Tag: Washington Post

So! How cool is this!

The world of music as heard by our dogs!

Many people beyond Jean and me must be aware that whatever is showing on the television has a very soothing effect upon dogs. As in our dogs are quickly fast asleep in the evenings when we sit down after our evening meal.

But some research is pointing the finger more at what our dogs hear than what they see. (Oh, does anyone know the factual answer to the question of whether dogs can even make out images on a television screen?)
Mary Jo DiLonardo, a frequent writer over on the Mother Nature Network, recently wrote about the calming influence over dogs of certain types of music.

It’s a great read and I’m very happy to share it with you.

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Stressed dogs prefer reggae and soft rock

Study of shelter dogs finds music lowers cortisol levels, heart rate.

Mary Jo DiLonardo    January 27, 2017

dog-wearning-blue-headphones-jpg-653x0_q80_crop-smart
Is she jamming to Bob Marley, by any chance? (Photo: Luna Vandoorne/Shutterstock)

When you crank the music, do you ever think about your dog’s musical tastes? If your pup needs to chill, you may want to put on some Bob Marley or John Denver.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow worked in conjunction with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to see how various types of music affected the stress levels of kenneled dogs. Shelter dogs listened to a wide range of music from Spotify playlists. The genres varied from day to day, with the furry residents listening to classical, reggae, soft rock, pop and Motown in a series of experiments.

While each genre was playing, the researchers measured the dogs’ stress levels by monitoring their heart rate variability and cortisol levels. They also kept track of whether the dogs were lying down or barking while the music was on.

The researchers found that regardless of what type of music was playing, the dogs were generally “less stressed” with music vs. without. They spent significantly more time lying down (versus standing) when any type of music was playing. They also seemed to show a slight preference for reggae and soft rock, with Motown coming in last, but not by much.

Musical tastes may vary

The responses to the genres was mixed, co-author Neil Evans, a professor of integrative physiology, told the Washington Post.

“What we tended to see was that different dogs responded differently,” Evans said. “There’s possibly a personal preference from some dogs for different types of music, just like in humans.”

The results make a good argument for playing music in shelters, where dogs can be frightened by unfamiliar surroundings. Evans points out that stress can cause dogs to bark, cower and behave in ways that makes it hard for them to be adopted. It’s worth noting that in the tests, playing music of any kind didn’t make barking dogs stop barking; however, when the music stopped, quiet dogs were more likely to start barking.

“We want the dogs to have as good an experience as they can in a shelter,” said Evans, who pointed out that people looking to adopt “want a dog who is looking very relaxed and interacts with them.”

Two of the Scottish SPCA’s facilities now play music for their residents, and the research has convinced them to expand the program. The research has been published in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

“Having shown that variety is key to avoid habituation, the Scottish SPCA will be investing in sound systems for all their kennels,” the charity said on its website. “In the future, every center will be able to offer our four-footed friends a canine-approved playlist with the view to extending this research to other species in the charity’s care.”

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Really great work on behalf of our wonderful dogs.

Who knows! The findings from this research may filter down to that species of creature that tends to share their world with dogs: homo sapiens!

And human madness!

Reality will intrude whatever we believe.

Fitting in very neatly with yesterday’s post And human wisdom?, on Tuesday evening Jean and I sat down after dinner and watched a documentary film that was available on the website Top Documentary Films. It was called Our Rising Oceans and was introduced, thus:

In the opening moments of Our Rising Oceans we learn that global catastrophe lies beneath the awe-inspiring pale blue skies and ghostly white icescapes of West Antarctica. The scientific data regarding the effects of climate change on the ongoing process of glacial melting is overwhelming. Yet according to the many subjects featured in the film, a staggering percentage of the public remains doubtful, and our politicians and other policy influencers remain hesitant to act due to ill-informed skepticism and corporate interests.

In response to those naysayers, VICE founder and host Shane Smith ventures to the epicenter of the crisis to discover firsthand the science by which these changes are being observed, and the dire consequences of inaction.

Antarctica is starting to melt,” warns expert glaciologist Dr. Eric Rignot. Over the past twenty years, Dr. Rignot has analyzed reams of carefully procured data, and his discoveries indicate a rapidly deteriorating environment which could forever alter the fate of mankind. Here, in the midst of the Antarctic plains, wind is circulating at an unprecedented rate and pushing warm waters underneath the massive sheets of ice. This dynamic effectively melts these sheets from the bottom up, and has a profoundly distressing impact on rising sea levels.

