About My Blog.

Welcome! This is "Catatonic Digressions."
Most, if not all readers don't understand my blog's title. It's an old inside joke from a forum long gone. I was going to change it, but since it's been "confusing" for so long, I decided to leave it. Don't worry about what it means, the content of the blog is what is important.

Unfortunately, my blog isn't what I set out for it to be. A disturbed and manic online stalker and cyberbully has made it impossible for me to post about family, my son, life in my part of New York...so I stopped (for the most part), and I mostly reblog and repost what I feel is important, necessary or close to my heart. As for the stalking sociopath, she can go to hell for harassing me and my family since mid-2008. You can't scare me offline with a few lame threats and dozens of pages of defamation, abuse, depravity and libel. I'm bitchy like that. ;)
(Anyone who knows me knows I'm not actually a bitch, but let's allow this psychopath to think I'm a bitch to her blackened heart's content—it seems to make her feel she has some sort of control over me…and it does not.)

If you read a story and you feel moved in any way, comment. Comments are more than welcome.

Unlike those online who lie and hide behind fake photos and insanely fabricated stories, I'm a real person. I'm real and I don't pretend to be someone I'm not. After years of putting up with online abuse by manipulative, pathological liars, attention whores or narcissists, I've had it. Don't bother me with pathetic drama. I have no time for these types of people and their need to absorb others' time and attention.

Feel free to email me if you have a story or cause you would like shared, especially if it pertains to animal rights, liberation, veganism, animal welfare, health and well-being, geekery, Macs and computer dorkiness, music, lowbrow art, kitchy stuff, skateboards, the beach, swimming, diving, NYC, beading (it's my hobby), recipes (love to cook, especially if I made the recipe up myself!), VEGAN!, ALF, Sea Shepherd, Action for Animals, NIO, 269Life and/or anything you think I might enjoy or others might—you never know. It doesn't always have to be serious. Hilarious stories, local NY, funny videos or photos, photobombs (especially if they contain pets!)...I might be partially censored, but I'm not closed down!

Please, join Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and follow them and The Barbi Twins on Twitter and Facebook.

For the Oceans,
Suzanne

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Top 9 Phrases That Will Immediately Age You Nine Years

Top 9 Phrases That Will Immediately Age You Nine Years: 9. “Pocketbook.” Check out the Top 9 Phrases That Will Immediately Age You Nine Years, on NickMom.com! CLICK the LINK to go directly to NickMom!





Top 9 Phrases That Will Immediately Age You Nine Years













VIA: ISTOCK/THINKSTOCK
#9
“Pocketbook”
#8
“Bookstore”
#7
“Slacks”
#6
“The Facebook”
#5
“Self-portrait”
#4
“Trousers”
#3
“Landline”
#2
Dagnabbit
#1
“Sent from my Blackberry”


Monday, February 24, 2014

Black People with Naturally Blonde Hair


Beautiful.

Black People with Naturally Blonde Hair

 
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By Tracey Wallace of NaturallyCurly.com
Hair is simply amazing. The human body and the mechanisms by which it adapts to its environment are mind boggling, and our hair color, texture, porosity and everything else plays a massive part in how well we succeed in a particular environment (or at least it did before we started living in these air conditioned covered boxes).
We all love and nourish our hair, but it’s so easy to forget just how magical these dead cells growing from out of our scalp really are.
Enter the Melanesians, a native group of people living on the Soloman Islands northeast of Australia famous for their beautiful dark skin and naturally blonde hair. Yep, that’s right. They don’t sport weaves, wigs, extensions, permanent dye, temporary dye, some weird henna reaction, or whatever else anyone uses to get the blonde look that’s so typical of the caucasian persuasion. Ten percent of these islanders actually come by it naturally.
The odd combination has got scientists wondering about how such a color combo develops over time. According to the Global Financial Newswires, many scientists have long thought that their blonde hair was a result of a diet high in fish, perhaps bleaching by the sun and salt water, or a reminder of the island’s historic relations with people of European descent.
In fact, the blonde Melanesians have blonde that is unique solely to them. According to the study in which scientists compared 43 blonde hair islanders to 42 dark hair islanders, blonde Melanesians have a variant of a native gene called TYRP1 that plays an important role in the melanin biosynthetic pathway. This variant is completely separate from what causes blonde hair in Europeans, and doesn’t even exist in the European genetic set.
What’s truly beautiful in this fascinating discovery, as so perfectly stated by the study author Sean Myles, a geneticist at Nova Scotia Agricultural College, is that “it’s a great example of convergent evolution, where the same outcome is brought about by completely different means.”
And that makes hair of all textures, types and colors absolutely unique and absolutely beautiful.

