Archive for February 24, 2008

UN Conference Promotes Insect Eating

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Crickets, caterpillars and grubs are high in protein and minerals and could be an important food source during droughts and other emergencies, according to scientists. “I definitely think they can assist,” said German biologist V.B. Meyer-Rochow, who regularly eats insects and wore a T-shirt with a Harlequin longhorn beetle to a U.N.-sponsored conference this month on promoting bugs as a food source. Three dozen scientists from 15 countries gathered in this northern Thailand city, home to several dozen restaurants serving insects and other bugs. Some of their proposals were more down to earth than others.

A Japanese scientist proposed bug farms on spacecraft to feed astronauts, noting that it would be more practical than raising cows or pigs. Australian, Dutch and American researchers said more restaurants are serving the critters in their countries.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates 1,400 species of insects and worms are eaten in almost 90 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Researchers at the conference detailed how crickets and silk worms are eaten in Thailand, grubs and grasshoppers in Africa and ants in South America.

“In certain places with certain cultures with a certain level of acceptance, then insects can very well be seen as part of the solution” to hunger, said Patrick Durst, a Bangkok-based senior forestry officer at the FAO.

The challenge, experts said, is organizing unregulated, small bug food operations in many countries so they can supplement the food that aid agencies provide. The infrastructure to raise, transport and market bugs is almost nonexistent in most countries.

Professor Arnold van Huis, a tropical entomologist known as “Mr. Edible Insect” in his native Netherlands, blamed a Western bias against eating insects for the failure of aid agencies to incorporate bugs into their mix.

“They are completely biased,” van Huis said. “They really have to change. I would urge other donor organizations to take a different attitude toward this … It’s excellent food. It can be sustainable with precautions.”

There are questions about the safety of eating bugs and potential dangers from over-harvesting them, said Durst, who became interested in the practice known scientifically as entomophagy during his years working in Bangkok, where crickets and bamboo worms are sold as food by street vendors.

Tina van den Briel, senior nutritionist at the World Food Program, the U.N. agency that provides food in emergencies, expressed doubt that insects can benefit large, vulnerable populations. Most bugs are seasonal and have a short shelf life, she said.

“They can be a very good complement to the diet,” said van den Briel, not a conference participant. “But they do not lend themselves to programs like ours where you transport food over long distances and where you have to store food for a few months.”

She suggested a more practical benefit might be adding insects to animal feed or crushing them into a meal powder that could be used to make cookies or cakes.

Meyer-Rochow said aid agencies might even find a way to harvest crop-destroying swarms of locusts and crickets.

“These mass outbreaks could be a valuable food source,” he said. “If the technology is available, they could be ground up like a paste and added to the food humans eat.”


The “ick” factor is waaaaay too high for me.

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11th Worker from Sugar Refinery Dies

A hospital spokeswoman in Augusta said another burn patient has died from injuries suffered in the blast at Imperial Sugar in Port Wentworth. That means 11 people have died since the Feb. 7 explosion.

Beth Frits of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital said one of the hospital’s 15 patients from the disaster died Saturday evening. Hospital officials declined to release the patient’s name Sunday.

Investigators say the explosion was fueled by airborne sugar dust at the refinery near Savannah. But they have not yet determined what ignited it.

Fourteen other patients remain at the Augusta hospital Sunday. Twelve are in critical condition.

Source: News4Jax

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Hugo Chavez: “Men like Fidel Never Retire”

Fidel Castro will continue to lead the revolution despite his decision not to seek another term as the island’s president, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has said.

”Fidel is not giving up or abandoning anything,” Chávez, who has called Castro his ”father,” was quoted as saying Tuesday night in news reports out of Caracas. “He is occupying the post that he has to fill in the Cuban Revolution and the Latin American revolution.”

”Fidel always was in the vanguard,” Chávez said as he inaugurated a hospital. “Men like Fidel never retire.”

Damn straight.  He should be propped up against a wall and shot. 

Source: (Except for the propped up against the wall and shot part):

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Dave Barry: A Journey into My Colon, and Yours

.Read the rest:

My doctor has mentioned to me that since I reach the dreaded 50 this year, it is time to discuss a colonoscopy.  Ewwwww. 

I don’t want a colonoscopy for my birthday.  I’d rather have chocolate cake and jewelry.  Or a pony.  I never got a pony for my birthday when I was a kid, and I figure it’s high time for one.   *sigh*  Maybe it would be better to have something that didn’t crap all over and eat the flowers.  Okay, I’ll take a bicycle instead.

