Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Monday, August 23, 2004

[Scott] Peterson stared across the courtroom toward the 29-year-old blonde as she recalled how her best friend, Shawn Sibley, met Peterson at a fertilizer conference and decided to play matchmaker.

"Both of them had talked about some intimate details about relationships," [Amber] Frey testified. "He was somebody, she felt, for me. Somebody she wanted to introduce to me."

Dressed in a gray suit and pink top, Frey kept her eyes on Geragos and never looked toward her former lover.

"God, protect me from my friends. I can take care of my enemies."
From http://www.bna.com:
My regular Toronto Star column focuses on a recent application for a new Canadian copyright tariff on ringtones. The application by copyright collective SOCAN has generated some surprising opposition, with the Canadian Recording Industry Association actively opposing the request for ten cents per ringtone. CRIA, which questions whether composers are entitled to any compensation for ringtones, argues that the proposed tariff is "excessive, unwarranted and unreasonable" and that the royalties are "neither fair nor equitable." Column at

The Olympic organizers in Athens are seeking greater control over websites that link to the official Games site. According to the "hyperlink policy" listed on the Athens 2004 site, anyone wanting to post a link must first send a request that includes a description of their site, reason for linking and length of period it will be published.

The Pixies, one of the more popular bands of the 1990s, has announced plans to break from the recording industry and adopt its own system of distribution using the Internet as well as generating income selling live CDs.

One of the most debated hypotheses in evolutionary biology received new support today, thanks to a study by a scientist at the University of Nevada, Reno. Elissa Cameron, a mammal ecologist in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, has helped to disprove critics of a scientific theory developed in 1973.

At that time, ecologist Bob Trivers and mathematician Dan Willard said that large healthy mammals produce more male offspring when living in good conditions, such as areas where there is an ample food supply. Conversely, female mammals living in less desirable conditions would tend to have female offspring.

According to Cameron, the hypothesis demonstrated the idea that having more male offspring leads to greater evolutionary success for mammal parents, if living conditions support larger populations. Should conditions be less desirable, having female offspring would be a better investment for mammal parents.

"Male zebras can father more than a hundred offspring in a lifetime, whereas female zebras are constrained to minimal reproductive rates--about one a year," Cameron said. "Sons, therefore, offer higher breeding rates to zebra parents, while female offspring are a lower-risk investment.

It could all boil down to the amount of glucose, or blood sugar, in a female mammal's body around the time of conception, Cameron said.

She conducted an analysis of 1,000 studies that examined the Trivers-Willard hypothesis and sex ratios in mammals. Her study found that female mammals that were in better body condition during the early stages of conception were more likely have male offspring. Body fat and diet can affect levels of glucose circulating in a mammal's body, and Cameron suggests that the levels of glucose around the time of conception could be influencing the sex of the animal's offspring.

"A high-fat diet can result in higher levels of glucose, thereby supporting the hypothesis that glucose may be contributing to the sex of the mammal's offspring," Cameron said.

This finding is key to the Trivers-Willard debate, and if supported in future studies, Cameron's theory could have dramatic influence on wildlife control and animal production.

"If you can get dairy cows to have more female calves, it would have huge implications for the dairy industry," she said.
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