Blond Hair of Melanesians Evolved Differently Than Those of Europeans

May 7, 2012
blond-pacific-islander
A new study of the people from the Solomon Islands in Melanesia, a group of islands northeast of Australia, has shown that blond hair evolved differently, genetically speaking, than in Europeans. About 5-10% of the people in Melanesia have naturally blond hair, which is the highest prevalence outside of Europe.
This refutes the hypothesis that blond hair was introduced by colonial Europeans. Carlos Bustamante, a geneticist at Stanford University School of Medicine, in California, and his team published their findings in the journal Science.
blond-pacific-islander-girl
Bustamante and his colleagues compared the genomes of 43 blond and 42 dark-haired Solomon Islanders. This revealed that the blond hair was strongly associated with a single mutation in the TYRP1 gene, which encodes an enzyme that influences pigmentation in mice and humans. In Europeans, several genes are known to contribute to blond hair, but TYRP1 isn’t involved.
They compared DNA between more than 900 Solomon Islanders and 900 other people from 52 populations around the world to find that the TYRP1 mutation is probably unique to the Oceanic region that includes Melanesia. About one-quarter Solomon Islanders carry the recessive gene, so two copies are needed to have blond hair.
However, not all occurrences of blond hair are the result of this particular mutation, but researchers have predicted that it accounts for about 30% of cases. Another 16% are attributed to age and gender (young children and women are more likely to have blond hair), while the rest is attributed to sun exposure and other undiscovered genes. It’s unusual that one specific mutation accounts for such a large proportion of an observable trait in a population.
Bustamante thinks that this mutation might have arisen between 5,000 and 30,000 years ago, but hasn’t been able to explain why it has reached such a high frequency in the Solomon Islands.
[via Nature]

Genetics of blond hair in Solomon Islanders

By  Dave Armstrong - 05 May 2012 11:27:18 GMT
Genetics of blond hair in Solomon Islanders

The unique recessive gene for blond hair is an example of convergent evolution (with the ubiquitous blond from Europe based cultures; Credit: © Sean Miles

The evolution of blondes has been disputed for centuries. No, not in the pub. The European style blond(e) found from Lebanon to Scandinavia and, of course in Australia and North America, now has competition. For years, jokes about sailors misleadingly explained Solomon Islanders blond locks.
Now this intriguing solution has appeared from a pretty old and worn problem. About 46% of all Solomon Islanders are blond, despite there being no explanation whatsoever for their hair colour in an equatorial archipelago, far to the north-east of Australia and east of PNG.
Sean Myles and his colleagues at Bristol, Max Planck Institute and UC San Francisco investigated the Melanesians on the Solomon Islands, publishing their research in the journal of Science. Initially sampling the saliva and hair of 1209 islanders, they were able to pinpoint a single gene type of inheritance immediately. Looking more closely at the genomes of 85 people confirmed that the blonds had a different version (allele) of the TYRP1 locus from the dark-haired individuals.

