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Monday, October 14, 2013


It's called the "Copulatory Tie"

Believe it or not, in all my years, I never knew such a thing existed between dogs that mated... until I came across a youtube video (seen further below).  I was so shocked to see them 'stuck' together and even more shocked to discover it was something natural and part of their breeding process. 

Apparently, to a great deal of dog breeders, this is something not only common but welcomed.

As usual, I was too darn curious.  I had to research more and this is what I found out:

Friday, February 1, 2013


Because an American marketing firm with an equally catchy name:  LEXICON Branding, Inc. - said so!

You'd think they'd ask the general public or came up with the name themselves, (actually they tried to do the latter as you'll read further below), but noooo!  Formerly RIM, (Research in Motion) now called BlackBerry Limited, instead, paid money to the well-known marketing firm - Lexicon Branding, Inc. - a firm whose sole purpose is to invent names for products (gosh I wish I had that job), to do just that!

BlackBerry Limited, (or RIM as I like to remember them being Canadian and all), is a telecommunication and wireless equipment company headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and is best known, as you all know by now, as the developer of the BlackBerry smartphone and tablet.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Because we have to and no-one truly knows!
(Warning: some not-so-nice stuff ahead)

I know, I know... everyone must have asked these questions - whether they eat lobsters or not - at least one time or another in their lifetime and believe it or not, I can't really find a solid 'yes or no' answer to the second question.

"Free the lobster"
by Flickr user yooperann
We all know animal activists (such as the Lobster Liberation Front-(LLF) and PETA) and possibly even vegetarians, have been fighting for lobsters' rights for eons in regards to the cruelness and inhumane way of killing them.  (The video way below shows chef Eric Ripert saying the best way to kill them is to "take a big knife, and go through the head, and split the head in half..") before cooking them.  Ouch!  I don't like the sounds of that either.

Another popular question is - do they scream?  Say what? Scream?  I've boiled lobsters a few times before (now I can't do it anymore - getting softer as I grow older), and I don't remember hearing them 'scream' (thank God), otherwise I wouldn't be able to eat them for sure.  But back to the questions - why do we have to boil lobsters alive and do they feel pain?

Why DO We Boil Lobsters Alive?

"July birthday boiling pot feed at Abueloville"
by Flickr user marioanima
Well, it seems the simple answer for this one is taste, texture and safety.  The lobster must be cooked alive because the meat will spoil otherwise. The bacteria enters the meat quickly after death. Ehow explains that the lobster releases 'self-digestive' fluids that can spoil the meat.

I guess it's like finding a fish floating about when you go out fishing.  You wouldn't eat that would you?  You don't know how long it has been dead.  It could cause sicknes through food poisoning and probably taste like crap anyways!  So unfortunately for the lobster, it is best cooked alive.  Some have tryied hypnotizing or freezing it slightly or as I've said earlier - splitting their head in half! (I cringe everytime I have to type that or even think about it).

But The Lobster Institute at the University of Maine says the lobsters will stop 'squriming around' after 30 seconds if you place them on ice or freeze them prior to boiling. So maybe that's the best 'humane' way since THEY ARE the experts. Even the Gulf of Main Research Institue backed this up scientifically:

What is the best (humane) way to cook a lobster?
How to cook a lobster in the most humane manner has been a concern of guilt-ridden chefs for generations. In order to put the matter to a rest scientifically, one researcher instructed his graduate students to boil lobsters after having subjected them to various relaxation techniques. The students determined which method of dispatching them was the kindest by counting the number of tails flicks heard in the kettle before each lobster succumbed to the boiling water. They tried hyponotizing the subjects (see how to do this further below under 'Did You Know'..), soaking them in fresh water, heating them slowly from room temperature to boiling, and other accepted strategies. They found that putting them in the fridge before cooking to numb them up, (as happens naturally in winter), resulted in the lowest number of tail twitches. So, according to modern science, a few minutes in the freezer means less agony in the kettle.

So, now for the REAL question....

Do They Feel Pain?

Wouldn't you?  Ok, I know, they are NOT humans.

