Friday, 5 January 2007

it's a warm one

On-air the other day, in a spin-off from my usual polar bear rant, I began to speculate on the effects our exceptionally warm winter might have on hibernating animals. Not knowing much about the scientific underpinnings of hibernation, my best guess was that the effects couldn't be good. This article from answered a lot of my questions. Apparently, bears don't use temperature to decide when to wake up, and groundhogs are far enough underground that what's going on up here doesn't affect them much, so those species are okay. But the extra warm temperatures are hard on frogs, snails and insects, and a scientist from Carleton university has suggested that there could be a "catastrophic" impact on their populations come spring.

In related news, Canada's new environment minister has actually admitted that global warming is a reality.

And since we're on the topic of news stories, a story on the use of human-animal embryos in medical (stem cell) research raises some interesting issues. The practice is banned in Canada, and while it's still allowed in the UK for now, they're working on legislation to ban it. Now I'm definitely not one for supporting messing around with animals but in situations like this I think people have a tendency to oppose research for the wrong reasons. Let me illustrate with a quote from the article:
Consultations in Britain showed widespread discomfort among the public with the idea of chimeras. People said they were horrified by images of mice with human ears growing on their backs and pigs bred with human blood running through their veins.

Researchers argue that this is not at all what their work is about. The embryos never get a chance to develop beyond a couple of weeks. I could see right-to-lifers objecting to this, as with any other kind of stem cell research, and I don't expect too many animal rights activists are jumping on the chimera bandwagon, but it boggles my mind that people can tolerate the idea of factory farming just fine, but mess with the species barrier and they start freaking out.


Right now I'm listening to a CD I just got in the mail - Lost Yet Not Forgotten, a collection of Ewigkeit rareties and demos. Admittedly rough, but charming nonetheless. If you're interested, visit the Ewigkeit site for more info (it's for sale in the webstore there).

Before that I was checking out an EP by Farewell to Words (Tear Down this Wall from Bastardized Recordings) that was sent my way. Part melodic death, screamo and new American metal (even though they're from Germany). Sounded pretty generic at first, but by song 2 I was liking it in spite of myself. We'll have to see how it holds up to further listening.

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