Saturday, October 27, 2007

IFAW's Petition Against Ivory Trading

Fairly self-explanatory. I know that not everyone is convinced petitions are actually impactful, but this is an area where I take the point of view that while they may not be, doing nothing is definitely not impactful.

Looking a little further into this issue, I came across the following blurb:

New DNA tests on illegal ivory have revealed elephant-poaching hot spots. Now scientists hope police will be able to catch the crooks responsible and halt the decline of elephant numbers.

Interesting. More about this process and it's impact can be found here.

Salt: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore!

While not a professional nutritionist by any stretch, and not nearly as careful as I could be when determining my snack options, I've come a long since the days I used to have BBQ chips for breakfast.

It turns out that might not have been so good for me. Who knew??

I suppose neither was the time that I scooped a spoonful of salt into a cup of tea. Of course, that was by accident. I thought while drinking it that the contents of my cup tasted...odd.

I read the article below yesterday while on my lunch break at work and wolfing down a 12" Subway Veggie Delite. It was written by one Megan Gillis of the Sun newspaper chain and is a clear, brief rundown of the impact of salt on your diet. Some of the statistics mentioned may surprise you.

Limiting salt in the food we eat would be the biggest boon to public health since safe drinking water and sewers, a coalition of health groups argued yesterday.

The group was urging action to stop an epidemic of high blood pressure linked to strokes, heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and dementia.

The average Canadian eats about a third more salt than the healthy limit and double what they need, most of it from processed foods including bread, cereal, soups and processed fast food.

Research suggests that if Canadians ate only healthy amounts of sodium, the number of strokes and cases of heart disease could drop by 30% and one in three Canadians with hypertension -- a million people -- would have normal blood pressure, saving $430 million a year in health costs and 4 million doctor visits.

"The individual can only do so much and now more food companies have to step up," Canadian Stroke Network director Dr. Kevin Willis said. "If we discovered that a food additive was causing 30% of all cancers, something would be done right away. The same action is needed with sodium to prevent stroke, heart disease and other vascular illness."

Health Minister Tony Clement established an expert working group yesterday as a first step toward a national strategy to cut salt consumption.

But health groups want the government to move quickly to set standards for salt in food, track and report how much Canadians are eating, launch an education campaign and provide incentives to food makers.

The goal is to reduce sodium consumption to healthy levels by 2020.

Meanwhile, people should read labels, eat less processed and fast food and cook more meals at home based on naturally low-sodium foods such as fruits and vegetables.

"It's been said reducing dietary sodium would result in the biggest improvement in public health since clean water and drains," said Sen. Wilbert Keon, the former head of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

"It's not just adults who have to worry," Keon said. "Evidence published recently shows that sodium is harmful to children, causing high blood pressure and damage to blood vessels that will lead to ill health later in life.

"In my own work as a heart surgeon, I've seen the impact of poor diet on disease and damaged hearts. It's critical we take a population level approach to reduce sodium in the food supply, make it easier for people to make healthier choices and educate the population on the link between sodium and hypertension."

It's not just the salt shaker. Processed foods can be packed with sodium. Research shows that even Canadians who say they never add salt to their food are consuming too much sodium. A small number of foods -- pizza, sandwiches, subs, burgers and hot dogs, soups and pasta dishes -- account for a third of the sodium we eat.

- Pizza Pizza pepperoni slice (large takeout slice), 1,710 mg.

- Pizza Pizza Big Bacon Bonanza (takeout only), 2,090 mg.

- McDonald's Big Mac, 1,020 mg.

- Burger King Bacon Double Cheeseburger, 1,460 mg.

- Subway 6" spicy Italian sub, 1,580 mg.

- Subway 6" ham sub, 1,060 mg.

- East Side Mario's baked ziti pasta with sausage, 2,310 mg.

- East Side Mario's Bigga Spaghetti with Meatballs, 4,290 mg

Source: National Sodium Policy Statement

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Even God's Going Greener

From The Book Standard, by way of

Thomas Nelson will publish the world's first eco-friendly Bible later this month. The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Daily Bible will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and production will flow from a FSC-certified forest through a paper manufacturer and printer that have FSC chain-of-custody certification.

The Bible will contain recycled fiber and was developed along with Domtar, a paper manufacturer with a strong environmental commitment. Thomas Nelson is currently working with the Green Press Initiative, a U.S.-based organization that helps the book publishing industry reduce their paper usage, to reduce the company's carbon footprint.

This isn't my first exposure to the Green Press Initiative. During our vacation in late July/early August, we made a stop in Perth, where I bought a calendar that has the Green Press initiative stamp on it.

I looked them up and found them interesting. Though I intended to post about Green Press at the time, I held off on the basis that talking about calendars in August is sort of like putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween.

The calendar itself is published by Amber Lotus Publishing and they claim to printing on 100% post-consumer recycled paper (cover stock is 20% recycle) using soy-based inks. They plant a minimum of 3000 trees every year and offset their carbon dioxide emissions through NativeEnergy.

