March 10, 2001

In the News...

Some headlines that caught my eye over the last few days:

Doctors push ahead with efforts to clone humans

Well, once they cloned a mammal (Dolly the sheep) it was bound to happen.

I'm not sure how I feel about it but I can't seem to work up a whole lot of righteous indignation here.

After all, it's not without precedent in nature: identical twins (triplets, etc) are clones.
I remember back in the late '70's when the first test tube baby was born (I still remember her name, Louise Brown) the mother was asked something like how she would handle all the publicity when the child was older; she replied that by the time Louise would realize anything, the method would be commonplace and she would no longer be a freak (my words, not hers). And so it was.

At the time the debate, uproar, and doomsaying were similar to today's cloning controversy. You can't fight mother nature but neither can you stop scientific progress, it seems.

Besides, I'd be tempted by the opportunity to bring myself up properly, this time!

South Pacific islands fear rain of Mir debris

The old Russian space station Mir is due to re-enter the atmosphere and dive harmlessly into the South Pacific Ocean sometime this week.
This is causing some concern in the region, and I can't say that I blame them.

The following quotes from the CNN website don't exactly inspire confidence:

Russia expects Mir to splash down about 3,000 km (1,850 miles) east of New Zealand in open ocean, with an estimated 1,500 fragments raining down on Earth, some at speeds capable of smashing through reinforced concrete...

...Australia's disaster response organization, Emergency Management Australia, says chunks of Mir the size of a small car could reach Earth...

...While Russia insists Mir will not fall on any populated areas, it has nevertheless taken out a $200 million insurance just in case, a Russian insurance industry official said on Wednesday.

Just. in. case.

Can Viagra cause vision loss?

It has something to do with blood flow to the optic nerve (or lack thereof, when the blood is otherwise occupied). There is only so much blood to go around, and if one area of the body demands more, something else is bound to suffer.

This is of course the basis for the "old wives tale" which cautions that the do-it-yourself method causes blindness. It causes hairy palms too, but science hasn't figured that one out yet.

Is it worth it? Aw you needed glasses to read anyway..

Love can be a bummer*

* That's the CBC's pun, not mine!

Scientists have found that the most attractive part of a female baboon (as far as the male baboon is concerned) is her rear end; and the bigger the better. It seems that females with large "sexual swellings" are better breeders and are more popular as mates.

Damn, I was born into the wrong species...

Hamster races soothe restless bettors as foot-and-mouth slows action

British horse racing is in disarray because of the foot and mouth disease there; hamsters have taken up the slack.

"We've been running hamsters in these little dragsters," said Ed Pownall, a spokesman for the online company, Blue Square. "You put an exercise wheel in the middle of a 10-inch-long (25-centimetre) dragster. As they run in the wheel it moves the thing forward."

The hamsters race in a small studio in north London, and the action is broadcast live on the company's Web site (

You're supposed to be able to watch the races on video from the betting site that sponsors this, but sadly it didn't work on my laptop; I've yet to try it on the desktop computer.

(Hamsters running around on my "laptop" - now there's a vision..)

Péquiste cabinet minister says Ontario has no real culture

Warning: heavy dose of Canadian content:

Much as I hate to agree with anything the Parti Quebecois says... - the minister is right.

Ontario is the U.S. with fewer guns.

So Ontario's culture minister invited the offending Quebec minister to Ontario, to view these examples of local culture:

Hudak wrote to Lemieux, inviting her to visit Ontario for a few days this year. He said he would personally show Lemieux cultural attractions in Ontario such as the Toronto International Film Festival, the wineries in southern Ontario and the Stratford Festival.

INTERNATIONAL film festival?
Wineries are hardly an original Ontarian idea;
Stratford? uhhhhhh...


In a letter to Lemieux, Heritage Minister Sheila Copps cited Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Alanis Morissette as examples of Ontario's culture.

The two authors are well respected award winners; however I don't find a reflection of things Ontario to be a significant part of their work, the way Manitoba was for Margaret Laurence, or the prairies for W.O. Mitchell. Perhaps the late Matt Cohen would have been a better example.

As for Alanis, I won't even dignify that with a shriek.

Disgruntled Canadians are welcome to disagree on my forum!

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