Over the course of the film, Dr. Rignot is joined by a host of additional scientists who dedicate their lives to bearing witness to these calamitous changes, and pursuing solutions against the opposition of politicized stagnation. But even in the absence of this opposition, the disastrous effects of climate change may be too far gone to rectify. Dr. Rignot contends that even the strictest emission regulations cannot reverse the tides of a redefining global landscape. Others testify that additional environmental protection policies may slow the process, but will by no means guarantee the sustainability of future generations.

But even the slivers of hope which do exist seem impossible to realize given the gridlock of governmental leadership within the United States, as its representatives remain sharply divided on the mere existence of climate change. “I think it’s almost like denying gravity now,” says Vice President Joe Biden in an interview which closes the film. Our Rising Oceans paints a powerful portrait of a planet on the brink of ruin, and the political dysfunction which continues to push it over the edge.

Now in that opening paragraph I deliberately used the expression “was available” because when I came to check that the video, a YouTube video, was available, I received a “This video is private.” message.

So all I can do is to offer you the link to the Top Documentary Film page for Our Rising Oceans and hope that you are able to freely watch the full documentary. The link is here.

The documentary was scary and only confirmed the truth of what Jean and I instinctively felt – that unless those who lead and comprise all the governments of the free world react to the truth of where this planet is heading, and react soon, then the next great extinction is guaranteed. The first great extinction that is man-made!

If for whatever reason the video is unavailable to you then, at least, do watch the trailer.

For if we, as in humanity, turn a blind eye to this then reality will have a way of reminding us of what science already knows: significant sea-level rises are guaranteed.

Here’s a recent item from the Washington Post.

A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.

Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.

The findings about East Antarctica emerge from a new paper just out in Nature Geoscience by an international team of scientists representing the United States, Britain, France and Australia. They flew a number of research flights over the Totten Glacier of East Antarctica — the fastest-thinning sector of the world’s largest ice sheet — and took a variety of measurements to try to figure out the reasons behind its retreat. And the news wasn’t good: It appears that Totten, too, is losing ice because warm ocean water is getting underneath it.

Read the full piece here.

Welcome to the new world!

Storm surge on a Louisiana highway shows the affects of rising sea levels. (Credit: NOAA)
Storm surge on a Louisiana highway shows the affects of rising sea levels. (Credit: NOAA)

Once again, I’m going to be predictable in saying that our dogs wouldn’t be as half as mad as to deny the truth of what man is doing to our planet!

We are what we eat!

But being careful about what our dogs eat is another story!

This is not the first time that I have used this title for a blog post.  The previous time was almost eighteen months ago when I highlighted a fascinating talk about the green revolution by Raj Patel, the award-winning writer, activist, and academic.

However, today is a first in that it looks at what our dogs eat.  It was inspired by a recent article by Brady Dennis in the Washington Post.  Here’s how that article opened:

Mystery of pet deaths related to jerky treats made in China continues to stump FDA

By Brady Dennis, Published: March 28

Andy lost his appetite. Then came the vomiting, the unquenchable thirst, the constant need to urinate. Over several days last year, the spunky 4-year-old West Highland white terrier grew lethargic and lost more than 10 percent of his weight.

“It got bad,” said Andy’s owner, Alfredo Gude, a retiree in Cape Coral, Fla. “I knew that he was in trouble.”

Gude and his wife rushed Andy to their veterinarian, who referred him to a clinic 15 miles away. Doctors there sent a urine sample to a specialized metabolic lab at the University of Pennsylvania. Days later, test results confirmed the diagnosis: Fanconi syndrome, a rare, often fatal illness that affects the kidneys. The suspected cause: chicken jerky pet treats manufactured in China.

The incident is part of a troubling mystery lasting more than seven years, with reports of at least 600 dogs dying and thousands of others sickened. It has outraged unsuspecting pet owners, confounded the Food and Drug Administration and put the pet food industry’s manufacturing practices under a microscope.

A little later on in the article, Brady Dennis writes:

Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, has called it “one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” a sentiment echoed by others at the agency.

“We are frustrated,” said Martine Hartogensis, who oversees the FDA’s ongoing investigation. “It’s been a long, winding, twisting road . . . [But] we haven’t given up.”