There's an awful lot to like there, and going forward that Green Press logo will be something I look for.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

United Animal Nations Halloween Reminders

With Halloween on the way, I can already look forward to Oscar barking at every ghost and goblin that makes it to our door. Boy, you just don't get tired of that, eh?

Actually, at our old place, it was kind of cool because we could set a gate at the top of the stairs that led down to the front door. Oscar would bark himself hoarse through the banister at all the little kids just as Christine would open the door, scaring the kiddlies senseless for a brief moment. Hilarity would naturally ensue.

That's not an option in the new crib. We have a fairly wide entrance hall, which in this instance will complicate things. So we're going to have to figure something out.

Here are other things to bear in mind as Halloween creeps up on, courtesy of the United Animal Nations (said from the pet's point of view).

1. No treats for Fido. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats, and tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed. Don’t give us candy, no matter how much we beg!

2. Take care with candles. If you add a candle to your carved Jack-o’-lantern, make sure we can’t knock it over and get burned or cause a fire.

3. Dress without stress. If your pet likes to wear a costume (please don’t force us if we don’t!), make sure it’s safe. No small dangling pieces that we can chew or choke on. Make sure we can breathe, see and hear clearly, and that the costume doesn’t trip us or restrict our movement.

4. Get unplugged. Well, you can keep your lights and decorations plugged in, but make sure we can’t chew on the wires and cords.

5. Privacy please! Unless your pets are super social and friendly...put them in a separate room when trick-or-treaters come to call. All those strangers can be scary and stressful for us.

We're #1!

In rudeness.

Reader's Digest set out to determine which city in Canada was the most polite. The Ottawa Citizen covered the results which included Ottawa coming in 11th. Of 11. More below.

RD sent teams of researchers to gauge the politeness of people in major cities across the country. The teams used three tests. At 10 busy intersections, they dropped a folder filled with papers to see if anyone would help pick them up.

The RD teams also walked behind people entering public buildings to see if they would hold the door open. and bought small items in 10 stores to see if the sales clerk would say thanks.

Maybe people here mistook the RD teams for Americans with their puny little dollars, and who needs to be nice to them anymore?

Besides, we're busy running this exasperating country. We don't have time to make nice with every butterfingers rube from out of town who lacks the hand/eye co-ordination necessary to walk and grasp a sheaf of papers at the same time.

Moncton finished first in the survey, and it's true Monctonians are unfailingly nice to visitors. But these are the same people who tell you with a straight face that the well-named Tidal Bore is a fascinating natural phenomenon. And they insist that Magnetic Hill is not a shabby trick to pull on innocent little children.

Montreal was ranked fifth, and there's no doubt that Montrealers are sophisticated. When blind drunk, for example, Montrealers never urinate on their own statuary. They much prefer coming to Ottawa on Canada Day to urinate on ours. Nothing says gracious urban living like drunks urinating in public at the War Memorial.

RD's head office is in Montreal, but that wouldn't influence the survey results, surely.

Calgary and Vancouver tied for second? Be for real, RD.

In Calgary, it's considered polite to talk about how much money you make and what a civic blessing it would be if Newfoundlanders were banned in Alberta. It's the height of wit in Calgary to refer to Red Deer as "Dead Rear."

In Vancouver, a visitor finds himself gagging on civic smugness. All they talk about is how much they paid for their house, and how much more it's worth now. Know what, you Kitsilano kook? Nobody cares about your paper fortune.

Toronto finished third from the bottom, no surprise there. People in T.O. are constantly crabby because the Maple Leafs are a foul blot on the city's fair face.

Anyway, who cares what RD thinks? RD is so boring we already forgot everybody in those "Most Unforgettable Character" articles. The survey explains why RD is only seen at the dentist's office. Because reading it is associated with pain.

In Moncton, they have a colloquial expression used to indicate total disagreement with any statement, political or otherwise: "And a pig's behind is pork, too."

Ottawa dead last in civility? Yeah, RD, and a pig's behind is pork, too.

The Most Courteous Cities

(Rankings as published in Reader's Digest)


1. Moncton: 80 per cent

2. tie: Calgary and Vancouver: 77

3. Edmonton: 73

4. tie: Victoria, Charlottetown, St. John's: 70

5. Montreal: 68

6. tie: Halifax, Winnipeg: 67

7. Regina: 63

8. Quebec City: 62

9. Toronto: 60

10. Saskatoon: 57

11. Ottawa: 50

Naturally, this has sparked some debate. There are a number of points about this whole thing that I find particularly amusing.

1. The seriousness with which some people are reacting in comment sections online and in the paper. Come one, people. Reader's Digest could do this once a month and come up with different results. This is hardly an exact science. Don't worry about it.

2. The variety of reactions across the country. In looking up the article, I came cross several recaps of it from newspapers in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Ottawa is last, and many people seem to agree it's deserving of its positioning. Vancouver is tied for second...and many people seem to think that's a a load of crap.

