August 2003

Friday, August 29, 2003

West Nile Virus
Is the West Nile Virus a legitimate health concern, or a scare tactic used to sell papers and bug repellent?

I personally use natural bug repellent. Not all natural products work, but there are some that smell really nice and definitely do a good job. Look for products with tea tree oil, eucalyptus, and/or citronella.

I also don't worry too much if I do get bitten, it's just part of the food chain...

Blowing the Whistle on West Nile
explores the exaggeration of West Nile's severity in the media.

West Nile Virus - A Manufactured Crisis
another excellent article on the same theme.

Health Advisory: Tick and Insect Repellant
information from the New York State Department weighing the risks and benefits of DEET and other repellents.

Is DEET Safe for Children?
I wonder how many people make the connection that if something is bad for kids, it's bad for grownups too...

Sunscreen and Pesticides a Bad Mix
a study warning people not to mix sunscreen and DEET, as this can cause health problems. Another reason to think about avoiding it.

National Pesticide Information Center's West Nile Page
A site which "provides objective, science-based information on pesticides." Funded by the (so-called) Environmental Protection Agency.

US Center for Disease Control West Nile Page
advises people to spray DEET on themselves, among other things.

posted @ 06:46 AM PDT

Thursday, August 28, 2003

secrets of the universe

This is one of the most wonderful books I've ever read and I generally keep it on my coffee table. It's definitely in my top 10.

Makes a great gift for artists, nature lovers, math geeks, teachers, and other thinking people:

A Beginner's Guide To Constructing The Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes Of Nature, Art and Science

the author's homepage:

posted @ 10:50 AM PDT

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The devil made him do it?
Witch hunting ca. 2003:

I Am Not a Member of a Satanic Cult

I am sure that Scott Peterson's lawyers don't believe that SNIFF is a satanic cult or has anything to do with Laci Peterson's murder. If they did they would have sent investigators to meet us, or at least give us a phone call. Their job is to sow doubt in the jury pool. We're just collateral damage.

posted @ 03:04 PM PDT

Monday, August 25, 2003

Can women pee standing up?
This may seem a bit ambitious, but it's possible for women to learn how to relieve themselves standing up:

This may also seem weird (or gross, depending on your point of view) but it's extremely useful information for the woman who goes camping or sometimes finds herself in a situation without toilet paper...

posted @ 11:48 AM PDT

Sunday, August 24, 2003

new weblog URL

I decided that I didn't like the Blogger interface though I suspect they'll improve things now that Google has bought them out.

However, I didn't feel like waiting.

I'm putting all my previous entries into this post below.

22 August 2003

The current state of the environment is reflected in the state of our drinking water. People are now
afraid to drink municipal water, but what are the other choices? Expensive bottled water in wasteful single-use plastic bottles? They're "recyclable" but where do the bottles go after being thrown in a blue bin? It's a bit nuts that per gallon, drinking water now costs more than gasoline. Someone's got to pay for all those delivery truck drivers & their fuel... Another thing that bothers me is that many of the most available brands are owned by transnational corporations: I try to stick to filtered water and a Nalgene bottle (none of that plastic-ey petrochemical taste & residue) to avoid the landfill issues, but alas there is no perfect solution. If you insist on spring water, the big returnable jugs aren't so bad (though the trucks that deliver them still require a lot of gas.)

Water is going to be a big issue in the future, stay tuned.

21 August 2003

This is from one of the great wise women out there working for change today, Doris "Granny D" Haddock. She's articulate, active, charismatic, and 92 years old!

How a Small Group of Dedicated People Might Actually Do Something

How free are we now, friends? Check you bills and your bank account. How much time and leisure do you have to enjoy your life and friends? How is your place in your community as a free and equal citizen? Or are we drones that go to work, go to bed to rest for more work, go to the stores to spend all that we earn and more, and watch television to receive our instructions what to buy the next day, if we have jobs at all? Is that freedom by some other name? It is not freedom by any name and it is nothing to push on the rest of the world in the name of freedom.


We the people, acting together in the new ways made possible by electronic communication, must become the large counterbalance to these powers; the counterbalance that our government no longer provides. By communicating and acting in concert, we can reward the good companies and thereby keep our money clear of the worst. We can make our demand for fair trade products and provide the shift in market share that will change the practices of those businesses that now exploit our brothers and sisters here and around the world. We can agree together which television news channel is the least objectionable, and agree to watch only that --for our watching and buying habits are votes for the kind of world we will live in . By nudging market share, our small group of dedicated people can influence great changes. We have the tools now to do this now. It will not be an easy task, but we have no real alternative if we are to save the world, and that is what we must decide to do.

