Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PETA asks Ben & Jerry's to consider using human milk...uh-huh

This is another of those "not-quite-sure-about-this" stories - at least for me, anyway.

At one time or another many of us have indulged in a Ben & Jerry's ice cream treat safe with the knowledge that the source of the dairy product came from cows. Seems that PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - want ice cream lovers to have another choice, an unusual choice most would say.

Recently, PETA sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. requesting them or at least asking them to consider replacing cow's milk with - wait for it - human breast milk.

There are some that must like the idea since a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75% of cow's milk in the food that it serves. The idea, according to the PETA people, is to lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms.

While this is a very admirable aspiration on the part of the organization for sure, using breast milk, at least in my opinion, isn't exactly the most practical idea.

Let's say...for the sake of argument or hypothetically, Ben & Jerry's decided to include breast milk ice cream on their menu. This would entail babies having to share their only food source, at least the new-borns, not to mention new moms having to produce a whole lot of milk to make it viable. One can only speculate that if breast milk ice cream caught on with the public it could start a new industry including breast milk cheese, breast milk yogurt... You get the idea. At some point down the line cows could become obsolete, which would please PETA, but end up as a Sunday roast or on the barbeque, something that PETA would not want.

For its part a spokesperson for Ben & Jerry's thought it was admirable on the part of PETA to draw attention to the issue, they (Ben & Jerry's) were of the opinion that a mother's milk is best used for her baby. Amen.

Read the letters from PETA and Ben & Jerry's response here:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Facebook" - how many friends do YOU have?

By Eleanor Tylbor

In case anybody reading this is interested - I signed in/up/to Facebook. However, don't look for a photo because there isn't one posted for a few reasons:

a) no photo of me exists that has been doctored sufficiently to hide all my facial imperfections
b) I'm a very private person (true by the way) and prefer to remain a woman of mystery
c) even if I did have a decent photo among the others, I don't know how to post it with my profile

I signed up with Facebook because I'm nosey by nature and have to be a member of this group in order to keep abreast of all my aquaintances/enemies/etc. goings-on. There was a problem initially as to how much information I should provide and I decided to limit it. I mean, IMHO, there is no logical reason why anyone should want to know or should know my religion. Also, there is no logical reason why anyone should know about my political leanings.

So far I have approx. two dozen "friends." In order to get "friends" on Facebook, the person requesting the friendship has to receive permission from the potential "friend."

"Blah-blah added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know blah-blah in order for you to be friends on Facebook. To confirm this friend request, follow the link below..

The most ununusual request came from a virtual stranger who wanted to be my friend. Although his photo and name didn't ring a bell, I checked out his profile just in case we knew each other in earlier years but it was obvious we had never met. At least not in this world, anyway. So I refused his friendship and then worried I had hurt his feelings. I mean, what happens if he had no friends to speak of and reached out to me being a writer and a communicator, and I had rejected him! Oh the guilt of it all!

Through joining Facebook, I am now a member of a cooking group with the leader being a well-known cookbook author. Interested family members and close friends can surf on to my page and discover - well - nothing much to be candid.

There is a competitive element to Facebook in that it could become a competition as to the number of friends one has since the number of friends everyone has is posted for all Facebook members to view. I suppose in the end it's a kind of virtual voyeurism in that you can keep up with what Facebook-ers are doing at that particular moment, what's happening in their lives and all the latest news.

To think we had to depend on a humble telephone to do that for us not that many years ago! By the way - wanna be my friend?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Something new to worry about in cell phones

Perhaps out of habit and/or for the sake of convenience, some males reading this story, store their cell phone in talk mode in a pants pocket. It might be wise to re-think this habit since a new report reveals that mobile phones left on/in talk mode in said pocket can hurt sperm quality.

In a study semen samples from 32 men were collected and brought to the lab where the study was taking place. Each man's sample was placed into small, conical tubes and divided into two parts: a test group and a control group. The control group was unexposed to cell phone emissions, but kept under the same conditions and temperature as the test group.
The semen in the test group was placed 2.5 centimeters from an 850 MHz cell phone in talk mode for 1 hour. Researchers say that 850 MHz is the most commonly used frequency.
They used the measurement of 2.5 centimeters to mimic the distance between the trouser pocket and the testes.

Overall, researchers found an increase in oxidative stress such as a significant increase in free radicals and oxidants and a decrease in antioxidants. Agarwal says that equals a decrease in sperm's quality, including motility and viability. Evidence of oxidative stress can appear under other conditions, including exposure to certain environmental pollutants or infections in the urinary genital tract.

The findings are interesting so read the rest of the story here:

...and the entire study here:

Given the negative possibilities and findings, it wouldn't hurt guys to re-think storing their cell phones in pants pockets. They could be stored for example, in a jacket pocket. See...females have an alternative in that they can store them in their purses, which are also used by males.

As Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say: it just goes to show you, it's always something.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The God Particle - it's not nice to play God

It is seen as the most ambitious and expensive civilian science experiment in history, based on the biggest machine that humanity has yet built. That statement in itself is scary for we mortals.
There is the fear among many that this experiment could/might/may create a black hole, which could tear the earth apart.

