August 31, 2015

Middle Class Serfdom and Shadow Work

The Rise of Middle-Class Serfdom through Shadow Work    

What accounts for the gap between how our lives feel and how they’re actually structured? How is it possible that we ostensibly have 40 hours of leisure time each week, and yet most of us feel we can’t even spare 20 minutes a day to read a book or meditate?

Stupefied by Shadow Work.  All of us — men and women alike — are working not only unpaid second shifts, but third, fourth, and fifth ones as well….author and professor Dr. Craig Lambert explains, we all increasingly “find ourselves doing a stack of jobs we never volunteered for, chores that showed up in our lives below the scan of awareness…..

You perform shadow work whenever you do jobs that used to be done by a paid employee, but have now been outsourced to the consumer: pumping gas, booking a travel itinerary, bussing a table, and so on. We likewise do shadow work whenever we bank online or use an ATM instead of a teller, check-in to flights or a hotel using a kiosk rather than a human, and wait on hold for an hour to talk to a scarce customer service representative. When we can’t find a knowledgeable salesman to talk to and get a recommendation from at a big box store, and instead must take over his job and shop online, spending hours comparing model features and reading reviews, we’re doing shadow work then too. When we follow through on these online transactions, entering in our credit card number and address for the umpteenth thousandth time, we do yet more shadow work — this time as DIY cashiers.
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Shadow work also includes tasks that have resulted from new practices and expectations, and which you must perform if you wish to use a particular service or simply keep your job. Think of kowtowing to the shoe-removing rituals required by airport security, filling out endless paperwork when you visit a new doctor, and of course doing your taxes, a chore which takes the average 1040-filer 23 hours of shadow work a year.

Finally, the realm of shadow work includes tasks that aren’t strictly necessary, but that we perform because of their perceived benefits. At least of us surf the web for medical information, often coming up with our own diagnoses instead of, or before seeing a doctor; after our visit, we do more shadow work to decide between the various treatment plans the good doc described. Many folks who are looking for love report that online dating becomes like a second job, as they must spend hours perusing profiles, responding to messages, and setting up dates. And not only do we have to clean and organize our physical home these days, but we have to regularly tidy-up, back-up, and arrange the songs, emails, files, photos, and videos that line our virtual “shelves.” Plus, we must not only manage our real world selves and protect our physical privacy, but also monitor our online reputations and safekeep the data we put in the cloud.

But perhaps the most taxing shadow work of all is managing our information intake. In times past, magazine, book, and television editors controlled the flow of information to the public. This restricted the media being put out, but also filtered it for quality and importance. The web has radically democratized this process, so that anyone with a computer can create their own videos, books, articles, films, and so on. This has left the consumer with the enormous and never-ending job of wading into the torrent of media online and sifting the wheat from the chaff.
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It isn’t the time that shadow work tasks require that ends up being so draining (they may even save you time over the traditional route), but their effect on the psyche. Willpower is a finite resource. You only get so much of the fuel that allows you to focus and gives you the mental energy to tackle the world each day. And what saps this fuel is making decisions, weighing options, and exercising self-control.

Shadow work requires all three behaviors, and is thus a huge willpower drainer…..Most wearying of all, is that one of the things which is supposed to act as our servant — the web — often becomes our master instead.
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Shadow work promises greater autonomy, but ends up making us feel more out of control — that we don’t have the time or energy to do the things we really want to. Don’t let yourself be added to the ranks of a corporation’s employees without realizing it, and don’t freely hand over the cream of your energy to the lords of media and commerce. Willpower is a man’s most precious resource; if you wish to be superhuman, rather than a serf, guard it closely and use it wisely.

At the link, The Art of Manliness has some good advice about handling shadow work.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 PM | Permalink

Health roundup: Naps, steak or salmon daily, aspirin, antibiotics + type 2 diabetes, mutant head lice + selfies

The blood test that predicts if breast cancer will return:

Breakthrough can detect warning signs eight months before a relapse.  Test detects uncured cancer eight months before the patient feels a lump,  That extra time could be used to delay or prevent breast cancer’s return Experts hope the test can also be used to detect others types of tumors

Taking antibiotics increases the risk of type 2 diabetes:

People who receive more than four courses of antibiotic  drugs over 15 years are 53 per cent more likely to get the disease, according to the results of a large study of 1.4 million Danish patients

The authors of the new study suspect that this is the reason for the between antibiotics and diabetes, with alterations in gut bacteria meaning people absorb sugar and fat in different ways. But an alternative explanation could be that people with as-yet undiagnosed diabetes may be more prone to infection, and therefore use more antibiotics, the scientists said.  ‘This latest study only shows a possible link between the two, rather that proving that antibiotics could cause diabetes.’

Selfies are causing a rise in MUTANT head lice:

Physician Sharon Rink warns trend for touching heads in pictures is to blame for increase in treatment-resistant nits.  She dubbed the phenomenon 'social media lice'  has It is being caused by group selfie snaps that cause friends to bump heads
Recent research suggests head lice have developed a 'high level' of resistance to some of the most popular treatments

Hormone jabs cut bone fractures:

Growth hormone injections reduced the risk of brittle bone fractures in older women long after treatment was stopped, a ten-year study found. They halved the fracture rate in those with osteoporosis over the period.  Osteoporosis is a progressive condition that causes the bones to become weak and more likely to break.  Women are three times more likely to experience an osteoporosis-related bone fracture in their lifetimes than men.

During an 18-month-long trial, 80 post-menopausal women with osteoporosis received daily injections of either a placebo, a single unit of growth hormone or a 2.5-unit dose of growth hormone. Researcher Doctor Emily Krantz, of Sodra Alvsborgs Hospital in Sweden, said: ‘Our study is the largest and longest controlled study of growth hormone treatment for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women to date.  ‘Years after treatment stopped, women who were treated with growth hormone still experienced improved bone density and reduced fracture risk.’


A nap a day could save your life

It is the news that nap afficionados have been waiting for.  A mid-day snooze doesn’t just have the power to revive – it could reduce blood pressure and prevent a future heart attack.

Research involving almost 400 middle-aged men and women found that those who had a nap at noon later had lower blood pressure than those who stayed awake through the day. The findings, presented at the European Society of Cardiology annual conference in London, showed pressure was lower both when awake and later, during their night time sleep.  The small difference – of around 5 per cent – was enough to have a significant impact on rates of heart attack, researchers said.  Far smaller reductions have been found to reduce the chance of cardiovascular events by 10 per cent, the cardiologists said……Longer naps of up to an hour achieved the best results, the study found.

Eating steak or salmon every day or drinking a pint of milk could be 'as good for your heart as giving up smoking'

Eating a small steak every day could be as good for you as stopping smoking, scientists say. People who eat lots of protein-rich food were found to have lower blood pressure and more healthy arteries, significantly lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Scientists say the benefit is down to amino acids - the building blocks of proteins - which help strengthen the cells, tissues and muscles in our body.  People who ate high levels of certain amino acids saw benefits on similar scale to those expected for stopping smoking, reducing salt intake or increasing exercise.