20 August 2003

I am trying to imagine what the meetings where they came up with this one were like...

U.S. Says "Hi" to Young Arabs

A new U.S.-government funded Arabic language magazine recently hit newsstands in the Arab world. Published by the State Department, "Hi" magazine is targeted at Arabs aged 18 to 35 with articles about social and cultural issues. Government officials say "Hi," which was developed after the Sept. 11 attacks, aims to help shape a more positive view of the United States in the Middle East, where anti-American sentiment remains widespread. But some Arab consumers say it misses the mark.


Rami Khoury, executive editor of the Beirut newspaper, The Daily Star, agrees that "Hi" magazine is misguided...and in his view, a waste of money. "It's another example of the confusion and I would even say total incompetence of U.S. official organs in dealing with the issue of Arab public opinion. I think they just don't get it."

19 August 2003

The European Union has strict rules for the labeling and sale of genetically modified food products. The USA is trying to get the World Trade Organization (WTO) to make Europe lift these restrictions because they present a "trade barrier."

Should trade organizations have the power to make countries overturn laws meant to protect their people so that agribusiness can make more money? Should consumers have the right to know what they are eating?

US Escalates GM Food Row with Europe

Uncle Sam's Other War: Biotech vs. the European Union

17 August 2003

I recently got a few emails and phone calls from a company who said they wanted me to appear on their "Health and Lifestyles" show. I'm not sure how I got on their list of people to call, but they were in essence looking for a $19,000 fee to feature whatever product I was selling. Since I'm not selling anything I wasn't who they had mind, "Unless I had a bunch of money to throw around."

In short, be suspicious of health advice "as seen on TV."

16 August 2003

I only went without power for about 12 hours, though much of the city has been out since Thursday. I think I'm on the same grid as the local sewage treatment plant which must have some kind of priority. The only hardship I really suffered was having to wait in line for an hour at
The Beer Store.

I passed the time talking to some good natured local mullets in line. An actual quote was, "TV don't work, nothing else to do but drink beer!"

More about why this blackout happened & why it will probably happen again:

15 August 2003

BLACKOUT! After this crazy 2003 blackout we're supposed to conserve power (i.e. not use the computer too much) as they get things back to "normal" so I'll keep this brief. I had a great time during the blackout. I got to leave work early, walked home, had a BBQ at the neighbours, hung out in our local (candlelit) bar, and saw real moonlight (& Mars!) in the middle of downtown.

Maybe this will make us think a little about our tenuous power grid situation and our extreme energy gluttony. I personally think it's good that people were forced to turn off their TVs for awhile and actually interact with one another.

And I'd like to point out that my post below about alternative energy was posted before all this happened. Hmm.... mc

13 August 2003

Here's some good news: the renewable energy business is booming! As problems with the power grid increase, this will be a good area to invest and work in for the future.

Solar and wind energy technology have come a long way. Seeing the beautiful Toronto wind turbine always gives me a sense of hope.

Renewable Energy Enters Boom Period

Undeterred by a lagging world economy, the use of renewable energy has experienced an unprecedented surge in growth over the past few years and is paving the way for a dramatic transformation of global energy markets in the next decade, according to researchers at the Worldwatch Institute. Spurred by falling costs and new government policies, global wind energy use has more than tripled since 1998 and provides enough electricity to meet the residential needs of 35 million people¬‚ more than equivalent to the number of households in California or Spain. Solar cells are now only nine years behind wind energy in terms of installed capacity, experiencing yearly growth rates averaging almost 24 percent since 1998.

12 August 2003

Here's a bite from Mark Morford, my favourite columnist. Sign up for his mailing list if you're not getting it already, he's a genius!

Lesbian Wiccans Save America Because if you don't notice all the fiercely positive glimmers of hope, no one else will

Because who wouldn't love a world with better cars and more illuminating books and gorgeous art-drenched movies and pure untainted foods and more anti-GOP awareness and more radiant bodies and widespread interstate dildo purchases and lesbian Wiccans tongue kissing on TV? Exactly. Focus on the positive, I always say. Or, at least, I really, really should. Hey, it sure beats the alternative.

11 August 2003

I'm beginning to think that the best way to avoid computer virii is to avoid Microsoft products, as they seem to be the target of most of the attacks! I don't really approve of virus creation (a lot of innocent people suffer data loss as a result) but at least it's getting Bill Gates to do something about those Windows security issues.

