Polio: A Crippling Affliction now Largely Forgotten

A polio patient in an iron lung in 1938

As my father contracted polio, or poliomyelitis as it formally known, at a young age, it is one of the crippling diseases of which the McCleland family is well aware. Before the advent of vaccines in the 1940s, this scourge could not be prevented and the treatments bordered upon the barbaric. About 10% of the victims ultimately succumbed to it. Fortunately, my father’s malady was less severe as it only affected one foot. Nevertheless, one leg was shorter than the other which precluded normal sporting and other activities.  

This is the chronicle of that devastating disease, now largely forgotten.

Main picture: A polio patient in an iron lung in 1938

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Absurd Adverts Promoting Smoking from Yesteryears

Vintage smoking adverts#24

Once smoking bore the cachet of cool, elegance and sporting. Viewing the adverts of half a century ago they are so utterly laughable that it strains one’s credulity to believe that adverts would tout smoking as an elixir. Yet they did. Much like latter day adverts proclaiming miracle cures for obesity, their continued message is believed when manufacturers and human belief coincide.

Main picture: Amongst the many supposed benefits of smoking was weight loss

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Vitamins: Caveat Emptor Definitely Applies

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Contrary to received wisdom, more vitamins are not better for one. Far from it. Mae West might have stated that more is better, but she was referring to sex and not to vitamins. The overconsumption of vitamins could be benign as in the case of vitamin C where the excess is merely excreted or it can be toxic in the case of vitamin A. Is the unregulated vitamin supplement industry unscrupulously opportunistic and is science able to substantiate definitely what levels are required?

Main picture: Is this the way that nature intend us to take our vitamins?

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Genetic Engineering: The Genie is out of the Bottle

Genetic engineering-CRISPR

It is one thing to predict that a breakthrough is imminent but it quite another to actual effect that leap forward. After researchers with cheery optimism had cried wolf on numerous occasions, the scientists & technologists have finally found an inexpensive and undemanding method of editing DNA. 

How is this feat performed and will it be the panacea as predicted?

Main picture: CRISPR will be the game changer. The die is now cast and genetic engineering will now be a reality

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The Paradox of the Ethical Carnivore

Caring owl feeding an injured owl with 2 broken legs and a damaged wing estimated to be 1 year old

In all likelihood I will be vilified by the Vegetarian fraternity for even posing the question of ethnics and meat eating. To them it is an oxymoron, a casus belli using their favourite weapon, the politics of rage by casting their views in melodramatic terms. Call me old-fashioned, even heartless, but I have no intention of banishing meat from my menu. This is not to say that I nonetheless face a moral dilemma. I have always concurred with the widely held view that it in spite of being bred for the pot, these animals must be treated humanely whilst being mindful of the ecological consequences of the methods in which they are farmed.  

 Herein lies the paradox as alluded to in the title of the blog and not the fact of eating meat.

Main picture:  Caring owl feeding an injured owl with 2 broken legs and a damaged wing estimated to be 1 year old. To find out more about this incredible bird go to its very own website at http://www.thecaringowl.co.za/

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Is being Overweight a Life Sentence?

Space station - USD 150 Billion

Reality TV shows in which contestants lose enormous quantities of weight seem to suggest otherwise? In what can only be described as results vindicating those who are unable to lose weight, the release today in the Obesity Journal – 1st May 2016 – of the tests performed on those contestants seems to confirm the dismal performance of diets. In an article entitled The Science of Fat, Gina Kolata presents those findings.

Main picture: The most expensive artifact is the Space Station at USD 150 billion

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Why is there an Epidemic of Heroin Overdoses amongst the American Middle Class?

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Outside of America, the mindless stupidity of heroin addiction, that is currently ravaging the white Middle Class, is a relatively unknown phenomenon. Even the Presidential hopefuls are being intensively interrogated about their plans to remedy the situation. Teenager-dom is a turbulent period in youngsters lives and experimentation is the norm, but why is there is sudden spike in heroin addiction in the United States?

Main picture: The final humiliation

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What should one’s Heart Rate be?

Heart xray veins blue red

In the McCleland household this is a contentious issue. Always was; always will be. This bone of contention raised its head some 20 years ago when I was training heavily in order to achieve my personal best [PB in runners-speak] over all distances up to and including a marathon. Anal would be too blasé an epithet to describe how I measured my runs: weather conditions, temperature, splits per kilometre, weight loss on the run & controversially from Janine’s perspective, my daily heart rate. Science has now come to my rescue and vindicated my standpoint. At the extreme, it also issues a warning when one’s resting pulse is too high. What does science now tell us?

Main picture: An X-ray of the heart with veins coloured blue and arteries red

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What will the Next Diet Revolution be?

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Even though the Banting or LCHF diet is in the spotlight due to the “trial” of Tim Noakes for advice given by him about the feeding of an infant, this is definitely not at the forefront of dietary research. I have only recently become aware of this research last week on the BBC Science Program on BBC Earth hosted by Dara ‘o Briain where scientists at the cutting edge of research are invited to discuss the latest breakthroughs in various fields. This interview dealt with the effects of our gut bacteria, one of which related to dieting. As if to endorse these findings, this week’s online edition on Time Magazine covers the same topic. [Note: The printed version did not carry this story as the two editions carry different articles]

Main picture: Is this still on your menu?
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