More Thoughts on Whaling

Today’s New York Times had a great article on the Japanese “tradition” of whaling. I decided to post this as a follow-up to my previous whaling post.

My favorite quote from the article:

“It’s not because Japanese want to eat whale meat,” Ms. Okubo said. “It’s because they don’t like being told not to eat it by foreigners.”

This is a well written piece that offers some great perspective and information on the subject. It’s helped me to understand why Japan is so insistent on the issue. I couldn’t beleive it when the article explained how the U.S. actually introduced this “tradition” to Japan!

Apparently whale meat is “strong smelling” and they need to stew it in ketchup to mask its flavor. The thing that still bothers me: Tradition or not, there is a reluctance by those favoring whaling to acknowledge these animals as highly evolved mammals, that fall a little too close to us on the evolutionary chain. Should we really eat them?

Whales, Dophins, Elephants, Gorillas, Oh my!

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Coffee = Fiber!

I guess I find it odd that no one looked for this before now, but some food chemists finally decided to stop assuming that fiber is only consumed via plants, and checked out my cup of coffee for fiber. They found it!

“A “grande” (medium size) cup at Starbucks, for instance, is 473 milliliters (or 16 ounces) and could pack as much as three grams of fiber, about the same as a raw apple and 20 percent or more of the average American’s daily intake.”

I guess my body knows what it’s doing each morning when I crave massive amounts of the stuff.

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A Glimmer of Marketing Hope…

In a news release today, the American Physical Therapy Association reported that its Board of Directors had voted to create a grant program to help state chapters market the profession.

“The grants program will include, but not be limited to, public relations and advertising initiatives and activities — such as airing of APTA’s television/radio/print advertisements, National Physical Therapy Month efforts, booths for state events, direct mailings, public speaking on physical therapy professional topics, and other community awareness initiatives. Through the activities and initiatives supported by these grants, consumers will learn more about the services provided by physical therapists…”
Now, if the APTA could just make cooler commercials…

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The Unspoken Legacy

In earlier posts I have mentioned some instances where scientists have felt “limited” in their ability to speak freely about climate change. Today, a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer outlines another such instance. Scientists from the Fish and Wildlife Service were told on two separate occasions not to discuss the effect climate change has on polar bears. This, in reference to their upcoming meetings in Norway and Russia about polar bears. A third memo says the policy will apply for trips to those two nations as well as Canada and “any northern country.”

You see, polar bears are being considered for addition to the endangered species list. While their numbers are still fairly strong, there is mounting evidence that speaks to changes in the ice sheets they use seasonally for hunting. There has also been reports of polar bears showing up in odd places hunting. From what I can tell, ANY discussion of value about polar bear conservation must include discussion of climate change. I’m not learned in diplomatic protocol, so perhaps I am mistaken, but when administration officials report, “the memos were written to ensure that U.S. representatives wouldn’t stray outside the agenda of meetings, which they said would be a violation of diplomatic protocol,” I grow even more skeptical.

Any censoring of free speech is dangerous. And I understand the US has to tread dialogue on certain topics very carefully, but censoring of the opinions of scientists by this administration sets a frightening precedent. Scientists need complete autonomy from outside influence if we are to ever trust their facts. (And yes, it makes no sense that we should be expected to trust pharmaceutical scientists.)

If you want to learn more about Polar Bears, check out this article, written by one of the aforementioned Fish and Wildlife scientists, or Polar Bears International, which has good information, but a board of directors made up of only lawyers and marketing professionals…not scientists.

Other instances in which the administration has recently restricted scientists from discussing climate change include:

  • In June, a high-ranking official in the National Aeronauticsand Space Administration admitted in a letter to Sens. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, that the agency “inappropriately” denied a journalist’s request to interview James
    Hansen, an outspoken scientist who heads NASA’s Goddard Institute for
    Space Studies.
  • In September, news accounts revealed that the National
    Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had suppressed an internal
    agency e-mail intended to summarize scientists’ consensus on evidence
    of a link between hurricanes and climate change.
  • In December, two scientists from NOAA said they were
    forbidden to use the term “climate change” or to mention Kyoto, the
    Japanese city where the current international treaty on global warming
    was negotiated.

Source: “P-I reporters Robert McClure and Lisa Stiffler contributed to this report, which includes information from The New York Times.”

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The American Dream

I read this NYT article about Ernest Gallo with fascination. He lived every facet of the typical American dream. Second generation Italian immigrant, parents died in tragedy, took $5,900 and, with his brother, created an entirely family run business that now sells 1 of every 4 bottles of wine in this country. Wow!
The best part, his first wine recipe: from a book at the Public Library in Modesto, CA. He died there yesterday, at 97, still in full control of his empire.

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Umm, can you please reattach these? I'm a golfer?

After a freak accident last fall in which Brant Jobe had a broom cut off the pads of his thumb and forefinger, he’s ready to return to professional golf. This poor guy has suffered two major distal upper limb injuries. If he’s able to return from this with any success, it will really speak volumes to his athletic skill and work ethic.

Star-Telegram 03/05/2007 Jobe faces a new test on the tour

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Is God an "Agent"?


The New York Times Magazine had a piece right up my alley. Darwin’s God.

“Religious behavior may be a misfiring, an unfortunate byproduct of an underlying psychological propensity which in other circumstances is, or once was, useful,” Dawkins wrote.

I like to read and participate in debates that include both spirituality and science. I really like evolution. This is a really good read, but make some coffee, its a little long!

Bonus Points for anyone who can leave a comment that can answer these two questions about the late evolutionist, Stephen Jay Gould:

  1. What was his favorite sport?
  2. What is the name of his Theory of Evolution? (Important as we now consider that theory and not Darwin’s to be how things really work.)

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Thoughts on Eliot, the Fierce…


Today’s New York Times had this article about Eliot Spitzer:

Health Care Lobby Is Served Bagels and a Scolding From the Governor – New York Times

The low-down for non-readers: The governor called out 2 leaders of very powerful health care lobbies in New York, unexpectedly, during a conference at which he was speaking. The leaders who were in attendance, were “stunned” as the governor served up a slide with their logos entitled, “Guardians of the Status Quo.”

These two companies are largely credited with running ads responsible for driving down Pataki’s approval ratings before he left office when he attempted reform of the medical system. Now, here they are running even more personally attacking ads to suggest Spitzer is no good. “I don’t understand why Gov. Spitzer is attacking me and my hospital,” proclaims one of the ads. Perhaps the nurses in these ads could take up that question with one of the doctors who work there, or better yet, one of the CEOs of these non-profit facilities making over $20 million a year!

These unions/lobbies exist to preserve large amounts of spending in the health sector and have no interest in reform of the system. The NYT article has some pretty staggering stats about how much cash these lobbies have hold of.

Kudos, Eliot Spitzer, for a bold move. You’re growing on me.

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Healthcare Guarantee

This article in the New York Times suggests most Americans are willing to pay some more taxes for the promise of free healthcare, as much as $500 more.

Let’s think about this…

  • premiums for most health policies are well over $500 a month.
  • The cost of Healthcare will not be dropping any time soon.
  • Of course Americans are in favor of guaranteed anything!
  • Will $500 more in taxes actually pay for anything…an MRI costs $800!

This survey is simply stating the obvious. Especially taking into account my previous post on science illiteracy, how can Americans truly know what they want if they can understand the media reports about it? This doesn’t look good as we roll upon a new election cycle in which healthcare reform “ranked far more important than immigration, cutting taxes or promoting traditional values.”

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