Health and Medicine, Travel, Gardening, Pets, Automotive

Motoring: Fiat Tipo Station Wagon

Motoring: Fiat Tipo Station Wagon
Design is becoming more thought provoking.

I notice this as I admire the new Fiat Tipo station wagon, parked on my driveway.

There’s barely a straight panel on it and that’s nothing to do with my driving! This has led me to cast my mind back to vehicles of the past. It seems that curves started to become fashionable in the ‘60s on the likes of the E-type Jaguar but many cars of that period were still boxy and this was the case right through to the ‘80s, even the ‘90s where straight lines still prevailed on the likes of the Vauxhall Cavalier. Of course this is a very general perception and there were exceptions to the rule such as TVR and the more specialist manufacturers. Over the next 20 years those straight lines were gradually rounded off, think of the Ford Granada and Vauxhall Omega. But we now live in a different era, one where manufacturers have gone back to the drawing board and created something that combines both straight lines and curves. The Fiat Tipo is a good example of this. The front wheel arches are a tasteful blend of slightly boxy curvaceousness which joins up with the equally well crafted bonnet. It looks chunkier from the side than head on. And it’s a good effect. This is offset by the two-tone 16-inch alloy wheels.

By Tim Saunders - Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - -- Automotive

Preventing psoriasis with vanillin

Preventing psoriasis with vanillin
Small amounts of artificial vanilla extract, also known as vanillin, are in a wide range of products, from baked goods to perfumes. But vanillin’s versatility doesn’t stop there. In a recent mouse study reported in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers report that this compound could also prevent or reduce psoriatic skin inflammation.

Bioelectronic ‘nose’ can detect food spoilage by sensing the smell of death

Bioelectronic 'nose' can detect food spoilage by sensing the smell of death, cadaverine
Strong odors are an indicator that food has gone bad, but there could soon be a new way to sniff foul smells earlier on. As reported in ACS Nano, researchers have developed a bioelectronic “nose” that can specifically detect a key decay compound at low levels, enabling people to potentially take action before the stink spreads. It can detect rotting food, as well as be used to help find victims of natural disasters or crimes.

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

‘Stressed out’ cocoa trees could produce more flavorful chocolate

'Stressed out' cocoa trees could produce more flavorful chocolate
Most people agree that chocolate tastes great, but is there a way to make it taste even better? Perhaps, according to scientists who looked at different conditions that can put a strain on cocoa trees. Reporting in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they say that although the agricultural method used to grow cocoa trees doesn’t matter that much, the specific weather conditions do.

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

Why do some people hate cilantro? (video)

WASHINGTON — Cilantro is a popular seasoning, adding flavor to tacos and noodle dishes across the globe. But to some people, it just tastes like soap. What’s going on here? Reactions explains why some people can’t help their cilantro-phobia. Hint: their repulsion has to do with genetics.


By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

Paramount Transforms giant alien robots into 4K

Paramount Transforms giant alien robots into 4K
If you’re looking for a home theatre experience that’s state-of-the-art, but won’t tax the little grey cells excessively, Paramount Home Video has just the new titles for you: Transformers!

I’m usually up for suspending my disbelief when it comes to a good yarn, whether sci-fi, fantasy or whatever, but I must say the Transformers movies really, really challenge that. It isn’t just that the screenplays of the sequels I’ve seen are incoherent, but I find the whole concept of a race of giant living robots that can change into a variety of cars, trucks, aircraft and the like kind of, well, silly. But if you can get past that, like I got past it in the first movie, you’re in for a typically Michael Bay action shoot ‘em up.

Paramount is releasing four of the five Transformers movies on 4K disc, with HDR, in Canada - though a shortage of review samples led to them sending only the second and fourth outings in the profitable franchise: Revenge of the Fallen and Age of Extinction. And as much as I enjoyed the 4K versions for their excellent audio and video, I was more than ready to stop watching after sitting through this pair and grateful that I’d dodged a bullet by not having to watch the others as well.

