Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Junk Food Might Be Destroying Ancient Beneficial Gut Bacteria -

Junk Food Might Be Destroying Ancient Beneficial Gut Bacteria - 

It’s an old axe that you are what you eat, but a growing body of evidence suggests that, in terms of our gut bacteria, it’s really true. Recent research shows that the standard ‘Western’ diet high in animal fat, sugars, and refined carbohydrates fundamentally alters the bacterial ecosystem in our intestines. The bacteria that thrive in the house that McDonald’s built are not only associated with obesity, but may actually excrete waste compounds that cause obesity.

So, what’s an overweight person to do? If they’ve still got healthy bacteria lurking around, a switch to whole grains, fruits and vegetables will do the trick. The truly desperate – those who find losing weight to be nigh impossible – they can try a fecal transplant from a skinny person. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. However, as the Western-style diet spreads, we may be experiencing a hidden mass extinction. French fries and candy bars are destroying the habitat of friendly bacteria that evolved with humans for millions of years.

Enterprising ‘fecoprospectors’ are combing rural and tribal populations to catalog and preserve healthy, natural gut biomes. In some cases, scientists have even used mummified poo to reconstruct the bacteria that co-existed with extinct human populations. Perhaps soon we’ll feel the need to set up ‘poop reservations’ and mandate that the inhabitants stick to their old-fashioned ways. Or, of course, we can all eat more plants and unprocessed foods, but that seems a little too simple to work.


UPDATE: Billionaires Dumping Stocks... Analyst predicts 'major reversal'... -

UPDATE: Billionaires Dumping Stocks...  Analyst predicts 'major reversal'... - 

Despite the 6.5% stock market rally over the last three months, a handful of billionaires are quietly dumping their American stocks . . . and fast.

Warren Buffett, who has been a cheerleader for U.S. stocks for quite some time, is dumping shares at an alarming rate. He recently complained of “disappointing performance” in dyed-in-the-wool American companies like Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Kraft Foods.

In the latest filing for Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has been drastically reducing his exposure to stocks that depend on consumer purchasing habits. Berkshire sold roughly 19 million shares of Johnson & Johnson, and reduced his overall stake in “consumer product stocks” by 21%. Berkshire Hathaway also sold its entire stake in California-based computer parts supplier Intel.

With 70% of the U.S. economy dependent on consumer spending, Buffett’s apparent lack of faith in these companies’ future prospects is worrisome. 

Unfortunately Buffett isn’t alone.

Fellow billionaire John Paulson, who made a fortune betting on the subprime mortgage meltdown, is clearing out of U.S. stocks too. During the second quarter of the year, Paulson’s hedge fund, Paulson & Co., dumped 14 million shares of JPMorgan Chase. The fund also dumped its entire position in discount retailer Family Dollar and consumer-goods maker Sara Lee.

Finally, billionaire George Soros recently sold nearly all of his bank stocks, including shares of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs. Between the three banks, Soros sold more than a million shares.

So why are these billionaires dumping their shares of U.S. companies? 

After all, the stock market is still in the midst of its historic rally. Real estate prices have finally leveled off, and for the first time in five years are actually rising in many locations. And the unemployment rate seems to have stabilized. 

It’s very likely that these professional investors are aware of specific research that points toward a massive market correction, as much as 90%.


Food fraud in America: What are you really eating? - deep fried Pig Anus is being sold as Calamari -

Food fraud in America: What are you really eating? - deep fried Pig Anus is being sold as Calamari - 

Rhode Island Rep. Joseph McNamara is currently trying to pass legislation that would make fried squid the official state appetizer. Since Rhode Island is the squid capital of the world – hey, they have to be good at something – chances are the fried rings served there are exactly what they claim to be. Elsewhere, however, they may be serving you deep fried pig anus and calling it calamari.

In January, This American Life told a story about a multi-state pork processing company selling pig rectum – referred to, by the industry, as “bung” – as imitation calamari. Ben Calhoun did everything possible to refute the source on the story, but dozens of experts could not shoot down the possibility that people are ordering squid and getting pork bung instead. Calhoun did not find any evidence of this practice happening in the US or abroad. However, he did have a chef serve a plate of fried bung next to a plate of fried calamari. 

No one could tell the difference. 