However, there are so many conflicting reports and expert opinions from scientific studies, professional chefs and the likes that I really don't know what to believe anymore.  Some say they CANNOT feel pain:

The nervous system of a lobster is very simple – not unlike that of an insect. Neither insects nor lobsters have brains. For an organism to perceive pain it must have a more complex nervous system. Neurophysiologists tell us that lobsters, like insects, do not process pain. - The Lobster Institue

The invertebrates have such primitive nervous systems (they have no brain and 100,000 neurons versus a human’s 100 billion) that they don’t feel pain. A 2005 study financed by the Norwegian government reinforced this view. - Chow

While lobsters react to different stimuli, such as boiling water, the reactions are escape mechanisms, not a conscious response or an indication of pain, they say. - Lobster biologists in Maine aka The Lobster Institute

Then there is Mike Loughlin, who studied the boiling of lobsters when he was a University of Maine graduate student, said lobsters simply lack the brain capacity to feel pain.
"It's a semantic thing: No brain, no pain," said Loughlin, who now works as a biologist at the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission. - cbsnews

Close up of head of live lobster  shipped for consumption in the United States.
Source wikipedia

The Lobster Institue also explained the 'twitching' of a lobster's tail when dropped in water, as just a reflex known as the "escape response".   It is a reflex action to any sudden stimulus - a reaction that was first identified by George Johnson in 1924. The lobster is reacting to an external factor, such as an elevated water temperature.

So what are they trying to say here?  Would it be akin to like the doc tapping your knee and your knee jerking?  No pain - just a reflex?  I mean, you can cut up an earthworm and it still continues on with its business - so maybe they have something here.  And remember that study financed by the Norwegian government mentioned above?  What's that all about?  Apparently it was a study released in 2005, which suggested that lobsters cannot feel pain due to their diminished nervous capacity.  In other words, the report assumes that the violent reaction of lobsters to boiling water is a reflex to noxious stimuli.  This all came about when their government was considering a ban on live worms as fish bait under revisions to its animal protection laws - but only if it hurt. Norwegian scientists were asked to investigate pain, discomfort and stress in invertebrates and Wenche Farstad of the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science in Oslo claimed that the answer is no.

Well, I was ready to believe all this until PETA's Karin Robertson called the Norwegian study biased, saying the government doesn't want to hurt the country's fishing industry and when a review by the Scottish animal welfare group Advocate for Animals released in the same year reported that "scientific evidence ... strongly suggests that there is a potential for [lobsters] to experience pain and suffering". This is primarily because lobsters (and other decapod crustaceans) "have opioid receptors and respond to opioids (analgesics such as morphine) in a similar way to vertebrates", indicating that lobsters' reaction to injury changes when painkillers are applied. The similarities in lobsters' and vertebrates' stress systems and behavioral responses to noxious stimuli were given as additional evidence for their capacity for pain..
Also, the fact that even the Norwegian study stated themselves that while saying it's unlikely that crustaceans feel pain, that we must be aware that "more research is needed because there is a scarcity of scientific knowledge on the subject" makes me doubt even more.

And to make me feel even more guilty - a recent 2007 British study contradicted the Norwegian study by suggesting that crustaceans DO feel pain, and that pain responses are crucial to any organism's survival.  Well, not only do I feel guilty but I don't know who or what to believe anymore.

This tanner crab was quickly cut in half before cooking
Source wikipedia
In the experiment, at Queen's University, Belfast, when the antennae of prawns were rubbed with sodium hydroxide or acetic acid, the animals showed increased grooming of the afflicted area and rubbed it more against the side of the tank. Moreover, this reaction was inhibited by a local anesthetic, even though control prawns treated with only anesthetic did not show reduced activity. Robert Elwood, who headed the study, argues that sensing pain is crucial to prawn survival, because it encourages them to avoid damaging behaviors. Some scientists responded, saying the rubbing may reflect an attempt to clean the affected area.

An even more recent study in 2009, Elwood and Mirjam Appel showed that hermit crabs make motivational tradeoffs between electric shocks and the quality of the shells they inhabit. In particular, as hermit crabs are shocked more intensely, they become increasingly willing to leave their current shells for new shells, and they spend less time deciding whether to enter those new shells. Moreover, because the researchers did not offer the new shells until after the electrical stimulation had ended, the change in motivational behavior was the result of memory of the noxious event, not an immediate reflex.