Situated east of Papua New Guinea and north of Vanuatu, The Solomons are almost central to the Melanesians colonisations
Situated east of Papua New Guinea and north of Vanuatu, The Solomons are almost central to the Melanesians colonisations - Oceania image via Shutterstock


TYRP1 is well known to create albinism in humans and lightness of colour in mice, dogs and horses. In fact we believe that blonde mice do actually have more fun. This system does not create the blond(e) pigmentation with which we are all familiar. The Melanesian brand of blond has arisen separately, indicating that such isolated communities could have many more (if less obvious) genes that could benefit us.
Medical research could be happily overtaken by currently unknown "resistances" or "immunities". Even some of the most despairing medical problems could be alleviated if we find more genomic variation. The authors point out that it is folly to know the ancestry of western people form genomics while the basic constitution of minor human groups needs to be known for their sakes and ours!
Enjoy your genetically modified tea and peruse a TV screen full of modified brunettes. while considering how often blondes might have been evolved. Maybe some prehistoric lady found it hard to find a gentleman with her early blondness convergence. This guy certainly seems to enjoy the Solomon Islands - but of course, the Solomons' gene is much more common there than blondness in any European country.

Credit: © Sean Miles


the Solomons' gene is much more common there than blondness in any European country
- See more at: http://www.earthtimes.org/health/solomon-islands-blonds/1967/#sthash.K4JQ1CAW.dpuf
Read more at http://www.earthtimes.org/health/solomon-islands-blonds/1967/#Ba6Z4rKJ47IhUEdv.99

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Case For Organic Fruits and Veggies | Environmental Working Group

