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Sunday, 27 November 2011

drawing straws

From: Smithsonian's Lemelson Center

"[...]Joseph B. Friedman was sitting at his brother's fountain parlor, the Varsity Sweet Shop, in the 1930s, watching his little daughter Judith fuss over a milkshake. She was drinking out of a paper straw, so we can be assured that the milkshake did not taste like grass. But since Stone's paper straw was designed to be straight, little Judith was struggling to drink it up. Friedman had an idea. As the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center explains, he brought a straw to his home, where he liked to tinker with inventions like 'lighted pencils' and other newfangled writing equipment. The straw would be a simple tinker. A screw and some string would do.
     Friedman inserted a screw into the straw toward the top (see image). Then he wrapped dental floss around the paper, tracing grooves made by the inserted screw. Finally, he removed the screw, leaving a accordion-like ridge in the middle of the once-straight straw. Voila! he had created a straw that could bend around its grooves to reach a child's face over the edge of a glass. The modern bendy straw was born. [...]"
— Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Friday, 25 November 2011

fantasia: 2D, 3D, 4D... 36D

From: emovieposter.com

"Female characters are only insatiable, barely-dressed aliens and strippers because someone decided to make them that way. It isn't a fact. It isn't an inviolable reality, especially in a comic book universe that has just been rebooted. In the end, what matters is what you choose to show people and how you show them, not the reasons you make up to justify it. Because this is comics, everybody. You can make up anything.
     Most of all, what I keep coming back to is that superhero comics are nothing if not aspirational. They are full of heroes that inspire us to be better, to think more things are possible, to imagine a world where we can become something amazing. But this is what comics like this tell me about myself, as a lady: They tell me that I can be beautiful and powerful, but only if I wear as few clothes as possible. They tell me that I can have exciting adventures, as long as I have enormous breasts that I constantly contort to display to the people around me. They tell me I can be sexually adventurous and pursue my physical desires, as long as I do it in ways that feel inauthentic and contrived to appeal to men and kind of creep me out. When I look at these images, that is what I hear, and I don't think I even realized how much until this week.
     In many ways, the constant barrage of this type of imagery (and characterization) is not unlike the sh*tty neighborhood I used to live in where every time I walked down the street, random people I didn't know shouted obscene comments about my body and told me they wanted to have sex with me. And you know, maybe a lot of those guys thought they were complimenting me. Maybe they thought I had tried to look pretty that day and they were telling me I had succeeded in that goal. Maybe they thought we were having a frank and sexually liberated exchange of ideas. I'm willing to be really, really generous and believe that's where they were coming from. But in the end, it doesn't matter that they didn't know it was creepy; it doesn't matter that they 'didn't get it,' because every single day I lived there they made me feel like less of a person.
     That is how I feel when I read these comics.
     And I'm tired. I'm so, so tired of hearing those messages from comics because they aren't the dreams or the escapist fantasies or the aspirations that I want to have. They don't make me feel joyful or powerful or excited. They make me feel so goddamn sad that I want to cry, because I have devoted my entire life to comics, and when I read superhero books like these I realize that most of the time, they don't give a sh*t about me.
     I have been doing this for a long time, now. I have lived in the neighborhood of superhero comics for a long time. And frankly, if this is how they think it's ok to treat me when I walk down the street in a place that I thought belonged to me just as much as anyone else who lives here, then I'm not sure I want to live here anymore."
— Laura Hudson, Comic Alliance

"Lately, a lot of anti-gay folks and conservatives have come out saying that Archie Comics is trying to introduce sexuality by introducing Kevin Keller, an openly gay teenager. Their basis for this opinion is that they believe that Archie Comics boasts pure, I suppose 'conservative' values, especially since the characters were used for Christian-based Spire Comics stories. Well, I hate to break it to the conservatives, but Archie Comics has been sexualized for years, unless they don’t think of Betty and Veronica pin-up drawings as 'sexual' (it most certainly is!)
     From the very beginning, Archie Comics has focused on the sexual nature of the girls in Riverdale, specifically Veronica and especially the later addition Cheryl Blossom. In fact, when Cheryl was created in the ’90s, she was considered as a character that pushed the envelope too far and too sexual for children. She was later taken out of the comics and re-introduced in a less sexual manner in order for her to be on the same level as Veronica and Betty." — moniqueblog

