March 29, 2017

Roundup of Medical Technology: Robots in surgery, diagnosis and active aging companion, 'body on a chip' and heart tissue from a spinach leaf

Robot-assisted surgery is reaching an incredible level of precision!

Watch the video at the link and see for yourself how it peels a grape and then sews it back on!  It's astounding.

Robot Worm could be miniaturized to help doctors spot digestive issues

The robot that can move forwards or backwards in a wave-like motion is known as the single actuator wave-like robot (SAW) and was developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel.

Artificial Intelligence Will Help the Elderly  Watch the video at the link to see how ElliQ works

For the past month or so, a small group of older adults in San Francisco has been learning to engage with a talking device named ElliQ. It’s more desk lamp than archetypal robot—think of the hopping light at the beginning of Pixar movies. But while ElliQ is meant to sit on a table or nightstand, it’s all about movement, or more accurately, body language.

 Elio Robot For Elderly

ElliQ talks. But it also moves, leaning toward the person with whom it’s speaking. It lights up, too, as another means of engagement, and uses volume and sound effects to distinguish its messages. “If ElliQ is shy, she will look down and talk softly, and her lights will be soft,” explains Dor Skuler, CEO and founder of Intuition Robotics, the Israeli company behind the device. “If she tries to get you to go for a walk, she will lean forward and take a more aggressive tone, and her lights will be bright....

ElliQ keeps learning...One of the first steps in establishing a relationship with this particular robot is to set some goals, such as how many times a week a person wants to go out for a walk or be reminded to see friends. Then, it’s up to ElliQ to determine the most effective way to do its job. In other words, it will learn that one person responds better to “It’s nice out, why don’t you go for a walk,” while another needs to be prodded more aggressively with “You’ve been on the couch watching TV for four hours. Time to get up and take a walk.”  “That’s where the emotive side kicks in,” he says. “ElliQ can set a whole different tone, and use different body language and gestures based on what works and what doesn’t work. The machine fine-tunes itself.”

“Mass-Produced” Blood Now Possible,

Researchers at the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant....developed a method to freeze stem cells in their early development — while they are still replicating — which has the effect of “immortalizing” them such that scientists can produce infinitely more stem cells. They will harvest the excess stem cells to produce blood.  Right now the new method is cost-prohibitive. For the foreseeable future, it will mostly be used to provide hard-to-source blood for patients with rare blood types.

Spinach Leaf Transformed Into Beating Human Heart Tissue

Using the plant like scaffolding, scientists built a mini version of a working heart, which may one day aid in tissue regeneration.

Menstrual cycle recreated 'in a dish'

US scientists say they have made a mini working replica of the female reproductive tract using human and mouse tissue...to construct a palm-sized device that ooks nothing like a womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries.  Researchers say it should help with understanding diseases of these organs and tissues and a novel way  to test new treatments.

The work is part of a project to create the entire human "body on a chip". The ultimate goal would be to take cells from any given individual in order to create a personalized model of their body to test drugs and treatments on.

We Were Wrong - the Testes Are Connected to the Immune System

Some parts of the body – including the tissues of the brain and testes – have long been considered to be completely hidden from our immune system....Last year scientists made the amazing discovery that a set of previously unseen channels connected the brain to our immune system; now, it appears we might also need to rethink the immune system's relationship with the testes...potentially explaining why some men are infertile and how some cancer vaccines fail to provide immunity.

An Unexpected New Lung Function Has Been Found - They Make Blood!  Video at the link shows how

In experiments involving mice, the team found that they produce more than 10 million platelets (tiny blood cells) per hour, equating to the majority of platelets in the animals' circulation. This goes against the decades-long assumption that bone marrow produces all of our blood components.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco also discovered a previously unknown pool of blood stem cells that makes this happen inside the lung tissue - cells that were incorrectly assumed to mainly reside in bone marrow....Scientists have now watched megakaryocytes functioning from within the lung tissue to produce not a few, but most of the body's platelets. So how did we miss such a crucial biological process this whole time?  The discovery was made possible by a new type of technology based on two-photon intravital imaging - a similar technique to one used by a separate team this week to discover a previously unidentified function of the brain's cerebellum.

10 Human Body Modifications You Can Expect in the next Decade

1. RFID Chips implanted in the body
2. Exoskeletons
3. Real-time Language Translation
4. Augmented Vision
5. Smart Contact Lenses
6. 3D Printed Body Parts
7. Smarter Drugs
8. Brain-computer Interfaces
9. Designer Babies
10. Enhanced Sexual Organs

UPDATE:  Paralyzed man moves his arm and hand with the power of his mind and a microchip

A cycling accident left Bill Kochevar unable to move from the shoulders down, but  he can now feed himself in his wheelchair, using a microchip in his brain. He is the first quadriplegic to have his movement restored by the system...
‘For somebody who’s been injured eight years and couldn’t move, being able to move just that little bit is awesome’...Researcher Dr Bob Kirsch said: ‘He’s really breaking ground for the spinal cord injury community. This is a major step toward restoring some independence.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

March 28, 2017

Brexit begins

Brendan O'Neil writes on Facebook via Instapundit

What's amazing is the patience and dignity of Brexit voters. For nine months the political elite raged against them, ridiculed them, demonised them; branded them racist, destructive, "low information"; dragged their democratic choice to the courts in the hope that some clever judge would declare it illegitimate; took to the streets to call them idiots and buffoons and unwitting slaves of demagoguery; held them responsible for economic downturn and a return of fascism; declared them unfit for serious public life, which is apparently best left to experts. And yet Brexit voters didn't go mad or riot or crumble. They stuck to their principles (an amazing 96% say they'd vote for Brexit again) and patiently waited for their political choice to be acted upon. They kept their faith in democracy. They behaved liked the free-willed, autonomous adults that democracy needs in order to work and thrive.
The future is safe in their hands.

“Dover and Out”: UK Tabloid Celebrates Brexit in Grand Style

IT’S finally here . . . the most momentous day in Britain’s modern history. Today, Theresa May will officially tell the EU: We’re off.....British Prime Minister Theresa May officially triggered the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union on Tuesday.  To celebrate, pro-sovereignty tabloid The Sun projected giant images on the iconic White Cliffs of Dover facing the continent.

 See-Eu-Later

 Better Dover Out

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:10 PM | Permalink

March 25, 2017

Miscellany #62

Earliest known photo of Elvis Presley with parents Gladys and Vernon in 1938

 Elvis Earliest Photo

Scott Adams Declares Mobile Phone Carriers to Be Enemies of the State

My observation is that smartphones have made half of all adults mentally ill. I mean that literally, not figuratively. The business model of phones is addiction, not value. And they addict you at the expense of the things humans need in their lives to be happy and healthy.  Kids have it worse. They haven’t developed any natural defenses. They are pure victims.  Today I declare the phone companies to be enemies of the state. They are ruining everything you love, and everything you care about. And they are doing it right in front of you.

Hüseyin Sahin's Dream-like Photo Collages

 Digital Collage

The Big Dig in Boston. Did it Deliver? 10 years later

[T]he most expensive highway in US history, the Central Artery and Tunnel project...It didn’t just cost a lot of money. The copy-and-paste phrase on reporters’ computers was that it was “plagued by cost overruns,” ballooning from $2.6 billion to nearly $15 billion ($24 billion, counting interest on the debt). It didn’t simply take more time than expected; it was eight years behind schedule by the time it was done.

 Bigdig 10Yearsold

Girl Turns Her Skin Into Art After Being Bullied For Having Vitiligo

Diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 12 years old, Ash Soto was ashamed of her skin and bullied as a teen-ager
It wasn’t until she started doing body art that she learned to love her skin condition....“I never realized how beautiful my vitiligo was until I traced it with a black marker."

 Ashley-Soto Vitiligo-Body-Art-Map

Hushme - The Weird Mask Muffles Your Voice to Keep Phone Calls Private

Don’t you just hate it when you have to take an important phone call and you’re surrounded by potential eavesdroppers? You either have to whisper or go outside to keep the conversation private, which is not exactly ideal.

 Hushme-1

Hushme is a bizarre high-tech mask that blocks the sound of the wearer’s voice so that people nearby can’t hear what is being said. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and comes with a pair of earbuds. When you get a private call, all you have to do is put the muzzle-like mask on and it will do the rest. The pair of thick cushy pads over your mouth do a good job of muffling your voice, but to ensure nothing gets through, Hushme also features external that play a variety of sounds when you speak.

March Madness

 Basketball-Head

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:57 PM | Permalink

March 20, 2017

"A life spent reading--that is a good life," Annie Dillard

 Reading-After-Lunch
Reading After Lunch by Sarah Bryant, British painter.

Can Reading Make You Happier?  by Ceridwen Dovey  in The New Yorker.  The answer is YES.

In response to the question “What is preoccupying you at the moment?,” I was surprised by what I wanted to confess: I am worried about having no spiritual resources to shore myself up against the inevitable future grief of losing somebody I love, I wrote. I’m not religious, and I don’t particularly want to be, but I’d like to read more about other people’s reflections on coming to some sort of early, weird form of faith in a “higher being” as an emotional survival tactic.
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In a secular age, I suspect that reading fiction is one of the few remaining paths to transcendence, that elusive state in which the distance between the self and the universe shrinks. Reading fiction makes me lose all sense of self, but at the same time makes me feel most uniquely myself.
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For all avid readers who have been self-medicating with great books their entire lives, it comes as no surprise that reading books can be good for your mental health and your relationships with others, but exactly why and how is now becoming clearer, thanks to new research on reading’s effects on the brain...A 2011 study published in the Annual Review of Psychology, based on analysis of fMRI brain scans of participants, showed that, when people read about an experience, they display stimulation within the same neurological regions as when they go through that experience themselves.
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So even if you don’t agree that reading fiction makes us treat others better, it is a way of treating ourselves better. Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.

Read the whole thing to learn about the rise of bibliotherapy, that is prescribing reading for its therapeutic effect.

 Reading Conversation-Past-Lives

Comfort Food: The Importance of Reading Aloud as Adults by Annie Hartnett

When I was in the third grade, my neighbor, Mrs. Cris — a 60-year-old woman with grown children — invited me and two other girls to form a weekly reading club. On Wednesdays, Mrs. Cris would serve us buttery Danish cookies, and juice in fancy punch glasses. We would sit on the floor while Mrs. Cris settled into the high-backed chair in front of the fireplace, and she would read out loud to us.

We would lie about it to other kids, what we did on Wednesdays. It wasn’t because I was ashamed, it never occurred to me that a reading club might be considered uncool. I lied because I didn’t want my other friends to be envious, and because I didn’t want anyone else to be added to the club. It was our secret, my favorite day of the week.
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The Reading Club taught me the importance of careful, concentrated listening, and taught me that I could find friends outside my immediate peer group. It taught me reading a story aloud is a way to take care of someone, a kind of care-taking that isn’t overbearing or smothering, and doesn’t feel like babysitting. As adults, reading aloud to one another is something we think we might have grown out of, but that’s only because we’ve forgotten how intimate and cozy it is to be read to, or to read aloud to someone who listens. It’s a simple, low-maintenance way to connect. And if you can tell a good story, I now believe, you can win anyone over, even the most skeptical of listeners. Especially if you serve cookies.

And don't forget the rich pleasure of listening to audio books and becoming deeply immersed in stories that surround you. 

 Stories Surround 1

I've a huge fan of audiobooks for decades, first on cassettes, then CDs and now on MP3s that I download to my iPod.
I've been a great reader all my life, but there were some books I just could not get into, like J.R,Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.  So, one day I ordered The Fellowship of the Ring narrated by Rob Inglis and was completely entranced. I loved them and have become, at last, a J.R.Tolkien fan.

