Future Schlock
Don't put that in your mouth

Brit beef brain bust. Just when you thought it was safe to eat British beef again, the October 23 issue of New Scientist reports that the standard English method of pre-slaughter cattle-stunning can increase the chance of spreading Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, a protein-based disease that turns one's brain into a loofah. Currently, cattle are stunned by having a bolt shot into their brains before their throats are cut. After slaughter, Elsie's brain and spinal column -- hotspots of BSE activity -- are removed and burned. This was thought to render the rest of the meat safe for consumption. But researchers from the University of Bristol have discovered that the bolt from the blue can drive brain tissue into the cow's jugular vein, where it can travel around the body in the several minutes it takes Ol' Buttercup to bleed to death. Kosher franks, anyone?

See also...
... by Patrick Di Justo
... in the Whoa! section
... from November 2, 1999

North to Alaska. The flu season has begun early this year, and old people are to blame. In normal years, flu comes to the mainland United States in October via migrating birds defecating in our reservoirs. This year, however, over 400 cases of flu have occurred among senior citizens traveling on Alaska cruises. The cramped quarters and enforced mingling on cruise ships have helped to spread this year's crop of Influenza A -- when the cruises are over, the seniors return home, acting as ticking influenza bombs waiting to go off. Meanwhile, a little Asian girl just caught flu from a pig -- and the last time that happened, 20 million people died. Go get your shots.

Brush-a, brush-a, brush-a. What's the best way to keep from catching a cold: (1) stop kissing; (2) quit talking to pigs; (3) get a new toothbrush. The answer, which may come as a surprise to a generation trained to think that intimate bodily contact is a pathway for disease, is (3). According to researchers at the Common Cold Center in Wales, you share more bodily fluids with yourself than with anyone else. Kissing apparently doesn't spread large drops of nasal mucus (though French kissing an Eskimo would seem to be discouraged), while cold viruses can live on your old toothbrush even after your cold is gone. Don't you just hate it when your mother is right?

Got fungicide? So now you've got a rack full of toothbrushes, it's time to take care of your grout. To all you single guys with mildewed bathroom tile, listen up. Throw away those toxic spray bottles of chlorine and ammonia-based mildew murderers, and get natural. Wagner Bettiol, a researcher at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, has discovered that fresh cow's milk, mixed 1:9 with water and sprayed on mildewed surfaces, works at least as well as some chemical fungicides. At last, good news for the dairy industry. Plus, at $2.39 a gallon, it's a lot cheaper per application than Tilex or ScrubFree, which -- face it guys -- you don't even own a bottle of, do you? Then again, what single guy has fresh milk in his refrigerator, either?

Crows, lobsters -- what's the diff? Around the beginning of September, at about the same time the encephalitis mosquitoes started killing off the crows in Central Park, lobster catchers in New York and New England started noticing that their little arthropod friends were turning up dead. Federal and state environmental officials report that as many as one million lobsters, about 12 percent of the estimated total number in Long Island Sound, had died of a mysterious illness. The die-off could be related to a similar mass lobster death off the coast of Maine last year. So it's forget about beef, pork, and lobster. Guess it's turkey for Thanksgiving again.

Patrick Di Justo goes from "possible romantic prospect" to "just a friend" faster than a sub-atomic particle can decay.

Future Shlock runs every other Tuesday on GettingIt.