girlyswot

May 3, 2007

bzzt…

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 4:23 pm

More missing bees. This time it’s in Taiwan — 10 million bees according to Taiwanese news reports.

April 18, 2007

Lost bee epidemic

Filed under: environment, Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 1:20 pm

There’s another theory about why there’s a bee apocalypse that’s spread from the US to Europe and now Britain. Apparently radiation from mobile phones are interfering with bees ability to find their way back to their hives. They get lost and die alone.

Sounds like modern life.

March 25, 2007

mosquito saliva

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 8:42 pm

I’ve just read an article in the New Scientist that says repeated exposure to mosquito saliva can boost a person’s immunity to diseases like malaria and could be used in the development of a vaccine. This is really exciting considering that millions of people die from malaria every year. But what surprised me most was that mosquitoes actually have saliva.

After a quick google I found that mosquitoes use saliva when they’re biting their victim. They slash the skin and insert the proboscis in search of a tiny blood vessel. The proboscis contains two tubes — one that withdraws blood, and one that injects saliva. The saliva contains anti-coagulants to keep the blood flowing and pain-killers so that the victim doesn’t feel the bite.

So now what I want to see is a vampire story where the vampires have a mosquito-like proboscis. But along with the anti-coagulants and pain-killers what else would a vampire inject?

March 24, 2007

fill in the blank

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 4:35 pm

drinking + ____________ = bad idea

February 15, 2007

First it was birds, now it’s bees

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 7:53 am

Something’s happening to bees in the US. In the last couple of weeks, beekeepers in 22 states have lost up to 80% of their colonies. They don’t know why. They just disappear over a couple of days until the a beekeeper opens the hive to find the queen and a few bees left. It’s been described as ‘startling’.

To give you an idea of the scale of the loss, one beekeeper alone lost 2,000 hives each of which contains 50,000 bees. That’s 100 million bees. Multiply that across the states…

In the US it’s also going to affect food crops. Commercially, the bees pollinate almonds, apples and blueberries.

And guess what? They’re also reporting significant bee losses in some European countries as well. In Italy, one beekeeper, Giuseppe Miranti believes that it’s climate change to blame for dramatic bee losses in his region. Because of changing temperatures, flowers are blooming at different times and bees are having trouble adapting. Bee parasites also live longer and are more persistent in warmer weather.

Tipping point anyone?

January 25, 2007

BOO! Health clinic keeps baby until parents pay

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 5:12 pm

As if it’s not crap enough living in poverty, now they’re withholding children if parents can’t pay the clinic fee. That’s what’s happened this week in Indonesia where a clinic is keeping a newborn until the parents can pay the fee for the baby’s delivery. The family have already paid a third of the fee, after borrowing from friends, but don’t know where they’ll get the rest. Apparently the parents agreed to the fee, but frankly if faced with the choice of giving birth on my own or giving birth in a clinic with skilled professionals taking care of me, I’d probably agree to that deal too. Childbirth can be a dangerous business.

To get a bit of context, 72% of births in Indonesia are attended by a skilled health professional which is OK stats for a developing country, but what’s more telling is that out of the poorest 20% of people in the country, only 21% of women are helped out by a skilled health worker. Those odds suck. When combined with corruption of health services, it sucks even more. So much so, that they’ll keep your kids and there won’t be anything you can do about it.

That’s the way corruption works in many countries. It’s not just about fatcat leaders siphoning off billions for their luxury lifestyles, although Indonesia does that the dubious glory of having the most corrupt leader of all time in Suharto, who ruled from 67-98. It’s the day-to-day graft like the story above that is what perceived corruption is all about. Indonesia 130 out of 163 in the corruption perception index.

So the maths is simple. poverty + corruption = crap life.

January 18, 2007

Doomsday clock moves forward and more birds die

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 9:33 am

As the Doomsday clock had ticked forward to 5 minutes to midnight, there’s news of more mysterious bird deaths in Western Australia.

Two hundred birds have died in a small farming community, which is 400km west of Esperence where 4000 birds have died (up from 1000 in the initial reports). The birds haven’t died of bacterial or viral infections, so scientists are waiting to see what else is causing the deaths.

There’s some crazy stuff going on in WA. There have been reports in the last week of a radioactive canister that went missing. It was found yesterday and had apparently fallen off the back of a truck.

Man, do I feel safe and secure.

January 10, 2007

the execution

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 11:51 am

The consequences of Saddams’s execution are only just beginning. While the effects in Iraq were expected, one unexpected outcome is that children around the world are hanging themselves after watching the video on TV. I think we’re up to 12 or 13 now.

The disturbing thing is that many of them are playing ‘execution’ and accidentally die. I wonder Saddam’s been demonised so much that he’s like a cartoon villain. His execution, played on television news is like a cartoon death.

The trial has started back again this week as well, bizarrely with an empty seat for Saddam. He still had to face trial for genocide of the Kurds when he was executed. Now the charges have been dropped against him.

Has justice been done?

the end is nigh?

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 11:44 am

It’s doom and portents in the news this week.

  • breathing the air in mumbai is the equivalent of smoking 2 and half packs of ciggies a day
  • a two-headed cow that was born in the US
  • And then there’s the birds:

  • One story in Austin, Texas a couple of days ago — birds dropping dead, no known cause.
  • One story in Esperence, Western Australia — a thousand dead birds, no known cause.

    It’s how the beginning of the end started in Do androids dream of electric sheep? (Bladerunner). Philip K. Dick did believe he was communing with God through a beam of pink light — could it be that he is, in fact, a prophet?

January 5, 2007

Australians who made 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 10:58 am

The obligatory New Year lists have been published and while most are inane and some downright embarrassing the Age’s list of Australians who made 2006 has some surprising additions.

While the male category is topped and tailed by Steve Irwin and Shane Warne, which is about as predictable as you get, they sandwich the Socceroos team, Terry Hicks and Tim Flannery. What does this mean for Australian culture? Will soccer become the national game in the next 20 years. Australians love excelling at sport and there’s no bigger stage than the World Cup. I think none will rest until it’s in our hands.

Now Terry Hicks is a very interesting addition. Terry Hicks is the father of Guantanamo detainee David Hicks, who has been held illegally by the US government for five years without even being charged (let alone being tried and convicted). He’s been tortured and be kept in solitary confinement for much of that time. Big news around Christmas time was David Hicks’ inability to take a phone call from his family because he would be unable to cope with the aftermath.

The Age has been running a campaign to release Hicks and Terry has been given a lot of press. Seems like sentiment about Hicks’ detention is changing. For ages, he was seen as a terror suspect and therefore deserving of whatever he got. But now, his dad is number 3 Australian. Maybe there will be justice for David Hicks this year.

Number 3 is Tim Flannery, who now seems to be Australia’s favourite scientist. Climate Change was THE big issue for 2006, so it fits.

What about the women? The list is a lot less interesting than the men and it looks like the readers were clutching at straws. Let’s see, who’s a well-known Australian woman? I know, Kylie. She’s number 1. Then there’s Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, who let’s face it, is very very rich and does a lot of Good Works. Then we’ve got seven-time world number one surfer Layne Beachley, Julia Gillard at 4 (does this mean Federal Labor have got a shot at the next election?) and Cate Blanchett at number 5.

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