Daily Archives: March 30, 2009

It may not be safe to drink the water

Polycarbonate water bottles have received plenty of bad press for releasing potentially toxic compounds into unsuspecting drinkers, but there may be another culprit: everyday plastic packaging.

A German study of commercially-available bottled water found contamination by chemicals that mimic natural sex hormones. When the researchers raised snails in the water, they bred with extreme rapidity — a warning sign that the chemicals were active. Contamination levels were twice as high in brands packaged in plastic instead of glass, suggesting that plastic was the culprit.

Wired Science

Six Bonobos Die in Sanctuary


Six bonobos, a species of chimpanzee, have died from a flu epidemic in a month at the Lola Ya Bonobo in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Ten more have contracted the flu.

These are apes in a rehab center, and apparently the flu (we’ll assume for the moment that the diagnosis is accurate, but keep in mind that the term “flu” has different meanings in different parts of the world) hits hard and the animal dies in a few days after showing symptoms.

Details here.

What you ‘get’ is what you see.


The caption of this photograph at The Guardian says only, “Nowruz celebrations in Afghanistan.” Nowruz is the name of the Iranian New Year, which is celebrated in a number of countries by people of several faiths. The baskets of dried fruits eaten during the holiday provide the only visual connection to the colorful festivities, and you have to know more than the paper tells you to see that. For many viewers, this will a thoroughly conventional image of the Middle East.

How do you view a photograph when the ethnicity represented is the context? How do you view a photograph when the ethnicity is unexpected? For instance, if you were told that this photograph was taken in Des Moines Iowa, or if you were shown a photo of people putting chicken skewers on the barbie and told it was from Iran?

Read this interesting piece by Robert Hariman on “The Street, A Park, and the Unseen Middle East.”