Read more -

IT BEGINS: 2-Year-Old CO Girl Tests Positive For Pot After Eating Cookie Found On Ground... -

IT BEGINS: 2-Year-Old CO Girl Tests Positive For Pot After Eating Cookie Found On Ground... - 

Police in Longmont are trying to figure out how a toddler got her hands on marijuana that made her sick.
Two year old Evelyn tested positive for pot and ended up in the hospital but her mother doesn’t know how the child came into contact with the now-legal drug.
Evelyn’s mother, Aida Hernandez, believes the child ate part of a cookie she found on the ground in the grass outside of their apartment.
“It was brown, like a chocolate chip cookie,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez said she took it away from her but about a half hour later noticed something was wrong.
“She was asleep, she was opening and closing her eyes and she couldn’t walk really well. She was weak,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez said they immediately went to the hospital where doctors said the toddler tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
“They do a blood test and that’s when they told me. That was a surprise,” said Hernandez.
Police in Longmont are investigating but said they do believe the mother. Officers searched the home for any signs of marijuana use and found nothing.
Hernandez also said she has agreed to take a blood test.
“It’s everywhere now that it’s legal they have it everywhere,” said Hernandez.
Her oldest daughter, Amira, is happy to have her little sister back at home. She said what happened is random and worries it could happen to anyone.
“All of the parents watch out for their children. I don’t want other children getting what she got,” said Amira.
The group Smart Colorado believes edible marijuana products don’t have enough regulations and think more of them will end up in the hands of children.
Police did not find the cookie that Evelyn apparently ate.

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WANTED: FDA seeks gum chewing tester... -

WANTED: FDA seeks gum chewing tester... - 

The Food and Drug Administration is seeking a small business to potentially supply the federal agency with a chewing gum tester.  Despite the frivolous sounding nature of the announcement, the search is a serious one, and apparently a growing need.  Chewing gum-based pharmaceuticals (such as nicotine gum) are already in use in the United States, and the FDA is looking for a way to measure the dosage and delivery (dissolution) of the medication in such products.

The FDA is not looking for just any chewing gum tester, but the Erweka DRT-3 (or its equal), manufactured by Erweka, a German company that produces pharmaceutical and life-science testing equipment.  The DRT-3 can be seen in action here:

According to the documents accompanying the notice, the FDA may be looking to establish a standard for testing chewing gum-based pharmaceuticals on the assumption that the gum-based method of drug delivery may become more widely used:

Currently, there is no official method (USP or FDA) to test medicated chewing gum products, and it is unclear for FDA reviewers on how to approve such drug products if similar applications are coming in the future...

The DRT-3 chewing gum dissolution tester will be evaluated and used to develop methods for drug release from commercial chewing gum products. The requested instrument will greatly enhance our dissolution testing efforts by evaluating new technology and validating testing methods. All these efforts will greatly support CDER’s NDA/ANDA review process on this special dosage form in the future.  

The FDA has some very specific criteria in mind for its gum chewing tester, including:

The angular displacement of the upper jaw shall be adjustable between 10° – 180°, movement frequency adjustable between 20 - 60 cycles per minute.
Distance of upper and lower jaw in closed position adjustable -between 0-10 mm.
Jaws shall be acid proofed stainless steel with blasted surface for a better grip.
There is no requirement that the machine must be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

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Recent weather activity brings Frost Quakes to southern Ontario -

Recent weather activity brings Frost Quakes to southern Ontario - 

If your new year has started off with more of a bang than you expected, chances are Mother Nature is to blame.

Large swaths of southern Ontario have been experiencing a phenomenon known as frost quakes, a comparatively rare meteorological event that only takes place in unusual circumstances.

Meteorologists say recent ice storms, thaws and deep freezes have created ideal conditions for the frost quakes that have caused public consternation and even alarm.

Frost quakes – scientifically known as cryoseisms – are more commonly found in glaciers than in residential areas, she said.

The quakes take place when water is allowed to seep into cracks in the soil, then quickly turns to ice as a result of a rapid drop in temperature.

Vettese said water accumulation usually takes place as a result of a heavy rain storm, adding the sequence was slightly different this time around.

“We had the ice storm or freezing rain event, then we had warm temperatures, or just about freezing at the surface. Then the temperatures plummeted after that,” Vettese said in an interview from Oakville, Ont. “That’s why we’ve seen a couple of these events between the ice storm and the beginning of 2014.”

Vettese said the thaw that took place shortly after Christmas allowed the ice that accumulated during the storm that blanketed much of the country to seep into the soil. The subsequent deep freeze caused that water to turn to ice, which then expanded and pried chunks of the ground apart.

“It’s almost like an earthquake because it’s very close to the surface. You will feel a little bit of shaking, maybe if you’re sitting in a chair and it happened, or you’re lying in bed, or some of your dishes might rattle.”

For many, the frost quakes were heard rather than felt. Twitter was abuzz with reports of people being wrenched from sleep as a result of loud cracks or bangs outside their homes.

“The loud boom at dawn was not a very clumsy burglar, but rather a #frostquake,” wrote one Twitter user.

“That frost quake was not a fun experience. Keep thinking my house is being attacked by demons like in paranormal activity,” tweeted another.

Social media was also flooded with bewildered queries from those wondering why a country renowned for its cold temperatures does not experience frost quakes more often.

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