Philobiblon: The good, the bad and the ancient

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The good, the bad and the ancient

I caught the fossil-hunting bug during a visit to Lyme Regis a couple of years ago. My table is now decorated with quite a few ammonites, what might (or might not) be a dinosaur coprolite, and fistfulls of belemnites. (Their fossils are casts of their internal cavity, so the are simply a narrowing rod of stone. I think everyone gets bored with picking them up eventually, they are so plentiful).

But I guess I'll have to go back now, since a new cliff-slip has exposed what is expected to be a rich new field. Someone in the "how to collect fossils" group I went out with found an icthyosaur vertebrae - now I really would like one of those.

Elsewhere, in the "it was bound to happen" category, Jane Austen is to be repackaged as "chick-lit"; and an American woman soldier's account of Iraq is also being sold by the sex, although it appears to be about a lot more.

And, surprise, surprise, Western science has found evidence that acupuncture works.

Researchers found that an acupuncture technique using deep needling led to the deactivaton of part of the brain's limbic system, which helps the body to be conscious of pain.
Neuroscientists believe that the findings show that acupuncture has a measurable effect on the brain and that the study could provide a possible mechanism to explain how acupuncture can relieve pain.
The research was carried out on a set of volunteers by scientists at Hull York Medical School as part of a new BBC TV series called Alternative Medicine: The Evidence, to be broadcast on Tuesday evening on BBC2.

It would be kind of odd if the Chinese had been using it for thousands of years and it didn't have some effect ...

And finally, the only real story in the UK this weekend is the whale in the Thames. Whether it makes it or not (and the radio news is not very positive just now), while some might say this is a disproprotionate response, I still think it is a positive aspect of human nature that such efforts should be made to save another creature, and such interest be shown in those efforts.


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