Another rock on Mars is creating controversy. The rover snapped a shot of what sure looks like a rodent. People who look for this sort of thing spotted the purported “Mars rat” in a panoramic photo snapped in September 2012 by NASA’s Curiosity rover.
Like most crazy theories, this one immediately spun off other crazy theories. While some believe the rodent is indigenous to Mars, others have come up with what they believe to be the far more plausible theory that NASA sent the rodent to Mars with the rover, as an experiment to see if life could survive there. The theory I have not heard yet, but which is sure to come, is a variant from the “fake moon landing” crowd. They will no doubt claim that the entire Mars mission is staged, and the rodent found a way to sneak onto the set.
In reality, of course, the Mars rodent is actually an example of a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia. Pareidolia refers to the tendency of the human brain to perceive familiar objects in random images. It’s why people see the Virgin Mary on a slice of toast.
Wow. I feel even better about being a beer drinker. I was cruising Netflix for something to watch, and came across a Discovery Channel documentary called How Beer Saved the World. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is well worth a look.
Anthropologists had long believed that the first agricultural crop raised by humans was barley, and that it was grown to make bread. They were right that barley was the first crop, but now it is almost universally accepted that humans shifted from hunter-gatherers and entered the agricultural age in order to grow barley for beer, not bread. Clay vessels (interestingly in the approximate shape of today’s standard pilsner glass) have been found that contain beer residue, and they are 3000 years older than the earliest discovered proof of bread.
Once the hunter-gatherers gave up their nomadic ways to start barley farms, communities and societies formed. Ways had to be devised to plot out farm land and keep track of beer production so math was created. The earliest discovered forms of writing contain symbols for beer, so beer had a hand in the creation of the written word.
The documentary also sets the record straight on Louis Pasteur. Most think of him in connection with pasteurized milk, but he began his research to determine why beer goes bad. He discovered bacteria in the bad beer, and then wondered if bacteria could make beer go bad, could it do the same thing to humans? Thus was born the germ theory of disease.
And so it goes. Beer is responsible for the discovery of refrigeration, which has saved countless lives since food can now be preserved, and beer is responsible for the end of child labor.
So here’s to you, beer.
In an article to be published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, Annie Britton and Martin Shipley of University College London will report that job boredom can kill you.
They analyzed questionnaires completed by London civil service employees between 1985 and 1988, with an age range of 35 to 55. The employees were asked if they had felt bored at work during the previous month. After approximately 25 years had passed, Shipley and Britton looked to see how many of the employees had died by April 2009.
The employees who had responded that they had been very bored were two and a half times more likely to die of a heart problem than those who hadn’t reported being bored.
The researchers try to blunt the report a little by saying that the true risk factor might be the lack of exercise and good diet. In other words, a depressed person might report being bored, and would likely be the sort of person that does not have the energy to exercise. But to me that just sidesteps the reality. If the person had a fulfilling job or, far better, their own business, they would likely not be depressed or bored and would be more likely to exercise.
Bottom line: That boring, life-sucking job is killing you. February is National Start a Business Month. Make it happen.
I’ve always considered vegetarianism to be an eating disorder in many. And while I haven’t yet convinced the American Psychiatric Association to include vegetarianism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), I now have research to support that vegetarianism is a strong indicator of a possible eating disorder.
Stay with me and I’ll explain.
A recent dietary study was led by nutritionist Ramona Robinson-O’Brien, an assistant professor at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota. The study concluded that adolescent and young adult vegetarians were four times more likely than their meat-eating peers to binge eat and engage in extreme weight-control measures such as taking laxatives and forcing themselves to vomit. The study further concluded that teenage vegetarians as well as young experimenters — those who try it but abandon it — may be at higher risk for other eating disorders compared with their peers.
The study authors suggest that parents and doctors should be extra vigilant when teens suddenly become vegetarians. Although teens may say they’re trying to protect animals, they may actually be trying to camouflage some unhealthy eating behaviors.
This is why I’ve always been suspect of vegetarians. I have no beef with the dietary choice, if it is the reason for the choice. In all things, moderation. True, if the stated reason for the diet is not to eat God’s little creatures, then it’s basically an all or none proposition. I can respect that; I’ll order a steak when we meet for lunch, but I can respect that position (although I love all the conditions – “I’m a vegetarian, but I still eat fish, dairy and eggs.”) But if the stated reason for the diet is health, then that’s a potential disorder. There is no net health gain by skipping an evil Whopper Jr. with 290 calories and 12 grams of fat, only to then drink a Starbucks Venti Frappuccino with 680 calories and 21 grams of fat while singing the vegetarian song (Incense and Peppermints by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, I believe).
The rational dietary response should be, “meat contains fat, so I’m going to keep my consumption of meat to a minimum.” Not, “meat is evil and I’m going to remove any chance of it from my diet, to the point that I don’t want to eat something cooked in a pan that might have previously been used to cook meat.” The latter shows too much fixation on one component of a diet, and that dietary fixation explains why the study reached the predictable conclusions. For an interesting first person story of using vegetarianism as a means to mask an eating disorder, go here.
Radio doctor and author, Dr. Dean Adel, who I have always found fairly reasonable, will lecture you on the dietary problems with eggs and cheese, but acknolwedges that his weekend ritual is to make himself a big cheese omelet. Wine is bad if consumed in excess, but a single glass offers health benefits. Even drinking too much water can be deadly, but does that mean it should be avoided?
In all things, moderation. Even your dietary limitations.