The team, from the University of East Anglia, said that protein-rich foods including meat, fish, dairy produce, beans, lentils, broccoli and spinach all contain the beneficial compounds.Their study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, was based on health data from 2,000 British women.  Different food source had different benefits, they found. Amino acids from vegetables and pulses - such as beans, lentils, broccoli and spinach - were associated with lower blood pressure.  Whereas amino acids from dairy, meat and fish were linked to lower levels of arterial stiffness.  Lead researcher Dr Amy Jennings, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: ‘This research shows a protective effect of several amino acids on cardiovascular health.

A daily dose of aspirin appears to cut the risk of a common type of cancer  But you have to make if a habit and do it for 5 years.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and researchers say they have found a way to reduce one’s risk of it by up to 45% – by taking aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Aleve or certain other painkillers.
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NSAIDs, appeared to reduce the risk even more. People who took non-aspirin NSAIDs for at least five years were 30% to 45% less likely to have colorectal cancer than those who didn’t take the painkillers. Ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin, among others) and naproxen (the active ingredient in Aleve) are two examples of this type of NSAIDs.

Cancer up close: Stunning 3D simulations show tumors growing in treatment breakthrough

Videos reveal the growth, mutation and evolution of a lethal cancer and shed new light on how cancers develop resistance to drugs and chemotherapy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:05 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2015

Miscellany 19

25 Maps That Will Change The Way You See The World in an entertaining YouTube video

The Bestseller Book That Didn’t Exist: how the author of a beloved Christmas classic pulled off the Hoax of the Century

How talk radio pioneer and story teller Jean Shepherd  (and his devoted fans) concocted a wildly preposterous hoax – and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

The Power of the Post-it From Harvard Business Review

Imagine that you really need to convince someone to do something, such as following through on a task. You might be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to get someone to comply with your request is through a tiny nuance that adds a personal touch—attaching a sticky note.

How Febreze works

Febreze banishes bad odors by using air-freshening molecules that form a cage to trap smelly compounds, making them 'invisible' to your nose.  Odor neutralizing sprays contains a type of chemical called cyclodextrin which is shaped like a cage and can trap odor molecules in the air.  Once captured compounds that cause odors can't reach smell receptors.  A video released by the American Chemical Society explains how odor neutralizing sprays work

Delinquent dog walkers beware The Spanish city of Tarragona

The city plans to start DNA testing dog droppings to catch owners who fail to clear up after their pets. Tarragona official will work to create DNA database of registered dogs. Droppings found on street or parks can be matched through database. Caught pet owners will cover cost of DNA testing as well as paying fine.

The Wolfpack: 'In our heads, we could go wherever we wanted'

Forbidden from leaving their New York apartment, the Angulo brothers learnt about life only from movies. The Wolfpack explores what happened to them when they broke free.

The filmmaker Crystal Moselle remembers the first time she saw the Angulo brothers, walking down First Avenue in April 2010, wearing shades and identical suits, à la Reservoir Dogs, their long black hair down to their waists. “It felt like coming across a lost tribe from the Amazon”, she says. The resulting documentary that she made about them, The Wolfpack, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance earlier this year, falls somewhere between François Truffaut’s L’enfant sauvage (1970) and Jean-Pierre Gorin’s Poto and Cabengo – the 1980 documentary about the Georgia twins whose childhood was so secluded that they invented their own language to communicate with one another.

Men in shorts Adolf Hitler Had This Photo Of Himself Banned as "beneath one's dignity".

 Banned-Picture-Of-Hitler1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink

Unharmed and intact after fire

Statue of the Virgin Mary is Left Miraculously Intact After Fire

 Virgin-Mary Statue Unharmed By-Fire

A violent fire at a military base near Madrid spared nothing except a small statue and surrounding vegetation.

The events took place at the El Goloso military base, located near the Spanish capital, seat of the nation's armored infantry brigade "Guadarrama." According to several Spanish news sites, including Infovaticana and Religión en Libertad, a fire broke out that was impossible to control, burning most of the surrounding vegetation.

Once the flames were extinguished, to the soldiers’ surprise, in the middle of the charred area, stood a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes—totally undamaged! What's more, the soldiers were shocked to see that the grass near the statue had not been touched by the flames and that it was even still surrounded by vases filled with flowers, also intact, as if the flames had respected the space around the statue.

The fire took place on July 30, in the middle of the heat wave which had descended upon Spain. The soldiers could not explain why the statue had suffered no damage nor why the flowers had not even been blackened or withered by the heat. The story quickly spread though social networks, some suspecting a fraud, but further investigations have dispelled all possible doubts. In the photographs, one can easily see that the ground is completely burnt, except near the statue.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Programming cancer cells, stomach bug and lung disease, coffee and tea

Cancer cells programmed back to normal by US scientists

Scientists have turned cancerous cells back to normal by switching back on the process which stops normal cells from replicating too quickly.  For the first time aggressive breast, lung and bladder cancer cells have been turned back into harmless benign cells by restoring the function which prevents them from multiplying excessively and forming dangerous growths.

Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, US, said it was like applying the brakes to a speeding car.  So far it has only been tested on human cells in the lab, but the researchers are hopeful that the technique could one day be used to target tumors so that cancer could be ‘switched off’ without the need for harsh chemotherapy or surgery.

New hope for lung disease sufferers… in a stomach bug

Bacteria that is common among patients with pulmonary conditions can be detected by a simple breath test and can treated with antibiotics.  The bacteria helicobacter pylori often found in pulmonary disease patients with levels of the bacteria up to three times higher in COPD patients

Why a splash of milk in your tea keeps teeth white: Protein found in dairy prevents staining - and is BETTER than whitening toothpaste

Tea contains dark-colored tannins that make it bitter and stain the teeth. Casein, the main protein in milk, binds to the tannin and prevents staining. Milk is more effective than whitening toothpaste and as good as bleaching

Why green tea could prevent colon cancer

Green tea could lower the risk of colon cancer, say researchers at Seoul National University Hospital in South Korea. Compounds in green tea prevent rogue cells that could lead to polyps from developing. They are testing this in a study involving 180 people who have had polyps - benign growths - removed from their colon; these polyps can be a precursor to colon cancer. The patients will be given a daily green tea extract pill (nine cups of green tea) or no treatment. The researchers believe compounds in green tea prevent the rogue cells that could lead to polyps from developing

How coffee could help fight bowel cancer:

Coffee could prove to be a powerful medicine for bowel cancer patients.  A study of 1,000 patients that looked at caffeinated coffee and cancer recurrence found the disease was almost half as likely to return in men and women who drank at least four or five mugs a day.  It is thought the caffeine cuts inflammation which the cancer feeds on.

The research, from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, found that consuming around 460mg of caffeine a day cut the odds of bowel cancer coming back by 42 per cent.It also made people 33 per cent less likely to die from cancer or any other cause.
Smaller amounts of caffeine brought lower benefits.  A mug of instant coffee contains around 100mg of caffeine and an espresso, the base for many High Street coffees, 80mg.