Certain books are immeasurably enriched by a good narrator.  I can't imagine the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin series, beginning with Master and Commander without hearing the delightful voice of Patrick Tull.  Graham Greene's The End of the Affair as narrated by Colin Firth, A Town Like Alice narrated by Neil Hunt, A Gentleman in Moscow as narrated by Nicolas Guy Smith, Wolf Hall as narrated by Simon Slater, The Likeness as narrated by Heather O'Neill and Brideshead Revisited as narrated by Jeremy Irons.  This past year I discovered to my great delight Adrian McKinty and his Sean Duffy mysteries set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.  All, beginning with The Cold Cold Ground are narrated by the splendid Gerard Doyle   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:16 PM | Permalink

To mark her 100th birthday, Vera Lynn releases new album

You might not recognize the name, but you likely will recognize some of her most famous songs from WW2 movies or Dr. Strangelove:  I'll Be Seeing You, We'll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover, and A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square

Known as the "Forces Sweetheart", Dame Vera Lynn provided much needed moral for the people of Britain during the Second World War .  Today is her 100th birthday and she will be repaid with

a touching and a fitting tribute. To mark the national treasure's milestone 100th birthday, a pair of original wartime Spitfires are set to do a rare fly-over and display above the White Cliffs of Dover.  As WWII re-enactors perform a military salute, the iconic backdrop will be transformed more than 70 years after her wartime classic song gave hope to British troops in action.

 Hbday Veralynn 100

She is also marking the occasion with a new album.  In 2009, at age 92, she became the oldest living artist to top the UK Albums Chart.

 Veralynn 100Album

Asked for secret to a long life she said, 'Keep interested, read books, watch television, keep in touch with life'
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Dame Vera marked her birthday with a family tea party and said in a statement: 'I am truly overwhelmed by the wonderful messages, gifts and gestures that people have made to mark this milestone occasion with me. I feel blessed to have reached 100, and I am humbled by everyone's kindness."

 Vera Lynn

She is held in great affection by veterans of the Second World War to this day and in 2000 was named the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

Health round-up: Exercise and cancer, cystic fibrosis, statins, tea, coffee and vitamins

Cystic fibrosis patients living 10 years longer in Canada than U.S. thanks to a high fat diet

Researchers identify differences in diet, health insurance and access to lung transplants...A spike in Canadian survival rates noted in 1995 may be due to a high fat diet, emphasizing cheeses, fish and nuts, recommended for Canadians with cystic fibrosis since the 1970s.  "The Canadians tried high fat diets, more calories, more palatable, and this really had an impact on the nutritional status, particularly with children, and that seems to set the trajectory for the disease."

Antidepressants can stop prostate cancer from spreading to the bones where it kills 90% of patients

Prostate cancer metastasises, or spreads, to the bones in 9 out of 10 fatal cases.  Scientists found a reducing a protein in the brain stopped the cancer spreading.  Discovery could pave the way to a treatment for advanced forms of the disease

How exercise reduces the risk of cancer.

Exercising is known to reduce the risk of breast, bowel, colon and womb cancer.  But how?  Scientists say active people are better at removing a by-product - lactate -  that fuels tumors. Lactate – which makes muscles stiffen after exercise – is a key driver of cancer growth and spread, experts claim.

Dr Inigo San Millan, of the University of California, Berkeley, said: 'With this paper, we open a whole new door for understanding cancer, showing for the first time that lactate is not only present, but mandatory for every step in its development. 'We hope to sound the alarm for the research community that to stop cancer you have to stop lactate.'

Gene in some people which makes their brains 12 YEARS older than they should be

Researchers at Columbia University found a certain gene is present in people with prematurely aged brains
Just as some people physically age faster than others, the same goes for brains. The study examined autopsy data from almost 2,000 people without diseases.  They found those with older-looking brains had two copies of a certain gene - TMEM106B.  The common genetic variant greatly impacts normal brain aging from around the age of 65.  It may also increase one's risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease or dementia.

Just ONE cup of tea a day lowers the risk of toxic clumps forming in the brain

Researchers found that drinking tea reduces the risk of dementia by some 50% while those who carry a 'dementia gene' can slash their chances by around 86%.  Tea leaves are considered to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. And it doesn't matter whether you prefer green tea or black.

Researchers at the National University of Singapore assessed the tea consumption of 957 adults over the age of 55 over a period of 12 years.  Every two years, the participants were assessed on their cognitive function using standardized tools.  "A simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person’s risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life," said Dr Feng Lei and help  protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration.

Coffee 'stops vitamin pills working'

Scientists claim swallowing tablets with your morning cup of caffeine wipes out all of the good they do because the heat in the drinks can dramatically reduce the effects of tablets. It can even kill the ‘friendly’ bacteria in probiotic foods such as yoghurts..Now experts suggest waiting at least an hour before consuming hot food or drink after taking tablets.

City-dwellers should stock up on B vitamins, experts claim.

A new study suggests that the supplements may play a critical role in reducing the devastating impact of air pollution. In a trial on humans, scientists found just small doses could offset the deadly damage caused by tiny, toxic particles. Experts believe the findings could have a significant public health benefit in heavily polluted cities across the world.

Mediterranean diet 'as effective as statins' in reducing heart attack risk

“For most middle-aged people wishing to avoid heart disease, a healthy diet offers a far more powerful, sustainable and enjoyable plan than lifelong statin tablets,” said Prof Simon Capewell, vice-president of the UK Faculty of Public Health.

Taking high dosages of statins raises the risk of developing diabetes in older women by 50%

Australian scientists have carried out one of the first studies of its kind focusing on the effects of statins on more than 8,000 female pensioners....The team found over-75s face a 33 per cent higher chance of getting diabetes if they are taking them.  But the risk rose to more than 50 per cent for those on higher doses. It follows research last year which showed people with naturally higher levels of cholesterol, paradoxically, are less likely to suffer diabetes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 AM | Permalink

March 19, 2017

The Triangulum

Fr. Gordon McRae writes about a mystical dream and the photo a reader sent him of The Triangulum

I hope you will re-read and share Joseph’s Dream and the Birth of the Messiah and the strange and mystical dream I recounted. It may not have any real meaning. I know that the imagery in dreams may be no more than a psyche’s attempt to provide meaning and substance to random thoughts.

But sometimes “randomness” just doesn’t hold up. In that dream, I was shown a vague and distant constellation out my prison cell window. It was composed of three stars forming a triangle. “Look beyond the prison lights” came the instruction from my guide to the distant scene. Of course, no such constellation is visible out my cell window, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. A little research proved that it is in fact there, and it is called “Triangulum.”

in the dim distance behind the Constellation Triangulum was found the furthest object ever seen by human eyes or instruments. It is the most distant galaxy ever discovered at 12.2 billion light years away. It looks onto the very aftermath of the Big Bang and the emergence of the created Universe. I was simply in awe of this.

Then a reader sent me a photograph of Triangulum taken in a “Deep Field” long exposure image by the Hubbell Space Telescope. It is strikingly close to what I saw in my dream when I was bidden to look deeper still.

Does it mean anything? I’m not sure. But this is the more panoramic view of things that I wrote of earlier in this post. This photo gives me comfort and hope at a time when the carnage is growing all around me, and I wanted to share this image with you. It is simply remarkable! Whether it has any significance is a matter of faith, but even here, in the midst of destruction, there is some to be found.

 Triangulum

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:09 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2017

How to Raise Successful Boys

Want to Raise Successful Boys? Science Says Do This (but Their Schools Probably Won't)

Students--and especially boys--need hours of physical activity every day. They don't get enough because their schools won't let them.

We inhibit children's academic growth (especially among boys), because the lack of physical activity makes it harder for them to concentrate...."In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order for them to pay attention, we need to let them move."

Most boys are rambunctious. Often they seem like they're in a constant state of motion: running, jumping, fighting, playing, getting hurt--maybe getting upset--and getting right back into the physical action.Except at school, where they're required to sit still for long periods of time. (And when they fail to stay still, how are they punished? Often by being forced to skip recess--and thus they sit still longer.)
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Restricting kids' movement like this leads them to increased anger and frustration, less ability to regulate emotions, and higher aggressiveness during the limited times they are allowed to play, Hanscom writes. "Elementary children need at least three hours of active free play a day to maintain good health and wellness. Currently, they are only getting a fraction."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:46 PM | Permalink

On beautiful women

On beautiful women by David Warren.

"There are two kinds of women to whom I am attracted: bad ones and good ones"

....Over time — and I suppose age helps, though not as much as the young might suppose — I find that I have been developing "a preferential option for good women."...I am writing as a male, incidentally.  Women will have to speak for themselves.  Their attractions to men are beyond my comprehension.
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When it comes to bad women, I find that my attention is focused, almost but not quite involuntarily, on those who just happen to be young and gorgeous.  Whereas, when it comes to good women, my attention is captured by all ages.  And whereas, in the first case, the idea of possession is never far away, in the second it disperses.....And often enough, unconventionally beautiful, as for instance certain old ladies, married or widowed or never married or nuns, who exquisitely embody the feminine principle.  To be in their company is to be somehow washed, of that which makes one most grossly male.
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Women have been not "objectified" in our culture so much as monetized; used as a sales tool.  Every man who walks through our contemporary world is exposed to this gnawing devilry.  Women are demeaned by the "soft" pornography that surrounds us; on the billboards, but also walking the streets.  Actually it is quite hard pornography, by any traditional measure; one might even say it is exhausting.  It enters not only the eyes of men, portals to the soul; but also the eyes and souls of the women.  By increments they become what they behold.

There are women who are beautiful, as paintings.  I could gaze on them all day.  But in the moment lust enters the configuration, that beauty is destroyed.  As anything else in the economy it becomes something to use then discard.   
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:52 PM | Permalink

Aging in Japan

Robots for the Elderly in Japan

 Telenoid

One of the Atlantic's photos of the week is this face of the remote-controlled humanoid Telenoid at a nursing home in Natori, Japan on March 13, 2017.

This is the first case of a Telenoid being installed at a nursing home in the world. The 2.7 kg humanoid enables the operator to communicate with the elderly over long distance, with its camera and microphone capturing the voice and movements of an operator and projecting them through its body to the elderly. The nursing home staff have seen elderly patients, especially those with dementia, becoming more active and positive to communicate when they communicate with the Telenoids. Telenoids cost 1,000,000 JPY (approximately $8,700) and can be rented for 50,000 JPY (about $435) per month.

Just as a Geriatric Crime Wave is sweeping across Japan
Japan's prison system is being driven to budgetary crisis by demographics, a welfare shortfall and a new, pernicious breed of villain: the recidivist retiree. And the silver-haired crooks, say academics, are desperate to be behind bars.

Crime figures show that about 35 per cent of shoplifting offenses are committed by people over 60. Within that age bracket, 40 per cent of repeat offenders have committed the same crime more than six times.  There is good reason, concludes a report, to suspect that the shoplifting crime wave in particular represents an attempt by those convicted to end up in prison — an institution that offers free food, accommodation and healthcare.
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Between 1991 and 2013, the latest year for which the Ministry of Justice publishes figures, the number of elderly inmates in jail for repeating the same offense six times has climbed 460 per cent.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:20 PM | Permalink

March 17, 2017

Happy St Patrick's Day

Some quotes and jokes to enjoy on this St Patrick's Day

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.
William Butler Yeats

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat

I'm Irish. I think about death all the time
Jack Nicholson

We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.
Winston Churchill

If one could only teach the English how to talk, and the Irish how to listen, society here would be quite civilized.
Oscar Wilde

This [The Irish] is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.
Sigmund Freud

The Irish don't know what they want and are prepared to fight to the death to get it.
Sidney Littlewood

The Mouse on the Barroom Floor
Some Guinness was spilled on the barroom floor when the pub was shut for the night.
Out of his hole crept a wee brown mouse and stood in the pale moonlight.
He lapped up the frothy brew from the floor, then back on his haunches he sat.
And all night long you could hear him roar, 'Bring on the goddam cat!'

****

Reilly is walking through a graveyard when he comes across a headstone with the inscription "Here lies a politician and an honest man."  'Faith now,' exclaims Reilly, 'I wonder how they got the two of them in one grave.

****

The Doctor was puzzled 'I'm very sorry Mr O'Flaherty, but I can't diagnose your trouble.  I think it must be drink.'
'Don't worry about it Dr Cullen, I'll come back when you're sober.', said O' Flaherty.

