The Canada Food Guide is designed with life in an area devoid of sunlight for much of the year in mind. The TMD is designed for people who live where it's bright and sunny much of the year. People there can make much of their own vitamin D, and have access to fresh fruit and vegetables that haven't travelled as freight from Costa Rica for several days.
The Canada Food Guide is designed by a team of scientists and food lobbyists (e.g., from the dairy and beef industries). The TMD is a diet that has developed over the course of generations, derived mostly from what is locally available to the area. Both emphasize balanced nutrition including protein from animal sources; however, the Canada Food Guide does not emphasize diversity of these animal sources, and places no limit on the amount of red meat a Canadian should consume, even though diets high in red meat have been shown to cause health problems.
Saedigh.com's conclusion: There are pros and cons for both dietary guidelines. As with most things in life, the middle path is probably the best option. Canadians require vitamin D supplementation, but could likely stand to increase the amounts of grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts in their diets, rather than relying so heavily on Alberta beef to meet their protein requirements.
So, part of my job is identifying articles containing information relevant to Joe Canadian. Articles we can write a press release for, because they'd be of interest to the general public, and not just academics.
The journal I used to edit was pretty dry. The only press release we ever successfully issued was about the mapping of the turkey genome. Yes, the bird. We released it just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving. It was hokey, but it got our journal's name in the press. People ate it up, so to speak.
The journal for which I am currently working deals with a lot of issues of importance to modern Canadians: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, nutrition, exercise, childhood obesity. In pretty much every issue, there is information that should be disseminated to all Canadians, not just the scholars and ivory tower types. The only problem is that Stephen Harper's government doesn't think it's that important for you to know some of this stuff. You see, Mr. Harper insists that everything for which a government agency, not unlike the one I work for, wants to issue a press release go through the Prime Minister's Office. His staff has to read it, and agree with it. They then send it out to all other departments who might have an issue with the release. All of those other departments, headed up by unelected officials or people who were elected, but rely on funding from lobby groups to seek their re-election, then get to have a go at quashing the release, too.
The end result for timely information like that found in an academic journal is that the whole process takes far too long, and we stop bothering to draft press releases, as they will no longer be relevant by the time they're made public (relevant in terms of citing information found in the most current issue of a journal). Anything that appears old, you see, doesn't get picked up by agencies like the Associated Press or Reuters.
So, I've decided that when I think an article is of interest to Canadians in general, particularly those who read this blog, I will publish a link to the article's home page. Sadly, if Stephen Harper doesn't think you'll be interested, downloading the article will not be free...however, you can read the abstract for free, and if you have any questions about the rest of the article's content, you can always ask the girl who did the copy-editing. Right?
Our first installment in this series will be an article published in January. I thought issuing a release in time for the holiday imbibing season might be appropriate, but we received the article far too late to go through all of the right channels before the New Year. So, for your reading interest, here is
For a while now, scientists have known that human pappilomavirus, or HPV, is linked to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer kills approximately 390 Canadian women each year, and affects thousands more. The same virus also causes genital warts, a sexually transmitted infection. In fact, pretty much the only way to contract HPV is through sexual contact. And since "good girls" wouldn't ever dare to engage in sexual contact with anyone other than their husband, on their wedding night, for the purpose of creating a baby...well, only "bad girls" die of cervical cancer. At least, that is what the religious right would have us believe, and that is why they have faught tooth and nail to have a vaccine for HPV not be administered to the people who need it most: young women who are not yet engaged in sexual activity. They believe that such a vaccine takes the percieved risks out of intercourse, thus undermining their policy of encouraging abstinence-only education in schools.
However, a recent study has linked HPV to another form of cancer. One that affects both men and woman almost equally: throat cancer.
Since the religious right is hypocritical about almost everything else it preaches, I am willing to bet that a lot of the stodgy old white males in its ranks have at one time or another engaged in the type of activity that allows one to contract HPV orally. I am also willing to bet that now that those stodgy old white males are at risk of developing cancer, that there will be a minor attitude shift and the development of a vaccine that can be given to men. Oh, women will probably have to continue to die of an entirely preventable disease, but the religious right will be safe. And when you're a stodgy old white male, isn't that what matters most?