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Raul Castro Replaces Fidel as Dictator in Cuba

HAVANA (AP) — Raul Castro replaces brother Fidel as Cuba’s president dictator.

Fidel will remain head of Cuba’s Communist Party and a member of the National Assembly. The 81-year-old announced he was stepping down this week because of poor health.  (Why do I get the feeling that Castro is speaking through John Edward?)

76-year-old Raul Castro has been heading up the government since Fidel yielded power in 2006 after undergoing emergency intestinal surgery death.

Whew!  What a relief to find out who the next Dictator of Cuba is going to be.  The suspense was very stressful.

Source (sort of):

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Okay, How Many Things OTHER Than the Ewe can Dummy Nurse

So far today, Dummy has attempted to nurse from a concrete block, a water bucket, a metal fence panel, hay, my knees, my finger, a food pan, spit out the nipple as apparently being too foodlike and, as of 5 minutes ago, the poor ol’ setting hen who is going to need psychiatric counseling and medications by the time lambing is finished.  That poor lil’ momma sheep is going to think that shepherds are supposed to tip the ewe over on her butt so the lamb can nurse.    

I’ll be so glad when the weekend is over so I can go to work and REST.

Ewe tipping aside, it’s a beautiful day, 75 degrees, the azaleas are blooming, and peeping chicks are turning up everywhere.  The hawks are perching up in trees just waiting to relieve me of the excess poultry.

Update:  By jove, I believe he’s got it.  At least he was at the correct end of the ewe this time.  I didn’t really look any closer.  She must have dropped him on his lil’ head when he was born.

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Rat Invasion Causing Seabird Decline World Wide

The Pacific rat first reached New Zealand, Hawaii, and many South Pacific islands on the canoes of early Polynesian voyagers, and Roman ships helped spread the black rat and brown rat throughout the Mediterranean.

Many seabird species considered vulnerable to rats have been showing local or global declines for decades and have now reached perilously low numbers, according to the researchers.

On rodent-infested islands, seabird breeding colonies often persist only on isolated rock outcrops that remain inaccessible to rats.

The researchers present their findings in the February edition of the journal Conservation Biology.

No Escape

Even some large species, such as the Laysan albatross, have proven vulnerable to the invaders.

“Because most seabirds evolved in the absence of any [land-based] predators, many have no evolutionary adaptation to avoid predation by rats,” Yale University’s Jones said.

The birds also have a hard time shifting their breeding locations to different islands to escape danger.

“Many seabirds are [genetically] programmed to return to breed where they were born,” Jones noted.

Read the rest at National Geographic.

I find it interesting that “animal rights activists” are more concerned with the welfare of the rats than the welfare of the animals that are being pushed to the brink of extinction.  That’s messed up.

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Just What We Need–Ralph Nader Running Again

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Consumer advocate Ralph Nader said on Sunday that he is launching another long shot independent campaign for president of the United States.

Nader, who will turn 74 this week, announced his presidential bid on NBC’s “Meet the Press” saying that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are addressing the problems facing Americans.Nader also ran for president in 2000 when he got about 2.7 percent of the national vote as the Green Party candidate and played a role in deciding the final presidential outcome. He also ran as an independent in 2004 and got only a tiny fraction of the vote.Many Democrats blame Nader’s participation in the close race between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George Bush in 2000 for tipping the election in favor of Bush. They believe that but for Nader’s name on the ballot in Florida, Gore would have been the clear winner and president today instead of Bush.

Nader called Washington “corporate occupied territory” that turns the government against the interest of its own people.

“In that context I have decided to run for president,” Nader said.

Source:  Washington Post

Because the previous/current crop of crazy candidates was not large enough and capitalism is bad.   We should lock up all the eeeeevil business and corporate owners as enemies of the state and live in a worker’s paradise, just like the North Koreans.

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Another Lamb

A very young (less than a year old) and skittish Tunis ewe had her first lamb last night @ 11:30 p.m.  I *was* going to just let them out on pasture as there was only one lamb to keep track of, but the lamb took off running away from mom baaaaaaaing at the top of his voice sounding for all the world like a baby crying.  Mom let out a bellow and took off running after him.  She was able to catch up with him after he ran into a tree and knocked himself down.  I put them into the lambing pen (with the hen glaring up at me in the glow of the flashlight) vacated that very morning by Dolly and Lazarus.

