Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I love when I am proven right....

Lovely picture isn't it...  Cackle, cackle

OK there was an article posted on Yahoo home page early this morning stating that appendix and actually useful - not
'a worthless evolutionary artifact, good for nothing save a potentially lethal case of inflammation. '  

'Now researchers suggest the appendix is a lot more than a useless remnant. Not only was it recently proposed to actually possess a critical function, but scientists now find it appears in nature a lot more often than before thought. And it's possible some of this organ's ancient uses could be recruited by physicians to help the human body fight disease more effectively. '   So there, Ha... I always thought the medical theory that all people should have their appendix removed whenever there was sugery in that general area of the body because it was good for
nothing but potential problems later..... 

Here is a link to the article:

   And also there is a link in this article that goes to another article about about our immune systems and
another theory about humans being 'too clean.' 
The link is: http://www.livescience.com/health/090504-humans-sick.html

'Among the possible causes for our modern ills: super-hygiene, sedentary lifestyles, and a lack of worms in our stomachs.' ...  a quote from the article.

'Unusually, the number of ailments involving malfunctions of the immune system has gone up as well.
Multiple sclerosis, a disease where the fatty insulation around the nervous system comes under attack, appears to be on the rise, and type I diabetes, "a childhood form of diabetes almost unheard of at the turn of the 20th century, is up from one in 5,000 or 10,000 to one in 250 in some regions," said Joel Weinstock, chief of gastroenterology at Tufts University Medical Center in Massachusetts.

Even hay fever, which plagues roughly 1 out of 4 people in the United States, is something that may have largely emerged only in the 20th century, Weinstock said "What if I told you that there are some countries that don't even know what hay fever is?" he asked.

The rise of these disorders might be due to the very improvements in hygiene that have helped reduce infections in much of the world. The body's immune system is regularly exposed to antigens, molecules that it recognizes and reacts to, such as compounds from viruses or bacteria.

"But the immune system needs to be controlled, needs to not act up when exposed to things that aren't truly injuring you," Weinstock explained. "What we think is happening is the regulation mechanisms are becoming less effective. As to why that is, is it possible that it's due to lack of exposure to antigens? Do you need to be exposed regularly to antigens for it to work properly?"

You need worms

For instance, many fewer people are infected with worms than before.

"If you look back at the human race in the 20th century, every child and adult had worms in their gastrointestinal tracts," Weinstock said. "They were part of the ecosystem of the gut. As it turns out, worms are very potent at controlling immune reactions, in order to live happily ever after in the gut. Our theory is that when we started deworming the population, that is one factor that led to the rise in immunological diseases."

As part of this "hygiene hypothesis," Weinstock also notes that dirt roads, horses and cattle used to be far more prevalent in life than they are now.

"Our theory is that when we moved to this super-hygiene environment, which only occurred in the last 50 to 100 years, this led to immune disregulation," he said. "We're not saying that sanitation is not a good thing — we don't want people to jog up to river banks and get indiscriminately contaminated. But we might want to better understand what factors in hygiene are healthy and what are probably detrimental, to establish a new balance and hopefully have the best of both worlds."

  There is more in the immune article that you might want to check out but these particulars I quoted from it here are what I have said for a long time.  If you don't exercise that immune on a rather regular
basis with what is in your environment, then you might be upsetting the balance of its' abilities.

And also check out the article about the 'average' life spans.  There is a viewpoint there that I had not
considered before. 

The Truth on Longer Life Spans - http://www.livescience.com/health/060523_infant_mortality.html

"Reduced infant mortality, more than any single contributing factor, has been responsible for the spectacular rise in American life expectancy. The reason is simple: for all of the other factors on the CDC’s list to have any effect, a baby must survive to childhood." 

So there I have learned something - and something we must remember that the 'averages' lists don't always give a true picture.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A new prison activity

Inmates grow, gather veggies, to feed the hungry
This is a headline of a news article on Yahoo this morning. Here is a link:
This new idea is to help the nation's food banks to meet the demand of the increasing numbers of people needing help in getting food in these times. While Ohio and Michigan have expanded these programs, New York plans to cut the state prison farm program. Their reason? Because they feel learning rural farming skills are impractical to prisoners who are returning to primarily urban settings.... I don't think they have considered the booming number of urban gardens that are sprouting up everywhere. OK, so maybe these returning inmates will get paid for urban gardening, but it is something that they can apply their newly learned skills to and help their communities. Let's don't be so short sighted New York.
What do the inmates think? Well, one said: "Rather than being with all the drama inside the unit all day, it was an advantage to get out and do something different, to work around people, and learn new skills." This quote came from Worthen, who served 23 months for marijuana
possession. "Since you're working for free regardless, it just felt better that somebody was being helped out by what you did."
Any opinions?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And yet again - Bottled Water