"Poor Lobsters"
Pic by Flickr user pixthree
So that's it my curious readers!  I'm so sorry I can't give you a definite answer to the last question.  Deep down I want to believe that they can't fell any pain. But unless you've crawled a mile in their shoes, we'll never know the true answer.  As far as I'm concerned, anything that is 'alive' can feel some sort of pain - maybe not pain the way as we know it, but pain nevertheless. Maybe it's just the 'humane' side of us that can't distinguish scientific facts from feelings. Who knows.

Will this stop me from eating lobsters?  Sigh, probably not because I really love lobster meat. But it has surely stopped me from cooking them myself.  I can't gather up enough courage to do so anymore...


Some Other Interesting Lobster-related Facts...

Did You Know?

  • You should never eat a cooked lobster with it's tail uncurled?  This means the lobster died before it was cooked.
  • Although lobsters are considered by many to be 'scavengers of the sea', they are actually quite good for you?  It has less calories, less total fat and less cholesterol (based on 100 grams of cooked product) than lean beef; whole poached eggs; and even roasted, skinless chicken breast. Lobster is also high in amino acids; potassium and magnesium; Vitamins A, B12, B6, B3 (niacin) and B2 (riboflavin); calcium and phosphorus; iron; and zinc.
  • True albino lobsters (the white ones), don't turn red when cooked?
  • Among other things, lobsters eat crabs, sea stars, sea urchins. They are not by nature cannibalistic, except when held in crowded conditions (traps, pounds, etc.). Even with banded claws, it's still not unusual to find partially eaten animals in the live-tank when it's emptied.  As for those Lobster bands. They are not only small but strong. Lobster harvesters use a special tool that resembles a pair of pliers to open the rubber band to slip it over the lobster's claw
  • To hypnotize a lobster, stand it on its head with its claws laid out in front of it and its tail curled inward. Rub your hand up and down the carapace making sure to rub between the eyes. Eventually it may stand by itself. (Whoever thought of this must have been really starved for excitement.)
  • Lobster and lobster dishes are considered delicacies these days and can be quite expensive yet ironically, it was first considered a poor man's food since they were so in abundance.

Top Lobster pic "Boiled For Dinner" by Flickr user Brian U

Monday, December 3, 2012


No, it's no longer The Bieb's video as first posted last year back in September 2011.

At that time, as you can see, he had hits of over 600 million!!  That's alot of hits.  Now the last time we checked, a few days ago, it was over 800 million. (It also seems to be the most 'hated' video of all time with 3,241,869 dislikes compared to 1,460,359 likes!)

And no, it's not

  • Charlie bit my finger - again !

Click on pic to watch video


  • Eminem's - Love The Way You Lie ft. Rihanna 

Click on pic to watch video

or even

  • Jennifer Lopez's - On The Floor ft. Pitbull 

Click on pic to watch video

The most watched video of 2012 (as if you didn't know already) is non other than 
  • PSY's - Gangnam Style

Bieber's video picked up the designation in July of 2010, when the then-rising star himself passed Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". Though it was posted in February of 2010, "Baby" remains popular, continuing to garner between 350k and 500k views per day.

PSY's video first spread from South Korea to the rest of the world in early August. It's been a massive hit at a global level unlike anything we've ever seen before. Each day, "Gangnam Style" is still being watched between 7 and 10 million times.

To give you a sense of how quickly "Gangnam Style" has reached this milestone, here's a chart that shows the viewership path each video took as they each approach 1 billion views. The velocity of popularity for PSY's outlandish video is unprecedented:

"Gangnam Style" and "PSY", respectively, have been the top rising searches on YouTube over the past six months. And these searches are coming from all over the world.

Searches first spiked in South Korea in late July when the video was posted. We began to see search interest rise in the U.S. and other English-speaking nations over the next month until it began to peak in September in North America and Brazil. "Gangnam Style" searches and viewing began to spike more broadly and in places like Europe and India in October.

