Intrigue in the World of Fruits and Vegetables

Peeling back the exterior to get at the truth of a lawsuit

Bananas

Steve Hopson (CC licensed)

Two "bananeros" -- people claiming to be banana farm workers -- who filed suit against Dole Food Co. claiming pesticides had made them sterile, had their case thrown out of court after a judge cited a "pervasive conspiracy" by the bananeros' attorneys and Nicaraguan judges. (Note: You will have "bananero!" -- sung to the tune of the Canyonero ad on the Simpsons -- stuck in your head all day.)

Also in today's links: how robots see, a look back at the 1976 swine flu outbreak and more.

  • You have to admire any bureaucrat who'll go dumpster diving -- into a vat of processed-food parts -- to do his job. That was part of the research a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner conducted for a new book on why people overeat.
  • One eye good, two eyes unnecessary. A new kind of robot has a single "eye," eliminating the need for processing images from two "eyes" set up for stereoscopic vision. Instead, the robot "sees" via a digital camera that can process 200 frames a second in real time to understand its environment.
  • An infectious disease specialist who helped combat the 1976 outbreak of the swine flu looks back on the virus that sickened some 500 soldiers at Fort Dix military base and the controversial subsequent decision to vaccinate 40 million Americans.
  • Some people are optimistic that trash can be efficiently and cleanly turned into energy via the process of "plasma gasification". This is not incineration, folks. The end product is a "glassy solid" rather than ash, which could in theory be used in construction. Skeptics, though, say the process is not, in fact, environmentally kind.