Rats saving lives in Tanzania

Thanks to Mystic's Muses I just came across an organization in Africa that uses rats to not only find land mines but detect Tuberculosis. Talk about a low-tech solutions to important problems. No need to call PETA, either. The critters are not sent to their deaths. They're actually too light to set the pressure plates off, and the website's FAQ explains that a trained rat is far too valuable to sacrifice, too.Didn't know they were that smart.-- A P O P O --APOPO trains … [Read more...]

Buddhist fists flying in Sri Lanka

Things have been exceedingly hectic, but I think I'm approaching the point where I might be able to blog again with a  modicum of regularity.So I give you a a strange scene from Sri Lanka that reminds us how inadequate our simplistic categories are. A peace rally of Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus is disrupted up by a band of violent Buddhist monks!  It sounds like a New Age joke.SRI LANKA: Pro-War Monks Turn Peace Rally Into Fracas When saffron-clad Buddhists monks and Catholic … [Read more...]

A commercial to make Rube Goldberg proud

Mozaffar's Moments was kind enough to bring this fascinating Honda Accord commercial to our attention.  It brings back fond childhood memories of wacky and ridiculously convoluted mechanical solutions to everyday problems on "Tom & Jerry" and the like. The pioneer of this delightfully impractical intellectual pursuit was Rube Goldberg.  You must see this amazing, real-life example, a noodle-preparation machine here, that involves fire, bowling balls and even a … [Read more...]

Update on the baby

Shabana reported yesterday on our jihad against the conventional wisdom in a medical establishment that seems more interested in keeping doctors' weekends open for golf than providing their patient medical care that is personalized to her needs, legitimate desires concerning her body and birthing experience, and the medical specifics of her pregnancy.  We received the full court press, with 3 different doctors trotting out every imaginable argument to scare us into inducing labor a week … [Read more...]

When in doubt give your wife coffee

Gleaned while slowly, tenderly, nursing a big cup of joe in a bookstore:"[Today's coffee craze, with a Starbucks on every corner is] nothing compared to the popularity it enjoyed in the Middle East during the 1500s.  In Turkey, a woman could divorce her a man who did not provide enough coffee."(The Greatest Stories Never Told, page 31.) In our case the scenario somehow doesn't seem all that farfetched, as Shabana's as much of a caffeine fiend as me. Never get between either of us … [Read more...]

A fun list of Muslim inventions

Independent Online Edition > Science & Technology From coffee to cheques and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given us many innovations that we take for granted in daily life. As a new exhibition opens, Paul Vallely nominates 20 of the most influential- and identifies the men of genius behind them … [Read more...]

When superstition kills

The pervision and cruel irony of this problem in Malawi is stunning.For whatever it's worth, Malawi is 75% Christian (55%, Protestant; 20%, Catholic), 20% Muslim, and 5% animist & other religions."Have Men in Our Land Chosen to Become Worse Than Beasts?" (IPS News Service) In addition to their concerns about wife battering, activists say they are alarmed at apparent increases in rape, underage sex and molestation perpetrated by men [in Malawi] who believe that intercourse with a child or a … [Read more...]

The straight dope on smoking sheesha

I feel like one of those holy yet strangely unpopular people who circulate long lists of beloved foods and products that might contain an ingredient which sometimes contains an additive that can be produced using something that is sometimes derived from a pig.  Sometimes ignorance is really bliss and you wish people would just let you wallow in your ignorance. So it's with a heavy heart that I share the sad tidings that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, sheesha smoke is not … [Read more...]