By Jim Bray - Monday, December 11, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

Our Belly proves we’re not Gods this Holiday Season

Our Belly proves we’re not Gods this Holiday Season
This is the season to be jolly, and the last thing I want to do is spoil the holiday festivities. But, unfortunately, the office parties, family dinners, excess wine and fellowship of singing “Auld Lang Syne, all take a toll on one’s stomach. So, can you lessen the damage of hot fire beneath the breastbone? And what are the pitfalls in the treatment of this common discomfort?

Heartburn is triggered by several factors. The lower esophageal muscle   (LEM) at the end of the food pipe can become weak and inefficient at times.  So if you “eat the whole thing”, excess gas is created in the stomach and the laws of physics say something has to give. This results in the LEM opening, and gas, along with the stomach’s acidic juice, flows into the esophagus causing inflammation.

The Gifford-Jones Law states “one bad problem leads to another and another.” So if this scenario is repeated over and over, chronic inflammation can end in a condition called Barrett’s Esophagus. This can turn into esophageal cancer in one of every 200 cases. A big price to pay for gluttony.

Why Do We Give Christmas Gifts?

Why Do We Give Christmas Gifts?
The Christmas tradition of gift-giving is tied by many to the Wise Men who gave Jesus Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh. Frankincense was a perfume used in Jewish rituals of worship. Gold was the symbol of Kings, and myrrh was a perfume used on dead bodies.

The historical Saint Nikolaos of Myra was a fourth century Greek Bishop of Lycia. He is said to have given secret gifts of coins to those who left their shoes outside, a practice celebrated on his feast day, St. Nicholas Day on December 6 in the West and December 19 in the East. He is the model for Santa Claus. The patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students, he is revered by Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans, Orthodox, and by some Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches.

By Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh - Saturday, December 9, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

Francis: The Our Father “Induces Temptation”

Francis: The Our Father induces Temptation
Pope Francis has said that the Lord’s Prayer should be changed, arguing that the translation used in many parts of the world, including the Italian and English versions, go against the teachings of the Church and Bible.

In the centuries-old recited prayer, followers of the Christian Faith call on God to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Speaking to Italian broadcasters on December 7, Francis argued this was incorrect, saying, “It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation.”

By David Martin - Friday, December 8, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

Christmas, the Season of Faith, Family, and Charity

Christmas, the Season of Faith, Family, and CharityChristmas was my Dad bringing home proudly a scraggly fir with sparse branches - fragrant with the smell of winter, tiny icicles hanging from the branches, miniature crystal daggers, melting on my mom’s well-scrubbed parquet floor. I never knew nor asked how he could afford it from his $70 a month salary that barely covered the communist subsidized rent, utilities, and food. No matter how bare the branches of my Christmas tree were, it was magical to me.

We decorated it together with homemade paper baskets filled with hard candy, raisins, and small butter cookies, crepe paper garlands, small pretzels, an orange wrapped in fine tissue paper coming all the way from Israel, a few apples dangling from a string, and 12 red and green 3-inch candles clipped carefully away from overhanging branches that could catch on fire.

Mom’s hand-stitched table cloth made a convenient tree skirt. Two metal bars forged by hand helped Dad nail the tree to the floor at the foot of the couch where I slept in the living room that doubled as my bedroom.

By Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh - Friday, December 8, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

December 7: Sixteen Days to Die!

December 7: Sixteen Days to Die!
The Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, near Honolulu, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian time. The surprise attack lasted two hours–two hours that “will live in infamy.” The base was attacked by 353 fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes in two waves that were launched from six aircraft carriers. Eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged and four were sunk and 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. All battleships except the USS Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war.
Within seven hours, the Japanese Navy made coordinated attacks on Guam, Philippines, Wake Island, Malaya, Singapore, etc. The world was burning as the light of freedom flickered all over the globe.

By Dr. Don Boys - Friday, December 8, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

Conquer Yourself First

Conquer Yourself First
Many lessons my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird taught me seemed foolish at the time, but along with me they matured, and now serve as guideposts in my life. One of those lessons was about kindness.

Jaybird believed that no act of kindness, however small, is wasted. Even so, the old black man sometimes displayed a less-than-kindly nature when the actions of others angered him, but if I was close by he did his best to respond in a civil manner.

On one occasion, when he reacted to a neighbor’s offending remark with a mere shrug of the shoulders and a smile, I commented that I would have reacted in a manner similar to the offender’s.

By Jimmy Reed - Thursday, December 7, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

K-12: The Schools You Deserve

K-12: The  Schools You Deserve
Thomas Jefferson declared: “The government you elect is the government you deserve.” Wouldn’t the same go for a school system? If you select it, you must deserve it.

Plato said an early version of what would later be attributed to Edmund Burke: “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Albert Einstein put it this way: “The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.”

In education, we have a startling amount of tolerating and encouraging.

By Bruce Deitrick Price - Thursday, December 7, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

Russia booted from the Winter Olympics because of their ‘extensive’ doping program

Russia booted from the Winter Olympics because of their 'extensive' doping program
I’m a huge winter sports junkie.  I love skiing and snowboarding, played hockey growing up, spent winters snowmobiling as a kid, and still get excited every time the first snow hits our house.  Needless to say, the Winter Olympics are a big deal around here. Despite NBC’s terrible coverage, every four years they run on a nigh-endless loop in the man cave.

So, I must admit I’m a little bummed out to learn that Russia has been banned from this February’s games.

Oh sure, they cheat and they deserve their punishment. Like Harvey Weinstein’s groping, the Russian doping program has been a well-known Olympic fixture since the height of the Soviet era.  But they were the bad guys.  And somehow, despite their drugs, their insatiable medal-lust, and the pressure placed on their athletes by their communist overlords, we still managed to eke out victories like this…

By Robert Laurie - Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

How Xanax works (video)

WASHINGTON — Whether or not you have anxiety, you’ve probably heard of Xanax. But what’s in this popular and widely prescribed drug, and how does it work? This new video from Reactions describes how Xanax works in the anxious brain:


Heroin for Opioid Addicts, None for Cancer Patients

Heroin for Opioid Addicts, None for Cancer Patients
Where is the common sense and compassion in this country for cancer patients who suffer in agony? I write this because drug addicts, who largely seek pleasure from opioid drugs, are now getting better pain control than cancer victims. And these patients and their families should be enraged by what is happening.

The Federal Minister of Health (MOH), Ginette P. Taylor, has announced a 100 million dollar fund to fight the opioid crisis. She reports “This situation keeps me up at night.” I should remind her that cancer pain keeps many patients in agony   24 hours a day!

What is more galling is that the government wants to reduce barriers that limit access to heroin for addicts in drug-treatment programs. Yet there is no such access for cancer patients in hospitals. It appears that not all the lunatics are in the asylum.

Communion to Adulterers Promulgated as “Authentic Magisterium”

Communion to Adulterers Promulgated as Authentic Magisterium
If papal clarification was ever needed on the long-debated issue of the intended meaning of Amoris Laetitia chapter VIII, such clarification has now been provided for the Church at large.

Last week, Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS)—the Vatican’s organ for promulgating the Official Acts of the Apostolic See—published Pope Francis’ October 2016 letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires in which he praised their episcopal guidelines allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion in some cases while living in a state of objective mortal sin.

Concerning these guidelines that allow “the possibility of access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist” in “complex circumstances” where “limitations that lessen the responsibility and guilt” permit adulterous couples to continue in adultery, the pope said in his letter:

By David Martin - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - -- Lifestyles

Mazda CX-3 manual - a low end SUV that’s plenty of fun

Mazda CX-3 manual - a low end SUV that's plenty of fun
The entry level version of Mazda’s smallest SUV is not only a great vehicle that’s a blast to drive, it also shows clearly that there are plenty of common features on today’s vehicles that aren’t really necessary.

I mean, for 20 grand Canadian, you can have a great-looking “crossover” that’s also a great driving one (it feels kind of like a tall Mazda 3). It’s almost enough to make me want to think about owning an SUV, without simultaneously ducking to avoid a lightning strike from Heaven.

Sure, for that $19,995 entry price you don’t get adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring, and that type of thing. But you do get manual cruise control, and vehicle that handles so nicely that you should have no trouble keeping inside your lane (as long as you pay attention - and if you don’t, why are you there?). You also get outside rear view mirrors you can adjust to virtually eliminate blind spots - and plenty more standard features, like airbags, belts and the like. Just like every car today, pretty well.

By Jim Bray - Sunday, December 3, 2017 - -- Automotive