****

Dermot McCann opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the obituary column that he had died. He quickly 'phoned his best friend Reilly.
'Did ye see the paper?' asked Dermot. 'They say I died.'
'Yes, I saw it.' replied Reilly. 'Where are ye callin' from?'

****

Six Irish men were playing poker when one of them played a bad hand and died.  The rest drew straws to see who would tell his wife. One man draws the shortest straw and goes to his friend’s house to tell the wife.
The man says to her, “Your husband lost some money in the poker game and is afraid to come home.”
The wife says, “Tell him to drop dead!”
The man responds, “I’ll go tell him.”

****

An Irishman is struggling to find a parking space.  "Lord," he prayed. "I can't stand this. If you open a space up for me, I swear I'll give up the Guinness and go to mass every Sunday." Suddenly, the clouds part and the sun shines on an empty parking spot. Without hesitation, the Irishman says: "Never mind, I found one!"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:36 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2017

Ambient music in the ICU ' to induce calm and a space to think'

Tripping in the ICU  For those suffering the trauma of intensive care, the soothing swoosh of otherworldly ambient music can be a welcome gift.

The noise of life-support machines and vital-sign monitors is a constant background. Phones ring, bin lids bang, staff call for help and doctors are constantly being paged to the next emergency. The racket frequently exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for safe noise levels......In patients who are heavily sedated and on ventilators, rates of ICU delirium are as high as 80 per cent. ...An intensive-care stay can be a psychological and physical trauma; invaded on all sides, the body feels like it is being murdered....

A recent study showed that a quarter of ICU patients with a particular life-threatening respiratory condition had signs of PTSD six months after discharge...The evidence points to sedation as the culprit....Good reason, then, for reversing the policy of heavy sedation. But, for all the worthy intentions, critically ill patients were now coming to their senses in a suburb of hell. The former patient Taylor noted the horrible irony that her hearing was pretty much the only one of her senses that was preserved.
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Music has begun to emerge as a specifically powerful therapeutic medium. ...A problem is that one person’s easy listening is another’s aural poison. ....

Ambient music. Instead of distinctive rhythms, it gives us shifting periodicities. The melodies of pop command the attention, and we want our ambient performance to be there and yet not there at the same time. In the words of its greatest modern pioneer, Brian Eno, ‘ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.’ This is music aimed simultaneously at both the centre and the periphery of experience. It’s about what you don’t play as much as what you do.

Brian Eno wrote that ambient music ‘is intended to induce calm and a space to think’. It is not music for tapping your foot to. It’s music designed to take you into another mental space....

Rhythmic unpredictability is only one of the things going on. By not commanding the listener’s attention, ambient music frees the mind to wander.  It’s that potential to set minds wandering that lies behind our art project. Behind the chilled-out purveyor of ambient sounds, there’s an inquiring researcher looking for what might just lead to a clinical development. In my part-time academic post, I research inner experience: everyday phenomena such as mind-wandering, and more unusual mental happenings such as hallucinations. Both of these extremes can be encompassed in the experience of ICU patients, whose bodies can appear to be doing not very much at all, but whose minds are often far from restful.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:07 PM | Permalink

Camile Paglia on Men

Camille Paglia Discusses Her War on 'Elitist Garbage' and Contemporary Feminism   Interview in Broadly to discuss her new book, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, and Feminism, collecting her greatest hits about gender, sex, and feminism from 1990 to 2016.....Whether you agree or disagree with Paglia ... she has always understood the country while other experts did not.

 Camille-Paglia

Broadly: Why do you believe men need to be free for women to be free?
Paglia: My primary inspiration since adolescence has been the thrilling decades of the 1920s and 30s, following American women gaining the right to vote in 1920. There were so many major women figures entering the professions—like my idols Amelia Earhart and Katharine Hepburn, who were determined to show that women could achieve at the same level as men. The bold new women of that period did not insult or denigrate men. They admired what men had done and simply demanded the opportunity to show that women could match or surpass it. One of my persistent quarrels with second-wave feminism is how male-bashing became its default mode from the start. Movements often attract fanatics or borderline personalities, and that's exactly what happened....

..... women can never be truly free until they let men too be free—which means that men have every right to determine their own identities, interests, and passions without intrusive surveillance and censorship by women with their own political agenda. For example, if there is an official Women's Center on the Yale University campus (which there is), then there should be a Men's Center too—and Yale men should be free to carry on and carouse there and say whatever the hell they want to each other, without snoops outside the door ready to report them to the totalitarian sexual harassment office.

Broadly: The book argues that construction workers and other working class men's work have gone unnoticed....
Paglia: It is an absolute outrage how so many pampered, affluent, upper-middle-class professional women chronically spout snide anti-male feminist rhetoric, while they remain completely blind to the constant labor and sacrifices going on all around them as working-class men create and maintain the fabulous infrastructure that makes modern life possible in the Western world. Only a tiny number of women want to enter the trades where most of the nitty-gritty physical work is actually going on—plumbing, electricity, construction. Women have played virtually no role in the erection of those magnificent towers in every major city in the world. It's men who operate the cranes or set the foundations or wash windows on the 85th floor. It's men who troop out at 2:00 AM during an ice storm to restore power to neighborhoods where falling trees have brought down live wires. It's men who mix the stinking, toxic cauldrons to spread steaming hot tar on city roofs. Last year in a nearby town, I drove by a huge, chaotic scene where emergency workers in hazmat suits were struggling with a giant pipe break, as raw sewage was pouring into the street. Of course all those workers up to their knees in a torrent of thick brown water were men! I've seen figures indicating that 92 per cent of people killed on the job are men—and it's precisely because men are heroically doing most of the dangerous jobs in modern society. The bourgeois blindness of feminist leaders to low-status working-class labor by men is morally corrupt! Gay men, on the other hand, have always shown their awed admiration of working-class masculinity and fortitude. It's no coincidence that a buff construction worker in a hard hat was one of the iconic personae of the gay disco group, the Village People, during the Studio 54 era!
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:40 PM | Permalink

Miscellany #61: Bananas, umbrellas, Wyatt Earp & John Wayne, Eagle Cam, Oxford comma, Hipster junk food, alcohol & caffeine, goldfish in a wheel chair

Smoking Banana Peels Is the Greatest Drug Hoax of All Time  They called it mellow yellow.

Umbrella Trees

 Umbrella-Trees

The city-state of Singapore is located in a tropical rainforest climate, getting 92 inches of rain every year. But in Singapore’s Little India, on the aptly named Hindoo Road, locals and tourists alike can get protection from the frequent downpours by sitting beneath one of the neighborhood’s unique Umbrella Trees.  Part of art installation created by local artist Marthalia Budiman, the Umbrella Trees have transformed a small public park space into an oasis of color, beauty, and protection from the elements.

Wyatt Earp Hung Out With A Teenage John Wayne

Wyatt Earp was one of those guys who wasn't satisfied sticking to one job for too long -- over the years he was a lawman, buffalo hunter, brothel keeper, miner and boxing referee, among others. But obviously he was best known for being an infinitely badass cowboy dude. Earp took part in the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral -- a 30-second gun battle that has inspired dozens of feature-length films.

Towards the end of his life, Earp settled in California and tried to break into Hollywood. Earp did get to befriend some Hollywood actors -- including a 17-year-old nobody called Marion Morrison. You might know him under his somewhat manlier fake name, John Wayne.

 Teen-Age John Wayne
Marion Morrison later known as John Wayne

While hanging out on movie sets, casually choreographing historical gunfights for directors like John Ford, Earp would share stories from the Wild West with the actors. The future Wayne, then a lowly extra/prop man, soaked them up. He also paid close attention to the way Earp talked and carried himself. ...once he went on to star in westerns of his own -- to the point that, according to his son, whenever Wayne had to play a tough cowboy, he just channeled Wyatt Earp

World watches nesting eagles fight storm to save eggs

Mr. President and The First Lady, a bald eagle pair nesting at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., hunkered down in the snow and cold to save their two eggs, which are expected to hatch later this month...The determined duo’s battle was watched live from around the world thanks to the DC Eagle Cam Project.

 Dc Eagles Protect Eggs

The First Lady covered the eggs with her body as she allowed herself to be covered by snow and ice. Mr. President joined her, partially covering her body with his wings as snow and ice accumulated on him. They continued to keep their bodies close, exchanging warmth and attempting to protect their future eaglets.

A court’s decision in a Maine labor dispute hinged on the absence of an Oxford comma

A US court of appeals determined that certain clauses of Maine’s overtime laws are grammatically ambiguous. Because of that lack of clarity, the five drivers have won their lawsuit against Oakhurst, and are eligible for unpaid overtime...The profoundly nerdy ruling is also a win for anyone who dogmatically defends the serial comma.

Artist Shows How To Repackage Junk Food So That Hipsters Would Buy It

 Slim Jim

How Alcohol and Caffeine Built Civilization

Chelsea Follett, managing editor of HumanProgress.org, a project of the CATO Institute, explained exactly how "alcohol and caffeine created civilization" in a recent USA today column....Consuming alcohol likely gave early humans a survival edge. "Before we could properly purify water or prepare food, the risk of ingesting hazardous microbes was so great that the antiseptic qualities of alcohol made it safer to consumer than non-alcoholic beverages — despite alcohol's own risks," she wrote.

"The domestication of plants [was] driven forward by the desire to have greater quantities of alcohol beverages," archaeologist Patrick McGovern told National Geographic. If alcohol inspired agriculture, caffeine jumpstarted progress.

"The impact of the introduction of coffee into Europe during the seventeenth century was particularly noticeable since the most common beverages of the time, even at breakfast, were weak 'small beer' and wine."  Those who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and stimulated, rather than relaxed and mildly inebriated, and the quality and quantity of their work improved....Western Europe began to emerge from an alcoholic haze that had lasted for centuries."

German Scientists Grow Tomatoes in Urine in Anticipation of Future Space Expeditions

Sick Goldfish Couldn’t Stay Afloat, So 19-year-old Taylor Dean Built Him A Tiny Wheelchair

 Tiny-Goldfish-Wheelchair

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 AM | Permalink

March 15, 2017

A Story of Elephants and Men

In the Absence of Fathers: A Story of Elephants and Men by Fr. Gordon McRae

Some years ago, officials at the Kruger National Park and game reserve in South Africa were faced with a growing elephant problem....The helicopters were up to the task, but, as it turned out, the harness wasn’t. It could handle the juvenile and adult female elephants, but not the huge African bull elephants. A quick solution had to be found, so a decision was made to leave the much larger bulls at Kruger and relocate only some of the female elephants and juvenile males.

Sometime later, however, a strange problem surfaced at South Africa’s other game reserve, Pilanesburg National Park, the younger elephants’ new home....Rangers at Pilanesburg began finding the dead bodies of endangered white rhinoceros...rangers set up hidden cameras throughout the park. The result was shocking. The culprits turned out to be marauding bands of aggressive juvenile male elephants, the very elephants relocated from Kruger National Park a few years earlier. The young males were caught on camera chasing down the rhinos, knocking them over, and stomping and goring them to death with their tusks. The juvenile elephants were terrorizing other animals in the park as well. Such behavior was very rare among elephants. Something had gone terribly wrong.

What had been missing from the relocated herd was the presence of the large dominant bulls that remained at Kruger. In natural circumstances, the adult bulls provide modeling behaviors for younger elephants, keeping them in line....To test the theory, the rangers constructed a bigger and stronger harness, then flew in some of the older bulls left behind at Kruger. Within weeks, the bizarre and violent behavior of the juvenile elephants stopped completely. The older bulls let them know that their behaviors were not elephant-like at all. In a short time, the younger elephants were following the older and more dominant bulls around while learning how to be elephants.
---
In his terrific article, “Of Elephants and Men,” Dr. Wade Horn went on to write of a story very similar to that of the elephants, though it happened not in Africa, but in New York’s Central Park. The story involved young men, not young elephants, but the details were eerily close. Groups of young men were caught on camera sexually harassing and robbing women and victimizing others in the park. Their herd mentality created a sort of frenzy that was both brazen and contagious. In broad daylight, they seemed to compete with each other, even laughing and mugging for the cameras as they assaulted and robbed passersby. It was not, in any sense of the term, the behavior of civilized men.

Appalled by these assaults, citizens demanded a stronger and more aggressive police presence. Dr. Horn asked a more probing question. “Where have all the fathers gone?”...The majority of the young men hanging around committing those crimes in Central Park grew up in homes without fathers present
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Real men protect the vulnerable, not assault them. Growing up having learned that most basic tenet of manhood is the job of fathers, not the police. Dr. Horn cited a quote from a young Daniel Patrick Moynihan written some forty years ago:

“From the wild Irish slums of the 19th Century Eastern Seaboard to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history:  A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken homes, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations for the future – that community asks for and gets chaos.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 PM | Permalink

Feel-good miscellany

McDonald's worker is filmed jumping out of the drive-thru window to save a police officer who fell unconscious while picking up her order

Pedro Viloria jumped through window at restaurant in Doral, Florida. A second member of staff helped out by giving CPR.  The off-duty officer was suffering breathing duties and passed out in her SUV.

 Mcdonalds Worker Saves Life

Viloria told WPLG: 'In that moment, I thought, I'd rather save that woman's life. I see she's like inflating her neck, like trying to breathe, like "ahh", and basically I thought something was going wrong.' He jumped through the window and found she was unconscious, with her children anxious in the back seat.

Woman who formed a giant dreadlock after being bedridden with depression for six months is given a stunning new look by kind hairstylist who wanted to help 'change her life'

Kate Langman, a hairstylist described meeting a woman who had been bedridden for months with depression, leaving her unable to wash or brush her hair.  Over a grueling eight hours, Kate combed out the woman's hair, dyed and cut it, leaving it looking stunning, and leaving the woman feeling like herself again.

 Hairstylist+Depressed Woman

'By the end of this service, I could see the sparkle in her eyes and I could see her cheeks get rosy pink from the excitement of not only being able to run her fingers through her hair again, but she felt herself again,' said Kate. 'I changed someone's life today... and I'll never ever forget it.'...I LOVE MY DAMN CAREER.

He Got a Bad Grade. So, He Got the U.S Constitution Amended.

Gregory Watson went on a mission after getting a C on a paper in government class.  That mission to ratify the
Gregory needed 38 states to approve the amendment -- three-quarters. Nine states had already approved it, most back in the 1790s, so that meant he needed 29 more states for it to pass.  It took him 10 years. More than 200 years after it was written, the 27th Amendment was finally ratified.

“No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect
until an election of representatives shall have intervened.”

How Nuns Shaped Healthcare in the U.S.

1. American nuns have been called the first feminists. Nuns in 19th century America often made decisions in business without ever consulting a man. In a culture and country where most women followed the orders of a father or husband, these women were planning, building and even providing employment without the lead of a man. By 1906, over eight hundred hospitals and ten thousand schools, colleges and universities were founded by Catholic nuns.
2.  Helped start the Mayo Clinic.....
3.  Made the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous possible...
4. Participated and helped to develop the first prepaid health insurance plan in the U.S.....
5. Pioneered “family-centered” and “holistic” care.....

Texas mother  took in the mentally ill homeless man she drove past every day, gave him a job and helped him track down his family

 Texas Woman Homeless Man

Ginger Jones Sprouse took in Victor Hubbard, 32, after driving past him every day to work. He had been living on a street corner for three years looking for his mother.  Mrs Jones Sprouse gave him a job at her cooking school and bought him clothes. She set up a Facebook and GoFundMe page to help care for him which have now gone viral.  Victor is now receiving prescriptions to treat mental illness and has glasses. He has tracked down and spoken to his mother who abandoned him years ago.

It is unlikely he will be able to live independently but she is eager to settle him in to a 'normal life'. 'I just think of him as part of our family. 'Part of me feels very motherly towards him. I think he will probably always need a degree of supervision. 'One of our goals was to get his identification then another is to maybe get a bank account of his own. He is welcome to live with me and my family for as long as he wants to,' she said.

Hubbard said, "I can accomplish anything when I'm around Ginger so anyone around me can witness that and they can get to know me if they like me."

Midwife from Auschwitz: The woman who saved hundreds of newborns

Stanisława Leszczyńska and her husband.. got involved in helping Jews, which soon led to the arrest of the entire family by the Gestapo. ...in a tube of toothpaste she managed to smuggle German papers confirming her occupation. Despite enormous risk, she went to Dr. Mengele... and offered her assistance to women in labor....

 Midwife Auschwitz

As she wrote in a report, “Until May 1943, children born at the camp were cruelly murdered, they were drowned in a keg....Stanisława received the command: treat newborns as dead. She was short in stature, but she could stand up to the doctor. She replied, “No! Children must not be killed!” And she delivered approximately 3,000 babies, not one stillborn. None of the mothers died either. Even the best clinics in the world at that time could not boast of such statistics.
--
The prisoners called Stanisława Leszczyńska “mommy” and “the angel of goodness” which, as Elżbieta Solomon, one of the Auschwitz mothers wrote later in a poem, came to give “notice to the future centuries that there, in the midst of death, misery, and filth, there too, she brought forth Jesus— Mary in the striped uniform.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:54 PM | Permalink

Signs of the Times

Reza Aslan, Cannibal For CNN

"Aslan Ate a Human Brain and CNN Aired It" in the first episode of CNN’s new “Believer”.

Donald Sensing reports on the outrage that followed

....no criticism has come Reza's way for practicing actual cannibalism. No, he is under attack for deriding Hinduism....
Eating human beings? No problem. Pointing out that a small Hindu sect eats human beings? Unacceptable!  We are culturally rotted beyond belief.

 Subway Sign-Of-Times
via Ace

Environmentalist Protest Destroys The Environment At Standing Rock

Garbage, building materials, and months of untreated human waste from thousands of Standing Rock squatters now threatens the very water they claimed to be protecting.,,,The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wrapped up its $1.1 million cleanup of the Dakota Access camps on federal land, hauling off 835 dumpsters of remaining trash and debris at the now-vacant site once occupied by thousands of protesters.

Man spends $50,000 on over 100 procedures to transform into a 'genderless' ALIEN

Vinny Ohh, 22, from Los Angeles in California, has had over 110 procedures to transform into a 'genderless' extra-terrestrial....The part-time model also wears large blackened contact lenses, alien like talons and unusual hair dye colors....The make-up artist believes he's neither male nor female and so his extreme look is a way to mirror how he feels inside.  Now he plans to fork out another $160,000  on surgery to have his genitalia, nipples and bellybutton removed.....He became an LGBT+ activist and feels like his look now represents his beliefs that 'people shouldn't be labelled'.

Judge gives custody of child to 1 dad and 2 moms

Mother and son are becoming father and daughter

 Mother+Son Now Father+Daughter

Time to learn! Eighty percent of Oklahoma City children aged six to 12 don't know how to read a clock because they rely on smartphones and iPads to tell the time

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink

March 14, 2017

Health Roundup: Dizzy spells, CML, artificial retina, cannabis, second-hand smoke and bad news for bald men

From Authority Nutrition 13 Simple and Natural Ways to Lower Your Triglycerides

Cancer Pill Gleevec Keeps Patients Alive and Well for a Decade

The once-a-day pill turned chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML, from a certain death sentence into a manageable disease. Now data shows it's helped 83 percent of patients live 10 years or longer...."It's the first targeted personalized medicine that had ever been used. It was also the most successful," ...Gleevec is targeted to a mutation specific to CML...."It's a 10-year survival of 83 percent, which is extraordinary," Silver said. "It has led to what we call biologic cures." Patients still have leukemia, but it's not affecting their blood cell counts.

Dizzy spells in middle age may be a warning sign of dementia 20 years before symptoms appear

Scientists think sudden drops in blood pressure - often signaled by dizziness when standing up - could cause lasting damage to the brain that raises the risk of dementia. A study of 11,000 middle-aged people found that those who suffered this problem, known as orthostatic hypotension, were 40 per cent more likely to develop dementia later in life.

Study leader Dr Andreea Rawlings, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, said: 'Even though these episodes are fleeting, they may have impacts that are long lasting. 'We found that those people who suffered from orthostatic hypotension in middle age were 40 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not. 'It's a significant finding and we need to better understand just what is happening.'

Scientists Have Created an Artificial Retina Implant That Could Restore Vision to Millions

Scientists have developed a retinal implant that can restore lost vision in rats, and are planning to trial the procedure in humans later this year.  The implant, which converts light into an electrical signal that stimulates retinal neurons, could give hope to millions who experience retinal degeneration – including retinitis pigmentosa – in which photoreceptor cells in the eye begin to break down, leading to blindness.


For the Blind, an Actual-Reality Headset  Not just Star Trek fiction, a new visor from eSight is a lightweight, high-contrast vision system for legally blind people.

Artist Yvonne Felix recalls the first time she saw “Starry Night” with her eSight visor on, it made her cry. “I saw every little stroke. When I saw the color mixtures and how thick the paint was, it was the most overwhelming moment of my life,” she says. “I thought that never in my life would I be able to see something so beautiful.”

Secondhand smoke isn’t as bad as we thought. The relevant question, however, should not be merely whether there are any dangers from secondhand smoke but also how big they are.

If the alarmist claims made by anti-smoking groups were true, we’d be justified in avoiding secondhand smoke as if it were the plague. But we know now that those claims were exaggerated, so it’s worth asking whether contemporary bans have gone too far.... Now that’s not nothing, but other recent research may be even more surprising. “No clear link between passive smoking and lung cancer,” read a 2013 headline in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, hardly a pro-tobacco publication. That was a report on a cohort study tracking 76,000 women that failed to detect a link between the disease and secondhand smoke. The finding comports with existing literature suggesting that the effect is borderline and concentrated on long-term, high levels of exposure.

Cannabis boosts risk of stroke and heart attack, independent of tobacco, new study finds

Data taken from more than 1,000 US hospitals found that people who used the drug had a 26 per cent higher chance of suffering a stroke than those who did not, and a 10 per cent higher chance of having a heart attack....They indicate there is something intrinsic about cannabis which can damage the proper functioning of the human heart.  The research was published Wednesday at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Washington DC.

Bad news for bald men: Hair loss drugs cause erectile dysfunction that lasts for years

Those taking a popular growth stimulant were left impotent for an average of four years after finishing the medication, a study found.  Sufferers were left unable to maintain an erection despite being given Viagra to try and solve their problem.  Experts now say that taking finasteride is a bigger risk factor for the condition than diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking.  The drug, sold as Propecia, lowers prostate specific antigen levels and is used for treating male-pattern hair loss.

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine assessed the effects of the hair growth stimulant. Of the 11,909 men who were studied, 1.4 per cent went on to develop persistent erectile dysfunction. This continued for an average of 1,348 days.  But the researchers found men under the age of 42 who used either drug for seven months had a 4.9-fold higher risk.

This comes after Turkish scientists last week found blood type could influence a man's performance under the sheets. Those with blood types A, B or AB are up to four times more likely to suffer from impotence than men who have blood type O.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:13 PM | Permalink

"If you count the tail as a leg, how many legs does a donkey have?”

In which a 100-year-old man gives advice to a 17-year-old Australian and teaches him the essential truth that objective truth exists.

Rudolfo spoke little to anyone but towards the end of the evening he approached me and said: “Stefano,” (35 years later and he remains the only person to have ever called me that) “Let me give you the same advice my father gave me as I set out on my path as a young man. He himself received the advice from his own father and it will aid you both as a lawyer and as a man.”

Rudolfo continued: “In all things in life be guided by the answer to the old riddle: If you count the tail as a leg, how many legs does a donkey have?” I  answered, “Five.”

The answer of course is not five, but four.

“It will always be four,” he said. “Calling a tail a leg does not make it one. Merely calling something or someone by a name or label does not make it so…things are what they are and the truth is always what it is. Pretending doesn’t change reality. Recognize all things for what they truly are and act according to that truth. “
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:19 PM | Permalink

Miscellany #61: Discrimination, Irish pubs, Hemingway, sky dancing, Coca Cola, Max Weber and Hitler

The Experience of Discrimination in Contemporary America:

Results from a Nationally Representative Sample of Adults
Key result: 5% of black people (compared to 4% of white people) say they “often” face discrimination; 29.8% of black people (compared to 30.3% of white people) say they “never” face discrimination.