...and so do squirrels. Which is what's got John Tory's knickers in a knot. He'd rather not know the intricacies of squirrel sex, particularly that of the Northern Flying variety, and he'd prefer it if you, the tax payer, didn't have to hear about it either.
The aptly named leader of the provincial conservative party is ticked off over the granting of $150 000 of provincial money to an ecologist to study the mating habits of the northern flying squirrel in an effort to see how global warming might be affecting the population. The grant is part of an initiative to open up job opportunities to graduate students, and this sum is enough to buy you five for a year. Let's see... that breaks down to about $30 000 per scholar. Not a bad deal at all, really. But Mr. Tory would rather see that money go towards healthcare (the system his party pretty much destroyed in the late nineties) or paying down the deficit (also a grits' legacy). I am not sure if Mr Tory is still operating on the 1967 dollar. I'd be interested in knowing exactly how far he thinks $150 000 would go to cutting down waiting times, staffing MRI machines, or plugging the hole in the province's pockets. But conservatives are pretty handy with the creative accounting, so let's give him the benefit of the doubt for just a second. If we can solve so many problems by taking grants away from scientific research, imagine what we could do with a couple of cuts to MPs' salaries and expense accounts.
When will this nonsense cease? First, they ask for disclaimer stickers to be put in biology text books. Then, they announce plans to build their own museum, complete with dioramas depicting Australopithecans hunting down some velociraptors. I thought the last straw would be forcing educated docents at world-class educational institutions to condescend to reply to their specious claims about carbon dating and the laws of thermodynamics. But no, that's not good enough for them. Now, they are giving their own tours of scientifically valid museums and providing their own takes on the exhibits dealing with evolution and natural history.
Some of my favourite excerpts from the article:
"God made dinosaurs on the sixth day of Creation, the same day he made people, according to Rusty Carter's interpretation of the Bible.
'The word dinosaur was not invented back then, but in Job 38, there's two large creatures, behemoth and leviathan,' said Carter, director of the Littleton-based Biblically Correct Tours, as he prepared to give his first tour of the school year."
"The biblical flood fossilized dinosaurs, Thorne said, but dinosaurs made it onto the ark - all the animals did. He suspects Noah brought baby dinosaurs (because who would want an adult tyrannosaur around?), and the creatures succumbed to overhunting or climate change."
Leave science to the scientists. If you can't take religion out of public institutions, don't get mad at me when I go from ministry to church to tabernacle replacing the Book of Common Prayer and whatnot with copies of On the Origin of Species.
You have got to be kidding. Let's try this one more time people: Evolution is not a theory. Natural selection was Darwin's theory, which he put forward as a possible explanation for the observable phenomenon that is evolution. How is that so complicated?
If we are going to teach creation stories in school, why don't we teach all of them, and put them in a philosophy class? Better yet, why don't we teach public school students about world religion? Are we afraid that they might stop seeing Muslims as the enemy, and instead embrace them as people with different spiritual views? That would just turn the world, well, rightside up, wouldn't it?
I guess I am supposed to take this to mean that only a Christian God is capable of intelligent design. Sorry there Vishnu.
MIT is holding a first (and last) annual Time Travellers' Convention on May 7th. It's the first and last all at the same time because, according to the logic that allows you to think a Time Travellers' Convention is a good idea, you would only need one such convention, as it would be accessible to "people" from all eras/dimensions in which time travel is possible.
From the organiser's Web site: Write the details down on a piece of acid-free paper, and slip them into obscure books in academic libraries! Carve them into a clay tablet! If you write for a newspaper, insert a few details about the convention! Tell your friends, so that word of the convention will be preserved in our oral history! A note: Time travel is a hard problem, and it may not be invented until long after MIT has faded into oblivion. Thus, we ask that you include the latitude/longitude information when you publicize the convention.
