06 October 2010


McNUGGET PASTE. From The Huffington Post: "Someone figured out in the 1960s that meat processors can eke out a few more percent of profit from chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows by scraping the bones 100 percent clean of meat. This is done by machines, not humans, by passing bones leftover from the initial cutting through a high pressure sieve. The paste you see in the picture above is the result (click to enlarge) .... There's more. Because it's crawling with bacteria, it will be washed with ammonia. Then, because it tastes gross, it will be reflavored artificially. Then, because it is weirdly pink, it will be dyed with artificial color (see image below) .... The resulting paste goes on to become the main ingredient in many of America's favorite mass-produced and processed meat-like foods and snacks -- bologna, hot dogs, salami, pepperoni, Slim Jim-like jerkeys, and of course the ever-polarizing chicken nugget, where the paste from the photo above is likely destined."

Here is the complete Huffington Post entry, including reader comments. It has been many years since I've been a fan of fast food restaurants, for reasons rooted in lack of flavor and nutrients, as well as abhoring the inhumane conditions at poultry farms and other non-free-range operations. This article is icing on the grotesque cake of the American diet. Meat by-products paste, deep fat fried. Small wonder that a third of Americans are clinically obese, and another third are seriously overweight.

If you would like to know where you stand, healthwise, check out your body mass index. The chart is broken down by gender, and shows the acceptable range of weights for a given height. Guideline -- within your target weight range, less is better. No matter how far you are from this goal, a healthy diet and a comprehensive exercise program will transform your life.

BOY OR GIRL. Here's an entertaining poser. "Assume you know that a woman has two children, the older of whom is a boy. Given this knowledge, what is the probability that she has two boys? 50/50, right? Not so fast. John Allen Paulos explains the range of conditions which can affect our prediction. Probability theory is the branch of mathematics which deals with analysis of random (or seemingly random) phenomena. It impacts every aspect of our lives, from the DNA-governed characteristics of a fetus, to the chances of being involved in a traffic accident, to drawing that desperately-needed card in a game of Texas Hold 'Em, to weather forecasting, to being struck by a comet.

BONUS. From the website of The Nature Conservancy, one of the world's most effective conservation organizations, here is a slide show called Natural Light (the best of over 11,000 images). My four years working as a preserve caretaker for TNC in southern Arizona were among the most fulfilling in my long and varied career. I encourage all to support the Conservancy, through donations, through volunteering, through protecting your land by creating a conservation easement, or any of a score of similar innovative agreements which benefit both you and the planet we call home.

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