Wednesday, November 21, 2007

soapbox break

Two articles of note today. And I apologize in advance for the second one.


First: turkey does not, in fact, make you sleepy.
[The myth] is that there's a natural chemical in turkey called tryptophan that makes you sleepy after the Thanksgiving meal.

Turkey does have tryptophan. But all meat has tryptophan at comparable levels. Cheddar cheese, gram for gram, has more. Turkey gets singled out for no other reason than being eaten during the biggest meal of the year.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. Human bodies need tryptophan to build certain kinds of proteins. There is a sleep connection, though. The body uses tryptophan in a multi-step process to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate sleep.

In essence, big meals with any food containing tryptophan can cause sleepiness. The real culprits are all those carbohydrates from potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, bread and pie. The massive intake of carb-heavy calories stimulates the release of insulin, which in turn triggers the uptake of most amino acids from the blood into the muscles except for tryptophan.

With other amino acids swept out of the bloodstream, tryptophan—from turkey or ham or any meat or cheese, for that matter—can better make its way to the brain to produce serotonin. Without that insulin surge, tryptophan would have to compete with all the other kinds of amino acids in the big meal as they make their way to the brain via a common chemical transport route.

Ergo: eat the meat and vegetables, go light on the startches, and you won't feel so miserable for the rest of the weekend.

I'm fairly sure that the "sleepy-turkey myth" is another one of those memes composed and promoted by the meat-is-murder crowd. I think I'll make up a bumper sticker that says "Vegans for Rickets!"


Second, and far more nausea-inducing, is this nasty little tidbit from Saudi Arabia:
The Saudi judiciary on Tuesday defended a court verdict that sentenced a 19-year-old victim of a gang rape to six months in jail and 200 lashes because she was with an unrelated male when they were attacked.

The Shiite Muslim woman had initially been sentenced to 90 lashes after being convicted of violating Saudi Arabia's rigid Islamic law requiring segregation of the sexes.

But in considering her appeal of the verdict, the Saudi General Court increased the punishment. It also roughly doubled prison sentences for the seven men convicted of raping the woman, Saudi news media said last week.

And I had been under the impression that Saudi Arabia was one of the more liberal, secular Middle Eastern nations.

There's really nothing I can say about it, that isn't already obvious to those of us living in a post-Magna-Carta world. If I were fabulously wealthy and anonymous, I'd employ a private team of mercs to follow up on incidents like this.

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