ONLINE HEALTH INFO
Two of the most common health complaints around the New Year revolve around weight gain and getting the flu. With tables draped with desserts and appetizers, it's no surprise that many people worry about weight gain during the holiday season.
What is surprising, however, is how many people are turning to the Internet to get comprehensive health information. According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project, 52 million American adults, or 55 percent of those with Internet access, have used the web to get health or medical information. And, of those, 48 percent say the advice they found on the web has improved the way they take care of themselves. 55 percent say access to the Internet has improved the way they get medical and health information.
SEND IN THE CLONES
Dolly, the world's first cloned sheep, has developed arthritis and scientists are worried it could be the result of a genetic defect possibly caused by the cloning process itself.
Professor Ian Wilmut, who headed the Scottish-based team that created Dolly in 1996, said the animal has arthritis in her left hind leg at the hip and the knee -- an unusual ailment for a sheep that young. He told journalists that he and other scientists at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh were concerned Dolly may be a victim of premature aging and that the condition could have been triggered by a genetic defect while she was being cloned.
Wilmut said the scientists were "very disappointed, and we will have to keep a careful eye on her. We will be monitoring her condition to see how it develops. ... In every other way, she is perfectly healthy, and she has given birth to six healthy lambs."
The professor later told the BBC that scientists feared the problems with Dolly could impact on further research into cloning, and he called for a research program to determine what impact the process has on animal health.
The Dolly development was quickly seized upon by animal welfare groups, some of which called for an immediate cessation of cloning experiments.
Joyce D'Silva, director of Compassion in World Farming, urged an end to animal cloning and told BBC radio that "I think of the hundreds and hundreds of other cloned lambs who have been born and have malformed hearts, lungs or kidneys."
"They have struggled to survive for a few days and then had their lungs filled with fluid and gasped their way to death or had to be put out of their misery by their creators," she said. "That is the real story of cloning."
'LORD OF THE RINGS' MERCHANDISE
During the last two years, the Malaysia-based Royal Selangor International has been marketing pewter goblets and chess sets based on the characters of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic work of fiction "The Lord of the Rings."
The main buyers were a limited fan base.
Now, with the release of the feature film "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" -- the first of three installments on the fantasy tale of wizards, elves and hobbits -- sales are up.
"Before the film came out, it was a bit of a niche market. A lot of people who came to the showroom didn't know about it. For example, many people bought the Galadriel goblet and didn't know whom it was. It just made a nice wedding gift. Now, everybody knows about it, they know whom the characters are and the market is definitely growing," said Anne Leong, communications manager of Royal Selangor International.
The Tolkien range represents about 15 percent of Royal Selangor sales, but with two more films set for release around Christmas 2002 and 2003, there should be room to grow.
Leong said the idea of this pewter collection originated from the collection sculptor, Graeme Anthony, who had been producing pieces on his own and needed a bigger outlet. "He had been making some of these LOTR pewter goblets on a small scale in Australia and eventually teamed up with Royal Selangor to help him improve on the quality of the items and to also market the range worldwide," Leong said.
Since joining forces, the Australian designer and Royal Selangor have added many more items to extend the range. The lead-free products are all made at Royal's Selangor factory in Kuala Lumpur.
Most of the Tolkien range items are drink ware, but there are some for every wallet, ranging from $39 for a shot glass to the $1,200 shot glass chess set, which offers the interesting concept of getting drunk as you play. The Galadriel and Gandalf goblets ($109 each) have proven to be the most successful items of the range, followed by Celeborn (Galadriel's husband), a new addition to the range, Leong noted. The Ring goblet, which captures the whole story, is also moving very fast.
Leong said the company is not planning any range for Harry Potter. "We did think about it. But 'The Lord of the Rings' is a much bigger thing. Harry Potter appeals to children mainly, and they are not the ones buying pewter," Leong said.
(Thanks to UPI Business Correspondent Sonia Kolesnikov)