Meet the Companies Literally Dropping ‘Irish’ Pubs in Cities Across the World

It all began with a architecture student Mel McNally who with some classmates analyzed the city's pubs....McNally went on to research the whole of Ireland to establish a definitive playbook of pub varieties, which led to the foundation of a design and manufacturing specialist, the Irish Pub Company [IPC], in 1990. The ambition was to design and build complete interiors of pubs, first domestically, but then for foreign markets, assembling huge shipments of flooring, decorative glass, mirrors, ceiling tiles, light fixtures, furniture, signage, and bric-a-brac, as well as the obvious centerpiece: the bar itself. The group now sells bars in six “styles” that can be selected from a company catalog: Shop, Gastro, Victorian, Brewery, Country, and Celtic.

 Irish Pub.

Designed and prefabricated in Ireland: an export not cultural or theoretical, but actual. The assiduous export and installation of these pre-made Irish bars has been going on for more than 30 years, resulting in a global network of establishments that are interrelated but unrelated....More than 500 bars and 27 years later, it continues to ship the makings of the Irish bar as far afield as Russia and Kazakhstan

McNally, the effective grandfather of the movement, is a formalist, and everything he manufactures and sells is Irish-made...Asked about essential components of an Irish bar, McNally offers, “I think everybody recognizes that good stained glass makes a difference.”

Hemingway Was a Spy

In 1940, as he was preparing to go on a trip to China, the writer agreed to work for the NKVD, the Soviet foreign intelligence agency.  Despite numerous contacts with Soviet agents over a 10-year period, though, Hemingway never did anything of substance for them and, ironically, cooperated far more fruitfully with American intelligence.
--
In a letter, he denounced Churchill after his “Iron Curtain” speech as the real threat to world peace, not Stalin, and in another he defended the Soviet purges—the people who “deserved shooting were shot.” He ardently supported Castro and praised the 1959 Cuban Revolution as the fulfillment of his dreams for Spain.

No wonder he was paranoid that the FBI was tapping his phones.  They were.

Will Indoor Skydancing be the next Olympic sport?

A Facebook video of 17 year old Maja Kuczynska has garnered 30 million views in less than a month.  She calls it calls it 'flying'.  She performs in a vertical wind tunnel where the wind speeds can reach 186 miles per hour.  The moves look effortless but staying in control requires enormous strength, flexibility and precision.  YouTube link to the amazing, gravity-defying video.

"'It's such a fast-paced discipline, right now there's no one to teach me....'A couple of different people and I are creating this discipline.'

The Quiet Tragedy Behind The Invention Of Coca-Cola  John Pemberton struggled with addiction for much of his life. Somewhere along the way, this addiction spurred invention.

Before John Pemberton served in the Third Georgia Cavalry Battalion, he made his living as a chemist and a pharmacist. ...at the Battle of Columbus in April 1865, he sustained a saber wound to the chest which nearly killed him. Pemberton survived, but was left to battle a crippling morphine addiction, which caretakers offered to Pemberton as a painkiller to treat his substantial wounds.

The Catholic work ethic.

Max Weber (1864–1920) wrote that Protestantism gave birth to a unique work ethic that spawned capitalism, and thus it is that modernity is a direct result of the Reformation. Even now, Weber’s thesis of the “Protestant work ethic” lives on among sociologists, being recounted in detail in every introductory textbook on the market. ...

The celebrated Fernand Braudel complained that “all historians have opposed this tenuous theory [the Protestant ethic], although they have not managed to be rid of it once and for all. Yet it is clearly false."  Everyone writing on capitalism accepts that it rests upon free markets, secure property rights and free (uncoerced) labour. By this definition, capitalism was a very Catholic invention: it first appeared in the great Catholic monastic estates, way back in the 9th century.

Hitler Was a Socialist

 Hitler Socialist

Adolf Hitler wasn’t “right wing.” If you take nothing else from this post, just remember Hitler was a socialist. With terrible facial hair. There’s an easy way to remember it, too. NAZI stands for National Socialist German Workers‘ Party.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:47 PM | Permalink

March 13, 2017

Tips

The Only Way You'll Ever Put A Band-Aid On Your Fingertip Again

 Bandaid Finger

When Ordinary Chapstick Becomes a Survival Tool.  Lip Balm Survival Hacks

Make a candle
Start fires faster
Use as emergency waterproofing
Stop bleeding in minor cuts and scrapes
Use on high-friction areas between boots/clothing and skin
Use as emergency sunscreen
Turn your flashlight into a makeshift lantern
Lubricate and maintain your gear on the go

Sommelier reveals why you should ALWAYS choose the cheapest wine from the menu at restaurants

If you thought you had been outsmarting restaurants by plumping for the second or third cheapest wine on the list, then think again....restaurants know diners will often opt for one above the cheapest, and will place wines with higher mark-ups in these coveted slots....'You are better served to order the cheapest wine, which diners often neglect out of fear or embarrassment and thus is often a better value."

if you've bought a cheap wine that doesn't taste good, there is a way to instantly improve the taste. Adding a few grains of salt can balance out uneven flavors.

If you're in temporary or rental accommodations and Sick of drafty windows, this is a great tip to stay warm inside.

Lifestyle blogger Jill Nystul reveals her genius hack to insulate your home just bubble wrap, a spray bottle filled with water and scissors...  Water should keep bubble wrap adhered to glass....Larger bubbles make it easier to see through...easily removed....can be reapplied as often as you want.

Ready for a spring clean? VERY clever hacks using a sprinkling of cinnamon, a squirt of shaving foam and a dab of olive oil will get your home gleaming,  Lint roller for lampshades, olive oil to shine stainless steel, rubber gloves to remove pet hair, clean plastic toys in dishwasher

How to get a super-sized memory in 40 days: Scientists say 30 minutes of daily training can DOUBLE your capacity to remember facts

Scans found ordinary members of the public had brains as sharp as the world's greatest memorizers after a simple brain training course using 'memory palaces'.  After 40 days of daily 30-minute training sessions individuals who had typical memory skills at the start and no previous practice more than doubled their capacity.  Brain scans showed that memory training actually alters the brain functions. The learning strategy was loci training (another term for memory palaces) which involves linking lists with places.

Using this strategy, items on a list are associated with a remembered place, and users navigate that remembered place as they recall the list.  If you want to remember a shopping list, for example, you imagine putting all the items in specific locations in a familiar place, such as your living room. By visualizing your living room as you walk around the supermarket, you can then recall what you want to buy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:54 PM | Permalink

Feel-good miscellany

Chef at two-Michelin-star Danish restaurant Noma makes his longtime DISHWASHER a partner in the business

Ali Sonko, a 62-year-old from Gambia, has been the head dishwasher at the famed Copenhagen restaurant Noma since it opened in 2003. And this week, chef René Redzepi rewarded him massively for it: The food genius made him a new partner in the award-winning eatery.  Redzepi also named two other longtime employees, restaurant manager James Spreadbury and service director Lau Richter, as partners.

 Employees Named Partners
Chef René Redzepi (far right)

'This is only the beginning, as we plan to surprise several more of our staff with a piece of the walls that they have chosen to work so hard within. This move is one of the happiest moments of my time at Noma.'  Speaking of the dishwasher in particular, Redzepi said at a staff party: 'Ali is the heart and soul of Noma. I don't think people appreciate what it means to have a person like Ali in the house. He is all smiles, no matter how his 12 children fare.'

In Kentucky, Boy asks mom for haircut ‘like his friend’ so teacher can’t tell them apart

 Black+White Boys Haircuts

Bus Driver Spots A Woman On The Bridge. He Pulls Over, Asks For A Hug And Saves Her Life

Driver Damone Hudson was crossing the Main Street Bridge that spans the Great Miami River in downtown Dayton when he noticed a woman standing on the other side of the rail.  Surveillance footage shows him pulling his bus over to the side of the road before opening the door and urging the woman to step back from the ledge.

He then said, "Ma'am, you look like you're having a bad day, you know. Can I give you a hug?"  When police arrived the woman stood back from the ledge, and Hudson carried on with his route.  "Everyone's going through something. Even if you are, just reach out and try to touch someone, even if it's in a small way," Hudson said.

You Can Hear The Difference Between Hot And Cold Water  What's really interesting is that you already knew this. It's just something you're not aware of consciously.

A pregnant mom spent months carrying around a secret trophy in her purse, waiting for a single moment.

Lin, a pregnant working mother in New York City,...decided to have a unique thank you prepared for the first man to offer his seat...She bought a small, bronze, trophy-like figurine with a plaque that said, “#1 DECENT DUDE. First Man to Offer Subway Seat to Pregnant Woman throughout Two Pregnancies.” Lin cleverly kept it tucked away in her work bag, secretly waiting for its winner.

She found him in Ricky Barksdale....An honored (and surprised) Barksdale explained, “It’s just a common courtesy thing … I have no problem giving up a seat regardless of how tired I am, or where I’m going.”

 Trophy Decent Dude

Brothers Use Website To 'Borrow' Puppy That Helps Grandma With Alzheimer's

Brothers Richard and Martin Dawson look after their grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's five years ago. "Nan, 95, would get very upset whenever she experienced pain or confusion. But the brothers noticed she became lovingly distracted by their baby nephew.  "Since their nephew couldn’t be around all the time, the siblings thought a dog might have a similar positive impact on their grandmother."

That's when Richard discovered a website called BorrowMyDoggy.com, which connects people looking for a bit of puppy affection with local dog owners and their pets. Richard connected with a woman named Ann and her dog Orla, a 9-month-old dachshund puppy. Nan and Orla immediately hit it off. Orla visits with Nan twice a week. But after seeing the affect it has on their grandmother, the brothers plan on setting up more play dates.

 Dog-Woman-Alzheimers

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2017

Two powerful articles on Opiod Addiiction

American Carnage: The New Landscape of Opiod Addiction by Christopher Caldwell

The best way for a society to avoid the dangers of addictive and dangerous drugs is to severely restrict access to them. That is why, in the twentieth century, powerful opiates and opioids (an opioid is a synthetic drug that mimics opium) were largely taboo—confined to patients with serious cancers, and often to end-of-life care. But two decades ago, a combination of libertarian attitudes about drugs and a massive corporate marketing effort combined to instruct millions of vulnerable people about the blessed relief opioids could bring, if only mulish oldsters in the medical profession could get over their hang-ups and be convinced to prescribe them.
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OxyContin was only the most commercially successful of many new opioids. ...The American Pain Foundation, which presented itself as an advocate for patients suffering chronic conditions, was revealed by the Washington Post in 2011 to have received 90 percent of its funding from medical companies.
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The calamity of the 1990s opioid revolution is not so much that it turned real pain patients into junkies—although that did happen. The calamity is that a broad regulatory and cultural shift released a massive quantity of addictive drugs into the public at large. Once widely available, the supply “found” people susceptible to addiction. ...Relaxed taboos and ready supply created a much wider appetite for opioids. Once that happened, heroin turned out to be very competitively priced.
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In state after state, voters have chosen to liberalize drug laws regarding marijuana. If you want an example of mass media–induced groupthink, Google the phrase “We cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem” and count the number of politicians who parrot it. It is true that we cannot arrest our way out of a drug problem. But we cannot medicate and counsel our way out of it, either, and that is what we have been trying to do for almost a decade.
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Calling addiction a disease usefully describes certain measurable aspects of the problem—particularly tolerance and withdrawal...Addiction is different. Addicts resist known cures—even to the point of death
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In 1993, Francis F. Seeburger, a professor of philosophy at the University of Denver, wrote a profound book on the thought processes of addicts called Addiction and Responsibility. We tend to focus on the damage addiction does. A cliché among empathetic therapists, eager to describe addiction as a standard-issue disease, is that “no one ever decides to become an addict.” ....“Addiction itself . . . is tempting; it has many attractive features.” In an empty world, people have a need to need. Addiction supplies it. “Addiction involves the addict. It does not present itself as some externally imposed condition. Instead, it comes toward the addict as the addict’s very self.” Addiction plays on our strengths, not just our failings. It simplifies things. It relieves us of certain responsibilities. It gives life a meaning. It is a “perversely clever copy of that transcendent peace of God.”