Thursday, 24 November 2011

death is the edge of a knife

death is the edge of a knife
that does not blunt
chamfers negative
point of departure.

death is the edge of the day’s end
strobing once
the edgeless

from a distance
obtuseness grows prickly
sharpness is no more than perspective
a mountain ridge from a plane window is ginsu knife-serrated
electron microscoped dust mite mandible a scimitar
a mote

the shortest distance between birth
and death is a pressing
per square inch
tons per square micron
per square angstrom

there is a six inch spider in the Sahara
that numbs the flesh
while you sleep then eats you alive
nose half gone
one cheek

death is the edge of a knife
that does not blunt
the pain
it hones
each life down
to moments
of imminent departure

by Michael Hale (2004)

2-celled zygote sues North American Coal

Chinese coal miner taking a bath (Reuters)
"Four big lessons arise from the frontiers of pediatric neurotoxicology. The first is that the developing brain is more vulnerable than the adult brain, and the timing of exposure can determine whether and how severe the damage might be. PCBs, for example, are linked to memory loss. Specifically, they interfere with recall ability and long-term memory, in part by disrupting the activity of thyroid hormones that, during development, direct neurons to their proper places within the brain. The first cells to arrive help direct the later ones. Thus, for PCBs, the earlier the chemically induced disruption, the more aberrant the final architecture in the memory centers of the brain.
     The second lesson is that neurotoxicants can act in concert with each other. Prenatal exposure to lead contributes to the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as does exposure to tobacco smoke. Both together, however, create a higher risk than either one alone. These findings indicate that neurotoxicants need to be regulated as a group rather than one by one. [...]
     In addition to these chemicals, exposure to air pollution also harms children’s cognitive development. Specifically, it reduces intelligence. Thus, the combustion of fossil fuels not only creates a climate problem, it also renders our children less able to solve it. Polycyclic aromatic hydro carbons (PAHs)—the sooty chemicals released from tailpipes and power plants—are the leading culprit.
     Coal extinguishes intelligence by a second route: through its release of mercury into the atmosphere, which then finds its way into the brain cells of children through the medium of fish. From the earth to the air to the water to the dinner table. And so into blood and neurons."
— Sandra Steingraber, Utne Reader

"Less than two weeks after Mississippi voters overwhelmingly defeated a measure that would give two-celled zygotes the full rights of American citizens, Virginia Republicans are reviving the fight for 'personhood' legislation in their state.
     Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), one of the most outspoken legislators on abortion issues, filed a so-called personhood bill for the upcoming legislative session, which will begin in January. The bill provides that 'unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the commonwealth, subject only to the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States, precedents of the United States Supreme Court, and provisions to the contrary in the statutes of the commonwealth.' [...]"
— Marie Diamond, Think Progress

"[...] in the US, manufacturing firms do not have to pay the costs associated with the pollution. Schapiro, who is also senior correspondent at the Centre for Investigative Reporting, tells me that the fact that environmental regulation is stricter in the European Union than in the US may derive from the US's lack of universal healthcare: 'The economic argument becomes more potent where government … will have to absorb healthcare costs.' Another difference, according to [Mark] Schapiro, [author of Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power], is that the European system fosters prevention (risk avoidance), the US-system favours litigation to obtain compensatory damages."
— Beth Wellington, Guardian