We have all read where bottled water is totally stupid - bad for the environment, wasteful of resources, stealing other countries' resources and maybe even condemning other people to going without water.
So how did a plastic water bottle, imported from a military dictatorship thousands of miles away (in fact 5,470 miles) become the epitome of
Myself I've never noticed a bottle of it. But apparently thousands, millions of people have. But even though its shipped from the opposite end of the world, and retails for nearly three times as much as your basic supermarket water, Fiji is now even outselling Evain. It has spent millions pushing not only the seemingly life-changing properties of the product itself, but also the company's green creditability and its charity work. And even as bottled water has come under attack as the embodiment of waste, Fiji seems immune.
But nowhere in Fiji's glossy marketing materials will you find reference to typhoid outbreaks that plague Fijians because of the island's faulty water supplies. And what about tax havens that the corporate entities have set up in the Cayman Island and Luxembourg. And then it is never mentioned that the signature bottle for this Fiji water is made from Chinese plastic in a diesel-fueled plant and hauled thousands of miles to its ecoconscious consumers. And of course they would never mention the military junta that it supports.
Getting to the Fiji Water factory requires a four-hour bone-jarring trek into the volcanic foothills of the Yaqara Valley. Not a tour listed on the Fiji tour guides. The last rest stop on the trip is a half hour from the bottling plant in a place called Rakiraki. The "My Lonely Planet" guide warns that Rakiraki water is unfit for human consumption and the dusty shops in the town square are stocked with bottle of Fiji water for 90 cents a pint. Rakirake has experienced the full range of Fiji's water problems -- crumbling pipes, a lack of adequate wells, dysfunctional or flooded water treatment plants and droughts that are expected to get worse with climate change. Half of this country has at times rely on emergency water supplies with rations as low as four gallons a week per family; dirty water has led to outbreaks of typhoid and parasitic infections.
And so I give you the link to the entire article:
which hopefully take you to it. So think about those bottled waters - I know you've been told many times how much better bottled water is - and yet is it? Just what is in that water in that bottle that is after all made from plastic.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chocolate - it is good for you

Earlier this morning there was an article on Yahoo news page about another benefit of eating chocolate - particularly dark chocolate. I copied it's link and saved it in a Notebook page but unfortunately it got lost as I went on to other morning online chores... and of course when I returned to the Yahoo News page the article was already gone - I guess Yahoo figured that they had given chocolate its 15 minutes of fame for the day and moved on to more important matters.
The main gist of latest news on chocolate's benefits had to do with seeming ability to help prevent a re-occurring heart attack and perhaps even prevent the first one. But not to be daunted by this set back in losing the original article I did a quick search and was surprised at the number article that popped up regarding chocolate's benefits.
I cheered a lot when quite a while back there was a study proving that chocolate is actually a brain food - it actually helps us to think more clearly... and then it came up that chocolate also is also full of antioxidants. What a pleasant way to ingest your antioxidants. Of course it also cautioned us to not necessarily run out and eat all the chocolate candy that is full of sugar and cream to reap these benefits. But still, think of it, what if after all these years of our craving chocolate, we now find out that perhaps our bodies and brains were trying to tell us something.
Chocolate has also been proven that it helps to thin the blood which is what prevents heart attacks and I am thinking also that this is why we might think better after eating chocolate, study better, retain information better.
Many studies show that have shown that eating lots of fruits and vegetables seems to protect people from cancer, heart disease, colds and other illnesses. Fruits and vegetables contain plant compounds that have long and cumbersome names such as ployphenols, flavonoids and cyanidins. Many scientists have grouped these compounds under one name - phenols and plants make these phenols to protect their cells from damage and disease (even sunburn). Plants are loaded with these phenols which protect their precious seeds inside.
Also it has been found that these phenols in grapes is what what makes red wine a great way to get them inside of you. The deep red color and sometimes even bitter taste of red wine comes the phenols in the grapes. The phenols work their magic by a chemical reaction called oxidation that turns cholesterol into plaque on artery walls - and so hence the name antioxidants. This buildup is the most common cause of heart disease. In a 'Seven Countries Studies" researchers analyzed the diets and diseases of several nations. They found that although people in France typically eat foods that are higher in fats, calories and cholesterol levels than Americans their hearts are healthier and their cholesterol levels are lower. The reason fewer people die from heart disease in France than in America? Authors of the study say it is from copious amounts of red wine.
You can in more depth this phenols and antioxidants in this article:
and find out more about free radicals.
Also here are several links to more about the benefits of chocolate:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The impact of plastics....

Plastic bags are killing us and other living things on this planet.
The plastic bag is an icon of convenience culture and by some estimates the single most ubiquitous consumer item on the face of the Earth, numbering in the trillions. They are made from petroleum or natural gas with all attendant environmental impacts of harvesting fossil fuels. One recent study found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags after they have been used to transport a prescription home from the drug store or a quart of milk from the grocery store. Its the equivalent of to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.
Only 1% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide - about 2% in the US - and the rest, when discarded, can persist for centuries. They can spend an eternity in landfills, but that is not
always the case. They are so aerodynamic that even when they are disposed of in a trash can, they still blow away and become litter. It as litter that they have their most harmful effect, and this is not about their everyday eyesore effect.
Once aloft, stray bags cartwheel down the street, alight in trees, billow from fences like flags,
clog storm drains, wash in rivers, bays, and even end up in the ocean as they are washed out to sea. Floating bags look all to much like tasty jellyfish to hungry marine critters. Bits of plastic bags have been found in the nests of albatrosses in the remote Midway Islands. According to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, more than a million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from eating or getting entangled in plastic. The conservation group estimates that 50 percent of all marine litter is some form of plastic. There are 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square mile of the ocean according to the United Nations Environment Programne. In the Northern Pacific Gyre, a great vortex of ocean currents, there's now a swirling mass of plastic trash about a thousand miles off the coast of California, which spans an area twice the size of Texas, including fragments of plastic bags. Its an endless stream of incessant plastic particles everywhere you look. Fifty or sixty years ago there was no plastic out there. The problem with plastic bags is not just where they end up, but they never seem to end. Plastic doesn't biodegrade. That means unless they have been incinerated -- a noxious proposition -- every plastic bag that you have ever used in your entire life still exists in some form, even fragmented bits, and will long after you die.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Did you know this is the first day of Autumn?

I heard the crickets in evening yesterday eve - they herald the coming of the first frost - six weeks or less... Sigh.

In Pagan ways this the first day of the Autumn quarter of the Wheel of the Year.... although many people in the world today consider this another summer day. We have been taught to consider September as being the beginning of Autumn. But it is not. This a day of celebrating and calculating the harvest of fruits and grains that will be stored for the coming Winter.

In urban gardens all over the country the harvest is being gathered. While there are gardens and vast grain fields in rural areas, for most of us it is the relatively new phenomenon of reclaiming 'wastelands' in urban areas and returning it to being productive land that is where my thoughts are going this morning. There are a lot of websites on the Internet and a lot of books out about this type of gardening. http://www.greentreks.org/allprograms/roughterrain/urbangardening/index.asp

There is one link..... Philadelphia's communities have transformed more trash-strewn vacant lots into beautiful and bountiful gardens than another city in the United States. And what about one of most famous urban garden planted this year - Michelle Obama's White House lawn organic garden? Hmmm, it seems to have hit a bit of snag:

http://buzz.yahoo.com/buzzlog/92869?fp=1 - something left by former residents, the Clintons. It seems the Clinton's gardening team used sewage sludge for fertilizer and now a sticky goo is appearing in White House garden... while the food being harvested from the garden is still alright to be eating, it can never be considered organic. Rough start Michelle, better luck next year.

But in the meantime in cities and towns across North America, community garden is flourishing. The American Community Gardening Association estimates that in the U.S. alone there are more than 18,000 to 20,000 active gardens. The gardens come in large and small, formal and informal, urban, suburban and rural. They are operated on municipal land, land trusts, and private land; many of official, others are guerrilla acts of cultivation. Whoa, what is this guerrilla garden stuff! Yes, there is activism even in the gardening sectors too.

http://www.guerrillagardening.org/ - this is a mainly British link but there is guerrilla gardening in the U.S. too.

Have you ever wandered past a scrubby vacant lot and imagined how beautiful it could look with flowers, food crops and tree or two. You may have the heart of a guerrilla gardener. Many urban dwellers are delighted by these random acts of gardening that are done with or without permission. Guerrilla gardening can be as simple as picking up broken glass and litter or pulling out a few weeds. It can be as involved as organizing a community garden on unused railway land or helping city officials see the appeal of a new park. What began as a non-violent environmental call to arms for inner-city renewal has become the people's choice for urban beautification around the world. Boulevards, railway lands and back alleys have all benefited from the efforts of these Johnny Appleseeds.
So while some of us have missed the boat this year for growing our own harvest perhaps the reading of these publications and websites will inspire you to begin again next year.