The FDA says it has tested more than 1,200 jerky treats in recent years, looking for salmonella, mold, pesticides, toxic metals, outlawed antibiotics, nephrotoxins and other contaminants. Federal officials have inspected factories in China that manufacture chicken jerky products for U.S. companies and sought input from academics, state and university research labs, foreign governments and the pet food industry. The agency even made its own jerky treats to try to duplicate the commercial process.

This is not some minor issue reinforced by the huge increase in dog food imports into the USA from China.  Back to Brady:

The long-running investigation has paralleled a striking increase in the amount of pet food China exports to the United States. That volume increased from barely 1 million pounds in 2003 to an estimated 86 million pounds by 2011, according to the FDA.

Pet treats, including the jerky treats at the heart of the current investigation, have made up a fast-growing sliver of the pet food market. Part of the reason many U.S. companies have looked to China to produce chicken jerky treats, industry officials say, is that unlike in America, people in China overwhelmingly prefer dark meat. That leaves a larger supply of the white meat used in pet treats available for exporting.

Then a few paragraphs later, he adds:

“It’s maddening that it has gone on this long,” said Susan Thixton, who runs the Web site TruthAboutPetFood.com, which has repeatedly demanded that the agency do more. “If this were humans dying, and they couldn’t figure out a cause for seven years, members of Congress would be screaming at them.”

The home page of her site displays a clock tracking how long jerky treats from China have been killing and sickening pets. It asks: “When will FDA make this clock stop?” As of Friday, the count stood at 2,643 days.

“My job is to point out that they aren’t doing their job,” Thixton said. “I have a lot of respect for what they have to accomplish. They have huge responsibilities, but this is one of them.”

When I read out the article to Jean what then jumped ‘off the page’ was this paragraph [my emphasis]:

Angry pet owners also have heaped criticism on U.S. companies that continue to manufacture jerky treats with ingredients from China. The backlash includes everything from skepticism over the industry’s assurances that the treats have never posed health risks to lawsuits alleging harm.

As Susan Thixton was reported earlier: “If this were humans dying, and they couldn’t figure out a cause for seven years, members of Congress would be screaming at them.”  Quite so!

Luckily, owners are responding as Brady highlights in these paragraphs:

Nina Leigh Krueger, head of the Waggin’ Train brand, said most retailers and customers have welcomed the treats back. “Thousands of consumers have been calling and asking us for Waggin’ Train treats to be back on the market,” she said.

Terry Safranek is not one of them.

“It’s a kick in the gut to see them back on the shelf,” said Safranek, whose 9-year-old fox terrier, Sampson, who had eaten jerky treats, died of kidney failure in 2012. Since then, Safranek has become a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Nestlé Purina and retailers including Target and Wal-Mart. She helped create Animal Parents Against Pet Treats and Food Made in China, a group that has petitioned the FDA to do better in alerting people about the potential dangers of jerky treats produced in Chinese factories.

The link in the last paragraph takes the reader to the Facebook page for that group.  Do go there and ‘Like’ the page.

I will close by recommending you read the Washington Post article in full and then spend some time perusing the website Truth about Pet Food. This is not just about ‘Made in America’ but fighting to ensure that animal treats made in the USA are also using ingredients from the USA!

Remember how Brady opened his article?  With Alfredo Gude learning that their dog, Andy, had been diagnosed with Fanconi syndrome, a rare and often fatal illness that affects the kidneys of dogs.

Well last words left with Brady Dennis:

For now, on Florida’s west coast, Andy the terrier has returned to normal after months of treatments — about $3,500 worth — to restore his kidney function. “We feel very lucky,” said Gude, who has taken the advice of many vets around the country to steer clear of pet jerky treats altogether. “It could have gone another way.”

Our dogs (and cats) have a right to be fed to the same standards as us humans!

Why?

“Why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should anyone care?”

These words are spoken by Simon Sinek just before the three-minute mark in the video that follows.  As Wikipedia explains,

simono-sinek

Simon O. Sinek (born October 9, 1973) is an author best known for popularizing a concept of The Golden Circle.

He joined the RAND Corporation in 2010 as an adjunct staff member, where he advises on matters of military innovation and planning. His first TEDx Talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” is the 7th most viewed video on TED.com.

His 2009 book on the same subject, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009) delves into what he says is a naturally occurring pattern, grounded in the biology of human decision-making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.

