Archives August 2015

Koalas Can Get STDs, Too


The rise of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) within the United States is a huge cause for concern. Recent statistics report that there are 20 million new cases of STDs each year, originating from only eight strains of bacteria and viruses.

With this notable rise in STD prevalence, non-profit organizations like Planned Parenthood are becoming increasingly important, and health officials are doing everything they can to protect and educate the masses on the harmful effects of STDs.

But according to recent reports, humans aren’t the only species at risk of becoming infected by sexually transmitted diseases. It turns out that koalas, the cuddly, eucalyptus-munching tree bears, are the animal species most direly at risk.

According to MTV, koalas are catching chlamydia like crazy. The epidemic is so severe, in fact, that the world’s population of koalas is in danger.

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that spreads through sexual contact, and through birth. In humans, chlamydia can be successfully treated using antibiotics. But without the proper treatment, chlamydia can be a serious infection that can lead to serious complications such as infertility.

Because of this, The Verge reports that nearly half of the infected female koala population has been rendered infertile.

And for the female koalas with chlamydia who remain fertile, the infection is being spread to their offspring during suckling.

And koalas aren’t the only animals suffering. According to MTV no species is safe, from lady bugs to horses.

Unfortunately, there’s no means of proliferating education and preventative measures to species that just don’t speak English. If you’re a human, you can easily educate yourself or undergo preventative measures such as abstinence or the use of condoms.

Yet researchers are working hard to find means to preventing these diseases from spreading. For koalas, this would mean a chlamydia vaccine that would halt the transference of chlamydia from one animal to the next.

Could Shakespeare Have Been a Pot Head? It’s More Likely Than You Think


Any dedicated Shakespeare scholar will likely recognize the Bard’s mentions of thinking up “new-found methods and compounds strange” thanks to “invention in a noted weed” in Sonnet 76.

But to this day, few people probably suspected this “noted weed” referred to the most noted weed of all: marijuana.

Newly-published findings from South African researcher Francis Thackeray and his team from the University of the Witwatersrand show the results of analyzing 24 tobacco pipe fragments from Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Eight of these pipes tested positive for cannabis residue; four of the cannabis-positive pipe fragments came from Shakespeare’s own garden.

According to the Seattle P-I, Thackeray’s team used an advanced, non-invasive testing technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry to analyze the residue on these pipe fragments. The findings led the researchers to conclude that Shakespeare was, in fact, a marijuana user during his famed literary career.

Thackeray himself actually got the idea for his research after reading the references to a “noted weed” in Sonnet 76.

“I had actually begun the project by reading all of Shakespeare’s sonnets,” Thackeray added.

In addition to the marijuana traces, scientists also found “unquestionable” evidence of Peruvian cocaine on two pipes from the Stratford-upon-Avon area; however, neither of these pipes were found on Shakespeare’s property like the cannabis pipes were.

Those who used this cocaine were probably consuming a product that had few, if any, similarities to the cocaine we know today, the stimulating effects of which can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. USA Today reports that this cocaine likely came to England after Sir Francis Drake’s return from his 1597 visit to Peru.

Given the experimental nature of Elizabethan medicine, it’s not surprising to learn that 17th-century Englishmen and women used drugs like marijuana and cocaine. For Shakespeare, it’s entirely possible that he enjoyed marijuana for its mind-stimulating properties, which would undoubtedly have helped his creativity, Thackeray explained.

“We were delighted to find indications of cannabis,” Thackeray said. “We can’t be sure that the pipes which we analyzed were those of Shakespeare, but they were from his garden, and they were dated to the early 17th century.”

Could Your Home Security System Secretly Be a Scam?


When most people purchase a home security system, they expect to get just that: security.

However, a new scam is targeting these very homeowners nationwide, threatening to take away the security they seek.

According to a July 30 WCPO article, police departments across the country, along with the home security company ADT, have reported an upswing in these scams — and thousands of Americans will have been victimized by the end of the year.

Scammers go door to door, telling the homeowner they’re there to upgrade the home’s security system, claiming they work for the security company.

“They’re knocking on our customers’ doors, saying they are either with ADT or saying other lies like ADT went out of business, or that their company bought ADT,” said David Bleisch, ADT’s corporate attorney.

If their plan works, the scammers are able to convince the homeowner to make a deposit — or even a multi-year contract — with an alarm company that may not even exist, only to never be heard from again. In other cases, scammers will actually tamper with the existing security system and dismantle its alarm to make a later break-in possible, Consumer Reports reported.

It’s an especially concerning trend, considering the fact that 41% of Americans now say they would prefer to purchase a brand new home over an existing one — and a good deal of these people will be outfitting their new homes with security systems.

And when the highest number of household break-ins take place in July and August, it’s especially important to be vigilant against potential home security scams.

Bleisch advised homeowners to never let someone into their house until the individual reveals his or her name and employer, and then to call one’s security company to verify the person’s identity. If the company representative doesn’t know the person at the door, it may well be a scammer.

“Before you let them into the house, make sure you know who you are dealing with,” Bleisch said.