3. The reaction to the article above taking toungue-in-cheek shots at other cities. To those who think that the article was written seriously, I have an early Christmas present for you; a very tiny portion of which relates to the definition of "irony":

1, 2. Irony, sarcasm, satire indicate mockery of something or someone. The essential feature of irony is the indirect presentation of a contradiction between an action or expression and the context in which it occurs. In the figure of speech, emphasis is placed on the opposition between the literal and intended meaning of a statement; one thing is said and its opposite implied, as in the comment, “Beautiful weather, isn't it?” made when it is raining or nasty.

It's not fully completely applicable but it should lead you down the right path.

In any event, such studies are amusing, but that's about the extent of it in my opinion. I'm not from here but I've lived here many years, have no intention of leaving, and have met some great folks. Yet there are days that I come home ranting about how much I hate people in general.

The odd "test" in this survey is the one about having doors held open. I NEVER have that problem. I find that 95% of the time people will hold doors for others.

My great symbol of rudeness here, there and everywhere is the use of cellphones in public places. But that's a whole other topic for another day...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Real Hair Racket

I've never heard of this sort of thing before. If true, it goes to show that there's no end to the imagination of people willing and able to exploit others in a less fortunate position.

Amy Winehouse is set to donate £50,000 to a Romanian orphanage after discovering her hair extensions could have come from there.

The 'Rehab' singer - who wears a weave to boost her trademark beehive hairstyle - was shocked to discover orphans often have all their hair cut off to provide extensions for Western women. Although Amy has ensured the pieces she uses come from ethical sources, she is determined to help.

A source said: "Amy met a lovely lady from the group Beauty Hurts and they started chatting about the real hair racket. She had no idea orphans were exploited. She knows where her weave comes from and to be honest, it's the US where most of the unethically culled hair ends up, but she still wanted to help. Amy was keen to keep her generous donation secret but realises it's important to highlight the issue."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Inspirational Sausage

A three-legged dachshund named Longfellow runs to the finish line to win a race at the Annual Savannah Wiener Dawg Races Saturday, Oct. 6, 2007, in Savannah, Ga. Longfellow missed last year's races after being hit by a car and losing one of his hind legs. After recovering for the year, Longfellow joined more than 175 dachshunds from around the South to compete for prizes during races at the Oktoberfest Festival on the Historic River Street Waterfront. (AP Photo/Photo Stephen Morton)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Self-Conscious About Driving a Smart Car?

Then probably this little guy isn't for you.

You're looking at Nissan's newest electric car, which is getting a little press these days. I'm not certain why, because the press release I found about it dates back to 2005.

In any event, that it's electric is almost an afterthought because *gasp* its wheels rotate for easier parking!! Now you're talking progress!

Apparently it will also cheer you up after a bad day. I'm all for trying to look beyond a paradigm but that's just..odd.

TOKYO (Sept. 30, 2005) - Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., today unveiled Pivo, its imaginative electric car concept, in partnership with renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami at the company's Nissan Ginza Gallery in downtown Tokyo.

Pivo, which will be on display at this year's Tokyo Motor Show, features an innovative cabin that revolves 360 degrees, eliminating the need to reverse. Thanks to its compact body, the car is also exceptionally easy to maneuver.

The three-seater car comes with a number of user-friendly technologies, including Nissan's Around View Monitor which reduces blind spots by displaying the outside surroundings on screens mounted on the inside of the car's A-pillars located on either side of the windshield. A dash-mounted infrared (IR) commander allows the driver to operate the navigation and stereo systems with simple finger movements without letting go of the steering wheel.

Pivo is powered by Nissan's compact, high-performance lithium-ion battery and its unique Super Motor, resulting in zero emissions.

The gallery space for the Pivo event, which was designed by Murakami, features a futuristic vegetable garden installation, as well as large balloons and illustrations of "Pivo-chan," a character he designed based on the concept car's inspiring image.

Here's a short video clip.

Ever hear that a genius is not appreciated in his or her own time? Well, someone came up with a similar car YEARS ago and got laughed at for it.

Let that serve as a lesson to not judge an idea entirely on first impressions, people.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Corn-ucopia of Options

This is a subject matter that I came across a while ago, but struggled to come up with a way to display it. This being thanskgiving weekend in Canada, the timing seems right now.

One of my first posts on here was about discovering the various things that could be accomplished with hemp. More and more I'm finding out that the same is true about...corn.

I found out more about ethanol a while ago:

Ethanol is a liquid alcohol made of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon and is obtained from the fermentation of sugar or converted starch contained in grains and other agricultural or agri-forest feedstocks. In Canada, ethanol is presently made principally from corn and wheat.

Ethanol is blended with gasoline to produce a fuel which has environmental advantages when compared with gasoline, and can be used in gasoline-powered vehicles manufactured since the 1980's. Most gasoline-powered vehicles can run on a blend consisting of gasoline and up to 10 percent ethanol, known as "E-10"...

But I only recently found out that corn can be used to make plastic. The main benefit appears to be in the time it takes to biodegrade.

But of course, whenever something highly beneficial to the environment comes to light, it takes no time for someone to find a flaw in it. CFLs use less energy but contain mercury. Wind turbines are too loud. Creating solar panels is too costly.

This article covers both the potential benefits and drawbacks well and I tihnk, when it's all said and done, if the corn plastic is available to me, I'll take it.