Trans fat, Timor spears and mammograms
By Art Goodtimes
SCIENCE NEWS … In America we claim to be a modern society based on science. And sometimes we are. Many of us are sure science is on our side with climate change – just as some of us have dismissed science when it comes to vaccinations. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of science, especially from the eponymous journal in the column’s item title here and in the pages of the Scientific American. So I thought I’d start sharing some of what I found … I must say I felt vindicated for all those years I fought against margarine, when folks (many with science degrees) insisted it was less fattening than real butter and better for you. Wrong! Now we know trans fats, as found in margarine and other partially hydrogenated products, are unsafe in foods. In 1912 German chemists, including Wilhelm Normann, won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of the process of partial hydrogenation, which leads to trans fats in the body. Now calculations suggest that eliminating industrially produced trans fats would prevent up to 20 percent of avoidable cardiac deaths in the U.S. At the end of last year the FDA begrudgingly determined that partially hydrogenated oils could no longer be “generally regarded as safe” … The recent discovery of a 35,000-yearold carved bone spearpoint on the island of Timor has set the clock back on the earliest manufacture of complex hunting tools in the southeastern Pacific. Previous Timor finds only dated back several hundred years. The new theory is that Stone Age islanders in boats along the Indonesian archipelago probably hunted large fish and other marine prey with spears. And even more intriguing, the notching in the Timor find is similar to those found in African bone spearpoints dating from 80,000 to 90,000 years ago … A new longitudinal study of mammograms has determined that “the screening tests do not improve a woman’s chances of surviving.” According to University of North Carolina Professor Russell Harris, the Canadian study “will make women uncomfortable, and they should be uncomfortable.”
THE TALKING GOURD
Life is meaningless
— Jason Holder
POT SHOTS … Researchers at the University of Bordeaux think they’ve found the mechanism that gives pot smokers the munchies. THC (tetrahydrocannibinol), the aromatic terpinoid responsible for the mindaltering affect of cannabis, turns out to arouse a heightened sense of smell in mice, and most likely in humans. According to neuroscientist Giovanni Marsicano, THC may trick a brain into feeling hungry by mimicking sensations that occur when it’s deprived of food. If true for humans, it could open the way to drugs to fight obesity by interfering with the cannabinoid system, added neuroscientist Jaideep Bains of the University of Calgary.
AMERICAN IMPERIALISM … Why is it I’m so skeptical whenever I read a North American account of anything happening in Venezuela? For years, our media demonized Chávez, and yet the people of Venezuela idolized him. Now there’s an all-out campaign to demonize his legally elected successor, Maduro. And to make fun of his claims that the CIA is behind recent upheavals in our neighbor to the south. Of course, we know that the CIA has never been involved in overthrowing a democratically elected regime in South America, right? And of course, it couldn’t have anything to do with Venezuela being the fifth-largest exporter of petroleum in the world, and second only to Canada in terms of heavy crude reserves, could it? Or that the U.S. currently depends on 65 percent of Venezuela’s oil exports for its own oversized carbon appetite? … You didn’t see it reported in the American press, but a recent editorial in Asabi Shimbun, one of five national newspapers in Japan, with a readership of 10 million people, spoke out in opposition to the continuing military presence of American troops on the Japanese outlier of Okinawa. After World War II, “Okinawa was placed under U.S. military rule for nearly three decades and forced to accept U.S. military bases. American troops threatened local residents with guns and swords and bulldozed their farmland. Since the island was reunited with Japan in 1972, the land stolen from locals has yet to be returned.” The editorial goes on to rail against mainland Japanese’s obliviousness and indifference to the sufferings of the Okinawan people. According to Wikipedia, “Approximately 62 percent of U.S. bases in Japan (exclusive use only) are in Okinawa.”
SAVE THE MONARCH … Mexican poet/activist Homero Aridjis is calling it “ecological genocide.” He and hundreds of scientists, artists and enviros in Mexico, Canada and the U.S. are blaming crashing population numbers for Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) on the eradication of milkweed plants by American farmers using pesticides. It’s certainly the case in Colorado, where two Asclepius spp. are targeted. A Noxious Weed Management Pocket Guide, published by the Colo. State Univ. Extension (Jan. 2013), lists 22 noxious weeds to be controlled by chemical means, including Western Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata) and Showy Milkweed (A. speciosa) … I can remember seeing monarchs when I first moved to Norwood, but not in recent years. Still, I’ve seen isolated patches of milkweed in the area. Since they can be poisonous to livestock, understandably they aren’t well liked by ranchers. But local residents ought to consider planting them on their non-ranch ground, to lure monarchs back into the region and to protect this beautiful insect from eradication.
ED WERNER … The Blue Sage Center for the Arts in Paonia is hosting former Telluride sculptor Ed Werner’s new show, Pretty in Pink Gallery Exhibit, opening April 4 and running until May 2. According to Executive Director Annette Pretorius, “In Ed Werner’s latest series of works, classic cartoon characters find themselves in absurdly violent situations with flowering guns painted bubble- gum pink, and having narrowly escaped target practice by doing a fancy jig. As always this new series from Werner presents works with multiple layers of meaning and exacting humor” … Werner is a serious artist who has a bachelor’s degree in painting/sculpture and a master’s degree in fine arts. He has been an artist-crafts person in Western Colorado for 33 years, and for many years before 1977, which was the year he moved to Telluride. He has enjoyed numerous artist fellowships, has shown in New York City, Baltimore Maryland, Washington D.C., Denver, New Orleans, and Boston. He currently lives in Ridgway, Colo., where he has a studio.
SWOS … I love the Southwest Open School in Cortez. The students are not your usual run-of-the-mill high school kids. I’ve known a few teachers and administrators there. They’ve invited me to come talk in classrooms, even at a commencement ceremony once. Last month they had me and several other writers down to talk about careers and what was important about writing in one’s future … In the process, I met a brilliant young man who did a most amazing trompe l’oeil poem that means one thing read top to bottom, and something completely different when read, bottom to top. Try it! It’s this month’s Talking Gourd.
Art Goodtimes is an author, poet, and county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.