Saturday, March 15


Maybe it's nothing. But I thought this was an interesting juxtaposition of stories...

  • Too little testing for mad cow, critics say
    "Don't look, don't find" might be a more apt way of describing this country's testing program, said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union.
    A 2006 USDA Inspector General report noted that because the testing program was voluntary and not random, it could not be determined whether the government had tested a representative sample of the highest-risk cattle, such as non-ambulatory cattle and those showing signs of a central nervous disorder. The report faulted sample collectors for not determining the health histories of the animals. The cause of death in most cases was recorded as "dead -- unknown cause."

  • 2 Quebec deaths being investigated for CJD
    According to CKRS-FM radio in Chicoutimi, Que., the deaths there of a person in December and another in February are being treated with extreme caution by federal health authorities amid concerns they possibly had a form of CJD. The radio report, which first aired Wednesday, said two patients have never died of CJD within such a short period of time in one area of Canada.
    If the disease comes from exposure to infected beef products prior to the ban on specified offal in human food in 1989, as is now widely accepted, then there could be more cases if the incubation period is very long," the agency said.


    Two pygmy sperm whales, a mother and her calf, were found stranded on Mahia Beach. According to CNN, rescuers "worked for more than one hour to get the whales back into the water, only to see them strand themselves four times on a sandbar slightly out to sea. It looked likely the whales would have to be euthanized to prevent them suffering a prolonged death."

    Note that humans' magnificent intellect and mastery of tools led us in this case to one viable option: Using our tools to kill the animals, who "kept getting disorientated and stranding again They obviously couldn't find their way back past (the sandbar) to the sea." Then along came Moko the dolphin, who "approached the whales and led them 200 meters (yards) along the beach and through a channel out to the open sea."

    Altruism is one of the now-discarded "things that separates us from the animals," as this example illustrates. But the altruistic impulse is moot if there's no capability to carry it out. Just as there are things we can do on land that dolphins can't, we must acknowledge there are underwater activities in which their intelligence will always outstrip ours because it's paired with knowledge and capability.