does not have a new policy banning the use of wooden shelves in cheese-making, nor is there any FSMA requirement in effect that addresses this issue. Moreover, the FDA has not taken any enforcement action based solely on the use of wooden shelves. 
In the interest of public health, the FDA’s current regulations state that utensils and other surfaces that contact food must be “adequately cleanable” and properly maintained. Historically, the FDA has expressed concern about whether wood meets this requirement and has noted these concerns in inspectional findings. FDA is always open to evidence that shows that wood can be safely used for specific purposes, such as aging cheese.

The FDA will engage with the artisanal cheese-making community to determine whether certain types of cheeses can safely be made by aging them on wooden shelving.

Cheese is srs bsnss, people.

In Entertainment News:

Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson sneakily returned to the comics page recently, as Pearls Before Swine creator Stephen Pastis will tell you.

Someone went into Tesco and changed all the wine labels to things like “Made by actual Blue Nuns in sea caves protected by wild otters.”

If Bill Murray happens to stroll by when you’re having your engagement photo shoot, of course you involve Bill Murray in said shoot.

And finally, if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s time for Tabby is the New Cat.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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