The Case For Organic Fruits and Veggies | Environmental Working Group





The Case For Organic Fruits And Veggies

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2014
Recently, some online musings have been bouncing around Twitter and Facebook claiming that there isn’t much, if any, difference between organic and conventional foods.
One article by Melinda Wenner Moyer titled “Organic Shmorganic,” published Jan. 28 on Slate.com, made several interesting points – including a couple that Environmental Working Group agrees with and a number we don’t. 
Of course children should always eat fruits and vegetables – organic or conventional – instead of heavily processed snacks and candy. We all should. And most folks with a grain of common sense probably agree with that recommendation, even if they don’t follow it themselves.
EWG’s top-shelf advice on the subject, as the Slate author mentions, is: “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.” 
It’s also true that both organic and conventional agriculture rely on crop protection technologies to stave off damage from invasive weeds, insects and fungus. In her piece, Moyer highlights rotenone, a pesticide once allowed for use in organic farming that was later shown to pose a risk to human health. However, what she fails to point out is that organic farmers quickly abandoned it as soon as the science showed a potential risk. Rotenone is no longer registered for use on U.S. organic fields as a result – a glaring omission in the Slate piece.
That is not the approach conventional agribusiness takes when the sheen of safety begins to whither from many of the chemicals it uses on fruits and veggies. In virtually every instance, their strategy is to try immediately to discredit any science that challenges their practices and, when necessary, hire public relations experts, lobbyists and lawyers to fight any effort to restrict or ban a crop chemical in conventional agriculture’s toolbox. Of the roughly 1 billion pounds of synthetic pesticides used annually in the U.S., including on lawns, golf courses and in homes, about 80 percent get applied to conventionally grown crops.
Ms. Moyer took a very narrow view when comparing organic and conventional farming, focusing only on consumption of produce and leaving readers with no background on the effects that chemical agriculture has on other vital resources that every American relies on – such as drinking water, air and soil – not to mention the well-documented harm that pesticide exposure does to farm workers and their families who work and live near conventional farms.
There are any number of significant differences between organic and conventional foods and how each is produced. I’ll attempt to unpack some of them here. 
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Pesticides in food and children’s health
I asked several of the world’s foremost experts on children’s environmental health for their take on pesticides in kids’ diets. Moyer apparently didn’t, instead relying on pesticide and chemical industry advisors like Carl Winter of the University of California at Davis, who has his own distinctive disdain for anyone who questions the safety of pesticide residues on food.
I asked Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dean of Global Health and Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, why parents should feed their children organic fruits and vegetables and conventionally-grown produce that has lower pesticide residues? He told me:
Strong and well-conducted studies published in leading peer-reviewed journals have shown that families who consume an organic diet have 90 percent lower levels of pesticides in their bodies than families who consistently consume ‘conventional’ pesticide-treated foods.
Dr. Landrigan has been studying the risks to children of pesticide and chemical exposures since the early ’70s. His work was largely responsible for the removal of lead from paint and gasoline. And he was the principal author of the pivotal 1993 National Academy of Sciences study, “Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children,” that led Congress to pass the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act that set safety standards for pesticides on foods.
I also reached out to Dr. Andrew Weil, the world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine. Asked if he agreed with Moyer’s conclusion that pesticide residues have no potential effects on children’s health he said he did not.
No, I don’t agree. Data comparing children who eat conventional vs. organically grown produce show a big difference in urinary excretion of environmental toxins between the groups. The principle point of the (Slate) article seems to be that pesticide levels on produce featured on the EWG’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list are typically far below the EPA’s recommended exposure limits, so the hazard is negligible. I find that reasoning flawed, as I see no reason to regard the EPA’s exposure limits as the final word on pesticide safety.
Here’s more from Dr. Weil on why people should avoid synthetic pesticides in food. 
Then there’s Dr. Chensheng “Alex” Lu, Ph.D., a professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health. In 2005, he and several colleagues measured two highly toxic organophosphate pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos, in the urine of 23 elementary school children between the ages of 3 and 11 who were consuming a diet of conventional produce. When Dr. Lu’s team had the children switch to a diet of only organic produce, their levels of both pesticides plunged to near-undetectable levels. As he told EWG in a video interview:
We know that the majority of the exposures to pesticides are coming from your diet, assuming you don’t use a lot of pesticides in your yard. And, we do know that if you’re not paying attention to residues, that’s your major exposure pathway.
Conventional agriculture, its spokespeople and the scientists the industry employs all claim that children’s dietary exposure to synthetic pesticides is so low that it’s not something parents should worry about, but others who have spent their lives working to protect the health of families and children – like Landrigan, Lu and Weil – strongly disagree. Again, here’s Dr. Weil:
Accumulation of those compounds in tissues can, I believe, lead to higher risks of neurodegenerative diseases and cancers in later life. Children who consume pesticides not only have longer lifetime exposure, but that exposure also covers the period in life when the brain and nervous system are developing and particularly sensitive to toxic insult. I think everyone should take prudent measures to avoid pesticide exposure, but children are particularly vulnerable.
In 2012, the respected American Academy of Pediatrics – hardly a hotbed of environmental activists, took the unprecedented step of issuing an exhaustive report on the unique risks that conventional pesticides pose. After reviewing all the routes of exposure, including food, the Academy issued a warning to parents and policymakers to reduce both exposure to and use of toxic agricultural pesticides.
