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For your Wednesday lunch today-

Science:

  • Bill Nye, my childhood science mentor via PBS, debated Ken Ham last night on the science of evolution vs. creationism. Ham is the president of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, where the debate took place and was livestreamed. Um, yeah. Mashable has a recap here.
  • You can also watch the debate on youtube, embeded below.

  • We have our own share of science-deniers here in the Tar Heel state… The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences denied to show a documentary Shored Up, about the impacts of climate change on places like our lovely Outer Banks, also one of my personal favorite places in the world… But hey, you can still catch it tonight at NCSU or tomorrow at Full Frame Theatre in Durham. More here from WRAL.
  • Trailer below.

Health and Technology:

  • Rumor has it Apple hired an expert on sleep research, Dr. Roy J.E.M. Raymann, onto its team developing the ‘iWatch’ project. So I guess you better watch out cause soon Santa will not be the only one who sees you when you’re sleeping. More here from The Telegraph.
  • Read More

Smoking banWe told you so.

The Wilmington Star-News reminds us this morning of something that common sense made clear years ago – namely that the silly, Chicken Little complaints from the right wing about North Carolina’s ban on smoking in restaurants and bars a couple years back were just that. To quote the Star-News:

“Fear is a powerful force, but it often is exercised prematurely and, in hindsight, without justification. That was certainly true in the case of North Carolina’s hard-fought ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other public buildings.

When the state that King Tobacco once ruled went smoke-free four years ago, there was a predictable if understandable outcry from some bar and restaurant owners, who worried that business would plummet if people couldn’t smoke inside. It didn’t happen, much in keeping with the experiences of other states that have implemented public smoking bans.

People still eat out. They still go to bars. And maybe even in some cases, these establishments have attracted new patrons because smoking is not allowed.”

To make things even better, the smoking ban has had a wonderfully beneficial impact on health Read More

From the good folks at the NC Alliance for Health:

Raleigh – Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, North Carolina ranks 45th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released by a coalition of public health organizations.

North Carolina currently spends $1.2 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 1.1 percent of the $106.8 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Read More

E-cigYou’ve got to hand it to the tobacco corporations and their high-priced lobbyists; when it comes to deceptive messaging and tactics, no one does it better than the merchants of death.  Apparently, nearly a century of practice really does make perfect in developing lies and half-truths and massaging them into feel-good media messages and legislation.

Consider the latest case in point in North Carolina. Big tobacco is currently ramming through legislation in both houses of the General Assembly that sounds as if it is all about motherhood and apple pie. The bill (which as been introduced and advanced in both the Senate and the House at the behest of the industry) operates under the title: “Prohibit E-Cigarette Sales to Minors.” 

“Electronic cigarettes” of “E-Cigarettes,”  as you probably have heard, are just the latest  tool for delivering life-threatening poison (i.e. addictive nicotine) to humans. E-cigs are already being advertised throughout the country as a hip and semi-safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. They’re already finding their way into schools and other places young people look for ways to be cool.   

Prohibiting their sale to kids sounds like a good idea, huh?

Unfortunately, Read More

lungsNorth Carolinians won’t be breathing easier any time soon. Yesterday, the House failed to pass a measure that would restrict smoking in public and work places. The bill (HB 259) sponsored by Rep. Hugh Holliman failed on a vote of 61:55.

In addition to battling second-hand smoke indoors, North Carolinians are battling increased particle pollution outdoors. A new report, “American Lung Association State of the Air: 2007 ” shows a troubling trend of higher soot levels in the eastern US.

Particle pollution comes from many sources. The particles are usually a complex mixture that can include ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals, and aerosols.  In the eastern U.S., many particles come from power plants that burn coal to produce electricity. In the western U.S., many come from diesel buses, trucks, and heavy equipment, as well as agriculture and wood burning.

The report gives 4 North Carolina counties a failing grade for particle pollution: Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake. Air quality in other areas of the state was only slightly better. People most sensitive to poor air quality are children and teens, the elderly, people with asthma and other lung diseases and even healthy people who work or exercise outdoors. In North Carolina, 6.4 million people are at risk of having lung problems as a result of poor air quality.

“The increased particle pollution in the East is a particularly troubling trend, because exposure to particle pollution can not only take years off your life, it can  threaten your life immediately,” said Terri E. Weaver, PhD, RN, American Lung Association Chair.

Rep. Holliman and the other legislators who supported the smoking ban should be commended for their efforts to protect our air quality and our health. Hopefully, they will continue with their efforts. The state needs to do everything in its power to curb air pollution, indoors and outdoors so we can all breath easier.