The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous thought there was something satanic about addiction. The mightiest sentence in the book of Alcoholics Anonymous is this: “Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baffling, powerful!” The addict is, in his own, life-damaged way, rational. He’s too rational. He is a dedicated person—an oblate of sorts, as Seeburger puts it. He has commitments in another, nether world.
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The deeper problem, however, is at once metaphysical and practical, and we’re going to have a very hard time confronting it. We in the sober world have, for about half a century, been renouncing our allegiance to anything that forbids or commands. Perhaps this is why, as this drug epidemic has spread, our efforts have been so unavailing and we have struggled even to describe it. Addicts, in their own short-circuited, reductive, and destructive way, are armed with a sense of purpose. We aren’t. It is not a coincidence that the claims of political correctness have found their way into the culture of addiction treatment just now. This sometimes appears to be the only grounds for compulsion that the non-addicted part of our culture has left.

Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop In, Die Off: Medicaid Funds the White Death

In a massive and extensively researched article for Commentary, Nicholas Eberstadt shows how Medicaid is funding the gateway drugs — opioid prescription painkillers — which lead people towards deadly heroin and early death.
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Eberstadt’s citation of 2013 Census Bureau data is sobering: 21 percent of all civilian men between 25 and 55 years of age are now Medicaid beneficiaries.....Further, a jaw-dropping 57 percent of non-working white males in the same age bracket are now collecting disability benefits. Some of them are receiving benefits from multiple government programs.
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Princeton economics professors Angus Deaton and Anne Case “calculate that if the death rate among middle-aged whites had continued to decline at the rate it fell between 1979 and 1998, half a million deaths would have been avoided over the years from 1999 through 2013. That, they note, is about the same number of deaths as those caused by AIDS through 2015,”
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Eberstadt also briefly touches on the hollowing out of the civil society resources which normally cope with stress and loss:... the overwhelming majority of the prime-age men in this un-working army generally don’t “do civil society” (charitable work, religious activities, volunteering), or for that matter much in the way of child care or help for others in the home either, despite the abundance of time on their hands. Their routine, instead, typically centers on watching—watching TV, DVDs, Internet, hand-held devices, etc.—and indeed watching for an average of 2,000 hours a year, as if it were a full-time job.

The Left has largely accomplished its grand 50-year mission, destroying the nuclear family, organized religion, and masculine values such as self-reliance, leaving many dependent on government functionaries for sustenance and hope. We aren’t supposed to be competitive anymore, and we aren’t meant to feel even a twinge of shame about long-term dependency on welfare programs or about dropping by the local Medicaid clinic for more pain pills. We have been strictly instructed to place no particular value on traditional marriage — not for its role in healthy child-rearing, or for the vital and different benefits it brings to men and women.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2017

"The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea," Isak Dinesen

 Salt

Can Salted Doorknobs Prevent Superbug Infections?

It was a casual conversation with a former butcher that led Brayden Whitlock, a graduate student at the University of Alberta, to design a pilot study that put salt and copper head to head. Coupon-sized strips of pure, compressed sodium chloride were covered in an MRSA culture, alongside similar strips of antimicrobial copper and stainless steel. Whitlock found that salt killed off the bug 20 to 30 times faster than the copper did, reducing MRSA levels by 85 percent after 20 seconds, and by 94 percent after a minute.
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The salt-covered doorknobs, meanwhile, are already in the market. Doug Olson, the former butcher who first told Whitlock about the idea, has already received a patent for the technology in nine different countries, and registered the trade name Outbreaker. Prototypes have been built by local salt companies—the compression process is identical to how salt licks for livestock are made—and discreetly installed in a handful of settings around Edmonton, Alberta’s capital, over the past few years. Compressed and smooth, with a feel akin to ceramics, Whitlock says most users have no idea that what they’re really grabbing is a fistful of table salt.

From the website for Outbreaker

OUTBREAKER is a patented, self-sanitizing, antimicrobial surface made of compressed sodium chloride (CSC). This solid, durable, versatile surface can be installed on anything frequently touched by hands. The technology is simple, all natural, and completely safe and non-toxic, while remaining very cost effective.

OUTBREAKER  recently had a pilot study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection (October, 2016). In a parallel bacterial elimination study between OUTBREAKER and antimicrobial copper, OUTBREAKER eliminated the drug-resistant superbug MRSA 20-30 times faster.

OUTBREAKER is made by a specialized compression process that turns simple, safe and non-toxic salts into a versatile surface, using over 250 tons of pressure. The resulting product is strong and durable, and can take any shape.  This simple new product is amazingly effective.  Independent laboratory tests have shown that OUTBREAKER kills between 95% and 99.9% of common germs like E. coli and Salmonella in just one minute. It has recently been shown to be extremely effective against drug resistant superbugs like MRSA and VRE.

Salt kills microorganisms in three main ways: Recrystallization, dehydration and denaturation.

“Salt of the Earth”: Is science picking up on what the Church has long believed?

The ancient world used salt much as butchers today do, as a disinfectant, purifier, and preservative. These physical uses became ritualized in many early religions. In the Old Testament, the prophet Elisha uses salt to purify a polluted spring, both materially and spiritually. The ritual use of salt has been part of Catholic tradition since the earliest days.
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Blessed salt is a sacramental. It is used in the blessing of holy water and in the exorcism of evil spirits. (The folk custom of tossing spilled salt over one’s left shoulder to drive away the Devil is a popular superstition derived from the Rite of Exorcism.) A mixture of blessed salt, holy water, and wine is used to reconsecrate an altar that has been desecrated. Placing salt on the tongue of those to be baptized was a frequent part of the catechumenate at the time of St. Augustine, and it is still an optional part of the Rite of Baptism today.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:25 AM | Permalink

March 8, 2017

Miscellany #60

Spotify? More like Trotify! Yes, it IS a horse in headphones ...and he really is listening to music

Scientists have designed a new set of high-tech headphones – that allow horses to listen to music as they trot....But the development does have a serious purpose, as the headphones both improve the animal's focus and block out external noises that could spook more nervous mounts.....Hidden within a bonnet that slips over the horse's head, the headphones come with Bluetooth technology to pick up songs played on the rider's mobile phone.  A headset that clips to the helmet also allows the rider to talk to their mount through the headphones.

 Horse Wearing Headphones

Jimmy Buffett Launching Margaritaville Retirement Homes

According to the website for Latitude Margaritavile, the first of the communities is being planned in Daytona Beach, Florida, and it promises that the party will continue well into the golden years.....The paradise where you can "grow older, but not up" promises homes starting in the low $200s, with furnished models slated to open in early 2018 for residents who have to be 55 or older.

How Bored Bookstore Employees Entertain Themselves at Librairie Mollat, a bookshop in France.  A wonderful series at the link and on Instagram.

 Redhead+Book

 Man+Book  Librairie-Mollat-8

Chinese man shocked to learn that the "nutcracker" he has been using for the last 25 years was actually an old hand grenade.

 Chinese Handgrenade

Only after reading a police safety leaflet about explosives, did he stop using it. He has since handed the grenade over to police who are examining the device to find out whether it is still capable of exploding. It does not have a pin and was likely manufactured back in the 1960s.

Vets Surgically Remove Nearly 1,000 Coins From Sea Turtle’s Stomach

Surgeons have successfully removed nearly 1,000 metal coins from inside “Piggy Bank,” a Thai green sea turtle with a tremendous bellyache.  Tourists searching for good fortune fed the 25-year-old sea turtle 915 coins over the course of her life, chucking the money into the pool where she lives in Sri Racha, Thailand. Seven hours and a 4-inch incision later, veterinary surgeons removed 11 pounds worth of coins from inside Piggy Bank’s belly. Some of the coins — many of which were foreign — had been in Piggy Bank’s stomach for such a long time that they were partially deteriorated.

Inside the Loneliest Five-Star Restaurant in the World

You can eat foie gras at Antarctica's Concordia Station, but your closest neighbor is the International Space Station and you might not see oranges for three months. ...In these isolated conditions, food takes on a special importance for everyone at the base......Luca Ficara, who has been serving as the base's resident chef since November is from Sicily having won the lottery run each year by the Italian National Program for Antarctic Research ... This lottery system has won the station something of a reputation for its food, which received a nod in the Lonely Planet as a place "considered by many to enjoy Antarctica's best cuisine, with fine wines and seven-course lunches on Sundays."

Now THAT'S a long lunch:  An 18ft giraffe is fed from the top floor window of a Kenyan manor

 Giraffe Fed Upper Story Manor

Giraffe Manor, modeled on a Scottish hunting lodge, is a small hotel which is also home to a number of endangered giraffes....As well as swinging by for food, the nosey giants also have a reputation for poking their heads through the hotel doors and even peeking through the windows of guest's bedrooms. Mr Witkowski said: 'The giraffe's are fed specially formulated pellets. As long as you have the pellets they are friendly and will come to you. If you do not have the pellets they have no interest in you'

While setting up his equipment for a night time shoot, a professional photographer didn't know he had his shutter open for 40 seconds that captured this shot of a meteor over Mt Rundle in Banff, Alberta,Canada.

 Incoming Meteor Bamf

Hot story: Miami lawyer’s pants erupt in flames during arson trial in court

A Miami defense lawyer’s pants burst into flames Wednesday afternoon as he began his closing arguments in front of a jury — in an arson case.  Stephen Gutierrez, who was arguing that his client’s car spontaneously combusted and was not intentionally set on fire, had been fiddling in his pocket as he was about to address jurors when smoke began billowing out his right pocket, witnesses told the Miami Herald.

He rushed out of the Miami courtroom, leaving spectators stunned. After jurors were ushered out, Gutierrez returned unharmed, with a singed pocket, and insisted it wasn’t a staged defense demonstration gone wrong, observers said.  Instead, Gutierrez blamed a faulty battery in an e-cigarette,
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

Digital brain disorders and tips for easy stress-relief

5 new brain disorders that were born out of the digital age

1. Nomophobia - the feeling of panic one has upon being separated from one's phone or tablet. In one U.K. survey, 73 percent of respondents felt panic when they misplaced their phone. And for another 14 percent, that panic spiraled into pure desperation.
2. Technoference - It could also be dragging down our relationships. In one 2014 study, more than half of the 143 participants said that tech devices interrupt their leisure time, conversations, and meals with their significant other. The researchers gave these interruptions a name: "technoference." Not surprisingly, higher technoference correlated directly with lower relationship and life satisfaction.
3. The phantom ring - Fauxcellarm, phantom ringing, and ringxiety are new to our lexicon, thanks to the universal presence of our buzzing, pinging smartphones. These terms refer to the perception that one's mobile device is ringing (or, more precisely, vibrating) when, in fact, it is not.
4. Cyberchondria - Hypochondria is not a new disorder, but the internet has taken it to the next level. In the broadest definition, cyberchondria refers to people who research and diagnose their own illnesses online. Sure, we've probably all done that — in fact, one in three American adults say they have used the internet to self-diagnose. But for some people who might already be prone to hypochondria, this can be detrimental.
5. Truman Show Delusion. Do you ever have that spooky feeling that someone's watching you? In the 1998 film The Truman Show, Truman Burbank had that feeling too, only his turned out to be true.---while it isn't directly caused by our digital devices, Truman Show Delusion is a product of our overly connected, reality-TV obsessed, social media–driven lifestyles that nurture our most narcissistic qualities.