The lamb continued to circle the pen while screaming at the top of his lungs followed anxiously by his momma, and he showed no signs whatsoever of wishing to learn the art of nursing.   I figured that given a little bit of time to settle down, both would figure out what to do. 

This morning, I heard momma’s loud and anxious cry when I went out to feed.  Wuh oh.  I ran out to the pen.  No lamb.  What?  I searched the pen again.  No lamb.  Finally, I heard a weak “baaaaaaaa” and found him behind some old chicken cages. He’d managed to squeeze out through a small separation in the panels (probably knocked apart by the horse who had jealously gone in and ate the fresh bedding I’d put in for Dolly just before I had evicted her).  At any rate, I hadn’t noticed the separation at midnight with the only illumination being from the flashlight.  He was lying trapped in a small space in a puddle of water but amazingly, quite alive.  I put him in with his momma, expecting him to immediately run to her udder and feed.  Nope.  He still hadn’t figured out where milk comes from.  *sigh*

Flipping momma over on her back (which I should have done last night), I made sure he was fed.  Momma was amazingly touchy about her udder.  Indeed, it was small and almost completely obscured by her belly and leg wool.  Dang.  I went inside, got a scissors, and trimmed the 4″ long belly wool around her udder and inside her rear legs in the hope that that will help him locate the udder but just in case, I’ll go back out in about an hour to flip momma over again and lift her up so she’s in a sitting position and can’t kick junior in the head while he’s eating.  Oh, my aching back.  

Lazarus just played with his midnight bottle last night, sucking a little bit from the bottle, running back to momma, back to bottle for another taste, then back to momma.   He wasn’t interested in a morning feed.  I’m not sure whether that means Dolly’s milk production has increased, or he’s been quite successful in sneaking milk from other ewes, probably the latter.  

My ewe lambs haven’t been any trouble whatsoever. 

Update:  Hold that thought on ewe lambs being no trouble whatsoever…..

I checked on the dummy lamb who was asleep after being assisted yet again to eat.   I glanced over at the maternity/new mother barn and my heart froze.  There were a pair of back legs hanging down limply out of the hay feeder, with the front of the lamb’s body lying motionless on the hay.  How had a lamb managed to get up there and get killed?  Was it crushed by a ewe?  I ran through ankle-deep mud in my good running shoes and the clean jeans I’d just changed into to go to town, vaulted over the fence, and grabbed the limp little body who was startled awake.  Apparently she had lept up there from the back of a snoozing ewe and, finding herself unable to go forward or back, decided to take a nap.


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Solar Cycle 24: Implications for the United States

Here’s a PDF to read for those of you who, like myself, have been keeping an uneasy eye on sunspot activity and the delayed transition from solar cycle 23 to solar cycle 24. 

The consequences of a Dalton minimum or worse, a Maunder minimum causing little ice age conditions for those of you that live, work, and farm in the northern areas of North America is something that you may wish to contemplate just in case. 

I’m sure people who haven’t been following the solar cycles may be saying “SwampWoman, have you gone slap crazy?  Why in the world would I want to waste any time at all thinking about the implications of losing a month of the  growing season every year when that noted climate scientist Al Gore assures me that we are going to shortly be enjoying tropical weather conditions in Canada?”  Well, I wouldn’t be planting any orange groves in the wheat fields just yet.  Global warming appears to have stopped @ 10 years ago, although the hysteria about the evils of global warming has actually been increasing.

State and federal energy policies are being based on the premise of “global warming” linked to miniscule human-caused increases in carbon dioxide, a theory that has featured seriously flawed data and computer “modeling” that has shown little real world correlation.  In the meantime, little attention has been paid to the role of the sun in warming and/or cooling.  

As for me, I plan on perusing the fruit tree catalogs to contemplate tasty apple and peach tree varieties that require more winter chill hours than what has (previously) been available in my north Florida climate.  If solar cycle 24 kicks in robustly, I’ll be out a few hundred dollars for fruit trees.  If we do indeed go into an extended period of global cooling and the energy policies based on global warming cripple our electrical production, there are giant oak trees on the property which will provide winter firewood for years to come.  And I’ll finally have good-tasting apples.

Thanks to Al Fin for bringing this PDF to my attention.

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