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  • Crow Snowboarding

    This totally made my day. I'm sure this vid is about to go mega-viral. What I want to know is, did the crow watch some other kids playing in the snow and decide to copy them, or did it come up with the idea itself. Whichever, it's pretty much proof that they like to play. Why wouldn't they? It's funny that humans assume we are so different from animals. They have the same organs we do - lungs, heart, stomach.... yet we think that their brains don't work, that they don't want to have fun, that they are not really conscious... anyway enjoy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FSBiBmjWxg

    Ok, I guess I can't embed the video :/ - so I had to just link to it instead.

    Things are good. Been learning a lot. I read about 'White Knight Syndrome", where men feel compelled to 'rescue' damsels in distress, not always for the best of reasons. Also learned about the "war nickel", which is only 35% silver as opposed to 90%: http://www.blogster.com/dancingthrulife/novembers-musings

  • Troy or Troyes?

    Can't believe summer has flown past! Summer's lease hath all too short a date indeed. What happened?

    My random thought of the day: It's funny how what ends up being considered historical fact is very often not a "fact", but a prevailing opinion. Case in point, that I was just studying today - the Troy Ounce. So OED (Oxford English Dictionary has it that the Troy ounce, (the weight that is used to measure gold,silver and bullion) originated in the Fair of Troyes, a medieval fair in France which was an important event for international trade. King Henry II of England, who was originally of French origin, introduced the weight to the English system, standardizing the weight by increasing the weight of the English penny. All sounds fair and reasonable, right? Well, according to *another* source, this is all wrong - and the Troy ounce was introduced by the Roman Empire and really did come from the ancient Troy, going even further back to systems used by the ancient Egyptians.

    So, which one do you want to believe? Many will go for the one that sounds the most romantic, without realizing that their choice has totally been influenced by what they wanted to believe. The truly wise however are able to be unattached to a preferred truth and look at what "is".

    The real trouble, methinks, is that history is something of a 'swiss cheese'... totally full of holes. Discrepancies such as the one above are rife in every field. Take global warming for example. The only thing we can agree on is that no-one can agree on anything! Same goes for pretty much every subject. I think we are a species bogged down in the mire of endless disagreement, is there nothing we can lay to rest?

  • The Catuaba Mystery

    I've been researching aphrodisiacs and found a bizarre one which left me confused and scratching my head: Catuaba. There are apparently all these legends that Catuaba, a tree from the Amazon, is a great aphrodisiac - especially when mixed with Muira Puama. The problem is - no-one seems to be able to agree on which tree Catuaba is. Then when you add to that the fact that the supply has sometimes been found to be mixed with other things, and also an almost total lack of science on the subject... you would think that no-one in their right mind would take the stuff.

    The trouble is, the darn stuff is really popular - and the legends from the Amazon won't go away. It's not just that they are trying to fob it off on outsiders, it seems that they take the stuff themselves, and even have an old song about it. There has to be something to it, if you ask me... and so many times an old legend around a herb has been later found by science to have some validity.

    The closest anyone seems to have gotten to the truth is probably Chris Kilham, who rather than being an armchair researcher, actually travelled to the place it comes from. He thinks it is the tree Erythroxylum catuaba. However, I sometimes wonder if Kilham has something of an agenda... he seems to 'hype the herbs' in grand style sometimes. Still, better that than if he was hyping some evil chemical imho!

  • How To Fix the USA Economy In One Step

    Ok so this is my idea for how to fix the messed-up USA economy in one step. Note: I'm not an economist, so if you have any critique, pls be nice! It's just an idea. Anyway, although a simple idea it seems to me that this would work......

    This is also the only thing I can think of that both Dems and Repubs can dare to be seen agreeing on. Reason why? It's patriotic.....

    Create a nice fat "imported goods and services sales tax". 5-10% extra. It only applies to goods and services bought from overseas. You buy stuff made in USA, it's the same price. :) You could even trim the sales tax on goods made at home by a point, just to add to the feelgood factor and encourage support of American businesses.

    Companies who outsource labor, putting Americans out of work and giving USA money to other countries just to save a buck... tax em! All those companies who have foreign tech support.. you think they're patriotic? All they care about is cutting costs, even if it means sticking it to Americans with second rate, cheap support. Call their support number and ask the service rep what country they are in, you know it's wherever is cheapest.

    People that buy cheap Chinese goods made for prices so low it is putting Americans out of work... tax em! Walmart and all those other companies - you think they are proud to be American? Give me a break! They will buy whatever is cheap, and sell it for whatever they can get. They don't care what country they buy from, so long as it is cheap. Can't you see how this is hurting the USA?

    An imported goods and services tax will:

    a) encourage people to buy American made goods.
    b) The increased demand then creates a lot of USA jobs, thus creating more wealth which can be spent at home.
    c) The tax also generates a lot of direct revenue which will fill the coffers and help pay the nation's massive overdue bills, reducing the need to cut medicare, schools, etc etc.
    d) It will massively reduce the trade deficit and put things back where they should be; people from other countries should be buying high quality goods that were made properly in the USA, just like they used to be!

    Who will dare to disagree with this? You could tease them about being "Unamerican" if they do! I mean... you don't actually prefer to buy stuff made in China when you could be supporting USA businesses, do you? I thought you were proud of your country!

    Another good thing about this is that the tax will be balanced fairly across rich and poor. The rich buy more crap, so they will get taxed according to what they spend on foreign goods. And everyone has the option to opt out of this tax, whenever they want to, simply buy buying American!!

