Wednesday, 31 October 2012

9 Weird Facts About Marijuana

1. Marijuana is NOT Hemp!

Marijuana is NOT Hemp

Can you tell the difference? (Hemp is on the right.)
Although both marijuana and hemp are weeds, have a similar leaf shape, and are subspecies of the Cannabis sativa plant, they are in fact very different. Marijuana has flowering buds with a high content of THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) the stuff that makes you feel “high”. Hemp, on the other hand, has a very low THC content, can be grown closely together, and it can be used to make a variety of useful products. (You cannot get high from smoking hemp.) Hemp and marijuana were once considered separate entities. The 1937 Marihuana Tax act was focused on the THC-producing variety. It wasn't until 1970, when the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act took over lumping hemp and marijuana in the same category, making both illegal, and creating confusion in people's minds to this day. (Link 1 | Link 2 | Photo)

2. It Used To Be Patriotic To Grow Hemp

It Used To Be Patriotic To Grow Hemp

While America was still just 13 colonies, a 1619 law REQUIRED farmers to grow it. Hemp was used to make rope, clothing, and sails. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned hemp farms, and Jefferson wrote a draft of the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. Also, what about the flag Betsy Ross sewed? You guessed it: made of hemp. (Link | Photo)

3. The US Government Used It To Fight The Nazis

The US Government Used It To Fight The Nazis

During the height of World War II, the US produced a film entitled “Hemp for Victory” praising the many uses of hemp, and encouraging farmers to grow it to help with the war effort. The existence of the film was denied by the Government for many years until 1989, when marijuana advocate Jack Herrer donated a VHS copy to the Library of Congress. It is now in the Public Domain, and can be seen on YouTube – watch below!

link video

4. Medical Marijuana Has Been Around For Thousands of Years

Medical Marijuana Has Been Around For Thousands of Years

Chinese symbol for marijuana (Ma)
In Ancient China, the plant, known as Ma, was used for food, fuel, clothing, and medicine going back to 6,000 B.C. But the oldest existing reference to medical marijuana dates to 2737 B.C. when the Red Emperor Shen Nung is credited with writing The Herbal, a listing of medicinal properties of various herbs, including Ma, to alleviate rheumatism and gout pain. In 2 A.D. Hua T'o is recorded as having used Ma-yo (the female plant) and red wine as an anesthesia while he performed painful surgeries including organ grafts and loin incisions. Yeah, you'd probably want to be high for that. (Link | Via)

5. Marijuana is actually GOOD for your lungs!

Marijuana is actually GOOD for your lungs

Brazilian artist Fernando de la Rocque uses pot smoke to make art
That's right, a recent study of 5,000 pot smokers by UCSF and University of Alabama showed that those who only smoke a few joints a week actually had stronger lung capacity and external blowing force than non-users. A 2005 UCLA paper also shows that marijuana smoke might actually help to PREVENT lung cancer. Unlike tobacco, which contains nicotine and is a known carcinigen, marijuana contains cannibinoids and THC, which seem to discourage cancer. It is also impossible to die of an overdose. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. (Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3 | Photo)

6.The Indian Government Declared Marijuana Harmless in 1894

The Indian Government Declared Marijuana Harmless in 1894

While use of cannabis was primarily medicinal in Ancient China, over in India they liked to party with it. It was a common substance, used in religious ceremonies and to help people chill out. It was often ingested as a drink, boiled with nuts and milk called Bhang. It made people happy, so much so that the British Colonial Government was concerned it might be driving the population insane. They commissioned a study and issued a report entitled The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report of 1894. It not only concluded that mainstream usage was harmless, but also that a ban on it might actually prove more detrimental.


7. Why Do They Call It Dope? 14.4 Million Americans Smoke

Why Do They Call It Dope 14.4 Million Americans Smoke

A 2007 Government report estimated that 14.4 million Americans smoked pot during a one month testing period. One study in 2006 suggested that marijuana is the largest cash crop in the US at $35.8 Billion, but that number has recently been disputed, with a contrasting report putting it as low as $2.1 Billion. (Either way, it's still a large, essentially unknowable number.) The largest producer of marijuana in the world is Mexico, followed by Paraguay. But who are the biggest users of the drug? The Good ol' USA. According to a study in Time, 42% of Americans have tried it. Even President Obama has smoked it. (Link 1 | Link 2 | Photo)

8. Where Did The Name Marijuana Come From? No One Knows

Where Did The Name Marijuana Come From No One Knows

There is a lot of speculation when it comes to the origin of the name marijuana. Folklore has it that it is a hybrid of the names Maria and Juana, slang terms for a prostitute. Another theory is that it is derived from the word maraguanquo, which means “intoxicating plant.” While a variant of the word appeared as early as 1873, the plant was known mostly as cannabis. It wasn't until the demonization of the drug in the 1930's and 40's (used to suppress minorities) that the word Marihuana was associated with “Reefer Madness.” Over the years, hundreds of nicknames have been coined, including grass, weed, dope, pot, and kush. What's your favorite? (Link 1 | Link 2)

9. The Use of Hemp Could Save Our Planet

The Use of Hemp Could Save Our Planet

Uses of the hemp plant fiber itself are numerous. It can be made into rope, paper, clothing, canvas, eaten as a food, and its seeds can be used for fuel. It's also good for the planet. A study by McGill University in Canada estimated that 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 million acres of industrial hemp would take care of all of our oil needs. In addition, unlike tobacco, which destroys the soil after every crop, planting cannabis actually improves it. It is legal in Uruguay, Peru, India, and even in Iran for it to be grown for food/fuel. Legalization of both hemp and marijuana would produce thousands of jobs, take care of world hunger, cut back on greenhouse gases, and help people cope with the pain of AIDs, glaucoma, and cancer. It turns out that getting “high” from it is just an added bonus. (Link 1 | Link 2 | Photo)


