Sugar was/is used to hook Americans on cigarettes

❝ …The connection between junk food and cigarettes runs…deep…as Gary Taubes details in a revelatory chapter of his book The Case Against Sugar, set to be released on Dec. 27.

Taubes…argues that sugar is the main driver of the chronic diseases plaguing Western civilization in the 21st century, including (but not limited to) diabetes, heart disease, and obesity…

But wedged between chapters on the long history of humans’ insatiable lust for sugar…and the economic resilience of sweets is a little-known story: the alliance between the sugar and tobacco industries.

❝ Tobacco itself has a natural sugar content, which curing alters. While flue-curing increases the sugar content, making the tobacco more palatable for smokers, it also results in lower content of nicotine, an addictive stimulant. By early in the 20th century, the industry had found a way to make its product both more enjoyable to smoke and higher in nicotine. Air-curing Burley tobacco creates relatively high levels of easily absorbed nicotine; sugar-soaking, which follows, enhances flavor.

Soon, “sugar-sauced” Burley tobacco was being blended into R.J. Reynolds’s Camels, and other manufacturers followed suit, Taubes writes. By 1929, more than 50 million pounds of sugar a year were being used to “candy up” the tobacco in more than 120 billion American cigarettes…

❝ For this chapter, Taubes relies largely on Tobacco and Sugar, a 1950 report by the Sugar Research Foundation, the industry trade group at the time, that openly celebrated the union.

“Were it not for sugar,” said Wightman Garner, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture tobacco official quoted in the report, “the American blended cigarette and with it the tobacco industry of the United States would not have achieved such tremendous development as it did in the first half of this century.” Later in the report, the author refers to the development as “this most promising field of sugar utilization.” The combination, the report says, was a “stroke of genius.”

Recent industry-funded research has found that the added sugar doesn’t increase the toxicity of the cigarettes, but other studies confirm that it does make cigarettes taste better, getting people to smoke more of them.

Disgusting way to maintain, encourage, an addiction.

Beautiful feathered dinosaur tail found preserved in amber


Click to enlargeRSM/ R.C.McKellar

❝ The tail of a feathered dinosaur has been found perfectly preserved in amber from Myanmar.

The one-of-a-kind discovery helps put flesh on the bones of these extinct creatures, opening a new window on the biology of a group that dominated Earth for more than 160 million years…

❝ The study’s first author, Lida Xing from the China University of Geosciences in Beijing, discovered the remarkable fossil at an amber market in Myitkina, Myanmar.

The 99-million-year-old amber had already been polished for jewellery and the seller had thought it was plant material. On closer inspection, however, it turned out to be the tail of a feathered dinosaur about the size of a sparrow.

❝ Lida Xing was able to establish where it had come from by tracking down the amber miner who had originally dug out the specimen…

❝ Dr McKellar said there are signs the dinosaur still contained fluids when it was incorporated into the tree resin that eventually formed the amber. This indicates that it could even have become trapped in the sticky substance while it was still alive.

Co-author Prof Mike Benton, from the University of Bristol, added: “It’s amazing to see all the details of a dinosaur tail – the bones, flesh, skin, and feathers – and to imagine how this little fellow got his tail caught in the resin, and then presumably died because he could not wrestle free.”

Beautiful and stunning. Truly fortunate that this specimen was found at a market. RTFA for more photos and description of the study.

Samsung opts for permanent solution to Galaxy Note 7 phones in the GOUSA

❝ Samsung is reportedly adopting even harsher methods to prevent people from using the few remaining Galaxy Note 7s in the wild, planning an imminent U.S. software update that will render them useless.

On Dec. 19 Samsung will push out an update preventing the phones from charging, according to a statement to The Verge. The code will be distributed through all major U.S. carriers within 30 days.

❝ Samsung noted that 93 percent of Note 7s sold in the country have already been returned. The update is meant to get people to participate in a long-standing recall offering refunds and exchanges, sometimes with extra financial incentives.

The company has been gradually escalating its software tactics. American Note 7 models are already unable to charge past 60 percent, and in Canada, Samsung will soon be disabling all wireless functions.

❝ Shortly after its launch late this summer, the Note 7 was plagued by a series of battery fires and explosions, possibly owing to an ultra-compact design rushed to beat Apple’s iPhone 7. Samsung attempted to recall and fix the initial batch of units, but this didn’t solve the problem, forcing the company to issue another recall and discontinue the product entirely.

Folks, if you’re part of that 7% solution do yourself a favor and return that bookend.