Tag Archives: shit

Excrement exciting at Michigan museum’s latest exhibit

Cream? Sugar? Poop?

Among the other things you’ll learn at the Sloan Museum’s latest exhibit, “The Scoop on Poop,” is that the most expensive coffee in the world, before it was ever roasted, first passed through the colon of an Indonesian mammal called the palm civet. That is to say, if that wasn’t clear, that it pooped it out, according to The Flint Journal.

Palm civets have a thing for the berry of the coffee tree, the seed of which is commonly known as the coffee bean. The bean cannot be digested with the rest of the berry. And so, in goes the berry, and out comes the bean, which is then meticulously collected, cleaned and then roasted and served.

Costing $175 a pound, it’s not likely you’ve bought the beans yourself. However, according to the literature at Sloan, the coffee has a “rich” and “musky” flavor.

That’s just one thing you’ll learn at the Sloan exhibit.

“There’s a lot of life’s aspects you can look at through poop,” said Todd Slisher, executive director at Sloan.

That’s the whole idea of the exhibit. Sure, scientists can use poop to see what an animal has been eating, and it’s fun to be able to identify different kinds of droppings (there’s an interactive quiz at the exhibit), but there’s a lot more to poop than that.

For example, take the ancient curse of the tombs in ancient Egypt.

For years, it was known that upon entering ancient tombs, some archaeologists and looters would hallucinate and become ill, and so it must be the work of ancient spirits _ right?

Nope. Just poop. Over about 3,000 years, bats can leave a lot of poop lying around, and that’s enough time for some fungus to grow and give any visitors a good ol’ case of histoplasmosis.

If you’re a science nerd, that’s cooler than any ancient mystery. In fact, you don’t need to be a science nerd to appreciate poop. It’s fascinating all by itself. People burn poop for fuel, cover their huts in “poop plaster” to keep rain out, and can turn elephant poop into paper. People sculpt poop. In Wisconsin, you can enter contests to see how far you can throw cow poop. There are creatures — moths, spiders, frogs, and others — whose natural camouflage is looking like a little turd.

Who can resist?

Not kids, said Slisher, which was part of the idea behind bringing “The Scoop on Poop,” inspired by the children’s book of the same name, to Sloan.

“It’s a fun exhibit. It’s aimed at an audience we’re trying to target,” he said, meaning kids, anywhere from 4 years old to teens.

He said so far the exhibit, which runs until Sept. 6, has been drawing community and school groups. It also fits into their summer programming with classes like “Dino Poop Camp,” in which children get to pick through some 65-million-year-old prehistoric poop to conduct experiments.

So far, Slisher said, he’s been pleased with the response to it. And that’s good because, as Olivia Kushuba, marketing and special events assistant said, “Poop is such a touchy subject.”

In fact, there was some worry among staff before the exhibit arrived, about how it might smell.

Luckily, the museum still just smells like a museum.

“We were very thankful,” she said.

Published through the AP member exchange.

Environmental group sues over cruise ships’ sewage discharges

An environmental group is suing in federal court seeking better regulation of cruise ships and the sewage they dump into the ocean.

Friends of the Earth, represented by Earthjustice, want more effective regulation of the industry, said to dump more than a billion gallons of sewage — much of it poorly treated — into the ocean last year.

The group also is seeking better regulation of the sewage discharged from cargo ships and oil tankers.

Friends of the Earth said in a news release on May 1 that the sewage from the ships pollutes beaches, contaminates coral reefs and destroys marine ecology.

Sewage contamination also puts swimmers at elevated risk of illness and can make seafood caught by coastal fishermen unsafe to eat.

Also, discharges from ships disrupt coastal economies.

In 2012, ship sewage contributed to elevated levels of fecal coliform that led to more than 31,000 days of beach advisories and closings.

“Sewage-contaminated waters not only harm sea life, but also harm people who use these waters,” said Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels program director at Friends of the Earth. “These ship sewage discharges contribute to the risk of serious, potentially life-threatening health effects such as gastrointestinal illnesses, hepatitis, ear nose and throat illnesses, vomiting, and respiratory diseases. The EPA reported in 2000 that its ship sewage treatment standards were out of date and needed an update. After 38 years, it is time for EPA to act.”

Sewage discharge close to shore has been banned in the New England area but not in the Northwest, the Gulf of Mexico or the Southeast.

Several years ago, the Friends of the Earth petitioned the EPA and asked that it update its 1976 performance standards and pollution limits for onboard marine sanitation devices — the systems used to treat sewage on ships.

The EPA has not proposed any changes.

A report in 2013 from the group indicated that Disney, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Cunard and Seabourn Cruise Line have installed advanced sewage treatment systems in a majority of their ships, while Carnival, Silversea, Costa and Crystal Cruises received failing grades in the review.