Monday, 21 November 2011

burn baby burn

From: Cheeky Chili

"[May 21, 2000] The recent ruling restricting police use of pepper spray to subdue nonviolent protesters is a positive step toward eradicating a potentially lethal practice, Amnesty International said today.
     Earlier this week the UN Committee against Torture criticized the USA about 'the number of cases of police ill-treatment of civilians....' The misuse of pepper spray by US police was one of a number of concerns raised by Amnesty International in its report to the Committee.
     The San Francisco federal appeals court ruled on 4 May that the use of Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray (also known as 'pepper spray') may in some circumstances constitute an unconstitutionally 'unreasonable use of force.'
     'However, due to the risks associated with pepper spray, its use is questionable in any circumstances,' Amnesty International stressed.
     The ruling does not ban the use of OC spray, but indicates that there are limitations on when it is appropriate for use by law enforcement agents.
      The ruling stemmed from incidents in 1997 in which Humboldt Country law enforcement officials in California swabbed liquid OC directly into the eyes of non-violent anti-logging protesters and sprayed the caustic chemical into the protesters' faces from inches away. Amnesty International at the time condemned the action as 'tantamount to torture.'
     After a federal judge had dismissed a civil rights suit brought by the protesters on the ground that the procedure caused only 'transient pain,' a three-judge panel revived the case. They noted that 'The evidence suggests the protesters suffered excruciating pain' from the use of the pepper spray, and because the protesters posed no danger to anyone at the time, a jury should decide if that amount of force was unreasonable under the circumstances. The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution allows police to use only as much force as is 'reasonable' to make an arrest.
'This ruling should clearly signal to law enforcement officers that it is no longer acceptable to use pepper spray in such a calculated and deliberate way to inflict pain as a way of subduing demonstrators who pose no threat,' Amnesty International said.
     'We now hope that it will influence police practises not only in California, but in the USA as a whole.'"— everything2

From: Galls
Click the above image for a "zoom in"...

"A late-1997 Berkeley Police Review Commission study found OC [oleoresin capsicum] to not only be a 'serious' health risk, but also ineffective at stopping an attack 53%-63% of the time. This study, amidst the larger political climate, led to Berkeley banning it. In May 2000, a pivotal appeals court decision was won by activists sprayed and Q-Tip-swabbed with pepper liquid while protesting the logging of ancient redwood trees. The win gets the activists another jury trial (the first was split 4-4) and holds the top officers personally liable." — nopepperspray.org

Saturday, 19 November 2011

"it's the beginning of the beginning"

From: The Graphics Fairy

"[...] 'And a guy named Hero, who has been central to a lot of facets of the occupation since the beginning, turns to me [Mark Read] and says, 'We need a bat signal. The 99%.'
     I said, I think I can do that. I know just enough about how the technology works that I think I can pull that off. And for the past two weeks, I've worked full time on figuring that out. [...] Opposite the Verizon building, there is a bunch of city housing. Subsidized, rent-controlled. There's a lack of services, lights are out in the hallways, the housing feels like jails, like prisons. I walked around, and put up signs in there offering money to rent out an apartment for a few hours. I didn't say much more. I received surprisingly few calls, and most of them seemed not quite fully 'there.' But then I got a call from a person who sounded pretty sane. Her name was Denise Vega. She lived on the 16th floor. Single, working mom, mother of three.
     I spoke with her on the phone, and a few days later went over and met her. I told her what I wanted to do, and she was enthused. The more I described, the more excited she got. Her parting words were, 'let's do this.'
     She wouldn't take my money. That was the day of the eviction of Zuccotti, the same day. And she'd been listening to the news all day, she saw everything that had happened.
     'I can't charge you money, this is for the people,' she said. She was born in the projects. She opened up her home to us. She was in there tonight with her 3 daughters, 2 sisters. The NYPD started snooping around down on the ground while the projections were up, it was clear where we were projecting from, and inside it was festive.
     'If they want to come up they're gonna need a warrant!,' her family was saying. 'If they ask us, well, we don't know what they are talking about!' They were really brave and cool." — Xeni Jardin, bOING bOING

Friday, 18 November 2011

iraq's future — then and now

From: Mad Kanuck - The Malwiya Minaret (852 AD) 

Here's a respectful, though sadly ironic documentary about Iraq from British Pathe (circa 1950).
AGELESS IRAQ reel 2 - British Pathe

And a recent article in The New York Times...

"SOKUR, Iraq — The name of this dusty little village means falcon in Arabic, a reference to its history as a residential community for workers at a nearby airport. But most people in Iraq call it Traitor Town.
'It’s not fair, but it’s true,' one market vendor here said about the nickname, pointing down the street to the walls of a now-empty American base just beyond.
     Years ago, the residents of this town formed an alliance with the Americans who had moved into the airport and renamed it Speicher Base.
     Nearly every young man in the town worked at the base, making this place an illustrative, if extreme, example of the unfortunate turn of fate for Iraqis who took jobs with the United States military during the nearly nine-year war, and who are now being left behind. [...]
     Amir Abu Ali sidled into the town cafe around noon on a recent day, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He is unemployed after working his entire adult life at Speicher Base, starting in 2003 as a 16-year-old, parlaying odd jobs for contractors into work as an interpreter, once he learned English.
     Mr. Abu Ali has a note, signed by an American lieutenant, that says, 'This letter of recommendation is testament to his personal character and selfless services to our men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces.' The note adds that he 'provided information freely to my soldiers about current situations.'
     Mr. Abu Ali said of the letter, 'When I want to die I’ll show this to a business in Iraq while applying for a job.' " — Andrew E. Kamer, The New York Times

Thursday, 17 November 2011

mind the gap

From: Laputan Logic

"A cognitive bias is a pattern of poor judgment, often triggered by a particular situation. Identifying 'poor judgment,' or more precisely, a 'deviation in judgment,' requires a standard for comparison, i.e. 'good judgment.' In scientific investigations of cognitive bias, the source of 'good judgment' is that of people outside the situation hypothesized to cause the poor judgment, or, if possible, a set of independently verifiable facts. The existence of most of the particular cognitive biases listed below has been verified empirically in psychology experiments. [...]

Anchoring – the common human tendency to rely too heavily, or 'anchor, on one trait or piece of information when making decisions.
Attentional Bias – implicit cognitive bias defined as the tendency of emotionally dominant stimuli in one's environment to preferentially draw and hold attention.
Backfire effect - Evidence disconfirming our beliefs only strengthens them.
Bandwagon effect – the tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink and herd behavior.
Bias blind spot – the tendency to see oneself as less biased than other people.
Choice-supportive bias – the tendency to remember one's choices as better than they actually were.
Confirmation bias – the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions.
Congruence bias – the tendency to test hypotheses exclusively through direct testing, in contrast to tests of possible alternative hypotheses.
Contrast effect – the enhancement or diminishing of a weight or other measurement when compared with a recently observed contrasting object.
Denomination effect – the tendency to spend more money when it is denominated in small amounts (e.g. coins) rather than large amounts (e.g. bills).
Distinction bias – the tendency to view two options as more dissimilar when evaluating them simultaneously than when evaluating them separately.
Empathy gap - the tendency to underestimate the influence or strength of feelings, in either oneself or others.
Endowment effect – 'the fact that people often demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it.'
Experimenter's or Expectation bias – the tendency for experimenters to believe, certify, and publish data that agree with their expectations for the outcome of an experiment, and to disbelieve, discard, or downgrade the corresponding weightings for data that appear to conflict with those expectations.
Focusing effect – the tendency to place too much importance on one aspect of an event; causes error in accurately predicting the utility of a future outcome.
Framing effect – drawing different conclusions from the same information, depending on how that information is presented. [...]"

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” — Galileo Galilei

Photo: Michael Hale

"An episode of the BBC's Frozen Planet documentary series that looks at climate change has been scrapped in the U.S., where many are hostile to the idea of global warming. British viewers will see all seven episodes of the multi-million-pound nature series throughout the Autumn. But U.S. audiences will not be shown the last episode, which looks at the threat posed by man to the natural world.
     It is feared a show that preaches global warming could upset viewers in the U.S., where around half of people do not believe in climate change. The series of six episodes has been sold to 30 countries, including China, one of the world's biggest polluters. World TV networks have the option to buy a seventh 'companion' episode, along with behind-the-scenes footage. Ten of the countries have chosen not to use the final episode on climate change
     In the U.S., Frozen Planet is being aired by Discovery. They were involved in the joint-production of the series. Yet they are still refusing to accommodate Frozen Planet in its entirety."
Daily Mail

Monday, 14 November 2011

"There's a slit in your box for a reason. You could lift the lid to put your requests or prayers inside, but then you'd see the other pieces of paper. [...]"

From: Squidoo

"The researchers developed a program that switches votes from one candidate to another. The program, which took two days to write and is only 122 lines of code, was specifically designed to obscure the aberrant behavior when it detects that voting machine officials are running diagnostic software to test the machine. The way that the hacked firmware manipulates the vote tallying mechanism also ensures that the internal electronic audit trails generated by the machine will be consistent with the doctored vote counts. This means that the hack is virtually undetectable. The researchers burned the hacked firmware on a ROM chip which they were then able to install in the voting machine.
     They were able to gain physical access by using little more than a screwdriver. The machines are protected by locks and supposedly tamper-proof straps, but the researchers found that these were easy to bypass without detection. Lead researcher Andrew Appel was able to pick the lock in only 13 seconds using a cheap set of $40 lock-picking tools. He had no previous experience with lock-picking apart from a bit of basic training from a grad student who was familiar with the art.
     The researchers also found that the seal was so flexible that they could remove the circuit-board cover without having to break it. Further, they cite a study conducted by Dr. Roger Johnston of the Los Alamos National Laboratory which reveals that the vast majority of plastic anti-tamper seals can be trivially circumvented with cheap low-tech materials."—Ryan Paul, ars technica

Title of post from: eHow

i'll do it till i'm blind trust me...

From: CBS News via bOINGbOING

"Republicans talk about job creation, about preserving family farms and defending small businesses, and reforming Medicare and Social Security. But almost without exception, every proposal put forth by GOP lawmakers and presidential candidates is intended to preserve or expand tax privileges for the wealthiest Americans. And most of their plans, which are presented as common-sense measures that will aid all Americans, would actually result in higher taxes for middle-class taxpayers and the poor. With 14 million Americans out of work, and with one in seven families turning to food stamps simply to feed their children, Republicans have responded to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression by slashing inheritance taxes, extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and endorsing a tax amnesty for big corporations that have hidden billions in profits in offshore tax havens. They also wrecked the nation's credit rating by rejecting a debt-ceiling deal that would have slashed future deficits by $4 trillion – simply because one-quarter of the money would have come from closing tax loopholes on the rich."
— Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

Sunday, 13 November 2011

i am you and you are me and we are all together

From: Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)

"Some years ago the British Journal of Psychiatry reported the case of a man who believed he had an extra head. It was an objectionable, hectoring presence that plagued him with abuse until, one day, he blew it away with a revolver. Unfortunately, the gun wasn’t seeing double. The face at the end of the barrel was his own.
     [...] His theory was that part of his brain had become functionally detached from the rest and was now semi-autonomous, issuing statements and streams of thought that sometimes mingled with the main flow, and sometimes just bubbled along in parallel. 'I’m neuronally possessed,' he said. It was a creepy thought.
     One body one brain, one brain one mind, one mind one self. That’s the convention. It is disturbing when nature and medical science challenge the prevailing view. I thought of Ron when I heard about Ladan and Laleh Bijani, the Iranian conjoined twins, and the ill-fated surgical efforts to separate them.
     The pictures were riveting. I saw two smiling heads in a single hood, tilted together as if posing affectionately for a photograph; I imagined the shared cranial cavity stuffed with misshapen brain. The images triggered an uncomfortable oscillation in the circuits of my own brain: one person, or two? It was my problem, not theirs. In their minds they were clearly differentiated. Extrovert Ladan the aspiring lawyer; soft-spoken Laleh, the would-be journalist. But then they were joined only at the skull. Their brains, though tightly packed and sharing certain vascular features, were anatomically distinct. For other conjoined twins the picture is less clear. There are rare cases in which areas of brain are fused. One report describes a pair with a single cerebrum and two brainstems converging at the midbrain: in effect, a single brain regulating the behaviour of two partially differentiated bodies. Then there are the extremely rare cases of 'dicephalic parapagus' (one trunk, two heads) and 'diprosopic parapagus' (one trunk, one head, two faces)."— Paul Broks, Prospect Magazine

Thursday, 10 November 2011

pork futures

Pig's Heart (from: Wikipedia)

"One of McDonald’s most divisive products, the McRib, made its return last week. For three decades, the sandwich has come in and out of existence, popping up in certain regional markets for short promotions, then retreating underground to its porky lair—only to be revived once again for reasons never made entirely clear. Each time it rolls out nationwide, people must again consider this strange and elusive product, whose unique form sets it deep in the Uncanny Valley—and exactly why its existence is so fleeting.[...]
There is no skilled labor involved anywhere along the McRib’s Dickensian journey from hog to tray, and certainly no regional variety, except for the binary sort—Yes, the McRib is available/No, it is not [...]. 
     The McRib was introduced in 1982-1981 according to some sources—and was created by McDonald’s former executive chef Rene Arend, the same man who invented the Chicken McNugget. Reconstituted, vaguely anatomically-shaped meat was something of a specialty for Arend, it seems. And though the sandwich is made of pork shoulder and/or reconstituted pork offal slurry, it is pressed into patties that only sort of resemble a seven-year-old’s rendering of what he had at Tony Roma’s with his granny last weekend. [...]
     The theory that the McRib’s elusiveness is a direct result of the vagaries of the cash price for hog meat in the States is simple: in this thinking, the product is only introduced when pork prices are low enough to ensure McDonald’s can turn a profit on the product. The theory is especially convincing given the McRib's status as the only non-breakfast fast food pork item: why wouldn't there be a pork sandwich in every chain, if it were profitable?" — Willy Staley, The Awl

"Bad news for fans of the infamous McRib: The Humane Society filed a legal complaint against Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, which supplies the pork for McDonald's sandwich. In an undercover operation from 2010, the animal rights group says it uncovered a number of disturbing farming practices, including the use of tightly confining gestation crates that cause sows to suffer 'from open pressure sores and other ulcers and wounds,' with nary a veterinarian in sight. Will these gross allegations sully the reputation of the barbecue-sauce-slathered sandwich?"— The Week

"[...] On Wednesday, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed the SEC complaint against Smithfield Farms in Virginia, which is one of the biggest suppliers of pork to McDonald's.
     The complaint, obtained by the International Business Times, states, among other things, that Smithfield makes false claims in a video series posted on its website this week, entitled 'Taking the Mystery out of Pork Production.' The HSUS alleges that Smithfield engages in cruel treatment of its animals, such as its pigs confinement in gestation crates and the castration of animals without painkillers."— LoGiurato, International Business Times

More about pork processing here...

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

birds do it

Photo: Michael Hale

"A duck pond in the breeding season is like a singles bar on steroids — rife with sexual conflict. Males and females pair off, but male ducks also force sex on females that are not their mates, sometimes injuring or even killing them.
     A few years ago, one of us [...] discovered that these extreme sexual behaviors have sparked an evolutionary arms race between male and female ducks – a race that has changed the shape of their reproductive organs. Females evolved twisty, complicated oviducts that make it difficult for males to put sperm near their eggs. 
Males countered by evolving long and twisty penises that rapidly inflate inside the oviduct. The bends and blind alleys in the oviduct seem to be effective at keeping out sperm from unwanted males." — RocketHub

i'm not me—who are you?

TreeMessina, Italy (photo: Michael Hale)

"[...] During the treatment period in the unit, it was observed that our patient had symptoms of Capgras, Cotard and Fregoli Syndromes. The main clinical characteristics of the Capgras syndrome is a delusional belief that familiar persons are replaced by strangers (2).The patient refers to some small, misinterpreted physical and behavioral differences in her mind to differentiate the familiar persons from strangers (3). When patients are questioned about their delusional ideas, they find them unbelievable and weird, but these delusional thoughts continue (2). The most dominant delusional thought in our case was that strangers had taken the place of her parents. She maintained that her visitors (real parents) looked the same as her parents, but their behavior and way of looking were different and she insisted on seeing her real parents.
     The Cotard syndrome is characterized by delusional thoughts of denying one's own existence or particular parts of his/her body (5, 9). In the literature, 89% of the cases had depressive symptoms, 69% had nihilistic delusions about their existence, 65% had anxiety symptoms, and 63% had feelings of guilt (5). Our patient said that she had died and didn't exist. Meanwhile, she thought this was all her fault and kept apologizing. She was suffering from significant anxiety regarding her delusional experiences and her mother's state of health.
     In the Fregoli syndrome, patients have delusional beliefs that they know quite unfamiliar persons and places very well. They can perceive the hospital room as their home, or a stranger as their relative (4). Our case believed that some patients in the unit were her parents and some of the staff were her relatives."

Sunday, 6 November 2011

hot box

"Enzo Montagna pulled his Fiat station wagon into Voltri Terminal Europa, a sprawling port on the western edge of Genoa, on Italy’s Ligurian coast, and flashed his ID at the guard at the terminal’s gate. As he did every time he came to the port, Montagna hooked a left and parked in a small lot near the low-slung customs office.
     In Italy, all cargo containers carrying scrap metal get checked for radiation, by hand, before they’re allowed off the docks. At Voltri, this job falls to Montagna, a 49-year-old independent consultant certified as an expert in radiation detection by the Italian government. By the time he arrived that morning, longshoremen had gathered eleven 20-foot-long, 8-foot-wide containers from across the terminal, relying on manifests to determine which ones needed to be scanned. The boxes were lined up in two neat rows near the terminal’s entrance.
     Montagna, dressed in a polo shirt, jeans, and an orange safety vest, grabbed his radiation monitor — a tan Ludlum Model 3 about the size of a toaster. He plugged in a heavy sensor wand and set the device on the ground 20 yards away from the containers. The Model 3 emits a high-pitched beep every time it detects a radioactive particle; Montagna turned it on, and the meter’s needle swung hard to the right, burying itself past the maximum reading of 500,000 counts per minute. Instead of its usual staccato chirps, the machine was whining continuously and frantically." — Andrew Curry, Wired

Friday, 4 November 2011

family trees and shrubs

Seahorses mating (from: The Dragon Fortress)

"It’s weird to think that tens of thousands of years ago, humans were mating with different species—but they were. That’s what DNA analyses tell us. When the Neanderthal genome was sequenced in 2010, it showed that as much as 1 to 4 percent of the DNA of non-Africans might have been inherited from Neanderthals. (Given that no African populations are known to have Neanderthal DNA, the matings must have occurred as modern humans moved into Europe and Asia). Scientists also announced last year that our ancestors had mated with another extinct species, and this week, more evidence is showing how widespread that interbreeding was. [...]
     The idea that our ancestors mated with other species may not be too shocking. Species today will mate with other closely related species if they come across each other in nature (or captivity). This occurs among olive baboons and hamadryas baboons that have overlapping ranges in Ethiopia. The idea probably seems surprising because it’s hard to imagine we once shared the planet with beings so similar to us. What was it like to meet other human-like individuals who weren’t quite human?"

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

twenty-five years ago...

I can't believe this poster is that old.

Read more about Freedom to Read Week here...
See more Freedom to Read posters here...
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