PSY's official channel now has over 1 billion views, a considerable number. Views on Bieber's VEVO channel alone, however, still total over 3 billion... (3,168,923,650 to be exact).

Could it reach a billion views - just this one video before the year is out?  Could it even set a record as the most watched video of all time?  I guess we'll just have to wait and see!

Source(s): youtube-trends, youtube-charts

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Well, apparently its universal and it's called a 'filler' word.

In linguistics, a filler is a sound or word that is spoken in conversation by one participant to signal to others that he/she has paused to think but is not yet finished speaking.  The "ums", "ers", and “ahs” are among the easiest sounds to make and contain what linguists call "neutral vowel sounds".

It may be that they can be said without a great deal of thought too. "Fillers" help conversations continue smoothly.

Different languages have different characteristic filler sounds; in English, the most common filler sounds are uh and um. Among youths, the fillers "like", "y'know", "so", "actually", "literally", "basically", "right", "I'm tellin' ya" and "you know what I mean?" are among the more prevalent.

In Afrikaans, ah, em, and eh are common fillers.
In Arabic, يعني yaʿni ("I mean") and وﷲ wallāh(i) ("by God") are common fillers.
In American Sign Language, UM can be signed with open-8 held at chin, palm in, eyebrows down (similar to FAVORITE); or bilateral symmetric bent-V, palm out, repeated axial rotation of wrist (similar to QUOTE).
In Bengali, mane ("it means") is a common filler.
In Catalan, eh /ə/, doncs ("so"), llavors ("therefore"), and o sigui ("it means") are common fillers.
In Czech, fillers are called "slovní vata", meaning "word cotton/padding". The most frequent fillers are čili or takže ("so"), prostě ("simply"), jako ("like"). Overuse of jako and prostě becomes a bad habit among youth and could be viewed as simple-minded.
In Danish, øh is one of the most common fillers.
In Dutch, eh, ehm, and dus are some of the more common fillers.

As Stephen Juan, Ph.D., an anthropologist at the University of Sydney explains.. "Although we may not consciously realise it, in a two-person conversation, people speak by taking turns. When someone thinks it is their turn to talk, they do. Otherwise, they listen. A two-person conversation becomes like a tennis match. Inevitably there are short periods of silence as people pause to let the other person take over the speaking. But sometimes a speaker doesn’t want to give up their turn and instead wants a little extra time to think about what they’re going to say next. They use a “filler” to signal this.

When a listener hears the “filler”, they continue listening rather than start talking. “Um”, “er”, and “ah” are examples of phonemes. In linguistics, phonemes are the smallest meaningless speech sounds humans make. The smallest meaningful speech sounds humans make are called “morphemes”. Everything we humans say is either meaningless or meaningful. A lot of people never learn the difference.

More Filler words in different languages...