Keep your virus checker up to date and don't open suspicious attachments. And please stop forwarding those annoying "virus warning" emails. m

Windows Worm Starts its Spread

The worm contains two messages in its code. The first apparently is a "greet"--a message of greeting or recognition to a friend or peer--while the second takes aim at Microsoft: "billy gates why do you make this possible?" the second part of the message says. "Stop making money and fix your software!!"

10 August 2003

On my way home from an idyllic Summer beach party last night, I rode my bicycle through what appeared to be a post-apocalyptic disaster zone. It was quite the contrast! Smashed cars were scattered around, garbage was everywhere, and a full sized semi truck was upside down on the side of the street. It looked as if there had been an enormous explosion.

Turns out they're filming the Resident Evil sequel in the neighbourhood...

09 August 2003

I'm thinking about developing a write-in Q&A column as I'm starting to get a lot of requests for research, opinions, advice, etc. This is an invitation to send in some juicy questions. You can be as anonymous as you like.

random links:
good music

health info

beautifully written good advice, whether you believe in astrology or not

08 August 2003

After playing the flute for over 22 years (including a music degree, for what that's worth) I've taken up the drums. I feel like I've been playing the wrong instrument my whole life. It's invigorating my entire existence. It's better than band camp!

I'm currently practicing on various things I can find around the house with some time on a friend's kit. I am saving up for my own and will soon be terrorizing the neighbours. Meanwhile, I am out there playing hand drums with the hippies....

07 August 2003

I've always found the idea that the Sun is bad for our health to be suspicious, especially since skin cancer only really became common AFTER sunscreen went on the market. If I have to be in the sun on a bright day for an extended period, I'll wear a hat and a long-sleeved lightweight shirt. A redheaded paleontologist friend (who is out in the sun digging up dinosaur bones all Summer) taught me this one. The
tradtional dress of hot countries reflects this common sense tactic as well. Shade is also good.

I'm not convinced that sunscreen directly causes cancer, as I think that the thinning ozone layer is a factor as well. Many older people swear that it's easier to get a sunburn now than it used to be. I am convinced however that we all need some sunlight to be healthy. People who work in dark or fluorescent environments often have mood and other health issues. The "Winter Blahs" can often be attributed to lack of proper full spectrum light.

I personally am a big fan of the Sun. We couldn't exist without it.


Doctors Divided on Sunscreen's Benefits

Learn Why the Myth of the Sun Causing Skin Cancer Can Hurt Your Health


06 August 2003

Businesses are finally starting to notice that a growing number of consumers are shopping their conscience! I see this as definite progress.

Watch out for companies that pretend to be green when they're really not.

Visit as a starting point for researching company backgrounds!

Socially conscious consumers? To marketers, they're 'Lohas'

It's "Lohas," which may sound like a disease, or a Hawaiian salutation, but is actually an acronym for "lifestyles of health and sustainability." The name was coined a few years ago by marketers trying to define what they regarded as a growing opportunity for products and services that appeal to a certain type of consumer.

It may be the biggest market you have never heard of, encompassing products such as organic foods, energy-efficient appliances and solar panels, as well as alternative medicine, yoga tapes and eco-tourism.

04 August 2003

Freedom of speech in decline news...

Thanks to Rory from Library Juice for pointing this one out!

Careful: The FB-eye may be watching Reading the wrong thing in public can get you in trouble

"I'll tell you what, Marc. Someone in the shop that day saw you reading something, and thought it looked suspicious enough to call us about. So that's why we're here, just checking it out. Like I said, there's no problem. We'd just like to get to the bottom of this. Now if we can't, then you may have a problem. And you don't want that." You don't want that? Have I just been threatened by the FBI? Confusion and a light dusting of panic conspire to keep me speechless. Was I reading something that morning? Something that would constitute a problem?

03 August 2003

We are living in turbulent times
it looks so dim and grim on TV a
manufactured mass experience war
etcetera but never fear there is
a swelling tide of good news too
look around you it's a beautiful
time to be alive we are watching
the coming of a love renaissance
destruction begets rebirth and a
new cycle begins your mission is
to be an emissary of the love in
all that you do every action has
a reaction it all comes back you
know transform your life build a
better future catalyze evolution

01 August 2003

Why is there the need to label sexual identity (aka figure out what you will desire for the rest of your life and how to define it) ??

Metrosexuals: It's a Guy Thing!

"An emerging breed of man, the metrosexual, shows his soft, sensitive, feminine side. There, deep in the hair-care aisle, carefully selecting the product du jour, or in the salon having his nails buffed to the perfect shine while checking out the latest fashion magazines -- it's not a bird, not a gay man, it's a metrosexual!"

posted @ 06:50 AM PDT