Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ahh the Power of Cheese !

I am a consummate cheese lover, no doubt about it. I am also trained as a scientist.

So why didn't I come up with the idea of combining the two ? Darn.

But seriously, this British study on the effect of cheese on sleep contains several gems, not the least of which is the title: Sweet Dreams are made of Cheese.
A lot of people still believe the old wives tale that cheese gives you nightmares but this study endorses the scientific facts.

“ One of the amino acids in cheese – tryptophan – has been shown to reduce stress and induce sleep so cheese may actually help you have a good night’s sleep,” says Dr Judith Bryans, Nutrition Scientist at The Dairy Council.

85% of females who ate Stilton had some of the most unusual dreams of the whole study. 65% of people eating Cheddar dreamt about celebrities, over 65% of participants eating Red Leicester revisited their schooldays, all female participants who ate British Brie had nice relaxing dreams whereas male participants had cryptic dreams, two thirds of all those who ate Lancashire had a dream about work and over half of Cheshire eaters had a dreamless sleep.
What is particularly interesting is the reported effect different types of British cheese have on influencing the content of dreams. It seems that selecting the type of cheese you eat before bedtime may help determine the very nature of often colourful and vivid cheese induced dreams”

And let's not forget the cheese by cheese analysis of induced dreams, consider my favorite British cheese:
Stilton -eating participants enjoyed their sleep too – over two thirds had good sleep experiences during five out of the seven nights. However, if you want some vivid or crazy dreams, the King of British cheeses is the one for you – particularly if you are female. While 75% of men in this category experienced odd and vivid dreams, a massive 85% of females who ate Stilton had some of the most bizarre dreams of the whole study – although none were described as bad experiences. Highlights included talking soft toys, lifts that move sideways, a vegetarian crocodile upset because it could not eat children, dinner party guests being traded for camels, soldiers fighting with each other with kittens instead of guns and a party in a lunatic asylum.
Can some new figures of speech be far behind ? "She be straight-trippin' off the Stilton, man."

I'll have to jump quickly on combining my weakness for single-malt scotch with my scientific training. Then, as soon as I get funding, it's off to the liquor store.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A turning point...

How often I've heard that expression. The number of turning points we've supposedly passed in Iraq should have been harnessed by some turbine to generate electricity. It probably would have been enough to restore power to pre-war levels, or higher.

But no, I'm not talking about that. Rather, I'm talking about the latest blog-media shitstorm to hit the Washington Post.
Let me explain. In a particularly surprising chain of events, both the Ombudswoman and the National political editor for the Washington Post print edition have set their riflescopes on the beloved weblog columnists Dan Froomkin. Froomkin is about to go on family leave as a new father, and it seemed some internecine war has broken out in the Post's news office. First, Froomkin was accused to have a liberal bias, and his column title "White House Briefings" was somehow leading scores of readers to mistake his sharp news aggregating as original reporting from the White House.
Well, Froomkin responded on the Post blog. Then editor John Harris replied. And that's when a massive part of America, silent so long, completely fed up with the kowtowing Bushbeaten DC press, finally erupted. You literally have to read for yourself the comments, some brilliantly incisive, some measured and bathed by cold anger, some rude, others written like pumping fists of rage, but all raining down on Harris.

But it gets worse and Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake has the details. Briefly, Harris gives an interview shortly thereafter and when asked if White House officials complained to him, answered: "They have never complained in a formal way to me, but I have heard from Republicans in informal ways making clear they think his work is tendentious and unfair. ..."

Then a Post Executive Editor also has an interview and had this to say "We want to make sure people in the [Bush] administration know that our news coverage by White House reporters is separate from what appears in Froomkin's column because it contains opinion," Downie told E&P.
Adding, almost as if an afterthought, "And that readers of the Web site understand that, too."

Ooh boy. Now the anger is white hot, the blogs become alit like Christmas trees, and the comments to John Harris continue to accumulate into the hundreds, toward the thousands.

It was the angry voice of Americans silent no more, the brutal awakening and venting of a majority fed up with the fucking joke that our media has become. The hulking and venerable giants of print journalism had been dying for a while, but now the stench of rot was undeniable.

I mark this, chalk in hand, as a turning point. This massive "let them have it", many voices rising.

My claim to fame in all this ? My comment to John Harris, a hat tip to the once-keen DailyHowler, was the favorite comment picked up by Jane Hamsher.

Don't be so hard on poor Mr. John Harris. The only thing in his post that I take issue with, is that he forgot to start with: "Hey Rubes !" After that, his whole post makes more sense.

But there are so many more, you gotta read them.

My predictions had been wrong. Plamegate was not to be the downfall of the White House - that will come with other scandals - but rather it was to be the chronicle of the Fourth Estate's catastrophic failure.

Judith Miller, Bob Woodward, Vivena Novak, Bob Novak and others, all witnesses who stayed silent for too long, like so many lighthouses deciding to shut down just as the storm gathered. Now they serve to point ghostly fingers off accusation at editors, publishers and some of their fellow journalists.