'You'd have to drink six glasses of almond milk to get the same amount of protein as just half a cup of nuts' New video reveals truths about six 'healthy' eating habits

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:02 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2015

What happens when a whole way of life disintegrates before your eyes?

What Tolkien and Lewis teach us about surviving dark times

Augustine lived through such a time. The men coming home from World War One did as well. It might feel as if we’re living through such a time right now.  One way to navigate treacherous times is to learn from those who have traversed similar moments before. And a penetrating new book by historian and King’s College professor Joseph Loconte can help us do exactly that.

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War takes us into the wartime lives of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. More importantly, it takes us into their postwar lives as well. How did they cope? How did they rebuild? And how did they help others do the same?

The trauma of the Great War is almost impossible to comprehend. More than sixteen million were killed. That again plus five million more were wounded. And those who recovered physically were often irreparably scarred in other ways. Shell shock, what today we would call PTSD, had longterm effects. Suicide and alcoholism often finished what bullets and bombs could not.  According to one contemporary study of shell-shocked American, “[S]even years after the war less than 40 percent were regarded as functioning normally, and nearly 20 percent were found to be a burden to society.”

But the far-reaching crisis of faith may have surpassed all others. For those that endured it, the cataclysm and its aftermath was like the end of the world. What was left to believe in?  Writes Loconte,

For the intellectual class as well as the ordinary man on the street, the Great War had defamed the values of the Old World, along with the religious doctrines that helped to underwrite them. Moral advancement, even the idea of morality itself, seemed an illusion. . . . [T]he war to make the world safe for democracy, the holy war to advance Christian ideals, was an unholy delusion.
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The pre-war Myth of Progress….was proclaimed from nearly every sector of society. Scientists, physicians, educators, industrialists, salesmen, politicians, preachers—they all agreed on the upward flight of humankind. Each breakthrough in medicine, science, and technology seemed to confirm the Myth….. And then it all went to hell.

When the survivors cleared the rubble, many mistook the Myth for Christianity itself and tossed both in the garbage bin.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:34 PM | Permalink

August 17, 2015

Miscellany 18

Eagle punches drone out of sky

In the footage from Melbourne Aerial Video (at the link), a Wedge-Tailed Eagle flies up to the drone and hits it directly. The drone sputters and falls to earth. The eagle was unharmed, according to a statement on YouTube. "She was massive, and used talon's to 'punch' the drone out of the sky," the statement said.

So that's why dogs hate cats! Fossils reveal felines drove 40 species of canines to extinction after arriving in North America

The instinct of dogs to chase felines out of their territory might be more reasonable than you think. Fossils have revealed the two species have a rocky past after the introduction of cats to the Americas had a devastating effect on the continent's species of wild dogs. In fact, it is thought that competition from cats caused up to 40 species of dog to become extinct in the region millions of years ago.

The dog family, which includes wolves and coyotes, originated in North America about 40 million years ago. They reached maximum diversity in the continent 22 million years ago when, at their peak, more than 30 species roamed the land mass at the same time.
However, since they were introduced dozens of species have emerged and become extinct over a period of millions of years. 
Only nine species of canid inhabit the continent today, including the domestic dog.

An international team, including scientists from the Universities of Gothenburg, Sweden, São Paulo, Brazil and Lausanne, Switzerland, published the findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.  The team studied 2,000 fossils to reach their conclusions.

San Francisco fighting public urination with PAINT that sprays men back with their own pee

San Francisco's Public Works agency has painted nine urine-soaked walls with a pee-repellant material called Ultra-Ever Dry.

Spanish town brings in compulsory siesta law

The town’s summer siesta tradition is so deep-rooted the mayor has enshrined his citizen’s right to an afternoon snooze in law. Ador could be the first town in Spain to actually make taking a siesta obligatory by law.  Mayor of Ador, Joan Faus Vitòria, has ordered that that town’s inhabitants stay quiet between 2pm and 5pm.  "Everything closes between 2pm and 5pm," a town hall spokesman told The Local. "Bars, shops, the swimming pool, everything."

Whatever Happened to the Wild Camels of the American West?

In 1855, under the direction of then-Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, Congress appropriated $30,000 for "the purchase and importation of camels and dromedaries to be employed for military purposes." Davis believed that camels were key to the country's expansion westward; a transcontinental railroad was still decades away from being built, and he thought the animals could be well suited to haul supplies between remote military outposts. By 1857, after a pair of successful trips to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the U.S. Army had purchased and imported 75 camels. Within a decade, though, each and every one would be sold at auction

Terra Flamma: Stunning Long-Exposure Photographs of California Wildfires

 Calif-Wildfires-Stuart-Palley
The El Portal Fire burns on a hillside in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park on Sunday evening July 27, 2014. Long exposure photograph by Stuart Palley.

These are wonderful. Everyday For 5 Years This Japanese Artist Creates A Fun Miniature Diorama

 Hurdlers-Tatsuya-Tanaka-1

 Camels+Potatoes-Tatsuya-Tanaka-1

 Toothbrush+Shower-Tatsuya-Tanaka-1

 Diorama-Every-Day Sesame Seeds Tatsuya-Tanaka-Japan-1

 Microchip+Pianos-Tatsuya-Tanaka-1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:38 AM | Permalink

August 16, 2015

Secret to a lasting marriage: Being happy for one another

Inside the Brains of Happily Married Couples

Have you ever waited with excitement to share some amazingly good news with your partner, only to experience a surge of frustration and resentment when he or she barely reacts to your announcement? As a society, we place a huge amount of emphasis on being there for each other when we’re in need, but past research has actually shown that relationship satisfaction is influenced as much, if not more, by how we react to each other’s good news. Whereas emotional support from a partner when we’re down can have the unfortunate side-effect of making us feel indebted and more aware of our negative emotions, a partner’s positive reaction to our good news can magnify the benefits of that good fortune and make us feel closer to them.

Now an unusual brain-imaging study, published recently in Human Brain Mapping, has added to this picture, showing that the relationship satisfaction of longtime married elderly women is particularly related to the neural activity they show in response to their husbands’ displays of positive emotion, rather than negative emotion.

The secret to a lasting marriage? Being happy for one another! Brain scans reveal how strong couples share each other's joy

How your partner reacts to your good news could reveal how long your relationship will last. This is according to a new study that looked at the brains of happily married couples to find out their secret to a lasting marriage. Researchers in Canada studied the brain signals of married, elderly women, while they watched their husbands experience positive emotions….Those who saw their partner as their 'best friend' reported the highest happiness levels.
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Dr Welch, who is the author of Love Factually, cites how happy couples mirror one another's facial expressions more than unhappy couples do. ‘That may actually be why happy couples tend to look more and more alike as the decades pass,’ she said.

"A marriage is always made up of two people who are prepared to swear that only the other one snores"  Terry Pratchett

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:37 PM | Permalink

August 15, 2015

American heroes on French train. "Fear is contagious. But so is courage."

Mystery hero of the train terror attack is American professor Mark Moogalian :
Professor of English at the University of Parish was first to respond and was shot when he spotted suspicious gunman in bathroom - prompting airman to take him down

'I did not see my husband get shot, it happened too quickly and I was pretty much hiding behind seats,' Risacher said. 'But I look at my husband through the seats at an angle and he looked straight at me and said, "I'm hit!"…
'There was blood everywhere. I ran towards him and I could see that he a wound on his back, I then saw another wound by his neck.'
Risacher said she raced through the train screaming 'Help me!' as she searched for a doctor. In the next car, she found Stone, Skarlatos, Sadler and Norman subduing the gunman.
She said credited Stone, a 23-year-old U.S. airman and trained medical technician who had been traveling through Europe with Skarlatos and Sadler, with saving her husband.
'He put his finger on my husband's neck wound to stop the hemorrhaging continuing and he stayed in this position during the whole voyage,' Risacher told Europe1.

'It was do something or die': American train-attack heroes tell how they foiled gunman… even after he sliced off one of their thumbs.

Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos spoke at a news conference at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Paris on Sunday.  Stone's left hand was in a cast following surgery to reattach his thumb.  The US airman said: 'I was thinking about survival. It was to survive and for everybody else on the train to make it'  The trio foiled an attempted terrorist attack on a train to the French capital on Friday

 Spencer Stone Emerges From Hospital

French President Hollande presents three Americans and a British grandfather who tackled Paris train terrorist with the Legion d'Honneur at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Speaking at the medal ceremony, Mr Hollande told Mr Stone and Mr Skarlatos that while they may have been soldiers on that day 'you were simply passengers. You behaved as soldiers but also as responsible men.'…The men showed 'that faced with terror, we have the power to resist. You also gave a lesson in courage, in will, and thus in hope,' Mr Hollande said.
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Skarlatos, a 22-year-old National Guardsman recently back from Afghanistan 'just hit me on the shoulder and said 'Let's go.'
With those words, Hollande said, a 'veritable carnage' was avoided.  He added: 'Since Friday, the entire world admires your courage, your sangfroid, your spirit of solidarity. 'This is what allowed you to with bare hands – your bare hands – subdue an armed man. This must be an example for all, and a source of inspiration,' Hollande said.

Defining Heroism Up Once Again  Aboard a train to Paris, suddenly leaping into action and risking death to save the lives of countless others.

The six who saved the day perfectly represent the modern face of heroism as it came to the fore in the 20th century: In a situation of extreme danger, they chose to expose themselves to additional risk, thereby saving the lives of others. Nowadays, in our mostly peaceful societies, the word “heroism” is often used as a synonym for everyday inspiring behavior, or steeliness despite suffering, or selfless generosity or any number of other exemplary actions. The actions of these six men, however, were the genuine, life-risking article.

Glenn Reynolds: See something? DO something!

Meanwhile, the expensive global security establishment failed to stop 9/11, and — despite having the French-train gunman flagged as a possible jihadist— did nothing to stop this weekend's attack. And that’s a lesson.

Bureaucracies have their place, but they don’t deal well with diffuse threats such as terrorism. By the time “first responders” get there, it’s usually too late. But there’s one group of “responders” who don’t have to go anywhere, and that’s the group already on the scene. In conventional analysis, and in the terrorists’ hopes, those people are called “victims.” But as the three Americans on that French train demonstrated, victimhood isn’t the only response.

And there’s more. The purpose of terror is to terrorize. But responding appropriately has the opposite effect. The response of British businessman Chris Norman, who helped subdue the attacker, illustrates this: “Norman said his first reaction was to hide," The Fiscal Times reported. "But after he saw the Americans fighting the attacker, he said he went to help them.”

Fear is contagious. But so is courage. People should respond not like a herd of sheep but like a pack of wolves. When the follow-up report on the 2001 attacks came out, J.B. Schramm noted in The Washington Post that "on Sept. 11, 2001, American citizens saved the government, not the other way around.” Intelligence agencies failed. Air defense systems failed. But: “Requiring less time than it took the White House to gather intelligence and issue an attack order (which was in fact not acted on), American citizens gathered information from national media and relayed that information to citizens aboard the flight, who organized themselves and effectively carried out a counterattack against the terrorists, foiling their plans. Armed with television and cellphones, quick-thinking, courageous citizens who were fed information by loved ones probably saved the White House or Congress from devastation.”
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At the very least, it should remind citizens that while you can’t rely on the government to be everywhere you are, you yourself are always there.

A British man, Chris Norman, who with three Americans rushed a gunman on a train from Amsterdam to Paris Friday, told reporters he’d “rather be active than simply sit in the corner and be shot.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:01 PM | Permalink

Advice for parents

In Aeon, Why telling kids to dream big is a big con

Our culture is rich with esteem-boosting platitudes for young dreamers, but the assurances are dishonest and dangerous
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‘What it essentially says to our children,’ adds Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success (2007), ‘is that, if they don’t achieve their dreams, they have no one to blame but themselves.’ Indeed, the transition to adulthood is already overwrought, and it’s made only more difficult when you think you can do anything and then feel completely incompetent when you can’t.
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Unrealistic plans lead to a waste of time and money. When a C‑student spins her wheels planning on medical school, other, more lucrative and realistic careers – say in business or education – fall by the wayside. And the ambition gap has led to increased dissatisfaction across working life. Deloitte’s 2010 Shift Index revealed that 80 per cent of workers were dissatisfied in their jobs. By 2013, the figure had jumped to 89 per cent.
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The shift in expectation has resulted in tremendous anxiety over achieving these goals and, paradoxically, sheer delusion…..Instead of emphasising you’re special, you’re great, ‘teach self-control and hard work,’ Twenge says. ‘Those two things are actually connected to success.’
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‘[Adults] should say: be what you’re capable of,’ says Gwenyth, ‘not you could be anything. I’m not very good in dance. That’s like telling me I could be a professional dancer. No. No, I couldn’t be.’

What a poll revealed about the 59 Life lessons EVERY parent should teach their children

Remembering to say please and thank you is the most important life lesson we can teach our children, according to 80 per cent of the nation's parents. A new poll of things every parent should instill in their child reveals that respecting your elders was voted second (75 percent) while having good table manners came third (73 percent).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2015

Watermelon molasses

Can we restore the world’s culinary masterpieces by rescuing the lost ingredients and flavors that inspired them? by Jill Neimark

"Tasting an heirloom cultivar prepared in the classic way is like discovering a lost masterwork,’ says Shields, a professor of literature at the University of South Carolina. ‘It’s like listening to Thomas Tallis’s Spem in Alium, a Renaissance choral masterpiece for eight five-part choirs. When you hear it, you sense what heaven must have sounded like then. It’s the same when you taste restored cultivars prepared using recipes of an earlier time.’
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Shields puts it this way: ‘There is a group of us who want to know the deep flavours of what has endured longest. Those ingredients that mattered for so long that they became “the taste” of the time, the points of reference against which all innovations were measured. For me, those ingredients constitute the canon, and the dishes of the time frame them.’

Neimark describes how a pure flavor like Watermelon molasses was recreated and tasted.

 Watermelon MolassesWatermelon molasses  had not been made since the  Civil War.

Shields recalls the taste as a revelation on the tongue. ‘It had a base note of sugary molasses and a middle range of this deep watermelony thing and a sort of honeysuckle top note. And I thought to myself, of all the lost melons of yesteryear, this is the one I wished would return. And it has. It’s the taste of the past but it’s also the taste of the future.’
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From there, on 19 April 2015, a popular antebellum cocktail was reborn: Brandy Smash, a mixture of Bradford watermelon molasses and watermelon brandy, syrup, water over crushed ice and an orange garnish. …[that] tasted like ‘pure summer in a glass’.

How a farmer, a professor and a chief collaborated on the Rebirth of the Bradford Watermelon

Armed with an amazing story, an insatiable desire to farm, and the heritage seeds of quite possibly the best watermelon ever created, I did what came naturally.  I planted the biggest field of Bradford watermelons our family had ever grown…a half acre.  It may not sound like much, but it was quite risky when the last of the seed of Bradford watermelon on the planet could be contained in a couple of mason jars! 
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I arrived in Charleston on a Friday morning with my big white truck and a gooseneck trailer loaded with 45 seedmelons carefully placed in bed of hay one layer deep.  Thomas stopped traffic while I squeezed my way into several parking spaces on Bay Street.  Needless to say we drew the attention of a small crowd of onlookers as a procession of white-suited chefs carried these 40 pound melons single file across the street and into the kitchen. With a little luck, by the end of the day we would have the first batch of Bradford watermelon molasses in 125 years and the first batch of rind pickle since my Grandmother passed away in 2006.
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From those 45 melons we extracted almost 80 gallons of beautiful red juice, eventually reduced down to about 8 gallons of molasses through the simple yet extremely time consuming task of slowly simmering and stirring.  …..All of the batches were exceptional and not anything like molasses that folks are familiar with!  The color is phenomenal.  The fragrance is the essence of watermelon infused with caramel!  The taste is otherworldly. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2015

Health Roundup: Universal plaque-busting drug, saturated fat and fish oil for psychosis

Great news Universal plaque-busting drug could treat various brain diseases

A virus found in sewage has spawned a unique drug that targets plaques implicated in a host of brain-crippling diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

Results from tests of the drug, announced this week, show that it breaks up plaques in mice affected with Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, and improves the memories and cognitive abilities of the animals. Other promising results in rats and monkeys mean that the drug developers, NeuroPhage Pharmaceuticals, are poised to apply for permission to start testing it in people, with trials starting perhaps as early as next year.

The drug is the first that seems to target and destroy the multiple types of plaque implicated in human brain disease. Plaques are clumps of misfolded proteins that gradually accumulate into sticky, brain-clogging gunk that kills neurons and robs people of their memories and other mental faculties. Different kinds of misfolded proteins are implicated in different brain diseases, and some can be seen within the same condition (see “Proteins gone rogue”, below).

More good news. 'No link' between eating fatty food and early death: Findings raise further doubts over advice to avoid butter, full-fat milk and other meat and dairy products

Researchers trawled through the health records of hundreds of thousands of patients and found no statistical link between eating saturated fat and falling ill with heart disease, strokes or type 2 diabetes. The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, raise further doubts about 32-year-old guidelines that warn people to avoid butter, full-fat milk and other meat and dairy products with high levels of saturated fats.

Academics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, looked at 12 previous studies, involving between 90,000 and 340,000 patients in each study, and calculated the overall link between saturated fat and different health conditions.

But Cutting saturated fat doesn't necessarily reduce heart disease risk

It's just that people who reduce their intake of fat usually end up eating more sugar, white flour and empty calories, said co-author Russell de Souza, an assistant professor and registered dietitian at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. His review, which examined 73 earlier studies, was published in the BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal.
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For children, the government still advises diet sodas anytime, milk once in a while

David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital said  the government still hasn’t completely caught up with the science.

The National Institute of Health’s We Can! program, which aims to help children maintain a healthy weight, steers families toward low-fat foods. The program lists diet soda and ketchup as foods to eat “almost anytime,” but says low-fat milk should be consumed only “sometimes.” The NIH program puts whole milk in the most restricted category as cookies, doughnuts and French fries, to be consumed only “once in a while'.

Could fish oil protect against psychosis? Taking omega-3 for 12 weeks 'lowers the risk of developing schizophrenia' for up to 7 years afterwards

Young people who take omega-3 are at lower risk of schizophrenia. Those at risk of the mental illness were four times less likely to suffer psychotic episodes up to 7 years after three months taking supplement. Scientists say no other intervention - including drugs - are as effective
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:20 PM | Permalink

Food Hacks

The 10 Best Pieces of Cooking Advice From Julia Child

3. Pre-Cook Poached Eggs in Their Shells…..You simply prick the ends of your eggs with a pin, to let the air escape, and then dip them in the boiling water for 10 seconds, with the shells on. Then, when you crack the eggs into the water, they will hold their shape incredibly well. And remember, add a splash of vinegar to your water, too.
7. Add Oil to Your Butter When Sautéing…..As Julia explains, by adding a little oil (peanut or olive) to unsalted butter, you fortify it, preventing it from burning. Do it every time, it's so great not to see your butter turning dark brown

12 Brilliant (Yet Simple) Food Hacks

1. Make cheap wine taste better - Probably everyone has heard of the idea of letting wine breathe, especially young wine. ...
The point of aerating the wine is to let as much of the liquid come into contact with air as possible, so let’s do that. Get two pitchers. Pour the wine into one, and then pour it back and forth between the two pitchers about 15 times. It will taste better. If you don’t believe it, do the pitcher trick with half of the bottle and use the other half as a control, and see if it doesn’t.
4. Water your guac - Guacamole goes brown in the fridge pretty fast. We won’t bore you with the chemistry, but the culprit is air. No matter how tightly you seal the container, some is going to get in there. One quick fix is to pour a thin layer of water on top. The water will block the air from the guacamole, keeping it nice and green. Just pour the water off when you’re ready to eat it.
8. Keep tomatoes fresh - air is the enemy. Store tomatoes with the stem side down, because that’s where the air gets in the most quickly, and you’ll add shelf life to your tomatoes. Also, keep them at room temperature, not in the fridge.

Why Cutting Meat Against the Grain is Scientifically Superior

When sliced perpendicular to the muscle fibers, a cut of flank can be just as tender as a cut of expensive New York strip steak…..

They took a flank steak (which has wide muscle fibers) and a section of strip loin (which has thin muscle fibers) and cooked both to an internal temperature of 130 degrees. Then they used the “ultra sensitive” CT3 to test how much force is required to bite into each cut of meat when carved with and against the muscle fiber grain.  When cut against the grain, the flank took—on average—about 383 grams of force to bite 5 millimeters into the meat, versus 1729 grams when cut with the grain. Perhaps even more notably, the strip cut tested 590 grams with the grain vs. 329 grams against.

And I almost forgot.  Don't feel guilty about skipping breakfast.  It doesn't lead to weight gain.  You might even lose weight.  How the government nutritionists may have gotten it wrong

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:07 PM | Permalink

August 11, 2015

Roundup: Eating and drinking

Drink pear juice for a hangover. Pear juice can reduce effects of a night's drinking by up to a fifth

Eating a juicy pear before a night of heavy drinking could help alleviate the effects of a hangover, scientists claim.
Researchers say those who are suffering from the consequences of the evening before could feel up to 21 per cent better thanks to the fruit's juice. It helps increase concentration, reduces memory loss and even decreases the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream, according to Australian government scientists. Pears also reduce a person's sensitivity to light and sound.
The only type of pear tested in the study was the Asian pear, but researchers are now planning to widen their scope to see whether varieties of Western pear produce the same results.

More is not better, Woman 'going blind' after drinking 28 Red Bulls every day.

Lena Lupari, 26, has gained so much weight from drinking seven liters  of the energy drink that her brain has swollen. The mother-of-three was ingesting 3,000 calories every day and was unaware of the harm she was doing to her body until she collapsed in June.

Eat celery, beetroot , lettuce, spinach and parsley They're rich in nitrates which help lower blood pressure

It's already known that nitric oxide, a gas produced naturally by the body and carried in the blood, tells your blood vessels to expand, so lowering blood pressure. That's why beetroot in particular is so good for blood pressure — the body converts the nitrites in this veg into nitric oxide. Researchers have since found nitric oxide does a lot more, including helping you to sleep and fight off infections. And now it turns out we have large, totally unexpected stores of it under our skin, and that our blood cells don't work properly without it.

Until a few years ago, no one knew that blood cells even carried nitric oxide. Now we realize that it plays a vital role in ensuring cells get the oxygen they need, as research at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland in the U.S. has found.
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The thinking is that a lack of the gas could cause problems generally linked to poor blood flow, such as heart attack, heart failure, stroke, damage to the kidneys and poor circulation in the legs. Nitric oxide is thought to be particularly important for older people, whose levels drop with age,

But the best way to keep your supplies topped up is through diet, especially foods rich in nitrates, which your body turns into nitric acid with the help of bacteria found in your saliva. These include beetroot (particularly rich in nitrates), along with celery, lettuce, rocket, spinach, celeriac and parsley.Our bodies can also make nitric oxide from an amino acid called L-arginine, found in nuts, meat, fruits, dairy products, chocolate and raisins.

Eat spicy food. Three times a week reduces the risk of early death from cancer or heart disease'

A study of nearly 500,000 middle-aged people found that those who ate a spicy meal every one or two days were far less likely to die than those who infrequently ate the food. Scientists suspect that capsaicin — a chemical contained in chili peppers — has anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and cancer fighting properties.

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on a study of 487,000 Chinese people, each aged between the ages of 30 and 79 who were tracked for 7 years.

Drink coffee. Science: Coffee is The World’s Biggest Source of Antioxidants

Coffee is Linked to a Reduced Risk of Many Diseases:  A 23-50% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and a much lower risk of liver cirrhosis. Coffee may also lower the risk of liver and colorectal cancer, and several studies have shown a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Consuming coffee on a regular basis may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease by 32–65%. Some studies have shown that coffee may also benefit mental health. Women who drink coffee are less likely to become depressed and commit suicide.  Above all, drinking coffee has been linked to a longer lifespan and up to a 20–30% lower risk of premature death.

However, keep in mind that most of these studies are observational. They cannot prove that coffee caused the reduction in disease risk, only that coffee drinkers were less likely to get these diseases.

Then take a 15-minute walk everyday and reduce chance of dying in over-60s by 22%

Regular exercise reduces obesity, increases bone strength and cuts the risk of heart disease, stroke, type two diabetes and cancer. The World Health Organization recommends all adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week,  but the latest research suggests that the guidelines are too stringent - and the authors suggest halving the recommendations to just 75 minutes a week for over-60s.  Advising people instead to go for a brisk 15-minute walk five times a week will be far more achievable, and will still have a beneficial effect on health, enough  to extend life expectancy for the over 60s, experts say.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:57 PM | Permalink

August 10, 2015

Links to interesting stories that I don't have the time to blog

Zero Hedge Towards A State Of Near Chaos.

The American public, we the people, lately swoon into a morass of multi-dimensional failure: failure to control their economic lives, to regulate their appetites and their bodies, to understand what is happening to them, to fend off the propaganda and distractions that disable them, and to properly express and direct their wrath at those elements of the polity who deserve it.

True, their awful, epic failures at this moment in history are largely engineered and aggravated by those who have captured the polity and turned it into a looting and racketeering engine. The net result, though, is a self-reinforcing circle of degradation that rots the collective ethos of the public while it destroys the vessel of the republic that contains it.

The next crisis 'no one saw coming'

State and local taxes have risen at a rate twice that of wages/salaries. State and local governments can keep raising taxes, but where’s the money going to come from?

EPA Pollutes River, Fails To Notify New Mexico

The EPA was investigating pollution from the long-ago abandoned Gold King Mine, which is located about 80 miles north of New Mexico. The EPA was apparently trying to clean up the waste water, but instead managed to burst a plug holding it in, thereby releasing slug that contained zinc, iron, copper and other heavy metals.

 Epa Responsible Toxic River Animas River Wastewater Spill Three Times Worse Than Previously Thought, EPA Says.  EPA now says that real figure is actually 3 million gallons of wastewater. ….EPA officials said that over time the metal-laden wastewater would eventually settle at the bottom of the river. That could pose problems in the future. 

Sweden: Rape Capital of the West

Forty years after the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to change the formerly homogenous Sweden into a multicultural country, violent crime has increased by 300% and rapes by 1,472%. Sweden is now number two on the list of rape countries, surpassed only by Lesotho in Southern Africa.

Good news. Call off the bee-pocalypse: U.S. honeybee colonies hit a 20-year high.    Thank you beekeepers.

The American Scholar My Mother’s Yiddish  The music of my childhood was a language filled with endearments and rebukes, and frequent misunderstandings

Rod Dreher Tinder Mercenaries

“I think that iPhones and dating apps have really changed the way that dating happens for our generation,” says Stephanie, the one with an arm full of bracelets.

“There is no dating. There’s no relationships,” says Amanda, the tall elegant one. “They’re rare. You can have a fling that could last like seven, eight months and you could never actually call someone your ‘boyfriend.’ [Hooking up] is a lot easier. No one gets hurt—well, not on the surface.”

Amazing story . Hero SAS sniper saves father and eight-year-old son from being beheaded by ISIS maniac

The brave British marksman saved the terrified eight-year-old and his father after taking out the crazed jihadi with a head shot from 1,000 metres away.  The special forces crack shot then killed two other members of the hated terror group, who were also taking part in the sick planned execution.

ISIS militants had decreed that the little boy and his father must die after branding them "infidels" because they refused to denounce their faith. They were just seconds from death when the hero sniper intervened to stop the barbaric killing in the Syrian desert. The pair were part of the minority Shia sect of Islam which ISIS considers to be heretical.

The Art of Manliness The 3 Families Every Young Man Needs to Grow Up Well

Bad Catholic Masculine and Feminine Time

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 PM | Permalink

“The 2016 election is simple; the person who runs on the platform ‘Who do they think they are?’ will win.”

On Powerline. Angelo M. Codevilla on Our Present Moment

In a conversation a few months ago Angelo remarked, “The 2016 election is simple; the person who runs on the platform ‘Who do they think they are?’ will win.”

It occurred to me that Trump is coming closest to this disposition, flaws and all, which explains why he has taken off. I asked Angelo for his thoughts, and he sends along the following, which ratifies the view that several of Trumps supposed “mistakes” are anything but, though you’ll see at the end Angelo’s final judgment:

Does Trump trump?

By Angelo M. Codevilla

The primordial fact in American public life today, from which most of the others hide their eyes, namely: most Americans distrust, fear, are sick and tired of, the elected, appointed, and bureaucratic officials who rule over us, as well as their cronies in the corporate, media, and academic world. Trump’s attraction lies less in his words’ grace or even precision than in the extent to which Americans are searching for someone, anyone, to lead against this ruling class, that is making America less prosperous, less free, and more dangerous…..

At increasing speed, our ruling class has created “protected classes” of Americans defined by race, sex, age, disability, origin, religion, and now homosexuality, whose members have privileges that outsider do not. By so doing, they have shattered the principle of equality – the bedrock of the rule of law. Ruling class insiders use these officious classifications to harass their socio-political opponents. An unintimidated statesman would ask: Why should not all “classes” be equally protected? Does the rule of law even admit of “classes”? Does not the 14th amendment promise “the equal protection of the laws” to all alike? He would note that when the government sets aside written law in favor of what the powerful want, it thereby absolves citizens any obligation to obey government.

Habitually, our ruling class tries to intimidate its opponents by calling them “haters” (“racists,” etc. is part of the all too familiar litany.) A statesman worthy of the title would respond that calling people such names is the very opposite of civility, never mind love. Such a leader would trump our rulers.

Donald Trump is not such a person.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 PM | Permalink

Miscellany 17

Becoming a Southern Lady, An Essay

She felt like an outsider who didn’t fit in with Southern ladies—that is until, after studying us, she finally figured us out. “All you have to do,” she told me, “is say two things: ‘How’s yo’ momma?’ and ‘Love yo’ hair’.”

Welcome to the Quietest Square Inch in the U.S.

The quietest inch isn’t a sound vacuum. It represents a place with a minimum of human-made noise. The discipline of acoustic ecology, which is dedicated to understanding the natural sounds that come through loud and clear when we're not around, outlines an important distinction between sound and noise.  The blip of water droplets from a forest canopy? Sound. The tinny din of Taylor Swift through smartphone speakers? Noise.

Cooling is as important to civilization as making fire — only much harder

Chilled, Tom Jackson’s enthralling history of how refrigeration changed the world, takes us from Mesopotamian ice-houses to the Large Hadron Collider  It’s a fascinating journey and Jackson conducts it in the manner of a wizard. From heat-pumps we whisk in a flash to 18th-century BC Terqa, on the west bank of the Euphrates, where the new king Zimri-lim sets about building an ice-house. We race, shivering and sweltering by turns, around the ancient world, to fifth-century BC Persia, to Egypt, from stone jars in water-pits to ceramic pots standing in kraters of snow (and, incidentally, giving sense to the naming of sorbet). Cold — colder than it should be — is always, in this narrative, as magical as Kubla Khan’s ‘sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice’

.Russian Photographers Show The World The Way Birds See It

 Russian Drone Central Park

 Birds-Eye-St Basil's Cathedral Moscow

20 Weirdest Waterfalls on Earth

 Mauritiusunderwaterwaterfall

GravityLight generates light from gravity.

GravityLight is unique - it doesn't need batteries or sunlight and costs nothing to run.  GravityLight provides:Instant light, any time.  It takes just a few seconds to lift the weight that powers GravityLight. There's no need to charge in advance, it's ready when you need it.  With no running costs. Meaning that GravityLight pays for itself within weeks of switching from a kerosene lamp.

 Gravity-Light
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2015

Running with the stars

The Mind-Bending Science of Awe

Awe is not an everyday emotion….Up until about ten years ago, psychology "had surprisingly little to say about awe," wrote Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt in a 2003 paper.
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The psychologists laid out a research agenda intended to tease out "the similarities and differences between awe and gratitude, admiration, elevation, surprise, fear and perhaps even love." In the years since, they and other researchers have been testing awe—what is it? How does it work? What seems awesome, and why? For the first time, they're starting to understand both what awe does to us and what it might do for us.
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 Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon by Dan Ransom

What do we look like when we're feeling it?…When they asked people to perform awe, they found that people indeed often raised their eyebrows and widened their eyes. They also opened their mouths and dropped their jaws and, sometimes, breathed in. And, the researchers noticed, few people smiled.
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Awe was a serious emotion. "Clues suggest that awe’s function may lie in how it makes you think,"….In subsequent experiments looking at "the nature of awe," the researchers found that it often occurred when a person had an opportunity to expand their knowledge of the world. When it happened, it turned a person's attention outwards, instead of towards the self.
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It might be big or small, natural or man-made, but it stops you cold—while other positive emotion arouse the body, people feeling awe are very still—and makes you re-evaluate what you actually know. In other words, awe is kind of mind-bending, and it alters how a person perceives the world in subtle but meaningful ways. It can, for instance, make time seem to slow down.
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All this early research indicates that Keltner and Haidt's initial description of awe was accurate: it's a feeling induced by vastness that requires some sort of mental accommodation to overwhelming new information. The next step is understanding why it exists at all.
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So far, it seems, the purpose of awe might have something to do with drawing people together….Rudd's research shows, for instance, that when awe-struck people feel like they have more time, they're more willing to use it to help others. ….even more than other positive emotions, awe promoted generosity. It also improved participants' ethical decision making. A paper still under review indicates that awe can makes people more humble, too.

And a few quotes on awe.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.  He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  Albert Einstein

"Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me."  Immanuel Kant

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” Marcus Aurelius

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:26 PM | Permalink

Health roundup: Breast cancer test, HIV, depression, placebo effect and French kissing

Breast cancer: Test that could predict breast cancer nine years before it strikes

Measuring levels of methyl in women's blood could show if they will suffer the disease later. Those with low levels in white blood cells most likely to get breast cancer

The team from Imperial College London analysed blood samples from around 2,600 women from the UK, Norway, Australia and Italy, looking at changes to the DNA of white blood cells.  In a series of studies that tracked the women for an average of nine years, they found that those who went on to contract breast cancer had lower levels of a chemical called methyl in their white blood cells’ make-up compared to those who did not.

HIV: Cocktail of drugs stops HIV in its tracks: Treatment is 93% successful in preventing virus being transmitted through sex

A combination of drugs known as antiretroviral therapy (ART) stops HIV from being passed on from infected men and women to their uninfected partners, the results of a landmark study show.  Antiretroviral therapy (ART) consists of the combination of at least three antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of the disease.  Researchers found the drugs were able to reduce the transmission of the virus by 93 per cent in couples assigned to ART treatment.

Depression: Could depression be triggered by a stomach bug?

Imbalance of bacteria in the gut 'may lead to mental health problems'. Scientists say the roots of depression may lie in the gut and the trillions of bacteria that live there.

Although you might not realize it, the average human stomach is home to around 2 pounds of microbes – roughly the same weight as a bag of sugar.  Some members of this ‘gut microbiome’ help with digestion. But others are increasingly being linked to overall health, with conditions from autism to multiple sclerosis said to have links to the bugs in our bodies. 

Now, a series of animal experiments suggests that intestinal bugs play an important role in triggering depression. Canadian researchers showed that if newborn mice are subjected to the stress of being repeatedly separated and reunited with their mothers, they appear anxious and depressed.  However, if their guts are germ-free, the stress does not affect their mental health. But give them a transplant of bugs and depression strikes.

It is thought that severe stress, particularly in childhood, affects the chemistry of the stomach, allowing some bugs to thrive more than others. These then produce compounds that affect the chemistry of the brain, leading to symptoms of depression. Researcher Premysl Bercik said: ‘We have shown for the first time…that bacteria play a crucial role in inducing this abnormal behavior.  But it's not only bacteria, it's the altered bi-directional communication between the stressed host - mice subjected to early life stress - and its microbiota, that leads to anxiety and depression."  Writing in the journal Nature Communications, Dr Bercik said small changes in the balance of the bugs in the gut could have ‘profound’ effects on behavior.

Matter over mind The placebo effect IS real - even when patients know the treatment they are getting is fake

Scientists found patients given a fake painkiller continued to feel benefits from it after they were told it was not genuine…. Scientists applied 47.5C heat on subjects' forearms and gave 'cooling gel'.  Individuals needed four sessions to believe the placebo gel worked
But there was a catch. In order to feel these effects, the subjects had to be conditioned into thinking that the treatment was real – and needed enough time for this belief to become ingrained.  Those told it was fake after just one session did not continue to experience pain relief, the US study found, but those told after four sessions still felt the benefits.

Senior author Tor Wager, of the University of Colorado Boulder, said: "We’re still learning a lot about the critical ingredients of placebo effects. …What we think now is that they require both belief in the power of the treatment and experiences that are consistent with those beliefs….Those experiences make the brain learn to respond to the treatment as a real event….After the learning has occurred, your brain can still respond to the placebo even if you no longer believe in it.’

French Kissing  KISSING overtakes smoking as leading risk for head and neck cancers

The humble French kiss can pass on human papilloma virus (HPV). A top doctor, Head of Maxillofacial and Head and neck Surgery at the Royal Darwin Hospital, warns of 'tsunami' of oral human papilloma virus cases.  The virus was responsible for 70% of head and neck cancer cases…. If you became infected by HPV in the oropharynx, your risk of developing head and neck cancer was 250 times higher than that of someone without the virus.

Dangers of some OTC drugs Over-the-counter medicines for hayfever and insomnia raise the risk of serious falls in older men.

Men over 65 were twice as likely to have been hurt like this if they took one of a powerful class of drugs called anticholinergics, says a study of 2,700 pensioners. The medicines under scrutiny affect the brain by blocking a key chemical messenger called acetylcholine which moderates many brain functions including moods, behavior and response to pain.  Up to half of elderly Britons are prescribed at least one medication with anticholinergic properties, including anti-depressants, antihistamines, sleeping pills and antipsychotics…..
A previous study suggested that people who regularly took the drugs in high doses for three years or more had an increased risk of dementia.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:46 PM | Permalink

August 5, 2015

Miscellany 16

100 years of plastic surgery

Plastic surgery celebrates its 100th birthday this year. We examine how a medical procedure to treat soldiers in the trenches ended up being used to augment 50,000 Brazilians' buttocks.

“Today, nearly one out of every five dollars spent on cookies is spent on an Oreo.”

Since 2005, Oreo sales have grown by more than 60 percent, which is easily the largest increase among any of the top cookie brands sold in the United States. For context, consider that cookie sales market-wide rose by only 10 percent over that period, or that more than 7o percent of that growth is directly attributable to increased demand for Oreos.

How Milk Became a Staple

Cheese and butter go back a long way as methods of preserving milk. But fresh milk was considered baby food, or a boost for growing children, through most of history. Only about a hundred years ago did milk drinking become common among adults. That was because of the convergence of several trends around the beginning of the 20th century. First, the milk trade became regulated and safer (see our previous articles on that development). Then there was the craze for healing through nutrition, which led to the development of cereals, served with milk. And there was the Temperance movement, with groups trying to get men to drink anything besides alcohol.

Does adding pasta water to the sauce really make a difference?   Yes.  The starch in the water acts to emulsify the sauce

See, the thing is, pasta (the dish) isn't just about the pasta (the starch), and it's not just about the sauce either. It's about the marriage of the two. And like all marriages, there are some secrets to getting the union to work.

Good Morning! Breakfasts Around the 16 Countries of Eastern Europe

Bear Clears Out Bakery
The beast guzzled 24 cherry and 14 apple pies, but left the strawberry-and-rhubarb creations untouched in the raid.

Rod Dreher visits Lyon and discovers Deep France and the best food he's ever eaten

Amazing, amazing story Musicked Down the Mountain: How Oliver Sacks Saved His Own Life by Literature and Song in Brainpickings.

The best hotel in the world

According to TripAdvisor the best hotel in the world is Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives, on a tiny coral island in a sparkling lagoon, with jetties stretching across the crystal water out to each of the 45 overwater villas. The hotel operates a 'no news, no shoes' policy, so visitors have no choice but to enjoy the uninterrupted ocean views, private butler service and robes.
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The water villas float on a lagoon surrounding a tiny coral island in the Maldives, with each villa individually designed using traditional, sustainable materials and methods.  The thick beams of wood in the huts are built from sustainable materials such as plantation teak and re-cycled telegraph poles, and seek to blend rustic charm with modern comfort.
Each thatched villa includes a sundeck, a roof terrace and a stunning bathroom with separate private shower that overlooks the lagoon.

 Best Hotel Maldives
 Best Hotel Maldives2

The great outdoors, indoors: Artist spends 35 years using natural materials to create 'hobbit house' which has been put up for sale with a $149,000 price tag

Lauri Svedberg spent more than three decades transforming her house in Minnesota into a shrine to nature. Her home became a giant canvas which she painstakingly transformed using nothing but natural materials and a glue gun. Minerals, rock and glass were pieced together to create giant mosaics covering entire walls and floors inside the unusual abode.

-Outdoor Feel Lauri Svedberg

 The Forest Scape House Laura Svedberg

 Kitchen Laura Svedberg
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:28 PM | Permalink