  • In Esperanto, do ("therefore") is the most common filler.
  • In Filipino, ah, eh, ay, and ano are the most common fillers.
  • In Finnish, niinku ("like"), tota, and öö are the most common fillers.
  • In French, euh /ø/ is most common; other words used as fillers include quoi ("what"), bah, ben ("well"), tu vois ("you see"), t』vois c』que j'veux dire? ("you see what I mean?"), tu sais, t'sais ("you know"), and eh bien (roughly "well", as in "Well, I'm not sure"). Outside of France, other expressions are t'sais veux dire? ("you know what I mean?"), or allez une fois ("go one time"). Additional filler words used by youngsters include genre ("kind"), comme ("like"), and style ("style"; "kind").
  • In German, a more extensive series of filler words, called modal particles, exists, which actually do give the sentence some meaning. More traditional filler words are äh /ɛː/, hm, so /zoː/, tja, and eigentlich ("actually").
  • In Hebrew, eh is the most common filler. Em is also quite common. Young speakers commonly use "Ke'ilu" (the Hebrew version of "like").
  • In Hindi, matlab ("it means") and "Mah" are fillers.
  • In Hungarian, filler sound is ő, common filler words include hát, nos (well...) and asszongya (a variant of azt mondja, which means "it says here..."). Among intellectuals, ha úgy tetszik (if you like) is used as filler.
  • In Icelandic, a common filler is hérna ("here"). Þúst, a contraction of þú veist ("you know"), is popular among younger speakers.
  • In Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia), anu is one of the most common fillers.
  • In Italian, common fillers include "tipo" ("like"), "ecco" ("there") and "cioè" ("actually")
  • In Irish Gaelic, abair /ˈabˠəɾʲ/ ("say"), bhoil /wɛlʲ/ ("well"), and era /ˈɛɾˠə/ are common fillers, along with emm as in Hiberno-English.
  • In Japanese, common fillers include eetto, ano, sono, and ee.
  • In Kannada,Matte for also,Enappa andre for the matter is are the common fillers.
  • In Korean, eung, eo, ge, and eum are commonly used as fillers.
  • In Lithuanian, nu, am and žinai ("you know") are common fillers.
  • In Maltese and Maltese English, mela ("then"), or just la, is a common filler.
  • In Mandarin Chinese, speakers often say 這個 zhège/zhèige ("this") or 那個 nàge/nèige ("that"). Other common fillers are 就 jìu ("just") and 好像 "very like/"kinda like"}}.
  • In Norwegian, common fillers are øh, altså, på en måte ("in a way"), ikke sant (literally "not true?", "no kidding", or "exactly"), vel ("well"), and liksom ("like"). In Bergen, sant ("true") is often used instead of ikke sant. In the Trøndelag region, skjø' ("see?" or "understand?") is also a common filler.
  • In Persian, bebin ("you see"), چیز "chiz" ("thing"), and مثلا masalan ("for instance") are commonly-used filler words. As well as in Arabic and Urdu, يعني yaʿni ("I mean") is also used in Persian. Also, eh is a common filler in Persian.
  • In Portuguese, é, hum, então ("so") and tipo ("like") are the most common fillers.
  • In Punjabi, matlab ("it means") is a common filler.
  • In Romanian, deci /detʃʲ/ ("therefore") is common, especially in school, and ă /ə/ is also very common (can be lengthened according to the pause in speech, rendered in writing as ăăă), whereas păi /pəj/ is widely used by almost anyone.
  • In Russian, fillers are called слова-паразиты ("vermin words"); the most common are Э-э ("eh"), это ("this"), того ("that"), ну ("well"), значит ("it means"), так ("so"), как его ("what's it [called]"), типа ("like"), and как бы ("[just] like").
  • In Serbian, znači ("means") and ovaj ("this") are common fillers.
  • In Slovak, oné ("that"), tento ("this"), proste ("simply"), or akože ("it's like…") are used as fillers. The Hungarian izé (or izí in its Slovak pronunciation) can also be heard, especially in parts of the country with a large Hungarian population. Ta is a filler typical of Eastern Slovak and one of the most parodied features.
  • In Slovene, pač ("but", although it has lost that meaning in colloquial, and it is used as a means of explanation), a ne? ("right?"), and no ("well") are some of the fillers common in central Slovenia, including Ljubljana.
  • In Spanish, fillers are called muletillas. Some of the most common in American Spanish are e /e/, este ("this"), and o sea (roughly means "I mean", literally means "it means"), in Spain the previous fillers are also used, but ¿Vale? ("right?") and ¿no? are very common too.
  • In Swedish, fillers are called utfyllningsord; some of the most common are öhm, ja ("yes"), ba (comes from "bara", which means "just"), asså or alltså ("therefore", "thus"), va (comes from "vad", which means "what"), and liksom and typ (both similar to the English "like").
  • In Ukrainian, е ("eh", similar to "um"), ну ("Nu (well)"), і ("and"), цей ("this"), той-во ("this one") are common fillers.
  • In Urdu, yani ("meaning..."), flana flana ("this and that"; "blah blah"), haan haan ("yeah yeah") and acha ("ok") are also common fillers.
  • In Telugu, ikkada entante ("Whats here is...") and tarwatha ("then...") are common and there are numerous like this.
  • In Tamil, paatheenga-na ("if you see...") and apparam ("then...") are common.
  • In Turkish, yani ("meaning..."), şey ("thing"), "işte" ("that is"), and falan ("as such", "so on") are common fillers.
  • In Welsh, de or ynde is used as a filler (loosely the equivalent of "You know?" or "Isn't it?"). Ym... and Y... are used similarly to the English "um...".
Among language learners, a common pitfall is using fillers from their native tongue. For example, "Quiero una umm.... quesadilla". While less of a shibboleth, knowing the placeholder names (sometimes called kadigans) of a language (e.g. the equivalent of "thingy") can also be useful to attain fluency, such as the French truc: "Je cherche le truc qu'on utilise pour ouvrir une boîte" ("I'm looking for the thingy that you use to open up a can").

