Some times

Time-traveling through life. A short story added to my online Fiction folder. Sometimes I need to leave the world of science behind, shake things up, and let those loose associations run wild. It’s funny how I appreciate the systematic rigorous nature of the scientific endeavour, but when I get to be creative, it’s mostly about mad worlds, magic, and metaphysical somersaults of logic.

If you, like me, enjoy playful ramblings about time, bizarre remarks about the metric system, and strange sensations of multiple personalities, here you go: Some times.

The great sci-fi author Kurt Vonnegut once wrote: ‘Billy Pilgrim has become adrift in time’.

This sentence has remained etched in my mind, popping up in my thoughts at the most curious moments. I feel I have developed a bond with dear Billy over the years, and with his help, in this particular point in time, I would like to make another point about time, if Mr. Vonnegut would allow me to borrow him a little. I am convinced that Mr. Vonnegut is, or at the moment, was, a person filled with sympathy for his struggling fellow writer, and would look kindly upon my loan. I promise to return Billy in the best of conditions, at most a little rattled by the additional experiments with time which we plan to put him through, but frankly that would be nothing new to Billy.


Riding on the emergent arrow of now

I hope that Billy, being an experienced time traveler, like most of us, will be up to the challenge. So, Vonnegut wrote ‘Billy Pilgrim has become adrift in time’, when in fact I would like to argue that Billy, like most of us, is tightly entwined to the only time that anybody has: the now.

But we humans, one could say, are very promiscuous creatures when it comes to time—we are not satisfied with the now that we have. We brazenly keep flirting with any number of moments in the past and present all the while having the particular one with whom we are mostly intimately involved. Continue reading

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17. Can Glyphosate Research Be Trusted?

science-306840_960_720In my series 17 Questions about Glyphosate, last but not least comes a post about the integrity of research, how funding may influence research results, and what corporate involvement with scientists may entail. And if scientists mostly are not influenced by industry, why are there so many conflicting study results? Continue reading

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14.-16. Glyphosate and Field Ecosystems


Monarch caterpillar feeding on milkweed photo from Wikimedia CC BY 2.0

In my series 17 Questions about Glyphosate, question 14. deals with glyphosate resistant-weeds: whether they pose a problem, and why campaigners against glyphosate should be the last ones to worry about this particular issue. Question 15. looks at the soil ecosystems: what do we know about the effects of glyphosate on soil micro-organisms? Does it affect nutrient balance and mineral uptake? Plus comments on what one troubled study found out about earthworms. Question 16. delves into whether there is a relationship between glyphosate and the situation of Monarch butterflies or bees. Continue reading

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13. Glyphosate and The Environment

In my series 17 Questions about Glyphosate, question 13. looks at glyphosate and its impacts on farming methods and the environment.

Even if glyphosate poses no risk for the consumers, perhaps its problems lie in the effects on the environment? Let’s look at some of the details.

13. Does glyphosate use enable bad farming practices?


Glyphosate helps preserve soils with no-till

Glyphosate is often used in combination with genetically engineered crops, particularly ones which are able to synthesise their aromatic amino-acids even in the presence of glyphosate. They are called RoundUp Ready (RR) crops, and are a big part of the existing Herbicide Tolerant Crops (HTCs). Many people believe this combination of RoundUp and GMO crops to be detrimental to the environment, but there tends to be little evidence to back up their assumption.

The USDA has actually documented the benefits to the environment from the combined use of herbicides and HTCs such as RR crops. The key benefit comes from how glyphosate enables farmers to omit the tilling step – move to no-till. Tilling leads to erosion and nutrient run-off, among other things, and avoiding it has many benefits. Continue reading

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7.-12. Glyphosate in Wind, Rain; Down the Drain?

Series 17 Questions about Glyphosate questions 7.-11. I go through the evidence for whether glyphosate can be detected, and if so then in which quantities, in each of the following: air and rainwater, urine, breastmilk, wine, and wheat. I have also added extra sections on glyphosate in honey, vaccines, and tampons.

Question 12. delves into the common verbal images of farmers ‘drenching’ their fields in pesticides, and how much farmers actually use.

7. Is there glyphosate in the air and rainwater?

Despite the case for there being less need to worry about glyphosate than most other pesticides, there are still many arguments around which rely rather on making scary claims about the abundance of glyphosate in our environment. They make the silent implication that this level of detection must be significant and should make us worried about health effects. But often the claims of glyphosate in something or other are misleading, and sometimes downright false. Continue reading

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5.-6. Glyphosate, Other Pesticides, and The Precautionary Principle

In my series 17 Questions about Glyphosate, question 5. deals with questions I have encountered about how to prepare for and anticipate potential problems which we may have too little knowledge of to foresee at present. In other words, should we apply the precautionary principle and ban glyphosate altogether? For comparison points for such precaution, people often point to thalidomide and DDT. No regulation, as in the time of DDT, versus today, with extensive regulation that requires almost a decade of testing before approval, have dramatically changed the landscape when it comes to unknown risks from pesticides. Question 6. compares toxicity of glyphosate to other pesticides and household chemicals, looks at how dangerous pesticides used to be, and how far we have come from the situation we had but a few decades ago.2 Continue reading

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4. Does Glyphosate Harm Gut Bacteria?

In my series 17 Questions about Glyphosate, question 4. looks at glyphosate and its potential to affect our gut bacteria. This is one of the favourite returning points for many who find the newness of the field of microbiome research a reason be extra cautious, and in the process, sometimes jump into some rather hasty conclusions.  Continue reading

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