Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

23% of America Is Illiterate -

23% of America Is Illiterate

The Meat Industry Now Consumes Four-Fifths Of All Antibiotics -

The Meat Industry Now Consumes Four-Fifths Of All Antibiotics - 

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed a set of voluntary "guidelines" designed to nudge the meat industry to curb its antibiotics habit. Ever since, the agency has been mulling whether and how to implement the new program. Meanwhile, the meat industry has been merrily gorging away on antibiotics—and churning out meat rife with antibiotic-resistant pathogens—if the latest data from the FDA itself is any indication.

The Pew Charitable Trusts crunched the agency's numbers on antibiotic use on livestock farms and compared them to data on human use of antibiotics to treat illness, and mashed it all into an infographic, which I've excerpted below. Note that that while human antibiotic use has leveled off at below 8 billion pounds annually, livestock farms have been sucking in more and more of the drugs each year—and consumption reached a record nearly 29.9 billion pounds in 2011. To put it another way, the livestock industry is now consuming nearly four-fifths of the antibiotics used in the US, and its appetite for them is growing.

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Guppies hang out with ugly fish to make themselves seem more attractive -

Guppies hang out with ugly fish to make themselves seem more attractive - 

When it comes to mating, guppies treasure their ugly friends—because they look so good by comparison.
An article published Wednesday by Britain’s Royal Society says that male guppies prefer to associate with their drab-coloured counterparts when females are around.
“Males actively choose the social context that maximizes their relative attractiveness,” the article said. Or, as lead author Clelia Gasparini put it, “If you are surrounded by ugly friends, you look better.”
Gasparini and her colleagues at Italy’s University of Padua built their theory on a kind of guppy dating game. An aquarium was set up with one female in partition on either end. Guppy bachelorette No. 1 had two attractive, brightly-coloured males placed on either side of her. Guppy bachelorette No. 2 was stuck with uglier, drab-coloured fish.
When a male guppy was put in the middle of the tank, and given the choice of which female to sidle up to, Bachelorette No. 2 was the more popular pick, with male guppies spending about 62 per cent of their time hanging around her side of the aquarium.
What’s more, the researchers found that the time guppies spent with bachelorette No. 2 correlated with their unattractiveness. The uglier the guppy, the less likely it was that he would hang around the brightly coloured fish placed next to bachelorette No. 1.
Because it could be argued that that guppies avoided their brightly coloured pals because attractive fish were more aggressive, or because predators were more likely to spot them, the experiment was repeated. Researchers ran it without any females, and again with the lights in the male enclosures turned down so that the test guppies couldn’t see them.


Banana Joe the affenpinscher wins Westminster Dog Show -

Banana Joe the affenpinscher wins Westminster Dog Show - 

The lights went dark Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden to signal that the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was ready to name its Best in Show winner -- and the drama didn't disappoint, as a fluffy, football-size black affenpinscher named Banana Joe copped the top prize..
Carlos Beletore, who spent hours combing and fluffing Joe’s hair, watched from the sidelines clapping and cheering as the little black dog pranced around the ring.
This win will be Joe's last as the top toy dog in the country is retiring after a long and illustrious career. 
“A win would be a great way to finish his career,” said Richard Green of Greenfield Kennels.
But as one champion hangs up his leash, another emerges. Best in Show runner-up and fan favorite Swagger, the Old English sheepdog, made his debut Westminster appearance Tuesday at the Garden.
“It’s the start of his career,” owner Colton Johnson said. 20-month-old Swagger has only ever been in four shows. 
The Old English sheepdog from Colorado Springs, Colo., seemed perfectly relaxed before his Best in Show appearance, laying calmly on a table as Johnson brushed his fluffy locks.
Banana Joe and Swagger beat out five other dogs to win the titles of Best in Show and Reserve Best in Show, respectively. The other contenders, all of whom won their respective groups, were an American foxhound, a Bichon Frise, a smooth fox terrier, a German wirehaired pointer and a Portuguese water Dog.

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Old racehorses, even pet ponies, may have ended up in restaurants across Britain as kebabs as well as beefburgers -

Old racehorses, even pet ponies, may have ended up in restaurants across Britain as kebabs as well as beefburgers - 

HORSES killed at a British slaughterhouse were turned into doner kebabs, it was alleged last night.

Officials from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) raided two UK meat plants yesterday.

They were probing whether either plant was linked to 100% horse kebabs and burgers that have been discovered.

It comes amid fears that old racehorses, even pet ponies, may have ended up in fast food restaurants across Britain as kebabs as well as beefburgers.

The raids took place at the Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorks, which allegedly supplied horse carcasses to Farmbox Meats in Aberystwyth, Wales.

All work at both plants was immediately halted, and meat and paperwork seized, while investigations continue.

An FSA spokesman said: “We and the police are looking into the circumstances through which meat products, purporting to be beef for kebabs and burgers, were sold when they were in fact horse.”

Peter Boddy said he will co-operate with Food Standards Agency officers and said they had not “raided” his Todmorden premises.

He said: “It was not a raid - they are welcome to visit whenever they want, they just wanted to see my records which I will be showing them.”

He added that he does slaughter horses at his plant and that the meat is sold in the UK.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was “absolutely shocked” last night.

He said: “It’s totally unacceptable if any business in the UK is defrauding the public by passing off horsemeat as beef.

“I expect the full force of the law to be brought down on anyone involved in this kind of activity.”

Elsewhere, scientists were already calling for urgent checks on lamb.

They fear the meat destined for Britain’s takeaways could have been mixed with flesh from horses.

Dr Mark Woolfe, former head of food authenticity at the Food Standards Agency, said: “If I was a retailer I would be looking quite carefully at my lamb products.”

The FSA is also heaping pressure on supermarkets and retailers to begin checking chicken and pork dishes.


‘Sleep Texting’ Is Growing Problem Among Teens -

‘Sleep Texting’ Is Growing Problem Among Teens - 

Teenagers are prolific texters. But now’s there’s evidence that they are even doing it in their sleep.

It’s called sleep texting.

“It’s just what you’d think it is, it’s texting while asleep,” says Elizabeth Dowdell, nursing professor at Villanova University, “It’s exactly what is sounds like, or really more between that, you know, that area between being asleep and being awake.”

“The phone will beep, they’ll answer the text,” Dowdell says. “They’ll either respond in words or gibberish. (It) can even be inappropriate. Ex-girlfriends contacting ex-boyfriends, saying ‘I miss you. I want to see you.’ The thing that happens, though, is that when they wake up, there’s no memory.”

Dowdell says teens should get eight, nine or ten hours of sleep a night.

“Overplugged and overextended teens and young adults tend to get less than that,” she says, “so this interrupts what could be a good night’s sleep, because they’re an hour-and-a-half or two hours into their sleep cycle, and they’re answering texts or the machines are beeping at them.”

Dowdell says sleep interruption can lead to obesity, depression, failing grades and more.

She says the answer is a technology-free bedroom, or, at the very least, putting the phone on the other side of the room, and turning off the ringer.

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