The last one, #5, may not be a delusion at all given the latest Wikileaks drop, Vault #7, which show the CIA tapping just about everyone through our phones, smart TVs, and deliberately insecure software.                                                 

New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Easy Rituals That Will Make You Stress-Free

1. Clench your facial muscles and relax them: (If you use Botox, just skip to the next tip.)

2. Take slow, deep breaths: If it gets Navy SEALs through Hell Week, it’ll get you through tax season.

3. Splash your face with cold water: Wakes you up, calms you down and cleans your mug. Now that’s efficiency.

4. Play some music and do a little dance: Add a “neuroscience” playlist to Spotify.

Even easier ways to  kill stress and be happier with almost no effort whatsoever.

Research shows that owning a dog reduces stress. In fact, the effect is so powerful that just watching a video of a cute animal reduces heart rate and blood pressure in under a minute.

Watch nature documentaries to instantly boost your mood

A new study has found even watching small clips of shows such as Planet Earth II boosts people's emotions of awe, contentedness, joy and amusement.  It also can instantly help reduce anxiety, fear and tiredness.

Findings come from the BBC research, in collaboration with University of California, Berkeley.
Reviewing 150 further studies as part of the project, Berkeley's Professor Dacher Keltner found that our connection to nature enhanced our attention, cognitive performance and sense of calm. This made us more social and effective teamworkers and could even improve our physical health.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink

Heath Roundup: Hairspray, coffee, vegetables and Millennial problems

Pregnant women warned against using hairspray

New evidence suggests that chemicals they contain may be linked to an increasingly common birth defect in boys called hypospadias which  disrupt male hormones and interfere with the developed of the male genitalia in the crucial first three months of the pregnancy.
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The study at Amiens University Hospital in France involved comparing the use of hair cosmetics, chemicals and pesticides in 250 women who had given birth to boys with and without hypospadias. No association was found between hypospadias and the use of chemicals such as paint, solvents, gasoline, ink, glue and household products, but the use of hair cosmetic was found to raise the risk by 80 per cent.

How coffee could protect you from dementia: Caffeine helps to boost enzyme that shields you from the disease

Scientists say the drug boosts the power of an enzyme in the brain that protects neurons and fights misfolded proteins.  They found that the enzyme, called NMNAT2, plays two roles in the brain. The first is a protective function to guard neurons from stress and the second is a 'chaperone function' to combat misfolded proteins called tau, which accumulate in the brain as 'plaques' due to aging.  Plaque build-up in the brain is a known precursor to serious neurodegenerative diseases.

The study, conducted by Indiana University Bloomington, screened over 1,280 compounds, including existing drugs, and tested them on mice.  The team identified 24 compounds - and caffeine in particular - to have an increase on the production of NMNAT2 in the brain.  Caffeine had previously been shown to improve memory function in mice with high levels of misfolded tau proteins.

More vegetables, less stress! Study reveals every extra veggie you add to your plate lowers your stress levels by 5%

The study, conducted at the University of Sydney in Australia, looked at 60,000 Australians who were age 45 or older. Researchers measured the participants' fruit and vegetable consumption, lifestyle factors and psychological distress at two time points: 2006-08 and 2010.

The benefits were even more pronounced when it came to women. Women eating three to four daily servings of vegetables had an 18 percent lower risk of stress. But women who ate five to seven servings had a 23 percent lower risk of stress than women who ate one or less servings a day.

Millennial bowel cancer crisis:

Unprecedented numbers of young people are being diagnosed with bowel cancer - due to poor diets and lack of exercise, a study warns.  Millennials - those born between 1980 and 1995 - are four times more likely to develop rectal tumors stemming from the large intestine compared to those born around 1950.

Epidemiologist Dr Rebecca Siegel, of the American Cancer Society, said: 'Trends in young people are a bellwether for the future disease burden. 'Our finding that colorectal (bowel) cancer risk for millennials has escalated back to the level of those born in the late 1800s is very sobering.

Social Justice Syndrome: ‘Rising Tide of Personality Disorders Among Millennials’

A 2016 UK survey found that, since 1990, rates of depression and anxiety among the young have increased by 70%, while the American Counseling Association has reported a “rising tide of personality disorders among millennials.”....In 2014, a survey of 100,000 college students at 53 U.S. campuses by the American College Health Association found that 84% of U.S. students feel unable to cope, while more than half experience overwhelming anxiety.  That such disorders appear to be an acute problem with this generation may be an unintended outcome of the unprecedented experiment conducted in the 1990s and 2000s by progressive parents.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

March 6, 2017

Health Roundup - Food

WALNUTS make men more fertile:

Scientists claim the crunchy snack is essential for boosting sperm quality. In about 40% of cases, the male is the sole or contributing cause of infertility. Eating 2.5 ounces of walnuts a day could improve fertility in males, study claims.  Walnuts reduce lipid peroxidation - a process that damages sperm cells and they are the only tree nut made up of fats that are destroyed by the damage

Eating foods rich in omega-3 can reduce harm caused by air pollution by up to half.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that toxic particles can penetrate through the lungs into other organs, including the brain and testicles.  Poor air quality is a major cause of disease and death – increasing the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. But the study found omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish, soy beans and spinach can be used to prevent and treat the damage caused by polluted air.

Grab a MOCHA! Caffeine combined with cocoa can enhance your brain function

Researchers studied participants who drank coffee and hot chocolate for a year.  They found that while coffee boosts energy levels, hot chocolate relieves anxiety. Combining the two drinks is the best way to improve your attention span


Could fruit and steak cure epilepsy?
Study claims that a low-carb, high-fat diet is the key to controlling seizures as it alters the activity of brain cells.

Super-refractory status epilepticus (SRSE) is the most severe classification of the brain condition, killing 60 per cent of sufferers....  new research [from John Hopkins University] suggests that a ketogenic diet, high in fruit and steak,  could be used in future as a life-saving treatment for patients.  High in fats and low in carbohydrates, the diet alters the activity of brain cells to prevent deadly fits, scientists claim.

Study author Mackenzie Cervenka said: 'We can only state that it appears to work in some patients to halt status epilepticus and reduces the frequency of their seizures... What we can say is that the ketogenic diet is promising for at least a subset of patients... Any safe means we have of getting patients off of anesthesia and out of a coma quickly will be welcome."

9 Reasons You Should Eat Dark Chocolate Every Single Day

1. Dark chocolate just makes you happy.  It contains tryptophan, an amino acid that’s used by the brain to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel happiness.

2. Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content contains a solid amount of soluble fiber. A 100-gram bar of 70-85 percent chocolate has 11 grams of fiber. Soluble fiber helps keep cholesterol down, keeps you feeling fuller longer, and is good for your digestive health.

3. Eating dark chocolate might be good for your brain. That’s right, eating chocolate may keep your brain sharp and help you ward off dementia. A four-decade long study found that people with frequent chocolate consumption preformed better on brain-powered tests.

4. It’s good for your heart, too. Eating dark chocolate may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. One study showed that eating chocolate five or more times a week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57 percent.

5. Dark chocolate makes for happier babies. And who doesn’t want a happy baby? A Finnish study found that mothers who ate more chocolate during pregnancy had happier, less fussy babies. This is great news for pregnant women everywhere.

6. It’s got the flavonoids we all want and need. Flavonoids are a plant-based antioxidant found in cocoa, and are one of the main reasons that dark chocolate is so good for you. These antioxidants may lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and also maintain the health of your blood vessels.

7. Dark chocolate is also good for your skin. Eating it can actually help protect you from sunburn thanks to two antioxidants, phenols and catechins, found in dark chocolate.

8. It’s a natural stress reliever ― Dark chocolate is found to lower the levels of stress hormones, which could very well be part of the reason you crave the stuff when feeling stressed out.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:25 PM | Permalink

Round-up of new technologies in the field of medicine

Computers Turn Medical Sleuths and Identify Skin Cancer, Wall St Journal

When it comes to melanoma, early detection is a matter of life and death. But it takes a trained eye to distinguish a harmless blemish from cancer, and many people around the world lack ready access to a dermatologist...Researchers at Stanford University have found a way to get a computer, using its algorithm, to identify skin cancer as reliably as board-certified dermatologists can. The hope is that, eventually, scientists can get this to happen on a smartphone anywhere in the world.

Google's artificial intelligence can diagnose cancer faster than human doctors

The system is able to scan samples to determine whether or not tissues are cancerous...it's unlikely to replace human pathologists just yet. The software only looks for one thing - cancerous tissue - and is not able to pick up any irregularities that a human doctor could spot.

Scientists Have Stored a Movie, a Computer OS, and an Amazon Gift Card in a Single Speck of DNA
    "The highest-density data-storage device ever created."

Israeli technology revolutionizes heart attack detection with one drop of blood

Israeli technology has changed the face of heart attack detection with a kit so small it fits in the palm of your hand...

A health professional needs only one drop of blood to let a patient know if a heart attack has occurred. If two stripes appear on the kit, the result is positive and the patient must immediately receive additional care. The test is easy, noninvasive and takes less than 15 minutes to perform.

Many people believe they can identify classic heart attack symptoms, which include chest pain, dizziness, nausea, pain traveling particularly to the left arm, wheezing and extreme anxiety similar to a panic attack. In reality, these can be symptoms of heartburn, but until now, in order to find out, a patient would have to wait in an emergency room and undergo at least six hours of testing, including blood tests and an EKG.

On the other hand, less than 50 percent of heart attack victims experience classic symptoms. Many people have atypical symptoms such as shoulder or stomach pain or exhaustion. By the time they  have finished with the classic tests, precious hours will have passed, which can lead to unnecessary heart damage and even heart failure

A blood test for cancer? Simple liquid biopsy could identify where in the body a tumor exists

'Liquid biopsies' are hoped to revolutionize cancer treatment, by identifying people with slow-growing tumors and those most in danger. They work by detecting the DNA released by dying tumor cells. Now, for the first time, US scientists can also pinpoint the part of the body affected. That is because the normal cells killed off by cancer also release DNA into the bloodstream, which has its own unique signature. A team from the University of California San Diego have found the DNA patterns for 10 different types of tissue, including from the liver, lung and kidneys.  Next step is a clinical trial.

Scientists Reverse Sickle Cell Disease for the First Time Using Gene Therapy

While this is just one case study involving a single French teenager, the early signs are encouraging, and the therapy could eventually lead to an effective treatment for the millions of people with this crippling disease worldwide. Sickle-cell disease occurs when one of the proteins making up a type of hemoglobin we use to carry oxygen through our body takes a slightly different form. This small change is enough to make the red blood cells they occupy lose elasticity, deforming them into a curved 'sickle' shape and risking clumps of cells piling up as they struggle to slip through blood vessels.

But by using a virus to insert genes for the correct form of this protein into the bone marrow of a French teenager, researchers have been able to restore the elasticity to the patient's blood cells.  After 15 months of therapy, the patient is off medication, and while it's far too early to say he's been functionally cured, it's a case of 'so far so good' for this pioneering kind of treatment.

In this case scientists removed bone marrow stem cells from the teen's body and added a specially made virus, designed to recode the cells to produce normal hemoglobin again. The cells were then transfused back into the patient. Doctors are reporting that half the patient's red blood cells are now regular and healthy, and he hasn't needed any blood transfusions since three months after his first treatment.

Heart failure Breakthrough: Stem cells trial offers hope to millions.

A method of repairing damaged heart muscles that have been scarred as a result of disease or earlier heart attacks has been called the “biggest breakthrough since transplants”. British scientists have found a way to use stem cells to repair damaged tissue which could help millions living with heart failure. The data, presented at the European Society of Cell and Gene Therapy in Florence, showed an average of 40 per cent reduction in heart damage in those on the treatment.  Next year global trials involving 500 people will begin.

New 'silver bullet' pill powered by your own stomach acid sends data straight to your phone while it works

A 'silver bullet' pill powered by your own stomach acid will send health data from inside your body to your phone.  It is believed the tiny pill could revolutionize medicine by constantly monitoring your health and administering medicine.  The pill powers up when a zinc electrode interacts with stomach acid.  Small sensors continually monitor temperature and heart rate and it administers medicine. The creation was unveiled at the world's biggest science conference in Boston

Scientists at the University of Ottawa have developed a way of growing human cells and tissue on apples
    Video at the link shows how the biohacking was done and the new possibilities it opens.