    The reason behind this is more about common sense than patriotism. Ultimately, the only way for a nation to generate revenue is to create goods and services, and direct buyers towards those goods and services. The USA is being killed by cheap foreign imports. It is inferior, and everyone knows it, but people buy it to "save a dollar". But the hidden effect of their action is that their money has now gone abroad.... meaning that this country is worse off. Their dollar has effectively fallen out of a hole in the bottom of the bucket, instead of circulating around and staying in the USA. In other words, their action came back to bite them on the butt! Alas no-one sees or understands the connection and the hidden effect of buying cheap foreign goods. Not only that, but the cheap foreign stuff breaks really fast anyway, meaning that you need to buy another one. As the saying goes, buy quality goods and only weep once...... IF YOU ARE AMERICAN, BUY AMERICAN!

    Buy local! And remember the words of Gil Scott Heron R.I.P.: "When the producer names the tune, the consumer has got to dance."

  • Girasol and human nature

    I just read a page that all-but proves that the faking of gemstones was going on over 2,000 years ago! It amazes me that despite our advances in technology, you could say that human nature hasn't really changed very much. So much for evolution ;) Anyway the gemstone that was faked - with glass copies - was the girasol. However, unlike today's forgeries, which may require a lab full of hi tech equipment and a skilled gemologist to detect, the old girasol fakes were detected by turning the stone in sunlight (hence the name which means "turning sun"). The real thing would reflect bright colors inside the stone, whereas the fakes would still look like ordinary glass.

  • The phenomenon of U2

    I've been a huge fan for years, but have noticed how U2 of all rock bands seems to have a strange relationship with the public. It's as if they 'divide' people into two camps - those who adore them and those who hate them. There seems to be less middle ground than other bands - have you noticed this?

    I was watching videos of them on YT - seeing their concerts all over the world, people simply go nuts over them. Everywhere except England. For some reason. I saw them at Glastonbury and you could sense that a good number of the crowd were not feeling it. It's weird. They play their string of mega hits, number one singles and albums... and then looking at the YT comments of the english footage, a stream of insults from the English. What's going on here?

    They are now officially the most successful touring act ever, with the 360 tour having overtaken the Stones record for biggest grossing tour ever. They also hold another record for having sold out every show they have done since before 2000. When you think of the size of venues they play, that's pretty amazing, and no other band has equalled this.

    Bono lives in another world from us mortals and I think it shows sometimes. It seems that sometimes the little ad libs and things he does between songs just dont seem to go over. It's like he's trying to be affable but its not convincing. I think he should get on with the songs, put it all into the music and not worry about the theatrical 'gestures' so much.

    I still adore em though. I judge a band by the music, not what they do in between, and with those stellar songs, playing and vocals I don't really care about anything else.

  • When is a product 'tested safe'?

    This is something I've been thinking about. Note that this is just my opinion, not medical advice or anything like that. Just so that you know. It's important to disclose such things these days.

    So, one of the lines commonly used by the pharmaceutical advocates is that a lot of herbal products do not have the background of research that proves they are safe or even effective.

    When we look a little further into this, we realise that it is actually the opposite.

    In my humble opinion, a product should not be defined as 'safe for consumption' until at least one generation that has been using it, has gone to the end of their lives without any noted detrimental effect on their lifespan.

    Most of the herbs that have been around, have been in use for thousands of years. Think about it. If some nasty effects were going to show up from their use, the chances are they would have done so by now.

    Most of the pharmaceutical products that are on the current marketplace, have only been around a handful of years at best. They simply cannot state for certain that these things are not suddenly going to start causing people to croak ten years early.

    And yet they persist with the same old line that the modern stuff is 'safer'.

    The other thing they like to assume is that people were stupid in olden times. This is another fallacy. There were many people of great knowledge and wisdom in old days - and one only has to read the writings of some of the greats such as Plato, to realise that some of their work may not have been surpassed. Modern medicine still holds on to the tenet of the "Hippocratic Oath", however thinly - which noble sentiment has been around for 2,000 years.

    Take for example the plant Rhodiola Rosea. It turns out that this was used by Russian Royalty in old times and revered by them as having tremendous benefits. Does modern science think these people were simply stupid, and had no idea how something made them feel? The problem is that herbal research cannot easily get the funding for the mega-expensive modern trials, as there isn't the 'take away' for a potential investor.

    I might come across as biased, but it's for a reason. Our bodies were not designed to take chemicals. We evolved since ancient times in a world of plants. Is it any wonder that one sees the giant lists of possible side effects on modern 'medicines'.

    You can do what you like, and this is not medical advice. But me, I don't touch that stuff with a ten foot pole. Why should I, when I can use something that has been around for thousands of years, and I have found to work very satisfactorily for me?

  • Herballistics...

    Here's a subject that interests me greatly - the idea that the ancients were not so dumb after all, but were in some senses possibly as smart as we are.

    There was obviously a lot of superstition in old times - but isn't there still? I tend to think that the works of the great minds of the past are still just as relevant today.

    Which brings me onto the subject of herbalism. I feel as though it's an ancient art with a high pedigree, yet 'modern' science seems to be doing everything they can to discredit it.

    Most of the work that was done, built upon a tradition of thousands of years of use. Then, just as now, doctors had to cure people otherwise they lost their reputation. So if centuries of herbalist writers, who had little other than herbs to go on, continued to swear by a certain plant... we ought to give them their due. As usual, a subject is a mixture of true and false. The 'other side' tends to reject the whole thing, throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    All this being said.. when I find some great information from the world of herbs, I may post it here. That's it for now!

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