At the age of 20, New Yorker Digby du Pont can thank his parents for a life that would make most envious.
With his well-heeled parents he has travelled to all seven continents, visiting the Taj Mahal in India and the Pyramids at Giza, and cruising in the Indian Ocean along the way.
Dressed in the finest clothes and jewellery, Digby has sat down for dinner next to celebrities at some of New York's most exclusive restaurants. He has even turned down an offer to be baptised by the Bishop of London.
Digby is a plastic doll.
But that hasn't stopped his two dads treating him like a real son for the past 21 years.
Dressing him in shoes from Bloomingdales and giving him a Cartier watch, Mark Kirby and A.J Sapolnick have become so attached to their doll son that friends have taken to calling them 'The Digbys'.
'We found Digby in a Paris flea market in 1990 and we both had an immediate connection with him,' said Mark, who has lived with AJ for the past 26 years.
'We haggled over his price and paid £4 for him. He was a total mess, covered in mouldy dew and was not wearing any clothes.
'We brought him back to our room and cleaned him up and it was there that our family began.'
Even though finding Digby in Paris came through chance, Mark and AJ were in fact on the lookout for a suitable child to adopt.
'Around that time we had a lot of friends that were beginning to have children and this was interfering with our social life,' said AJ.
'They couldn't go anywhere because of their children and they would bore you with photographs.
'So I said to Mark that we should have ourselves a baby who wouldn't interfere with our social lives.
'So that was when we decided to have a doll baby.'
Friday, April 15, 2011
Meet the gay couple who have spent 21 years carrying a DOLL round the world:
Posted by Aardvark at 11:42 PM
As effective as some prescription medicines at reducing high blood pressure:
[I]t also appears to lower levels of harmful blood fats, called triglycerides, known to raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes.Captopril is one of the ACE inhibitors:
In a study, patients who took the olive leaf pill for eight weeks saw a significant decline in blood pressure readings and triglyceride levels.
If further studies confirm the powerful effects of olive leaf tablets, they could be used to help patients who struggle to take blood pressure drugs because of their side-effects.
Researchers at the University of Indonesia, in Jakarta, investigated olive leaf extract by recruiting 180 patients with high blood pressure – and splitting them into two groups.
One received olive leaf pills for eight weeks. The rest were given an anti-hypertension drug called captopril, which can cause dizziness.
According to the research published in the journal Phytomedicine, systolic blood pressure – the higher reading – dropped an average of 11.5 points in the olive leaf group and 13.7 in the captopril patients. Diastolic blood pressure – the lower reading – fell 4.8 points in the olive leaf volunteers and 6.4 points in those on the prescription medicine.
Those on the olive treatment also saw ‘a significant reduction’ in levels of triglycerides. In a report on the study, sponsored by a Swiss manufacturer of olive leaf extract and PT Dexa Medica, which makes captopril, researcher Professor Endang Susalit said: ‘The leaves of the olive tree have been used since ancient times to combat high blood pressure, atherosclerosis [blocked arteries] and diabetes.
‘The anti-hypertensive activity of the extract was comparable to captopril, and its beneficial effects in reducing triglyceride levels were strongly indicated.’
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are a group of drugs used primarily for the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) and congestive heart failure. Originally synthesized from compounds found in pit viper venom, they inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), a component of the blood pressure-regulating renin-angiotensin system. Frequently prescribed ACE inhibitors include captopril, enalapril, lisinopril, and ramipril.After years of taking lisinopril I have suddenly developed an allergy to it - hives - so I'm game to give olive leaves a go because all the other anti-hypertension drugs (beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers) also give me hives.
Posted by Aardvark at 10:32 PM
Replace pesticides and gas-guzzling garden tools with hungry goats:
The patch of weeds behind Steve Holdaway's Chapel Hill, N.C., home grew so unkempt that he hired outside help. For six hours, the crew's members tackled tall grass and thorny blackberry plants and toiled without a break — other than to chew their cud, that is.Time to build that goat-shed, buy some goats and rent them out as weed-whackers? Free food for the goats and free milk for us.
His workers: seven hungry — and carbon-emission-free — goats.
Internet rivals Google and Yahoo hired herds to clear around their Northern California headquarters in 2010. So did the Vanderbilt Mansion, a national historic site in Hyde Park, N.Y. And in April 2010, nannies and billies were deployed at the U.S. Naval Base Kitsap Bangor in Silverdale, Wash., to annihilate pesky scotch broom plants.
While predators, poisonous plants and peeved neighbors can test goats on the job, the small livestock are well-suited for such labors.
Easy to manage, they relish prickly brush and weeds, and their agility makes them "popular employees" for navigating steep slopes that can thwart humans and machines, says Brian Faris, president of the American Boer Goat Association in San Angelo, Texas.
It cost 55-year-old Holdaway $200 to clear a 1,700-square-foot swath on his land with goats, pricier than the weed-whacking he's been doing himself for a decade with a gas-powered trimmer.
At Vanderbilt Mansion, where a small herd has grazed on seven hilly acres, the job's $9,000 annual price tag is about two-thirds what hired manpower would run, says Dave Hayes, the estate's natural-resource program manager. "And the goats are a lot more popular."
In Vernonia, Ore., Lewis Cochran started Vegetation Management Services Inc. with his dad in March 2010 after he lost his truck-driving job. He studied goat management online and is now the boss of nearly 50 critters, charging between $6 and $10 a head per day.
Posted by Aardvark at 9:45 AM
Thursday, April 14, 2011
France’s Burqa Ban:
The notion of “Islamophobia” emerged from the Islamic Republic of Iran following the revolution in 1979. According to Caroline Fourest and Fiammetta Venner, two French journalists who have written extensively on the subject, the Iranian mullahs created the idea as a response to international criticism of such practices as the forcing of women to wear headscarves and persecution of homosexuals and other violators of “Islamic morality.”Actually "persecution of homosexuals and other violators of 'Islamic morality'" should really be "execution of homosexuals and other violators of 'Islamic morality'".
Honor killings, arranged marriages, compelling adolescent girls and women to drape themselves in full body and face coverings, torching embassies and murdering humans because of cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad, female genital mutilation, terror attacks animated by political Islam — these are part and parcel of a larger political and social superstructure. Sadly, the West, particularly Europe, is simply tweaking the edges of the problem.
Posted by Aardvark at 7:11 PM