The concept behind the construction of the largest man-made machine ever is to recreate ‘The Big Bang’ by accelerating particles to near light speeds in opposite directions and forcing them to crash into each other. The Large Hadron Collider -- a $9 billion particle accelerator designed to simulate conditions of the Big Bang that created the physical Universe, was switched on at 0732 GMT to cheers and applause from experts gathered to witness the event.

The first phase got underway on Wednesday and what is most unnerving is that the end result is unknown. How many times have we read/heard about experiments that went awry in spite of good intentions and controlled conditions?

For the love of me (and the rest of the world), I cannot see any sense in attempting to discover or duplicate the origin of the universe when there is so much at stake. I'm referring to the chance that the experiment could become unstable and - poof! - we become matter again. Given the problems in the world today and the amount of people who are dying of starvation all over the globe, a better experiment would be to see how many people can be saved and how many stomachs can be filled.

Be scared. Be very scared.

Photos of Large Hadron Collider here:

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Heavy metal...C&W? Taste in music indicates personality type

Playwright William Cosgrove wrote, "music has charms to sooth a savage breast" and according to Professor Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University, musical taste is an indicator of personality type.

Sounds plausible.

The good professor recently conducted a study involving 36,000 people around the world and he found that a person's taste in music is related to her/his personality. In Professor North's words, the research is "significant" and "surprising."

It suggested classical music fans were shy, while heavy metal aficionados were gentle and at ease with themselves.

Participants in the study were asked to rate 104 musical styles and questioned about aspects of their personality. So why conduct the research you're probably asking yourselves?

"If you know a person's music preference you can tell what kind of person they are, who to sell to.

If you have some spare time, the study is continuing and Prof North, who is head of the university's department of applied psychology, is still looking for participants to take part in a short online questionnaire here:

Interesting that the questionnaire has two categories for those people between the ages of 16-23 and those older than 24.

Here are some of his findings:

High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease

High self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease

High self-esteem, creative, introvert and at ease

High self-esteem, outgoing

High self-esteem, creative, gentle

Hardworking, outgoing

High self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease

Creative, outgoing, not gentle

Low self-esteem, creative, not hard working, not gentle

Creative, outgoing

Low self-esteem, creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, at ease

High self-esteem, not creative, hardworking, outgoing, gentle, not at ease

High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle, at ease

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Death row prisoner opts for unusual last meal

Once again, the only phrases that spring to mind upon reading this story is "gimme a break" followed by "I dunno.."

It's not uncommon for prisoners on death row to ask that their last meal be favorite foods like steak, fried chicken, cream pie...before they check out of this world. However, fish food definitely falls into the unusual category, especially when the request specifies that the prisoner be turned into fish food and fed to your run-of-the-mill gold fish.

This is exactly what convicted murder, Gene Hathorn requested if his final appeal fails. This begs the question as to why would he want to become fish food. Right?

Actually, it's all the name of art and he has given permission to allow artist, Marco Evaristti, to use his body as an 'art installation" that will be part of a larger project focusing on capitol punishment.

Fish food...capitol punishment...? Is there a connection I missed?

The artist who lives in Denmark, will deep freeze Hathorn's body following which it will be turned into fish food. Once this is achieved visitors to his exhibition will be able to feed - well - the former Hathorn to a shoal of goldfish.

It is hoped that work will begin within a year if Hathorn is refused an appeal for the third time and he hopes he can stage the show in North America, somewhere like the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

O-kaaaaay... For sure the museum will jump at the opportunity to display feeding goldfish. It's so...artsy (cough-cough...).

Read the entire story, which includes the legal ramifications of this type of request and other related information here:

Monday, September 01, 2008

No swat - flies know when they're being stalked

by Eleanor Tylbor

One can hear them flitting around the room, the drone of their buzz reaching human hearing range. The "normal" reaction is to grab the nearest object and wait until they are within swatting range in an attempt to rid the source of the annoying noise. The end result, however, for the most part is the fly lives to fly another day.

Once again and all in the name of important scientific research, U.S. scientists think they have solved the mystery of why flies are difficult to swat.

Given the scientific and medical issues and questions requiring their attention, one would think that there are more pressing issues than studying why harrassed humans miss swatting flies. Be that as it may...

They think - presumably unproven - that the fly's ability to sustain its life cycle is due to its fast acting brain and ability to plan ahead. Go figure that flies can plan ahead!

The study includes high speed, high resolution video recordings revealing that the insects quickly work out where a threat is coming from and prepare an escape route. Furthermore,
the research suggests that the best way of swatting a fly is to creep up slowly and aim ahead of its location.

So, the swat-er being the human, must anticipate the landing spot of the swat-ee being the fly, and wait and hope that the fly will at some point land in the vicinity of the waiting newspaper/ fly swatter/whatever, to hit the mark.

Read the entire story for hints on more effective fly-swatting and an explanation on how the research was conducted here:

The study has been published in the journal Current Biology. One wonders how much money was involved in this important scientific research.

For those who care, see a close up of a fly's head here: