Thursday, September 30, 2010
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has just completed a detailed review of more than 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer. Its conclusion is rocking the health world with startling bluntness: Processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption. Consumers should stop buying and eating all processed meat products for the rest of their lives.
Processed meats include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, sandwich meat, packaged ham, pepperoni, salami and virtually all red meat used in frozen prepared meals. They are usually manufactured with a carcinogenic ingredient known as sodium nitrite. This is used as a color fixer by meat companies to turn packaged meats a bright red color so they look fresh. Unfortunately, sodium nitrite also results in the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines in the human body. And this leads to a sharp increase in cancer risk for those who eat them.
A 2005 University of Hawaii study found that processed meats increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 67 percent. Another study revealed that every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 50 percent. These are alarming numbers. Note that these cancer risks do not come from eating fresh, non-processed meats. They only appear in people who regularly consume processed meat products containing sodium nitrite.
Sodium nitrite appears predominantly in red meat products (you won’t find it in chicken or fish products). Here’s a short list of food items to check carefully for sodium nitrite and monosodium glutamate (MSG), another dangerous additive:
- Beef jerky
- Hot dogs
- Sandwich meat
- Frozen pizza with meat
- Canned soups with meat
- Frozen meals with meat
- Ravioli and meat pasta foods
- Kid’s meals containing red meat
- Sandwich meat used at popular restaurants
- Nearly all red meats sold at public schools, restaurants, hospitals, hotels and theme parks
If sodium nitrite is so dangerous to humans, why do the FDA and USDA continue to allow this cancer-causing chemical to be used? The answer, of course, is that food industry interests now dominate the actions by U.S. government regulators. The USDA, for example, tried to ban sodium nitrite in the late 1970’s but was overridden by the meat industry. It insisted the chemical was safe and accused the USDA of trying to “ban bacon.” Today, the corporations that dominate American food and agricultural interests hold tremendous influence over the FDA and USDA. Consumers are offered no real protection from dangerous chemicals intentionally added to foods, medicines and personal care products.
You can protect yourself and your family from the dangers of processed meats by following a few simple rules:
- Always read ingredient labels.
- Don’t buy anything made with sodium nitrite or monosodium glutamate.
- Don’t eat red meats served by restaurants, schools, hospitals, hotels or other institutions.
And finally, eat more fresh produce with every meal. There is evidence that natural vitamin C found in citrus fruits and exotic berries (like camu camu) helps prevent the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines, protecting you from the devastating health effects of sodium nitrite in processed meats. The best defense, of course, is to avoid eating processed meats altogether.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.
Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.
More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.
The survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life aimed to test a broad range of religious knowledge, including understanding of the , core teachings of different faiths and major figures in religious history. The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the developed world, especially compared to largely secular Western Europe, but faith leaders and educators have long lamented that Americans still know relatively little about religion.
Respondents to the survey were asked 32 questions with a range of difficulty, including whether they could name the Islamic holy book and the first book of the Bible, or say what century the Mormon religion was founded. On average, participants in the survey answered correctly overall for half of the survey questions.
Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers, while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.
Not surprisingly, those who said they attended worship at least once a week and considered religion important in their lives often performed better on the overall survey. However, level of education was the best predictor of religious knowledge. The top-performing groups on the survey still came out ahead even when controlling for how much schooling they had completed.
On questions about Christianity, Mormons scored the highest, with an average of about eight correct answers out of 12, followed by white evangelicals, with an average of just over seven correct answers. Jews, along with atheists and agnostics, knew the most about other faiths, such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Less than half of Americans know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, and less than four in 10 know that Vishnu and Shiva are part of Hinduism.
The study also found that many Americans don't understand constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools. While a majority know that public school teachers cannot lead classes in prayer, less than a quarter know that the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature.
"Many Americans think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are tighter than they really are," Pew researchers wrote.
The survey of 3,412 people, conducted between May and June of this year, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, while the margins of error for individual religious groups was higher.
With this milestone, the group of researchers has sampled what it was after all along: very, very old ice. Specifically, ice from 115,000 to 330,000 years ago, a time known as the Eemian interglacial period, when the planet was about 5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.7 degrees Celsius) warmer than it is today.
The ancient ice cores they've brought up from the frozen deeps may offer valuable insights into how the world can change during periods of abrupt warming.
Greenland is covered by an ice sheet thousands of feet thick that built up over millennia as layers of snow and ice formed. The ice cores, cylinder-shaped rods of this ice, give scientists access to all the old, hidden layers, which contain information about atmospheric conditions that existed when they were originally formed, including how warm and moist the air was, and the concentrations of various greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere at the time.
While three previous Greenland ice cores drilled in the past 20 years covered the last ice age and the period of warming to the present, the deeper ice layers, representing the warm Eemian and the period of transition to the ice age were compressed and folded, making them difficult to interpret, said Jim White, U.S. lead investigator for The North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) project, a collaboration helmed by the United States and Denmark, with scientists from 14 different countries.
