Since it's Friday, it seemed a good time to share a few of the things that entered my inbox, and consciousness, while attending a science writing workshop this week.
I was chatting with a woman whose daughter is a veterinarian in Idaho, and it seems people are now trying to scam vets to obtain animal medications that also get humans high. And when a pet owner shows up visibly packing a pistol, as is allowed under that state's concealed carry law, their requests come with a certain element of intimidation.
Junkies desperate for a fix, and others trying to ease the pain of an opioid withdrawal, have begun using the diarrhea drug Imodium — with sometimes deadly consequences. Yikes. What will it take for this nation to adopt a sane drug policy?
In his correspondence with friends, Charles Darwin predicted that the superstitious nonsense of his age would soon be a thing of the past. Yet here we are, 200 years later, and people are still eschewing science in favor of beliefs.
Speaking of Darwin, did you know there's a science rapper? His name is Baba Brinkman, and he raps about evolution, genes, climate change and much more.
While we're on the topic of climate change, here's a link to a Hawaii-specific video on the topic that I helped produce for the Cornell Alliance for Science.
Shifting gears, there has never been a reputable study showing a link between vaccines and autism. In fact, there's a tiny bit more autism in the non-vaccinated population, but it's statistically insignificant.
If everybody in the U.S. took an aspirin right now, 500 people would die today from the effects. But aspirin are widely available and regularly consumed. Meanwhile, though there has never been a study that demonstrated harm from GMOs in 35 years of consumption, people are demanding labeling and outright bans.
Thirty percent of the compounds in breast milk can't even be digested by a baby, but instead go to feed the microbiome — the microorganisisms that live in our guts, mouths, skin and help us resist pathogens, build immunity, digest food and synthesize vitamins and minerals. These microbiome-building compounds are so important that they're now being added to infant formula.
Researchers are trying to figure out the cause of a chronic kidney disease that has sickened primarily poor farm workers in the tropics, including South Asia, Mexico and Central American. Construction workers have also been affected. Misuse of alcohol and over-the-counter pain relievers, pesticide exposure and high levels of silica in drinking water have all been named as possible culprits. Most recently, there's some thought it may be due to working in prolonged heat without sufficient hydration. This causes kidney-damaging uric acid crystals to form in the urine. In El Salvador sugar fields, they're offering workers more frequent rest and water breaks to see if that helps, as some laborers experience significant kidney function decline over the course of the harvest.
In the “gee, where's their sense of humor?” category, Farm News fired Iowa cattle farmer and freelance cartoonist Rick Friday after it got blow back for publishing his cartoon:
In the “gee, how original” category, Kauai House District candidate Fern Rosenstiel has unveiled her campaign slogan and tee-shirt:
But even though she invites you, on the front of her shirt, to “feel the Fern,” you'd best not try it. She's a tita and just might slap you upside the head.
And finally, here's a little parody of the “feel the Bern” generation: