Stuff We Don’t Need: Frankensalmon

big-fish-little-fishREALLY disappointing news yesterday.

As I wrote five years ago, in two separate posts (Post 1, Post 2), some mad genetic scientists, seemingly out of some sci-fi B-movie, have been messing around with salmon to produce fish that grow faster on farms.

There’s really nothing more I can think to say about what a travesty this idea is, especially to people here in the Pacific Northwest, so please consider reading my previous posts linked to in the previous paragraph.

The sad news from yesterday, is that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the government body that is supposed to keep us safe, has approved the Frankensalmon as fit for human consumption, and they continue to refuse to label this or any other genetically modified food.

And yet, there was some hope hidden in New York Times article:

Within hours of the agency’s decision on Thursday, one consumer advocacy group, the Center for Food Safety, said it and other organizations would file a lawsuit challenging the approval.

Despite the approval, it is likely to be at least two years before any of the salmon reaches supermarkets, and at first it will be in tiny amounts.

It is not clear how well the salmon will sell. Some leading supermarkets have already said, in response to the vocal opposition, that they have no plans to sell it.

So, really, it’s up to us.

As the bumper stickers you see here in Bellingham say:

Friends don’t let friends buy farmed salmon.

Vinyl Records Are Magic!

recordplayerWAY back in December 2009, in a post titled Nostalgia: Vinyl Records Edition, I wrote about a trip with my son to a local eatery, an eatery known as much for their Russian dumplings as they are for the record player and vast vinyl record collection they have in the main seating area, available for use by customers.

In that post, and in a subsequent follow-up titled Vinyl Update, a year later, I described how my son, 12-13 years old at the time, discovered the joy — dare I say magic? — of vinyl records at that restaurant, and then at home, when I purchased a used turntable and dusted off my collection of 200 or so LPs.

Well, it seems I’m not alone in finding vinyl record technology to be magical.

Casey Chan, over at, in a post yesterday on this subject, wrote:

I don’t care that I supposedly understand how vinyl records work because I still totally think they’re the work of at least some low level sorcery. Trapping sound and music and voices? Come on!

Sorcery indeed! I mean, just look at this GIF footage of a record player’s stylus traveling through the groove in a vinyl record, as seen through an electron microscope:


What the what?! That makes music come out of a speaker, filled with instruments and voices, melodies and rhythms?

That’s some crazy magic!

Casey also includes a 9+ minute video that explains how the footage was shot and how vinyl record technology works, you can watch it if you want, but I chose not to, agreeing with Gizmodo reader JoshMC in the comments section:

Don’t anyone try and explain it, it’s all magic to me. Dark sorcery? Yeah…

Headline of the Day: Not Your Ordinary Organ Transplant

adamandeveIt’s difficult to know where to start with this Headline of the Day installment, so perhaps I’ll just get right to it.

Dear readers, especially all you guys out there, brace yourselves:

Penis transplant patient to become a father

The Guardian

As cringe-worthy as the subject might be, I have to admit that I was powerless to resist reading the attending article.

And, I really wish I hadn’t, as several quotes induced sympathy pains the likes of which I’ve not experienced before and hope never to experience again.

The man’s penis was amputated three years ago after life-threatening complications arising from a botched circumcision. His penis had developed gangrene…

The man, whose identity is being kept secret, received his new penis from an organ donor in a nine-hour operation…

The professor said that even now there remains some risk of organ rejection. Evidence would include lesions on the skin…

Nine years ago, a Chinese man had a penis transplant, but his doctors removed the organ after two weeks due to “a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife”.


I know, it’s childish of me to exploit this man’s story for entertainment. But, I promise that I AM deeply sympathetic to what he’s been through and thrilled for him and his partner, that they were fruitful and able to multiply.


Really, I mean it!!!

Headline of the Day: Frog Porn

woodfrogI really don’t think that a person necessarily has to have some kind of kinky fetish in order to read today’s Headline of the Day and find that they can’t NOT read the article:

Wood Frog Mating Is A Wet, Competitive Orgy


Then again, if a person regularly reads a blog titled THROB — and really, I don’t, really, this post just came up in a news-reading app that I use! — which offers multiple posts about animal sex, maybe this person does have a kinky fetish.

I DON’T!!!

Regardless, in the event that you didn’t feel compelled to click on the link above and read the post, it really is a pretty straightforward biology lesson, however suggestive, with, um, juicy details like…

For a male the whole goal of this competition is to get on a female’s back and stay there. Hooking his arms under hers in a characteristic hold called “amplexus”, he may hang onto her for more than 24 hours, squirting out sperm as she lays an enormous mass of eggs.

Hmmmmm. Amplexus. Interesting!

If Earth Was Made Of Pepperoni, Would You Eat It?

pepperoni-pizzaListen, I know it’s a serious subject, this matter of whether or not human consumption of meat is sustainable, or worse, harmful to the only planet we know of that we can call home.

I’m a guilt-ridden, former-vegetarian, carnivore myself, and between my concerns for the environment and my concerns for how the animals we eat are treated, I really don’t know how I live with myself every time I chow down on a hamburger, no matter how organic, free-range, and grass-fed it may be.

