Monday, August 13, 2012

Campus ignoramuses

This guy and his minions sure know how to debase the intellectual standing of their college.  Basing policy on speculative epidemiogical inferences is just plain dumb -- and speculative epidemiogical inferences are all they've got as support for this policy.  The guy is just a would-be Fascist

You, too, can be O.K. without pork.  That’s the message of Michael J. Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College in Dallas. Well, part of the message at least – after all, Sorrell didn’t ban pork from his campus dining facilities arbitrarily. No – the decision to stop offering any pork products was based in a much broader institutional philosophy, the president says.

“When you come to college, you come to be educated,” Sorrell said. “We thought we could do more in the area of promoting healthy lifestyle choices and healthy eating habits.”

In a brief statement announcing the decision Tuesday, Sorrell put it like this: “Eating pork can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, sodium retention and heart problems, not to mention weight gain and obesity. Therefore, as a part of our continued effort to improve the lives and health of our students, Paul Quinn College and its food service partner Perkins Management have collaborated to create a pork-free cafeteria.”

In a subsequent interview with Inside Higher Ed, Sorrell framed the move as just another step in Paul Quinn’s crusade for healthier students, staff and community members. The college had already started reducing the availability of fast food, pork and other fatty and sweet foods, adding salad options instead. After the football team got cut a few years ago, the president turned the field into an organic garden (which has since produced 6,000 pounds of food, much of which is donated or goes to the campus cafeterias). The college has also taken up a number of other projects, like the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk and AIDS testing.

The health problems Sorrell wants to head off are more common among the demographic the historically black college serves: low-income, minority students. When Sorrell got there five years ago, he couldn’t believe the menu.

“There was a proliferation of ranch dressing on everything. I mean, it just was typical choices that you would see made by folks who weren’t creative enough to manage the economic constraints with the need to create healthy options. I mean, we were no different than many other small colleges that service students from underrepresented communities,” Sorrell said. But campus food is on a continuum. “If I’m a betting person, I bet the future holds a 100-percent healthy dining campus. We’re not there yet, but we’re gradually working our way there.”

But the no-pork idea is unlikely to catch on at other colleges, said Rachel A. Warner, director of communications and marketing at the National Association of College and University Food Services.

“Colleges and universities will cater to whatever their student population wants,” Warner said. “So if there was a large demand, for example, for a specific type of protein or menu item, they’ll usually provide that. But normally our schools try to increase the diversity of their menu, as opposed to decrease it.”


Marijuana and memory: study shows it's not good news

Australian scientists say they have proved that persistent heavy marijuana use damages the brain's memory and learning capacity. Their study showed for the first time the earlier people developed a cannabis habit, the worse the damage.

Scientists from Melbourne's Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI), Melbourne University and Wollongong University used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of 59 people who had been using marijuana for 15 years on average. The images were compared with scans of 33 healthy people who had never used the drug.

The scans measured changes to the volume, strength and integrity of white matter, the brain's complex wiring system. Unlike grey matter, the brain's thinking areas which peak at age eight, white matter continues developing over a lifetime.

Senior researcher Dr Marc Seal of MCRI said the scans showed long-term heavy cannabis users had disruptions in their white matter fibres. There was a reduction in the volume of white matter of more than 80 per cent in the users studied, Dr Seal said.

While the average age participants started using marijuana was 16, some began as young as 10 or 11 and were more seriously affected.

"This is the first study to demonstrate the age at which regular cannabis use begins is a key factor in determining the severity of the brain damage," Dr Seal said. Cannabis interferes with naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

"If you're a teenager and you've got all these natural cannabinoids in your white matter, it's not good to be introducing a lot of external cannabinoids in your system, because it stops the white matter maturing," Dr Seal said.

The significant differences in long-term heavy cannabis users' white matter was linked to poor memory and learning.

"We don't know if the changes are irreversible but we do know that these changes are quite significant," Dr Seal said. "These differences are linked to memory impairment and concentration.

"These people can have trouble learning new things and they are going to have trouble remembering things," he said.

The results could not be explained by other recreational drug use and alcohol. Dr Seal said the participants would be followed up in the next two years to track any further changes.

The results added to previous evidence showing the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in memory, shrunk in heavy users. Previous studies investigating white matter among cannabis users had substantially smaller numbers of participants.


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