#5 The strange history of childbirth…

Now, I know it sounds like a weird topic for a 19 year old (and not a pregnant one or one who’s planning children any time soon) to be interested in, but I’ve always been fascinated by childbirth and was even considering becoming a midwife before anthropology lured me in.

They mentioned on ‘One Born Every Minute‘ that women have always given birth standing up or squatting. I thought, that’s QI, I will look into this and find out some quick facts for today’s piece of knowledge!

Piece of knowledge #5

AZTECS 12th – 16th century, Mexico

  • Women were treated like goddesses when they became pregnant, and lavish banquets were thrown for them
  • Sweatbaths and herbal drinks were given to a woman in labour by the midwife, if the baby still doesn’t arrive then a good kick in the back was in order
  • If the baby died in the womb it was hacked up with an obsidian blade by the midwife in order to be removed
  • If the woman died during childbirth, her body parts were at risk of being stolen and used as good luck charms

ANCIENT GREECE & ROME c. 2nd century

  • Women in labour were made a drink laced with sow’s dung and inhaled fumes from hyena fat
  • The original BioOil: they rubbed oils into her belly to decrease the appearance of stretch marks
  • The original vajazzle: her genitals were ‘anointed’ with herbs and injected with softeners such as goose fat
  • It was believed that if the womb shifted the best way to get it back in place was to coax it back with sweet smelling herbs

INCAS c. 13th – 16th century, Peru

(Not directly related to childbirth but I was intrigued as I’ll be visiting Machu Picchu in a few months!)

  • The baby doesn’t have a name for the first two years of it’s life but was called “wawa”. The child then had a temporary name until puberty when their permanent name was chosen in order to reflect the person
  • If a couple wanted to marry they could have a trial run of it and if it didn’t work out they could look for a new partner with no shame, virginity was also no big deal in Inca life!

Childbirth hurts human women the most out of all animals because we have the largest sculls relative to our bodies thanks to our big brains… Damn our intelligence! 

#4 Fluoride: there’s just not enough evidence

I recently heard that fluoride is bad for you, so I said instantly to my mum “QUICK BUY THIS FLUORIDE-FREE TOOTHPASTE BEFORE WE SPONTANEOUSLY DISINTEGRATE”:

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Then I realised that I had jumped on (an admittedly 70 year long) bandwagon about fluoride without knowing why. I told myself today STOP JUMPING ON BANDWAGONS and find out for yourself, with real facts and everything, WHY fluoride is so controversial. So, I hopped on the laptop began my research. I have been looking into this debate pretty much ALL DAY, but please correct me if I’m wrong about anything and please feel free to leave your own opinion.

Piece of knowledge #4

Yes, they said in the 1940’s that it will prevent tooth decay, and it seems that some governments have jumped to a pro-fluoride stance, not least North America where they allow around 60% of their water supply to be fluoridated for this sole purpose, without any solid data to back it up.

If this is widely called ‘a controversy’ and there are countless internet pages on how it’s linked to various health issues without any solid data to refute this, then why is it still being pumped into water supplies (not just in the U.S but also in the Rep. of Ireland and some parts of the UK, including 14% of the East Midlands for my Derby followers)?

The arguments against fluoride are that it is highly toxic. That is a fact. It has been used as rat poison. Obviously we don’t consume large enough amounts daily for it to have an instantly fatal affect, however, U.S toothpaste companies now have to alert consumers that if more than a pea-sized amount is swallowed then they may have been poisoned.

Over time it has been shown to increase aluminum uptake in the brain which is one of the causes of Alzheimer’s. Studies have also shown that consumption of fluoride is linked to arthritisosteoporosis, bone fractures, hypersensitivity towards fluoride, gastrointestinal problems such as IBS, male fertility issues, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, skeletal and dental fluorosis, endocrine disruption and it affects the pineal gland.

FEW! Thank goodness for spell-check.

Of course, it is also a fact that when fluoride is put in direct contact with teeth it “inhibits enzymes that breed acid-producing oral bacteria whose acid eats away tooth enamel”, which prevents tooth decay, but even this has been linked to dental fluorosis and cavities. Why would we drink it and put it in our stomachs if it only works when put directly onto teeth?

I could go on, but I don’t want to bore you, so I will end with this… It is a fact that fluoride is poisonous, so why put it in the water and toothpastes? To me, there’s just not enough evidence to justify it.

Wow. That was serious. See my last post for a light-hearted snippet on the silly questions people ask Google.

The stupid questions people ask Google…

(The bold italic writing is what I typed in to the search bar, the rest is the first thing that came up).

  • How could this happen to me? – some very insecure internet users
  • What have I done to deserve this? – clearly the same people
  • What does yolo mean? – could be anybody over the age of 14
  • Where is Chuck Norris? – the result: “Google won’t search for Chuck Norris because it knows you don’t find Chuck Norris, he finds you.”
  • What can I do today? – Ger a life! Get some friends! One of the results: “If you’re stuck in all day with your boyfriend & you’re bored … I guess it’s time for a new boyfriend!”
  • Why do we yawn? – some people with a curious mind such as ours
  • Why is the sky blue? Is there life on Mars? – even more curious people
  • Is Louis Walsh gay? – ah, the enigmatic leprechaun of the talent show world
  • Is it down? – After a second of pondering, I assumed people heard on the grapevine that Google was down and thought “I’ll ask Google”, clearly it wasn’t down!
  • Am I pregnant? – I feel like Google should just pop up with “YES” in huge letters to mess with people.
  • Who are the Kardashians? – Or more importantly, why are they famous?!

#3 Christmas Crabs! (+ Why do girls hate FPS games?)

No, I have not caught crabs over the Christmas period. Rather, I saw an interesting program last night on the crabs of Christmas Island, called ‘Nature’s Weirdest Events’. I will share with you this fascinating story of migration as the new thing to learn about today.

Piece of knowledge #3

Millions of red crabs endemic to Christmas Island (a tiny Australian island 450km off the coast of Indonesia) migrate from the forest to the sea annually to lay their eggs. Then what’s even more amusing is that the tiny baby crabs journey from the sea to the forest turning the streets red with waves of these fingernail-sized creatures. Apparently, the residents of Christmas Island do their best to allow the crabs to journey on unscathed, allowing them into their homes and even closing roads. The crabs instinctively know their way; they are known to start piling up against fences and navigating their way into cupboards that people have put in the way of this ancient migration path. Stupid humans! You have to see it to believe it…

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Why do girls hate FPS games?

You may hate me for saying this but I am speaking very generally indeed. I just know of lots of boys who love COD and Halo and I don’t have any girl friends who play these games. If you’re a psychologist reading this, please tell me if there are any theories about the way boys and girls are wired up so that some either get very into or not give two monkeys about shooting games. I know I’ve never tried to get good but I really don’t see the appeal. Put me in a car racing game, a parking perfection game or, more embarrassingly, a Sims game and I’m in my element! Any thoughts?

#2 A Peace Story

As well as working my way through the Lord of the Rings films (only got the last one to go now!) and sitting on my bum all day, I also I watched an inspiring TED talk by Ronny Edry, an Israeli graphic designer. In 15 minutes he explains how his poster campaign for peace between Israel and Iran started and grew into something huge and very significant, and even spread to other countries declaring their love for each others people’s.

My Facebook friends are constantly bombarded by pro-peace, go green and the more controversial stand-up-for-yourself-even-if-it-means-going-against-your-government messages from me, which I found out has caused most of my closest friends to block my feed… Well, I suppose it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. So those people will know that I’d
like all the worlds problems to be resolved peacefully and everybody to start spontaneously hugging each other and all trees in the vicinity, however over the course of human history war and disputes have played a part in all cultures, they have been as inevitable as fights in the animal kingdom. However, we humans are smart, and we are all connected by the internet now, which means that, where there is free speech, people can share their thoughts and feelings on their governments policies, even to the extent of avoiding war as Edry shows. I won’t say much more, just watch it!

Piece of knowledge #2

One man started a visual piece campaign in March 2012 to avoid war between Israel and Iran. People who've been told to hate and be scared of the 'other' race all their lives have outsmarted their governments and declared their love for each other. A beautiful love story.

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#1 Hello 2013!

Happy new year and hello! I’m entering 2013 with purple legs thanks to the designer of high heels and some very slippy stairs. It didn’t have anything to do with being extremely drunk at the time of course…

My resolution is to find out something new every day, so since I have no idea where or when the tradition of new years began, that will be the first thing I will find out and share with you this year! Please feel free to share with us your personal new years traditions.

Google tells me that traditions range from wearing colourful underpants in Bolivia and Mexico to celebrating the new year with dead relatives at the cemetery (Talca, Chile), to wearing polka dots and eating all things round in the Philippines, to waving flaming balls of fire at the Hogmanay in Scotland! This makes my new years tradition of getting ver ver drunk seem relatively dull!

Piece of knowledge #1

We have celebrated the coming of spring as a ‘new year’ for thousands of years, but we didn’t even have the month of January until 700 BC (thanks to Roman king Numa Pompilius). It then took another few centuries to for the Romans to celebrate new year on January 1st for the first time in 153 B.C. THEN it took us English until 1752 to adopt the idea of January 1st celebrations. Happy new year!