You can also make an absolute commitment to publicize the convention afterwards. In that case, bring a time capsule or whatever it may be to the party, and then bury it afterwards.
The co-ordinates are as follows: May 7, 2005, 10:00pm EDT (08 May 2005 02:00:00 UTC)
East Campus Courtyard, MIT
(42.360007,-071.087870 in decimal degrees)
Wanderers of the future, consider my part done. And if you wanted to drop by my office five minutes from now to say thanks, that wouldn't go amiss either. ;-)
I've been getting a little bit of heat about the scientific value of my little experiment. I guess calling it an experiment maybe gave people a false sense of security. There will be no two-tailed t tests here — it's been too long since I've done one.
However, I shall disclose why I have difficulty believing that the combustion of hydrogen hundreds, thousands, or millions of lightyears away from me, and the position of our solar system's planets in relation to those balls of gas, has any bearing on my destiny.
Astrology has existed for thousands of years. The form most westerners are familiar with, Western Tropical astrology, has its roots in ancient Mesopotamia. While the ancient Mesopotamians gave us many great things, they were not noted for telescope design. As a result, the only planets that were known to exist were the ones visible to the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. It was these five planets, the sun, the moon, and their location with respect to the constellations of the zodiac and the Earth that were believed to exert influence over our destinies. Fast forward to the year 2005, and we have astrological charts that take into account 3 additional planets (some even take into account the newly discovered Sedna, while others recognise the controversy over whether Pluto or Sedna are really planets, and exclude them altogether). What I have difficulty reconciling is how astrology could be accurate when only 5 planets influenced our lives, and how it can still be accurate now with additional celestial bodies exerting their power.
Rather than chalking up our personalities and success to rising and setting houses and abstract clusters of stars we have anthropomorphised, I think that the external influences over our lives originate a little closer to home. I think that there is a possible correlation between the time of year at which you were born and your personality, thus your determination/perserverance and ultimate success in life. Depending on what time of year you are born, you will experience the different seasons at different points in your life. Seasons affect mood and physiology, changes in a mother's physiology can have an effect on the development of the fetus she is carrying, etc. The movement of planets and satellites follow certain patterns, causing the sky to change day by day, but appear similar at the same point in time each year. Perhaps then, as a way of explaining noted similarities between people born at certain times of the year, our ancestors turned to the heavens.
So, there you have it. :-) My rationale. Agree, disagree, discuss, see things in a different light, educate yourself on the subject, take from it what you will. For the time being, I will continue to read my horoscope, eat my fortunate cookies, and look at my tea leaves with my tongue firmly inserted in my cheek.
As I've said before, I work as a scientific editor. Sometimes, I get to write a press release about an article that is of import to a wider audience than the bespectacled academics that usually peruse my publication.
Last December, my journal published an article about BSE, or "mad cow disease". Scientists from Agriculture Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency had managed to identify the genetic code for the prion that caused Canada's first native case of BSE. While Canadians may not care to read a bunch of seemingly meaningless nucleotides, they might want to read the conclusion of the paper in laymen's terms: that in all likelihood this case of BSE was not isolated, that other cows of the same age could possibly have been infected, and that the most probably method of contraction was through tainted feed.
We interviewed the author. We wrote the press release. We had it vetted at the highest levels of AgCan and the CFIA. After a gruelling revision process, it was sent to media outlets across the country. It was ignored. The Canadian media had banded together and decided that the topic was too potentially inflammatory to cover. They killed the story. Not a week later, over Christmas, a Canadian cow in the US was diagnosed with BSE.
A few days ago, Canada's 4th non-imported case of BSE was discovered. I know that the press release I wrote likely wouldn't have stopped it from occurring. But perhaps it would have incited enough Canadians to be outraged, and demand a change to the current system that still allows rendered animal byproducts to be used to feed other livestock.
Herbivores don't eat other herbivores. Livestock should be fed their natural diet. Canadians should be outraged that they aren't being given all of the facts. It's not the government deciding what you should and shouldn't know, it's the media. People we didn't elect.