The Eemian period ice cores should yield a host of information about conditions on Earth during that time of abrupt climate change, giving climate scientists valuable data about possible future conditions as our own climate changes.
After radar measurements taken through the ice sheet from above indicated that the Eemian ice layers below the NEEM site were thicker, more intact and likely contained more accurate and specific information than at other sites, researchers began setting up an extensive state-of-the-art research facility there. The team constructed a large dome, the drilling rig for extracting three-inch- (7.6-centimeter-) diameter ice cores, drilling trenches, laboratories and living quarters, and officially started drilling in June 2009.
Simon Stephenson, Director of the Arctic Sciences Division at NSF, said NEEM's work "is important because the ability to measure gases and dust trapped in the ice at high resolution is likely to provide new insight into how the global climate changes naturally, and will help us constrain climate models used to predict the future."
Stephenson added that the NEEM ice cores will allow scientists to measure conditions in the past with more specificity — down to single years.
Accurate climate models based in part on the data collected at NEEM could play an important role in helping human civilization adapt to a changing climate. During the Eemian period, for example, the Greenland ice sheet was much smaller, and global sea levels were about 15 feet (4.5 meters) higher than they are today, a height that would swamp many major cities around the world.
Now that drilling is complete, scientists will continue to study the core samples and analyze other data they have collected.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Won't you let me walk you home from school
Won't you let me meet you at the pool
Maybe Friday I can
get tickets for the dance
and I'll take you
Won't you tell your dad, "Get off my back"
Tell him what we said 'bout 'Paint It Black'
Rock 'n Roll is here to stay
Come inside where it's okay
And I'll shake you.
Won't you tell me what you're thinking of
Would you be an outlaw for my love
If it's so, well, let me know
If it's "no", well, I can go
I won't make you
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Materials Needed: word panels, glass plate, window seal, silicone, 1 record.
Using the wooden strips, make a box around the glass plate. Seal off the edges using the window cement. Make sure everything is air tight.
Place your record inside the box making sure that the portion to be copied is facing upward. Squeeze in some window cement to mark where the hole in the record is.
Mix the silicone (Smooth On OOMOO 30 or OOMOO 25) for about 3 minutes before pouring in to the mold.
Pour in the mixture. Start from one corner and let it fill-up the mold to about half a centimeter. Make sure it’s even. Let it dry for 6 hours.
Peel off the silicone from the cast. Cut off the excess using a cutter.
Pour the liquid plastic on top of the silicone cast.
Make sure that nothing spills over the round form. You can also brush off any air bubbles that might occur.
Carefully loosen the plate from the silicone form. Using a drill press, bore a hole through the center of the plate. You can use the silicone form as a template to make more copies.
There you have it. Your very own pirated record!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
A lot has changed since 1849. For one: California has been admitted to the Union. Dust has settled from the scurry to settle and the frontier has, more or less, been tamed.
But out in the Golden State, as photographer Sarina Finkelstein recently discovered, living relics of 1849 have slipped through the cracks of society: "They are the new wave of gold prospectors," she writes, "150 years since the original Gold Rush, united by a passionate and desperate search for gold to support them until the job market improves."
"Something clicked," she wrote in an email — not referring to her shutter. In general, the New York-based photographer is drawn to subcultures on the fringes of society; so after reading a newspaper article about modern-day prospectors, Finkelstein knew she had found a story.
In the midst of a nation-wide recession, her series, "The New '49ers," captures one way of coping with tough times. "These gold prospectors," Finkelstein writes, "have fled a global economy based largely on abstract forces in order to develop a measure of self-reliance, as modern-day pioneers on a search for something concrete."
Over the past year or so, she has traveled to three isolated communities across California, and recently pitched the story to the London Telegraph's Sunday Magazine, Seven. But she continues to work on the project. "One could say I came down with my own case of gold fever," she admits.
For Finkelstein and prospectors alike, the obsession is not necessarily with getting rich on gold — although there would be no objections to that; the obsession is with self-reliance, with pioneering, with off-the-grid adventure. The prospectors, she explains, "are not media-addicted Smartphone-carrying Bluetooth-wearing need-to-be-in-constant-contact types." It sounds idyllic, but that makes them hard to find.
I often have to pass my messages from person to person until I get connected to who I want to photograph. Or I get a rough idea of someone's location and just have to go hunting (i.e. "He's around mile marker 24, climb over where the guardrail is a little less shiny, follow the creek...").
It's an odd juxtaposition: the very real existence of modern-day miners next to California's kitschy souvenir shops that celebrate gold rush history — as if it's just that: history. While the rush for gold may be over, prospecting is, apparently, still one means of survival for a small subculture in a struggling economy. Is it a sustainable way of living? "I don't think I'll be giving up my camera anytime soon," Finkelstein concluded.