Some Observations:

"Perhaps no profession has uttered more 'ums' or 'uhs' than the legal profession. Such words are a clear indication that the speaker's style is halting and uncertain. Eliminate these filler words. The lack of 'ums' and 'uhs' alone can make you sound more confident.

"And it's not hard to do. Just pause. Every time you feel that you're about to use a filler word, pause instead."
(Joey Asher, Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers. ALM Publishing, 2005)

Hesitation Forms
"Modern linguists led by Leonard Bloomfield in 1933 call these 'hesitation forms'--the sounds of stammering (uh), stuttering (um, um), throat-clearing (ahem!), stalling (well, um, that is), interjected when the speaker is groping for words or at a loss for the next thought.

"You know that y'know is among the most common of these hesitation forms. Its meaning is not the imperious 'you understand' or even the old interrogatory 'do you get it?' It is given as, and taken to be, merely a filler phrase, intended to fill a beat in the flow of sound, not unlike like, in its new sense of, like, a filler word. . . .

"[T]hese staples of modern filler communication--I mean, y'know, like--can also be used as 'tee-up words.' In olden times, pointer phrases or tee-up words were get this, would you believe? and are you ready? The function of these rib-nudging phrases was--are you ready?--to make the point, to focus the listener's attention on what was to follow. . . .

"If the purpose is to tee up a point, we should accept y'know and its friends as a mildly annoying spoken punctuation, the articulated colon that signals 'focus on this.' . . . If the purpose is to grab a moment to think, we should allow ourselves to wonder: Why are filler phrases needed at all? What motivates the speaker to fill the moment of silence with any sound at all?"
(William Safire, Watching My Language: Adventures in the Word Trade. Random House, 1997)

Filler Words Across Disciplines

"Why do some people fill the air with non-words and sounds? For some, it is a sign of nervousness; they fear silence and experience speaker anxiety. Recent research at Columbia University suggests another reason. Columbia psychologists speculated that speakers fill pauses when searching for the next word. To investigate this idea, they counted the use of filler words used by lecturers in biology, chemistry, and mathematics, where the subject matter uses scientific definitions that limit the variety of word choices available to the speaker. They then compared the number of filler words used by teachers in English, art history, and philosophy, where the subject matter is less well-defined and more open to word choices.

"Twenty science lecturers used an average of 1.39 uh's a minute, compared with 4.85 uh's a minute by 13 humanities teachers. Their conclusion: subject matter and breadth of vocabulary may determine use of filler words more than habit or anxiety.

"Whatever the reason, the cure for filler words is preparation. You reduce nervousness and pre-select the right ways to say ideas through preparation and practice."
(Paul R. Timm and Sherron Bienvenu, Straight Talk: Oral Communication for Career Success. Routledge, 2011)

Personally, I don't use 'you know' often.  I mean I use it, just not often.  However, I know about 8 friends I can count that uses it a lot... and I mean A LOT!  Having said that, it doesn't bother me in the least bit that they do this because it seems to make them feel comfortable saying this and they each say it in their own unique way whether it's said with an accent or said fast/slow etc.  It makes them who they are and after awhile you just ignore it as it becomes part of their speech.  So instead of trying to stop people from saying these words, I think we should all learn to accept it (as annoying as it may be to you) and move on... you know, just get over it!

Source(s): wikipedia, theregister.com/, about.com/,
Original cartoon character by Flickr user  dogwelder