Saturday 15 April 2017

Sex Dust

I know nothing about Gwyneth Paltrow except that she was super-androgynously wonderful in Shakespeare in Love. If you haven't see that film, you are advised to find it next convenient weekend and give it a trial. So many people find Shakespeare a trial that an antidote will not go amiss. Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing [prev as home educ tool] is good in a BBC sort of way and is not without its jokes but Shakespeare in Love is freed from the shackles of bardolatory and can play it for laughs. The fact that Tom Stoppard, one of the best English language playwrights of the 20thC was screenwriter for, gives it a depth of characterisation and romantic intensity rare in Rom Coms. I was taaking loike Shagsper arl larst weekend and so and Paltrow frothed up unbidden to the surface of my mind.  Imagine my surprise but two days later to see the said Paltrow being slagged off for putting lives at risk with her dodgy cook books.

It's a rather sad indictment of the state of the nation if you can sue an Ac-Tor over a cook-book that she has gotten published by riding hard the camel of celebrity. The implication is that poor rich Paltrow is somehow responsible if some idiot follows her recipe for cooking chicken and spends the next 3 days on the toilet. Caveat emptor, anybody? Would you follow aNNy advice from Justin Bieber? Victoria Beckham? Gwyneth Paltrow is being slated for suggesting you wash your chicken before cooking it.  I used to do that myself, so I can hardly take the higher intellectual ground on that one. I don't wash the chicken any more because I now know it sends a fine aerosol spray of Campylobacter-laden water all over the kitchen counter, the salad, my eye-brows and the kitchen taps. I know that because I was on the payroll of a six year, million € research project comparing the immune system of chickens Gallus gallus and us Homo sapiens especially w.r.t. the response to Campylobacter.

Once you've started on a Paltrow slag-fest it's only two steps before you find that she is fronting a whole industry of parting suggestible people from their money. Caveat googleator! you pop in a name for a bit of back-ground and within two clicks your eyeballs are on stalks of incredulity. Now, I'm with you on the barricades if you want to stop the poor and dispossessed being exploited by rapacious capitalism. But somehow my passion goes off the boil if I'm expected to protect the rich and foolish from spending their money in dopey ways. And if I wanted to stop people from cashing on on their celebrity then we'd have to have the sort of revolution where I would be the first against the wall when it comes. About 10 years ago, Paltrow launched an on-line newsletter called GooP. The name is based on her initials - separated by two eye-balls on stalks at the daft stuff she advocates. One of her California pals designed the website with an enigmatic [metaphor for deep, clever] drop down menu bar that is curiously hard to read because the typography is not fit for purpose:
Note that the first link is to The Shop. There along with shoes, bags and accessories you can buy [this post has caught up with its title at last] Sex Dust, which is produced by a company called Moon Juice. That sounds squidgy if you have followed the antics of Diana "Landmines" Windsor over the last 30 years or squelchy if not. If you're like me, your brain is now awash with images you'd rather not have over your breakfast cereal. Stop now if you are squeamish but, with all those precious bodily fluids in mind, Sex Dust had me Googling "Freeze Dried Semen". And yes, it is A Thing. Artificial Insemination AI has come a long way: it stands to reason because if the boy and the girl were in the same room or paddock then the need for AI would be diminished, no? The semen 'straws' used to be frozen and transported in liquid nitrogen which requires a bulky container to transport the precious teaspoonful. Someone had the idea of freeze drying the sperm which would allow the stuff to be sent through the post in an envelope. Like so much powdered milk. Scientists are still working on the technology because freeze-drying currently destroys the motility of the wee spermatozoa but not their genes / chromosomes and they have to be injected directly into the ovum [it's called Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)] if fertilisation is to have a chance. This is the sort of research that's going down: "Adverse effect of cake collapse on the functional integrity of freeze-dried bull spermatozoa." PMID: 24747720.  But that's just an aside. Revenons nous a nos accessoires de mode:

Sex Dust is member of a product line of wellness "foods". In this case wellness means well-marketed because this stuff is not for theThird World or the unemployed. The word Dust may conjure up powerful positive association with the stuff in Philip Pullman's rather good fantasy-fiction trilogy which Hollywood squeezed into a single film The Golden Compass.
  • Beauty Dust
    • Ingredients: Organic Goji, Rehmannia, Organic Schisandra, Pearl, Organic Stevia
  • Brain Dust
    • Ingredients: Organic Astragalus, Shilajit, Maca, Lion's Mane, Rhodiola, Ginkgo, Organic Stevia
  • Dream Dust
    • Ingredients: Zizyphus, Organic Schisandra, Organic Chamomile, Polygala, Organic Stevia
  • Power Dust
    • Ingredients: Organic Astragalus, Ginseng, Organic Eleuthero, Organic Schisandra, Rhodiola, Organic Stevia
  • Sex Dust
    • Ingredients: Ho Shou Wu, Organic Cacao, Shilajit, Maca, Organic Schisandra, Cistanche, Epimedium, Organic Stevia
  • Spirit Dust
    • Ingredients: Organic Goji, Organic Astragalus, Organic Reishi, Longan, Salvia, Organic Stevia
Here's an investigative journalist taking one for the team by buying a pot of Sex Dust , gagging it down her throat and trying to persuade the stuff to stay down. Everything on the ingredients list above contains a little Organic Stevia which is probably steviol a 'natural' sweetener which was banned as a potential carcinogen by the FDA between 1991-2008. It is derived from Stevia rebaudiana, 'candyleaf' a shrub native to South America. I don't have the patience - right now - to find out the Latin names of the other magic ingredients, let alone get to grips with the efficacy of any of them to promote 'wellness' in anything more that a placebo induced psychosomatic sense. Evidence-based food engineering will have to wait.

But I'll devote two minutes to the maths. These dusty products retail, in a nice professional looking jar which contains 42g of material, for $30. That's a tad North of €700/kg.  Where is that on the scale of thing to eat?  Here's a table:
Price per kg
Potatoes €0.80 Fancy Brie €15 Nutmeg €38 Bayleaves €197
Bread Flour €1.25 Cinnamon €17 Dried thyme €37 Dust €700
Cheap Brie €4.50 Cloves €25 Fresh thyme €44 Saffron $9,700
That's sort of interesting. Thyme Thymus vulgaris which grows like a weed in Ireland is more expensive than exotic tropical products from The Spice Islands; that's globalisation for you. And what's with the bayleaves? We planted 2 little bay trees 15 years ago and they are now about 4m tall and 3m across, we have a gold-mine in the back-garden. I've got the name for our retail division:

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