He has commented for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, FastCompany, CMO Magazine, NPR and BusinessWeek, and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, BrandWeek, IncBizNet.

This new year that we are now in is going to require millions of us to think and do differently.  As Einstein so famously quoted, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results“.  More than ever before we need different results and that means thinking and doing differently.

Enjoy the video.

The doomsday virus

Take a few moments and read this.

Thanks to Naked Capitalism for including this item in today’s list of links.  One of those links was to an item in today’s Washington Post from which I quote,

Thousands could lose access to the Internet on July 9 due to a virus, DNSChanger, that once infected approximately 4 million computers across the world.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation first gave details about the virus last November, when it announced the arrest of the malware’s authors. The virus, as its name indicates, affected computers’ abilities to correctly access the Internet’s DNS system — essentially, the Internet’s phone book. The virus would redirect Internet users to fake DNS servers, often sending them to fake sites or places that promoted fake products. Once the FBI shut down the operation, it built a safety net of new servers to redirect traffic from those infected with the virus.

But that safety net is going offline next Monday meaning that anyone who is still infected with the virus will lose access to the Internet unless they remove it from their machine.

The Washington Post then goes to say,

To see if you have the virus, you can head to any number of checker Web sites such as the DNS Changer Working Group or the FBI itself to either enter your IP address or simply click a button to run a check against addresses known to have problems. With any luck, you’ll be free and clear and won’t have to worry about the problem any further.

I chose the FBI website that is here https://forms.fbi.gov/check-to-see-if-your-computer-is-using-rogue-DNS as it seemed to have comprehensive instructions on what to do.

Then chose the URL for English, that is this one http://www.dns-ok.us/ that directed me to a website that instantly confirmed that a) it was the correct website – DNS Changer Check-Up, and b) my result.

DNS Resolution = GREEN 

Your computer appears to be looking up IP addresses correctly!

Had your computer been infected with DNS changer malware you would have seen a red background.  Please note, however, that if your ISP is redirecting DNS traffic for its customers you would have reached this site even though you are infected. For additional information regarding the DNS changer malware, please visit the FBI’s website at:
http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/november/malware_110911

Seems to me to be a message worth circulating as widely as possible.

Footnote: 9th July, 06:40.

Noticed the following article on the BBC News website this morning, from which I quote:

More than 300,000 people, including many in the US and UK, could lose internet access later as the FBI shuts off servers used by cyber thieves.

The FBI seized the servers in November 2011 during raids to break up a gang of criminals who used viruses to infect more than four million victims.

Victims’ web searches were routed through the servers so they saw adverts that led to the gang being paid.

Many machines still harbour the gang’s malicious code.

Global clean up

The gang racked up more than $14m (£9m) by hijacking web searches and forcing victims to see certain adverts. They managed to do this because their servers were taking over a key web function known as domain name look-up.

Domain names are the words humans use, such as bbc.co.uk, for websites. These are converted into the numerical values that computers use by consulting domain name servers (DNS).

When a person types a name into a browser address bar, often their computer will consult a DNS server to find out where that website resides online.

The gang infected computers with malware called DNS Changer because it altered where a PC went to convert domain names to numbers.

Since the FBI raids the gang’s servers have been run by Californian company ISC. Over the last few months, the FBI has worked with many ISPs and security firms to alert victims to the fact that their PC was infected with DNS Changer. Online tools are available that let people check if they are infected.

This has meant the original population of four million infected machines has been whittled down to just over 300,000, according to statistics gathered by the DNS Changer Working Group.

The largest group of machines still harbouring the infection are in the US but many other nations, including Italy, India, the UK and Germany, have substantial numbers still checking in with the ISC servers.

These servers will be shut down on 9 July.

The result could be that some people lose net access because the PCs that are still victims of DNS Changer will suddenly have nowhere to go when they need to look up the location of a particular domain.

It might take some time for the problems to become apparent, said Sean Sullivan, a security researcher at F-Secure.

“Initially some domains will be cached which will mean web access will be spotty,” he said. “People will be confused about why some things work and some do not.”

Other security experts said it might take time for the remaining infected machines to be cleaned up.

“Reaching victims is a very hard problem, and something we have had issues with for years,” said Johannes Ullrich, a researcher with the Sans security institute.

He expected the impact to be “minimal” because many of these systems were no longer used or maintained.

If you have any doubt, do check your DNS as soon as possible.