And yet, I couldn’t help chuckle when, in a recent, widely-reported blog post on the subject, Microsoft billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates included the following infographic:


The thought of some research assistant doing the math for this, measuring the diameter of a slice of pepperoni, perhaps even determining an average slice diameter to account for variations amongst different brands of pepperoni, and then factoring in the Earth’s circumference, well…

It’s just.plain.funny!

Headline of the Day: Food, Sex, Charity & The Green Frog

grilled-cheese2If you are a lover of comfort food, according to an article today at Salon, there’s a good chance that you are also a giving and prodigious lover, all made clear by today’s tantalizing Headline of the Day installment:

Study: People who love grilled cheese have more sex, are more charitable

Now, the photo accompanying this Salon article (shown above) is admittedly representative of what most people think of when they think of a grilled cheese sandwich.

BUT, if someone who loves this sandwich is having more sex and is more giving of themselves, just imagine the possibilities, pornographic and/or philanthropic, if this same someone was eating, on a regular basis, the AMAZING grilled cheese sandwiches available here in Bellingham, Washington at The Green Frog!

I mean, take a look at this thing of beauty!


With grilled cheese varieties like the following, off the Green Frog menu, you can guarantee that people of every possible sexual orientation and benefactor persuasion will find inspiration at this Bellingham institution:

  • The Gorgonzola – Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Bacon, Green Apple
  • The Hamzilla!! – Swiss, provolone, piled ham slices, deli mustard
  • The Wise Guy – Mozzarella, Hot Italian Sausage, Peppers, Onions
  • The Caprese – Mozzarella, Basil, Tomato
  • The Fun Hater – Daiya Vegan Mozzarella Cheese, Red Onion, Apple
  • The Elvis – Cheddar, Peanut Butter, Bacon, Banana
  • The American Pie – Cheddar, red apple, cinnamon, bourbon maple syrup

Bon Appétit!!!

Why We Love, And Even Need, Photos & Videos Of Interspecies Animal Friends

dog-jerryFrom 1984’s comedy classic, Ghostbusters (my emphasis added in bold in the last line of dialogue):

Peter Venkman: Well, you can believe Mr. Pecker…
Walter Peck: My name is “Peck.”
Venkman: Or you could accept the fact that this city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?
Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff!
Venkman: Exactly.
Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes!
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Venkman: Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

That the idea of cats and dogs living together in peace should be included in a list of biblical-scale events works as the punchline of this joke, because it’s so tame compared to the other items listed. And yet, it speaks to the endurance of the stereotype that cats and dogs are natural enemies.

cat-dogMeanwhile, anyone who spends nearly any amount of time on the interwebs or watches any number of home video TV shows is familiar with the near-ubiquitous photos and videos featuring animals from different species — in some cases species known to have a predator-prey relationship in the wild, or would likely be enemies if they shared the same habitat — interacting playfully, or even, though some might call it anthropomorphizing, lovingly.

I have to admit, while I’m a true lover of animals, I’m not someone who goes all gushy over them, regularly browsing cute animal photos and videos on the web, using puppy or kitten photos as the desktop background on my computer, etc.

And yet, the videos that feature friendly interspecies interactions do grab my attention and move something deep inside me, and I suspect the same thing happens for millions of people, even, perhaps, some hardcore cynics. I’m sure there are some who would rather suggest that these are nothing more than the result of artificial domestication, but I suspect that this is a slim minority, judging by how often these videos go viral.

Given that we live in a world perpetually wrought with human conflict, often horrific and deadly human conflict, it’s easy to despair, to conclude that there will never be lasting peace.

tiger-pigUnder these conditions, how can we not be moved when we see a cat and a dog peacefully snuggled together, as in the above photo, or, let’s say, a tiger and a piglet doing the same? And even if the two species interacting aren’t known or likely enemies, many of the pairings appear surprising and unlikely and serve as powerful symbols of harmony and hope in the face of differences.

Given that we live in a world perpetually wrought with human conflict, we are drawn to, and I’d even say we need, these images of animal harmony and hope, to keep us from despair. In fact, our biochemistry helps us benefit from these images. Human brains produce a hormone called oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “love hormone”, because it’s released when we experience love and joy, and it’s been proven that we produce oxytocin when we observe baby humans and cute animals.

I could go on and on with this topic, perhaps by bringing the spiritual component to the topic, for instance how Buddhism, which I dabble with, teaches the value of cultivating harmony with all living things, but I think you get the point.

So, even if you think these interspecies friendship videos are a bit cheeseball, try to let go of your initial resistance, allow yourself to notice the sweetness, to consider the far-reaching implications of the fact that our brains allow us to experience feelings akin to love when we see such sweetness, try to extrapolate how this sweetness could possibly melt away human-to-human and human-to-animal conflicts.

Start now, watch this brief yet powerful video of a monkey affectionately interacting with a litter of puppies, notice how gentle the monkey is with these fragile, practically newborn pups, notice the monkey’s fingers lightly stroking the puppies, truly caring regardless of the fact that these creatures must seem incredibly different and strange.