“For many children, diet may be the most influential source of pesticides,” the AAP report said.
In a section titled “Efforts to Reduce Pesticide Exposure,” the AAP report added that “dietary modifications can help reduce pesticide exposure... consuming organic produce has shown a reduced amount of urinary pesticide levels in comparison with a conventional diet.”
In its advice to pediatricians, the AAP recommends that they urge parents to turn “toward reliable resources that provide information on the relative pesticide content of various fruits and vegetables.” It cites EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce as one of two sources for parents.
Why are the American Academy of Pediatrics and other noted experts concerned about children’s dietary exposure to synthetic pesticides?
Children often consume much larger quantities of fruits, vegetables and juice than adults relative to their body weight. Also, children’s immune and detoxifying systems, not to mention their neurological development, are far from fully formed. The risk posed by pesticide exposure is even greater for the developing fetus still in the womb.
“Children, especially babies in the womb, are much more vulnerable to pesticides than adults,” said Dr. Landrigan. “The hazards of pesticide exposure in early childhood include learning disabilities, shortened attention span, loss of IQ and possibly cancer.”
Highlighting that risk, EWG in 2004 had two independent laboratories test 10 umbilical cord blood samples for hundreds of toxic pollutants and found 287 contaminants, including pesticides.
While the food the mothers ate were likely not the only source of those contaminants, it was probably one of them.
In 2011, three separate studies found that babies exposed to organophosphate pesticides in the womb had lower I.Q. scores than their peers when they started school. The exposure routes in these studies were not specific to food, but the pesticides in question are widely used on conventional produce.
“Babies exposed to the highest levels had the most severe effects. It means these children are going to have problems as they go through life,” said Landrigan in a New York Times report on the study findings.
Organic versus Conventional Pesticides:
At least 50 pesticides that were once approved for use in conventional agriculture have since been banned or phased out due to risks to health and the environment. Others continue to be used even though there is growing evidence that they, too, pose troubling health and environmental hazards.
So what about the “natural” and “synthetic” pesticides approved used in organic agriculture that Moyer seems to imply are just as hazardous? Haven’t many of them also been tossed into the ashbin because of risks to people and the environment?
The answer is no. Exactly one pesticide approved for organic use has ever been banned or phased out – the aforementioned rotenone.
“Highlighting rotenone, as the Slate article does, as an example of a toxic pesticide used in organic farming in the U.S. is a non-starter,” saidProfessor Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., an expert on organic agriculture and the head of the Farm and Food Diagnostics for Sustainability and Health program within the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University. “Not only do no U.S. organic farmers use the substance, it’s no longer registered for use by the EPA.”
Moreover, in terms of the risk to children’s health, there’s a significant difference between the naturally derived pesticides used in organic farming and the synthetic ones employed by conventional farmers. 
“Organic farmers use far fewer pesticides, and the pesticides that they use are for the most part safer than conventional pesticides,” Dr. Landrigan told me.
“There is roughly a hundred-fold difference between the toxicity of insecticides and fungicides applied on organic food versus conventional, plus there is between 50-to-100 times more of both applied on conventional crops,” said Professor Benbrook. “Furthermore, there are essentially no herbicides used in organic agriculture.”
Organic farmers turn to the few approved pesticides as a last resort when battling weeds and insects, unlike conventional operations that lay down multiple applications throughout the entire growing process.
Benbrook and his team built a terrific database that compares the pesticide residues detected on both the conventional and organic versions of a number of fruits and vegetables. For example, based on federal government residue tests from 2010, 47 different pesticides were detected on the samples of conventional apples, but only six on samples of organic apples. There are equally significant differences between conventional and organic versions of every other produce item in the database, including celerypeaches and strawberries
That’s another glaring difference between organic and conventional fruits and vegetables that Moyer failed to mention in her Slate piece.
Pesticides in Drinking Water
Moyer also managed not to mention that conventional agriculture is the main source of drinking water contamination.
The omnipresence of pesticides in drinking water is due to runoff from farm fields into rivers, streams and lakes and aerial application by crop dusters, which can drift onto nearby bodies of water. We’re not only eating synthetic pesticides with much of our food, in many areas of the country we’re also drinking them. And keep in mind that young children, much as with food, drink far more tap water relative to their weight than adults do.
EWG’s most recent analysis of municipal water quality tests from around the country estimated that more than 215 million Americans were exposed to agriculture chemicals from drinking water, including several highly toxic organophosphate pesticides and the notorious atrazine, used in corn, soy and sugar beat fields. According to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “Maternal exposure to atrazine in drinking water has been associated with low fetal weight and heart, urinary, and limb defects in humans.”
EWG found that the tap water of more than 27.2 million people in 33 states had various levels of atrazine, and the water used by 17 million Americans had levels above established health guidelines – again, courtesy of conventional agriculture. 
Last Words
Moyer featured EWG’s “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” in her Slatepiece, including critiques of it by pesticide industry consultants, but she didn’t bother to ask us for our take on the issue, or to speak to any scientists who do have serious concerns about the risks pesticides can pose to children.
In light of her omissions, mistakes and general lack of curiosity, Melinda Wenner Moyer’s article has to be seen for what it is – a cautionary example of a writer who dove headlong into an important and complicated subject without much effort to gather all the facts.
And that’s not just my opinion. Others have responded to Moyer’s piece, including:
Prevention Magazine contributor Robyn O’Brien: “Organic Food vs. Conventional: What the Slate Article Missed
KEY ISSUES: