Archive for the ‘DNA’ Category

Service of a Good Appetite: Some People Will Eat No Matter Where or When

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

half eaten apple

When stressed, nervous or sad I find it hard to eat. Everything gets stuck in my throat and I’m not hungry. That’s why my eye caught Michael Wilson’s “Crime Scene” column in The New York Times, “Some Home Burglars Want a Quick Getaway. Others Need a Nosh.”

Regardless, were I in someone’s apartment stealing from them I wouldn’t hesitate for any reason, much less grab a bite. Yet, according to Wilson, this nibbling while on a burglary job is nothing new. The paper wrote about a general’s widow in Poughkeepsie who, in 1886 lost 100 pieces of flatware to robbers who then “went down to the kitchen and brought upstairs to the parlor cooked meats, bread, cake, eggs and milk, and partook of the banquet there and then.”

Wilson reported that the city’s DNA laboratory tests half eated chocolate cakeanything that “can link a suspect to a crime.” He continued, “This is a story about a small and bizarre subset of those objects” some of which include, according to the medical examiner’s office, a “partially eaten apple” as well as “Sunflower seed shells. Half-eaten chocolate cake. Chewed gum…half-eaten biscuit…Chicken bones. Chicken wing. Pizza crust. Fruit pit.” Later in the article Wilson referenced candy wrappers, a lollipop and a bagel.

Police textbooks cover the subject and Brooklyn Detective Anthony Barbee told Wilson “One of the questions we always ask people, ‘Look in your refrigerator. Is there anything open?’” Barbee added that some “make themselves at home. They get comfortable.”

I wasn’t as surprised about those whom Wilson reported took the food or beverage with them. I’d consider that part of the burglary—not an example of eat and run–and not unusual. He wrote about one burglar who took watches and electronics and in a note he left behind he thanked the homeowner for the OJ.

half eaten pizza crustA retired detective, Steve Panagopoulos, told Wilson that the food burglars are junkies. Now that makes sense—though I’m not sure that this would apply to the burglars in the 19th century Poughkeepsie example. “‘They don’t really even care about getting caught. Taking their time, sitting there opening refrigerators, that’s pretty crazy.’ That sort of behavior was the undoing of one serial thief he remembered. ‘He had taken out a thing of cheese, crackers,’ Mr. Panagopoulos said. ‘He left them behind on the table. That was processed for DNA.’”

Can you imagine stopping to snack while doing something illegal and dangerous–when time is of the essence–or do you lean in the direction of Detective Panagopoulos who attributed such behavior, these days in any case, to the conduct of junkies?

chicken bones

 

Service of Facing the Music: It Doesn’t Get Better if You Wait, Yahoo and Target

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

face the music

When something goes wrong you’re better off taking action quickly—that goes for people and companies: Most have to fight putting off facing the music.

Dr. Alan JasloveUrged by my husband to move quickly I averted a disaster last week by immediately acting on a dental emergency that seemed overwhelming when it happened. My instinct was to hide and hope. My great dentist, Alan Jaslove [Photo, right]—I’ve written about him before—saved my tooth and a whole lot of stuff that depended on it, squeezing me in and staying late to do so. Had I waited, as he was scheduled to be out of the office for four days which I didn’t know, I might have damaged the tooth beyond repair causing a domino effect of horrendous proportions.

I know this yet avoidance is in my DNA.

yahooIt must also be in Yahoo’s. It took two years for the company to report and/or discover a humongous customer hack. It doesn’t reflect well in either case: That it knew and didn’t tell or that it didn’t know.

“The Yahoo theft represents the most accounts ever stolen from a single email provider,” I read on usnews.com from a syndicated AP story, “The Yahoo Email Hack is Bad,” by tech writer Michael Liedtke.

  • According to Liedtke, “Yahoo didn’t explain what took so long to uncover a heist that it blamed on a ‘state-sponsored actor’ — parlance for a hacker working on behalf of a foreign government. The Sunnyvale, California, company declined to explain how it reached its conclusions about the attack for security reasons, but said it is working with the FBI and other law enforcement. Yahoo began investigating a possible breach in July, around the time the tech site Motherboard reported that a hacker who uses the name ‘Peace’ was trying to sell account information belonging to 200 million Yahoo users.
  •  Jeff John Roberts on Fortune.com, in a fact sheet format, answered the question “Why did Yahoo take so long to warn everyone?” as follows: “Good question. It’s currently unclear when Yahoo learned about the attack…….All Yahoo has said so far is that a ‘recent investigation… has confirmed the breach.’”

The breach happened in 2014 well before the public knew that Verizon was planning to buy Yahoo. Did executives at the digital services company really think a hack involving so many customers could be forever hidden from the purchaser and that a sophisticated company like Verizon wouldn’t protect itself from such a bad surprise had the sale gone through before this news leaked? And what about 500 million hacked customers who turn to Yahoo for email, finance or fantasy sports—according to Roberts–who must take steps to change passwords and, in some cases, answers to security questions.

TargetTwo years seems to be the magic number for Target too. From August 2014 to July of this year it sold—for as much as $75–what it thought was 100 percent Egyptian cotton sheets and pillow cases according to Bloomberg news, the company bought the products from Welspun India that turned out to be lesser quality cotton.  Target has offered refunds to its customers. But I wonder why it took so long for buyers to discover this. Eons ago, at a party, a friend in the retail business remarked on the quality and thread count of the shirt my husband was wearing without touching it. He was right: It was a pricey shirt in soft, fine Egyptian cotton.

  • Do you drag your feet when you really shouldn’t?
  • It can’t help people sleep well at night to realize that it takes years to discover a giant email hack. Should it take two years to learn something’s amiss?
  • As for Target, did no buyer open a single package over 23 months to check the contents and did he/she even know what Egyptian cotton was supposed to feel like?
  • Do you pay for premium products and sometimes wonder if you are getting your money’s worth?
Photo: cbsnews.com

Photo: cbsnews.com

 

Service of Tweaks in Tomato Land: Is What’s Good for Shipping & Shelf Life Good for Me?

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

tomato 1

The words “safe” or “healthy” appeared nowhere in Daniela Hernandez’s Wall Street Journal article, “GMO Tomatoes May Stay Firm Longer–The genetic tweaks don’t significantly affect color and may preserve flavor, according to a new study.” She covered highlights from a paper published in Nature Biotechnology that showed that the modified tomatoes stayed firm for 14 days after they were picked, significant for shipping and shelf life.

When tomatoes are old they wrinkle

When tomatoes are old they wrinkle

And there was something else. The study, partially funded by Syngenta [seeds and pesticide], was performed at the University of Nottingham in the UK, a country that forbids people from eating genetically modified foods, so that nobody knows how these two-week-still-hard tomatoes taste!

Growing up in NYC before the advent of farmers’ markets, I disliked supermarket tomatoes that tasted at best like mushy apples. I realized how delicious the fruit can be when I lived in a foreign country where farmers waited until the fruit was a deep red before picking and selling.

“It’s unlikely the same DNA-wrangling technologies will be used for tomatoes grown commercially,” wrote Hernandez. “The tomato market isn’t big enough to ‘justify the cost of going through the regulatory hoops’ necessary to sell genetically modified tomatoes, said USDA plant molecular biologist James Giovannoni. ‘That is why the GMOs [genetically modified organisms] currently in the market are major crops, like maize or soy.’”

Tomato 3 commercialHernandez continued: “The research’s benefit is providing a road map to genes breeders could target. It’s more likely they would cross tomatoes with less pectate-lyase activity to commercial varieties and select those that are firm and tasty, he added.” [Not quite sure what that means.] “That will require growers to figure out what conditions give them optimal flavor and texture, at the right harvest time.”

So should I worry about the definition of “commercial growers?” Obviously they sell to behemoths like Del Monte and Heinz but what about the farmers who sell to small grocery stores, restaurants and at farmers’ markets—will their tomatoes eventually be tweaked to support more favorable shipping and storage or are they subject to the same complicated regulations as commercial growers? Do you believe that a genetically fiddled tomato will be safe and healthy to eat?

tomato 2

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