Thursday, 25 October 2012

5 Heroic Animal Tales Inspired by the ‘Animals in War’ Memorial, London


animals-in-memorial(Image: Iridescenti, cc-sa-3.0)

Amid the busy traffic of London’s Park Lane and Upper Brooke Street stand two weary mules, a proud horse and a loyal dog. These noble beasts are poised at the edge of Hyde Park in commemoration of the millions of creatures who died while serving the British and Allied Forces. The Animals in War Memorial honours mammals, birds and even insects who sacrificed their lives doing their jobs or following their natural instincts. The monument, designed by sculptor David Backhouse, intends the onlooker to follow the struggling mules into a ghostly wall of conflict. The active observer can then travel through a narrow opening to accompany the dog and horse on their journey into the future.

As well as commemorating animal selflessness, the Animals in War Memorial demonstrates man’s compassion towards the animal world. This calls us to reflect on what our furry, or not so furry, friends have done to earn the respect of humankind. Here are some examples:

thor-pit-bull-terrier(Image: Ildar Sagdejev, cc-sa-3.0)

Thor, a Pit Bull Terrier, rescued his masters from a house fire. The brave hound barked repeatedly to alert his masters to the blaze and even pulled their three month old baby, in her basket, to the front door.

charlie-cat(Image: Hisashi, cc-sa-3.0)

Charlie, the black and white cat, saved her human surrogate mother from a hypoglycemic attack. The clever feline found her diabetic owner collapsed on the bathroom floor and woke the lady’s husband with insistent paws to his hand. While he administered the life-saving glucose, Charlie kept vigil.

kerry-chestnut-horse(Image: Gary Tanner, cc-nc-sa-3.0, see website:

Kerry, the chestnut-coloured horse, came to the aid of her farming owner who was being trampled by a cow defending its calf. While the cow butted the lady farmer to the ground and trampled on her, the heroic mare repeatedly kicked out at the beast until it moved away.

watusi-calf(Image: Just chaos, cc-3.0)

A Watusi calf prevented its cattle rancher owner from stepping on a snake by suddenly blocking the lady’s path and refusing to let her past. Although she initially tried to move the the caring creature, she finally noticed the dangerous snake.

charlie-parrot(Image: Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez, cc-sa-3.0)

Charlie the parrot assaulted two burglars as they tried to ransack a man’s home for his prescription drugs. The men pushed their way in through the front door and began beating Charlie’s owner. This provoked the fearless bird into pecking chunks out of them and forcing them to run away.

Visit the Animals in War website to find out more about the memorial and Jilly Cooper‘s book, Animals in War, from which the monument originated.


Monday, 22 October 2012

Big Dog, Little Bed: Does this happen in your house?

Please note the species of animal that has taken over the large, more luxurious bed in every instance!





Thursday, 18 October 2012

Cats Vs Dogs

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Nature’s Fiery Funnel – The Fire Whirl

fire whirl tornado devil 10

They are called variously fire whirls, fire devils, fire tornadoes and even firenadoes – and the chances are you will never be fortunate (depending on your outlook) enough to see one in real life. An extraordinarily rare phenomenon they are only occasionally caught on camera. Here, however, are a few wonderful examples.

fire whirl tornado devil 8Image Credit Flickr User Michael Holden

Fire whirls come about only under specific conditions, a combination of air currents and temperature.  A fire on the ground forms a whirl which can rapidly reach great heights, though mercifully most never last for long.  However, just like a tornado, the fire rises in an almost vertical rotating column.

fire whirl tornado devil 1Used with permission © Jan van Rooyen

fire whirl tornado devil 11Used with permission © Jan van Rooyen

fire whirl tornado devil 2Used with permission © Jan van Rooyen

It is unusual enough to see a fire tornado amidst a bush fire on the ground. Yet sometimes they separate from the flames and become a brief vortex of flame, an independent spectacle.  However, certain fire whirls can be more than a kilometer in height, move over 160 km/h, and persevere for more than 15 minutes. Best not to get too close.

fire whirl tornado devil 6Image Credit Flickr User NOAA PhotoLibrary

The Great Kanto earthquake in Japan in 1923 showed how lethal they can be. A fire whirl spontaneously combusted (how else to describe it?) and killed almost forty thousand people in a little under twenty minutes.

fire whirl tornado devil 3Used with permission © Pyroninja

Moreover, there was a fire caused by a lightning strike on a fuel depot in San Luis Obispo, California, in the 1920s.  The resulting firestorm produced a myriad of fire whirls which carried debris over three miles away. There is every possibility that you will, in your life time, hear of a fire whirl wreaking untold havoc on lives and property. Video

This remarkable footage was taken by Australian photographer Chris Tangey. He managed to capture a fire whirl at full strength and captured it on footage which was seen on news bulletins around the world. This is the raw film he took – bear with it because when you see the fire whirl in action I think you will appreciate it! Watch as the debris from the whirl cascades down to the ground – simply amazing.

fire whirl tornado devil 9Image Credit Flickr User Zharth

Fire whirls are certainly magnificent to behold but they are also capable of propagating fire in areas previously untouched.  As such, although they are invariably greeted with some awe there is always a dread of what greater damage they might inflict.

fire whirl tornado devil 5Used with permission © Rick McClure Photography

There are fire whirls quite often at the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada (see picture below). It seems there the conditions, along with the strange urge the festival goers have to start fires often result in the creation of fire whirls, though none quite the size of the one in the Australian outback or indeed those which inflicted such damage on Tokyo and San Luis Obispo.

fire whirl tornado devil 7Image Credit Flickr User Mulling It Over



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