Bad Hospital Design Is Making Us Sicker  Evidence-based medical care will require evidence-based hospital design.

It’s no secret that hospital-acquired infections are an enormous contributor to illness and death, affecting up to 30 percent of intensive care unit patients. But housing patients together very likely exacerbates the problem. Research suggests that private rooms can reduce the risk of both airborne infections and those transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces. One study reported that transitioning from shared to private rooms decreased bacterial infections by half and reduced how long patients were hospitalized by 10 percent. Other work suggests that the increased cost of single-occupancy rooms is more than offset by the money saved because of fewer infections.  Installing easier-to-clean surfaces, well-positioned sinks and high-quality air filters can further reduce infection rates.

Falls in the hospital are another major problem, leading to serious injuries, longer hospital stays and significant costs. Trying to navigate the unfamiliar space of a hospital room, often while disoriented by pain and medications, makes many patients susceptible to falling. A number of design factors contribute: poorly lit areas, slippery floors, toilets that are too high or too low......And then there’s the problem of noise. The average noise level in hospitals far exceeds guideline-based recommendations, making it hard for patients to sleep. ....when it comes to recovering from illness, the more nature the better. But too often patients and physicians find themselves cooped up in dim rooms and sterile hallways with little access to natural light or views of nature: too much concrete, not enough jungle.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

March 3, 2017

Miscellany #59: Old McDonald's, the color red, snuggie-clad goats, two monks and more

Old McDonald's closes its 12th century medieval branch in Shrewsbury, England.

In a building  hundreds of years old, with parts dating back to the 1100s, customers have enjoyed Big Macs in medieval settings for 34 years.  'This decision has not been taken lightly but unfortunately the building is not suitable to meet our future plans."

 Better Old-Mcdonald'sjpg

Snuggie-clad goats found wandering Idaho neighborhood

 Goats-In-Snuggles

"Have you lost your goats? Or your Snuggies? If so, we found them near Lake Lowell and Midland Blvd.," police said.  Officers managed to track down the owners within about three hours to reunite them with their sensibly dressed goats.

The Bug That Had the World Seeing Red

Once there was a color so valuable that emperors and conquistadors coveted it, and so did kings and cardinals. Artists went wild over it. Pirates ransacked ships for it. Poets from Donne to Dickinson sang its praises. Scientists vied with each other to probe its mysteries. Desperate men even risked their lives to obtain it. This highly prized commodity was the secret to the color of desire—a tiny dried insect that produced the perfect red.

Thousands of years ago, however, Mesoamericans discovered that pinching an insect found on prickly pear cacti yielded a blood-red stain on fingers and fabric. The tiny creature—a parasitic scale insect known as cochineal—was transformed into a precious commodity... The carminic acid in female cochineals could be used to create a dazzling spectrum of reds, from soft rose to gleaming scarlet to deepest burgundy. Though it took as many as 70,000 dried insects to make a pound of dye, they surpassed all other alternatives in potency and versatility.
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When the Spanish conquistadors landed in Mexico, they were struck by the stunning scarlets of the New World. The exotic source of the dye became a sensation back in Europe, where it was deemed the “perfect red.” The Spanish would go on to ship tons of the dried insects back to the Old World and beyond. Their monopoly on the color’s source made it one of their most valuable exports from Mexico, second only to silver.

 Portrait Of Agostina Pallavicini. Getty Museum

Portrait of Agostina Pallavicini. Getty Museum.

This 'perfect red' was preferred to the more common and easily available red ochre, the oldest known naturally occurring pigment in the world, found in the creation of cave art, used in early religious ceremonies, and on ancient pottery.  All of it attributable to Dying Stars and Physics   Portrait of Agostina Pallavicini. Getty Museum.

Red ochre contains hydrated ferric — or iron oxide, a compound of oxygen and iron — which also makes up that orange/red rust you’ll see on some iron and steel fixtures. Because iron and oxygen are both abundant elements found in Earth’s crust and atmosphere, red ochre can be found in large amounts all over the world, which has allowed for the easy creation and low cost of red paint more than any other color.
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The reason that certain heavy elements such as iron are found on Earth can be attributed to the supernovae responsible for the formation of the solar system our fair planet finds itself a part of.  In its infancy, the iron found in the Earth’s crust didn’t react to atmospheric gasses because free oxygen simply wasn’t around to oxidize it into a rusty state.
As plant life emerged, however, oxygen became naturally released into the air, causing the high levels of iron to rust, eventually forming iron oxide. This process resulted in an abundance of the material, which led to the formation of some of the earliest paints recorded — one that remains an affordable option, and can be seen peppered throughout countrysides from coast to coast to this day.

 Barn-Red-Rainbow-Stars-Dying-Iron

The Monk Who Saves Manuscripts From ISIS

Rescuing the world’s most precious antiquities from destruction is a painstaking project—and a Benedictine monk may seem like an unlikely person to lead the charge. But Father Columba Stewart is determined. Soft-spoken, dressed in flowing black robes, this 59-year-old American has spent the past 13 years roaming from the Balkans to the Middle East in an effort to save Christian and Islamic manuscripts threatened by wars, theft, weather—and, lately, the Islamic State.

Old Cement Factory Turned Into Home May Look Great From Outside, But The Interior Is Even Better

Architect Ricardo Bofill found this cement factory in 1973 and quickly realized its possibilities. It took him nearly 45 years to transform it into his home, but the end result looks breathtaking both from the outside and from the inside.

 Cement-Factory-House

The Accountant Who Changed The World

Luca Pacioli was a monk, magician and lover of numbers who discovered double-entry bookkeeping.  In 1494, he wrote a huge math encyclopedia and included an instructional section on double-entry bookkeeping. Thanks to the newly invented printing press, his book was mass produced and became a big hit.

 Portrait Of Luca Pacioli
Portrait of Luca Pacioli Attributed to Jacopo de' Barbari

About the painting. Perhaps no other work so epitomizes the deep Renaissance connection between art and mathematics.  Pacioli (a Franciscan friar, shown in his robes) stands at a table filled with geometrical tools (slate, chalk, compass, dodecahedron model, etc.), illustrating a theorem from Euclid, while examining a beautiful glass rhombicuboctahedron half-filled with water. Every aspect of the picture has been composed meaningfully, and art historians have analyzed it at length, yet the figure at right remains a mystery.

The 10 Best-Selling IKEA Items How many do you own?

'Beware, cows may be frisky': Drivers share the laugh out loud road signs they've spotted around the world

 Remove Dentures

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:29 PM | Permalink

Feel-good miscellany

My recovery from a 'flesh-eating bug' amazed nurses and defied medical explanation. Will the nun who saved my life be canonized? ....Seven weeks after my leaving hospital, the surgeon told me that he was surprised how well I looked and how much progress I had made. Now came the question. “Do you know what happened to me?” I asked. The answer was simple: “No.”  The surgeon reiterated that someone with the condition usually has a life expectancy of less than 48 hours.

What Your Favorite Foods Look Like Before Harvest And Processing.  I am continually astonished at the beauty of the world.

 Fruits+Flowers+Vine


Face transplant recipient hails staggering results of his procedure just EIGHT MONTHS after surgery and 10 years after he nearly blew his head off in failed suicide bid

Andy Sandness is now healing after one of the rarest surgeries in the world - a face transplant. He received the nose, cheeks, mouth, lips, jaw, chin, even the teeth of his donor. ....The exchange came near the end of an extraordinary medical journey that revolved around two young men who tried to kill themselves 10-years apart and 500 miles away. Sandness tried to take his own life before Christmas in 2006 with a gun and instantly regretted his decision.  His new face once belonged to 21-year-old father-to-be, Calen Ross - who killed himself in June of 2016
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The entire medical procedure to transplant the face took the 60-strong team at the Mayo Clinic 56-hours . Dr. Mardini and his team devoted more than 50 Saturdays over 3 ½ years to rehearsing the procedure, using sets of cadaver heads to transplant the face of one to another.
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First allowed to see his new face three weeks after the operation and said it 'far exceeded my expectations'.

Little boy born without a brain can now speak, count, and attend school

Shelly and Rob picked out a baby coffin for Noah, but they also never stopped believing he was anything less than a great gift. They took him home and the entire family surrounded him constantly with love, affection, and 24-7 care. Noah’s brain began to grow. And grow. And grow some more.

Britain's Blitz girl at 100:

Mary Ellis was one of the 'Ata-girls', the select gang of female pilots who flew Britain's fighters during the war. Originally from Oxfordshire, the First Officer had her first flying lesson in 1938 and flew for pleasure until 1941. But when she heard a BBC radio appeal for women pilots to join the auxiliary service she signed up for duty..

 Maryellis+Male Pilots

Forgotten images of female pilot who flew spitfires during the Second World War
were revealed two weeks after she celebrated turning 100.

'She flew 400 Spitfires and 76 different types of aircraft, including heavy bombers during World War Two. 'Mary helped the war effort by delivering much needed aircraft including Wellington Bombers, Mustangs and many more to the aircrews of RAF fighter and bomber command squadrons.' ...'Mary became Europe's first female air commandant and remained as managing director of Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight until 1970.'

Mary turned 100 on 2 February and a surprise party was held in her honor at Sandown Airport, where over sixty guests attended. Mary said at the event: 'The war was a challenge and one had to do something about it. I went on and on until I flew everything. I love the Spitfire – it's my favorite aircraft, it's everyone's favorite, it's the symbol of freedom.'

 Maryellis 100 Bday
As part of her celebrations Mary was handed the controls of
a 275mph twin-seater Spitfire as it swooped over West Sussex.

Trespassing in Christina's World

....My sister Cynthia ventures, “Isn’t it rude to show up on someone’s doorstep without asking?” Dad grins and winks at us in the rearview mirror. “He’ll be flattered.”

We pull up to the farmhouse to find a courtly white-haired man trimming the hedge with a set of clippers. “It’s him!” Dad whispers. He rolls down his window and leans out. “Hello, good sir!” The man seems a little nonplused. “I have a car full of young readers here who’d give anything to meet their favorite author. A word from you, and they’ll remember this moment for the rest of their lives.” What choice does the poor man have? Within a few minutes, the famously reclusive E.B. White is demonstrating to a cluster of little girls in bathing suits that when you crush pine needles between your fingers and hold it to your nose, the smell is as strong as patchouli. And Dad is right — we never will forget it.

 Family-Ebwhite-Blog

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

March 2, 2017

Sounds that make us happy

Sounds that make the nation happy.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 360 million people living with disabling hearing loss worldwide.
Hearing loss is a major public health issue and its impact is set to increase. 'In adulthood hearing loss is associated with greater unemployment, increased risk of poor health, depression and increased risk of other conditions including dementia.'

March 3 is designated World Hearing Day.  To mark the occasion, Cochlear commissioned a poll of 1000 people in the UK to reveal the top 5 happy sounds:
 

1. Children laughing
2. Birds singing
3. Being told 'I love you'
4. Waves crashing
5. Music

Others which missed the top five included the revving of a car engine, walking on gravel and the sound of skis on fresh snow as well as the grind of a coffee machine and rain on a tin roof.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:25 PM | Permalink

What happens after twins marry twins?

Twin sisters who married identical brothers  are now pregnant at the SAME TIME

Identical twin brothers Zholdasbek and Torebek Tolepbergenuly and sisters Asyl and Aiym Binazarova married in a joint ceremony wearing identical outfits.

 Twins Marry Twins

And the similarities don't end there - both brothers are trainee vets and the sisters are each studying to be teachers, and the couples even live together in one house.

The foursome met after Zholdasbek started chatting up Asyl in a shop - and even jokingly asked if she had a sister for his twin. Zholdasbek said: 'I asked if she had a sister, as I was with my brother, and was amazed when she told me that she had a twin. The twins married identical brothers Zholdasbek and Torebek Tolepbergenuly in a joint ceremony wearing matching outfits, and are now both expecting as they each approach their second wedding anniversary.

Since their wedding both of the couples have become parents. Zholdasbek and Aiym have a son, while Torebek and Asyl have a daughter.  The couples are celebrating two years since they first met - and both of the wives are pregnant for the second time.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink