Month: February 2019

Michael Cohen’s Credibility Has Never Been More Certain

Cohen Credible 1127534943

’Utterly broken but oddly confident, Cohen gave answers both crisp and precise. He often corrected basic facts from his congressional questioners and clarified specifically both answers and questions. He laid out reasons for seeking redemption that seemed relatable and understandable. In the process, he gave the most sensible narrative to date of Donald Trump’s unsavory journey to the White House.…’

Via WIRED

The Cancer Personality Scandal

ImagesThe Journal of Health Psychology has just published an extraordinary pair of papers that call for a new inquiry into a 30-year old case of probable scientific fraud.

According to Anthony J. Pelosi, author of the main paper, the case was “one of the worst scientific scandals of all time” and yet has never been formally investigated. The journal’s editor, David F. Marks, agrees and, in an editorial, also calls for the retraction or correction of up to 61 papers.

The scandal in question is one I had never heard of before, but the facts are jaw-dropping. Beginning in 1980, a Dr Roland Grossarth-Maticek reported that he had discovered a cancer-prone ’emotionally repressed’ personality. Someone with this personality type was, he claimed, at very high risk of later developing cancer. A second personality type predicted ‘internal diseases’, such as stroke and hypertension. Even more remarkably, Grossarth-Maticek said, a brief course of psychotherapy was enough to virtually eliminate the excess risks.

Despite the fact that Grossarth-Maticek was claiming to have found a way to prevent most cancers, his work was largely ignored. Then, at the end of the 1980s, he started a collaboration with Prof. Hans Eysenck, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London (now part of King’s College London).

Eysenck was an eminent and extremely influential psychologist in Britain, perhaps the most prominent of his era, so the papers that Eysenck and Grossarth-Maticek published together around 1990 were widely read. Eysenck had no role in the data collection of any of these studies, but his name was an endorsement of their credibility.…’

Via Neuroskeptic

A Different Kind of Theory of Everything

ImagesAn extraordinary assertion first observed by Richard Feynman — the correct laws of physics are expressible in a multiplicity of ways. This doesn’t work if the laws are misstated. This “Rashomon effect… raises metaphysical questions about the meaning of physics and the nature of reality.”

Via 3 Quarks Daily

Doctor prescribed the meaning of life

Unknown’Not having a meaningful life can be dreadful, and psychologist Viktor Frankl thought it was the root cause of many neuroses. His ideas became Logotherapy, which focuses on the need for a meaningful life and has shown success in many areas. Many studies agree that leading a meaningful life has tangible benefits and lacking meaning can lead to problems.…’

Via Big Think

El Chapo Trial: The 11 Biggest Revelations From the Case


‘After a lengthy 11-week trial, a jury on Tuesday convicted Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug kingpin known as El Chapo. Mr. Guzmán, 61, faced 10 charges, including leading a criminal enterprise and the importation and sales of large amounts of narcotics into the United States. He now will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

The trial allowed prosecutors to extensively detail the inner workings of Mr. Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel, providing unparalleled insight into international drug trafficking. Here are 11 of the most important takeaways, in no particular order…’

Via New York Times

America’s Professional Elite: Wealthy, Successful and Miserable

‘“I feel like I’m wasting my life,” he told me. “When I die, is anyone going to care that I earned an extra percentage point of return? My work feels totally meaningless.” He recognized the incredible privilege of his pay and status, but his anguish seemed genuine. “If you spend 12 hours a day doing work you hate, at some point it doesn’t matter what your paycheck says,” he told me. There’s no magic salary at which a bad job becomes good. …’

Via New York Times

We’re Just 140 Years Away from the Climate That Caused a Planet-Wide Extinction

Unknown’New findings released on Wednesday show that at current emissions rates, we’re just five generations away from creating an atmosphere the likes of which hasn’t been seen in 56 million years. The last time carbon dioxide levels were as high as we’re headed for, it helped create one of the greatest die offs in recent Earth history.…’

Via Earther

Zebra’s stripes are a no fly zone for flies

File 20190219 43264 1g32h5i’Zebras are famous for their contrasting black and white stripes – but until very recently no one really knew why they sport their unusual striped pattern. It’s a question that’s been discussed as far back as 150 years ago by great Victorian biologists like Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.

Since then many ideas have been put on the table but only in the last few years have there been serious attempts to test them. These ideas fall into four main categories: Zebras are striped to evade capture by predators, zebras are striped for social reasons, zebras are striped to keep cool, or they have stripes to avoid attack by biting flies.

Only the last one stands up to scrutiny. And our latest research helps fill in more of the details on why.…’

Via The Conversation

What Happens When Sister Cities Break Up?

Atlas Obscura reports on Osaka’s decision to ‘break up’ with San Francisco after the latter put up a statue honoring “comfort women,” who were enslaved in Japanese brothels during World War II. The incident is the occasion for a deeper examination of the fascinating and complicated history of the twinning phenomenon between cities.

How the Next President Could Declare a National Emergency Over Climate Change

Images’On Friday, President Trump tossed precedent out the window and declared a national emergency to pay for an unneeded border wall he previously promised Mexico would pay for.

His declaration isn’t just setting up a massive court battle. It also opens the door to imagining how a Democratic president could wield emergency powers to tackle climate change, something Republicans are already worrying about and Democrats are already embracing as a path forward given the years of Republican filibustering, inaction, and denial.…’

Via Lifehacker

House Opens Inquiry Into Proposed U.S. Nuclear Venture in Saudi Arabia

Middle East venture is treasonous:

Unknown

In a bombshell revelation, the The New York Times reports that House sources have revealed a Trump plan to open nuclear power plants across Saudi Arabia. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is reportedly strongly involved in the plan. Trump apparently began thinking about this scheme right after his inauguration and, undissuaded by concerns about conflicts of interest and national security constraints, is still considering the plan. The export of nuclear technology could violate the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954, and the plan has been opposed by Trump advisers including the chief of the National Security Council. Usually, Congress needs to approve the foreign export of American technologies but the Trump administration reportedly ignored warnings about such constraints. The owners of Westinghouse Electric, a nuclear plant manufacturer, bailed out the family of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner by investing in a property of theirs that was heavily in debt. All of this raises questions about Kushner’s impending Middle East trip.

Trump’s ‘SNL’ attack crosses the line (Opinion)

’Could Trump be laying the ground work to declare another national emergency to silence SNL?!

…My hope is that members of the media who interview Republican members of Congress in the next few days ask them point blank whether they would support Trump’s “retribution” and potential investigations into how SNL and other comedy shows create their shows. It is important Republicans make it explicitly clear that Trump’s war on freedom of expression is wrong…’

Via CNN

How I Brought My Nose Back to Life

Unknown’When you lose your sense of smell, everything from coffee to sex is just not as much fun. After a year of suffering, a rigorous regimen of smell training brought it back.…’

Via Narratively

Breakthrough in Developing Blood Test for Pain – Neuroscience News

Pain blood test public neurosicencenewsIndiana University School of Medicine researchers:

’“We have developed a prototype for a blood test that can objectively tell doctors if the patient is in pain, and how severe that pain is. It’s very important to have an objective measure of pain, as pain is a subjective sensation. Until now we have had to rely on patients self-reporting or the clinical impression the doctor has. When we started this work it was a farfetched idea. But the idea was to find a way to treat and prescribe things more appropriately to people who are in pain.”…’

Via Neuroscience News

There’s a serious philosophical argument supporting the man suing his parents for giving birth to him

Babies 1
’A man is suing his parents for giving birth to him without his consent. That might sound ridiculous, but he has a point. The plaintiff behind the lawsuit, 27-year-old Raphael Samuel, believes in “anti-natalism,” namely the philosophical theory that parents do not have moral standing to bring an unwitting child into the world. And there are some seriously legitimate philosophers who advocate for this argument.…’

Via 3 Quarks Daily

What Language Do People Speak in the Balkans, Anyway?

Dan Nosowitz writes:

‘IMAGINE A SITUATION IN WHICH an American defendant hires a British lawyer for a trial in an American courtroom. The accused then demands that a British interpreter be found. British-American legal interpreters are hard to find, so the demand could delay the case for years, possibly even long enough that the case has to be simply thrown out due to the statute of limitations—despite the fact that, obviously, a British lawyer is perfectly capable of being understood in an American courtroom.

This actually happens on a regular basis in the countries that once made up Yugoslavia. The language situation in the Balkans is so unusual that there is no consensus, either among native speakers or linguistic researchers, about what to even call the … thing people speak in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Outside the region, it’s usually referred to as “Serbo-Croatian,” but neither linguists nor the people who actually speak it like to call it that. …’

Source: Atlas Obscura

Starved Polar Bears Invade Settlements, No Longer Fearing Humans

Ji8xigwhof8erizahnmyRussian authorities have declared a state of emergency in the remote, sparsely populated Novaya Zemlya islands in the Arctic Ocean, the BBC reported this weekend, after “dozens” of polar bears whose food sources are limited due to climate change started rooting through homes and other buildings near the settlement of Belushya Guba looking for something to eat.

According to the BBC, officials said that the bears no longer fear either police patrols or the signals used to keep them away from humans, and that they have even crossed onto the grounds of the local air defense garrison. Though the animals are considered endangered by Russia (the IUCN Red List classifies them as “vulnerable,” with a decreasing population), officials said that if non-lethal means fail to drive the bears away, they may be forced to cull the animals, the BBC added.…’

Via Russian Authorities Declare State of Emergency After ‘Mass Invasion’ of Polar Bears in Remote Settlement

Meet the Guardian of Grammar Who Wants to Help You Be a Better Writer

Dreyer4 superJumboBenjamin Dreyer sees language the way an epicure sees food. And he finds sloppiness everywhere he looks:

’With his finely tuned editing ear, Benjamin Dreyer often encounters things so personally horrifying that they register as a kind of torture, the way you might feel if you were an epicure and saw someone standing over the sink, slurping mayonnaise directly from the jar.…’

Via New York Times

Sleeping When Sick is Special

UnknownCould Have Its Own Gene:

’In 1909, the Japanese scientist Kuniomi Ishimori collected spinal fluid from sleep-deprived dogs and injected it into active, rested pooches. Within hours, the latter fell into a deep sleep. By coincidence, a pair of French researchers did the same experiments a few years later and got the same results. These studies, and others like them, suggested that the blood of sleepy animals contains some kind of soporific secret sauce of chemicals. Ishimori called these “hypogenic substances.” Others labeled them “somnogens.”

The sources of these sleep-inducing chemicals have proved surprisingly elusive, and scientists have found only a few that fit the bill. Now Hirofumi Toda from the University of Pennsylvania has discovered another—a gene called nemuri that triggers sleep, at least in fruit flies. Unexpectedly, it also becomes active during infections and acts to kill incoming microbes. It seems to be part of a self-regulating system, analogous enough to an internal thermostat that we might call it a sleep-o-stat. It can send animals to sleep when they most need shut-eye, whether because they’re sick or because they just haven’t slept enough.

This sleep-o-stat works separately from the daily body clocks that make us feel more tired at night.…’

Via The Atlantic

Would Jesus have wanted Christianity?

Unknown’The reason it’s hard to love our “neighbor” is because, from an evolutionary standpoint, people outside of our groups have always been suspected as possible threats. The way to love “others” is by engaging with them long enough that we begin to see, in them, ourselves. That is, we see our own struggles and challenges reflected back.  …[T]he “last thing” Jesus wanted to do was found a religion that would divide humanity even more. Jesus would be “mortified” …that his followers started a religion in his name.…’

Via Would Jesus have wanted Christianity? – Big Think

Race, not abortion, was the founding issue of the religious right

06Eagan’Here are some facts that might surprise you.

In 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, the biggest white evangelical group in America, the Southern Baptist Convention, supported its legalization. The group continued that support through much of the 1970s. And the late Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, did not give his first antiabortion speech until 1978, five years after Roe.

Though opposition to abortion is what many think fueled the powerful conservative white evangelical right, 81 percent of whom voted for Donald Trump, it was really school integration, according to Randall Balmer, chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth.…’

Via The Boston Globe

Get that impeachment engine running

08LettersEditor’s note:

’In conjunction with the Feb. 5 op-ed “The case for starting impeachment hearings,” by Ben Clements and Ron Fein, we asked readers whether, in the case of President Trump, it was too soon to start the process or long overdue. We received nearly 50 responses, and sentiments ran about 4 to 1 in favor of beginning the move toward impeachment (though many of the nays were just as critical of the president). The following is an edited sample:…’

Via The Boston Globe

Institutional silence on Trump’s mental state

07LEE6WEBBandy X. Lee and Leonard L. Glass on ‘Malignant Normalcy’:

’A year ago, we affirmed our duty as psychiatrists to alert the public about a president’s mental state if it posed a danger to society. To fulfill that responsibility, we both contributed to the book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” Now, almost two years later, there appears to be consensus among all but the president’s most loyal supporters that Trump is indeed unstable and dangerous. Yet the voice of those most qualified to assess mental impairment has been largely absent, slowing the public’s understanding, and hampering its ability to demand protective action.

…What was remarkable and alarming was that, in the face of this overwhelming agreement, the APA decided to escalate the Goldwater rule into a total gag order, so that a member who speaks out about a public figure and identifies himself/herself as a psychiatrist is in violation of the APA’s ethical code. This is unlike any other medical speciality…

To make matters worse, around this time last year, the emergency medicine specialist and White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson, without proper training in mental health and without appropriate independence, declared his employer and commander in chief “mentally fit to serve.” He did so based on a 10-minute dementia screen that has been discouraged from use for ruling out dementia after several studies in 2015 showed full-blown Alzheimer patients and hospitalized schizophrenia patients scored in the normal range. Specialists therefore recommend that full neuropsychiatric testing still be performed for those suspected of having early dementia. Dr. Jackson’s actions have only served further to eclipse the opinions of mental health professionals in the face of perhaps the greatest public mental health crisis we have faced in our lifetimes, but this is not new: White House physicians are known to cover up presidents’ conditions in ways that are thought to have negatively influenced the course of history. Authoritative scholars, therefore, suggest that the White House physician remain strictly the president’s personal physician, and that fitness for office tests be outsourced to an independent body.

Dr. Robert Jay Lifton called this the spread of “malignant normality,” based on his study of how Nazi doctors were acculturated into accepting the task they were given in the killing process at Auschwitz as “normal.” Human beings are very adaptable, and there is almost no degree of pathology we could not grow accustomed to, unless those with clear knowledge of what was happening were to speak out. Based on the experience of physician compliance with Nazism, we now have the Declaration of Geneva, the universal physician’s pledge that recognizes either silence or active cooperation with a destructive regime as running counter to medicine’s humanitarian goals. For this reason, we continue to believe that public discourse by mental health professionals on what is at the source a national mental health crisis is the first step to having clarity and empowering the people. The American Psychiatric Association has failed to respond to this emergency; at a minimum, it should cease threatening and demeaning those psychiatrists who do…’

Via Boston Globe

In Defense of Schadenfreude

Images
’Historian Tiffany Watt Smith argues that schadenfreude, the joy we derive from another’s misfortune, is just a natural part of the very complex emotional responses we have as human beings.…’

Via Longreads

The Cautious Case for Climate Optimism

Joe Darrow writes:

>’Whatever you may have read over the past year — as extreme weather brought a global heat wave and unprecedented wildfires burned through 1.6 million California acres and newspaper headlines declared, “Climate Change Is Here” — global warming is not binary. It is not a matter of “yes” or “no,” not a question of “fucked” or “not.” Instead, it is a problem that gets worse over time the longer we produce greenhouse gas, and can be made better if we choose to stop. Which means that no matter how hot it gets, no matter how fully climate change transforms the planet and the way we live on it, it will always be the case that the next decade could contain more warming, and more suffering, or less warming and less suffering. Just how much is up to us, and always will be….’

Source: NYMag

Michelob ASMR Superbowl ad freaked some people out

Christina Maxouris writes:

‘…[Y]es, a lot of people find ASMR relaxing. Others find it horrifying. Or at the very least it freaks them out, like the Michelob Ultra ad featuring Kravitz did.

It’s not Kravitz that’s the problem, it’s just that ASMR is not for everyone! For every person that chills out to the sound of someone rubbing Velcro or sipping from a beer bottle, there’s someone else who thinks ASMR feels like being haunted by a very quiet ghost with no sense of personal space. …’

Source: CNN

It’s So Cold Out! Where’s the Global Warming?!

Xkcd cold weather global warming’In what is now an annual tradition, when the temperatures in some part of the US plunge below zero degrees on the Fahrenheit scale, some nitwit Republican climate change-denier live-tweets from the back pocket of industry something like “It’s so cold out where’s the global warming when we need it???? #OwnTheLibs”. This time around, it was our very own Shitwhistle-in-Chief who tweeted merrily about the current polar vortex bearing down on the Midwest…’

Via kottke

As the article tells it, there are two major factors in the relationship between climate change and severe cold snaps. The first is perception. Quite simply, as it warms up, cold snaps that used to be more typical now seem more memorably extreme. The second reason is a more meteorological one. Global warming is causing a warming in polar latitudes that diminishes the temperature gradient between the poles and the middle latitudes. As a result, the jet stream is weakened and slowed. It thus takes a more meandering course and, in so doing, splits the stratospheric polar vortex into eddying swirls, some of which wander southward and bring their cold air to lower latitudes. 

A step closer to self-aware machines

UnknownEngineers create a robot that can imagine itself:

’Robots that are self-aware have been science fiction fodder for decades, and now we may finally be getting closer. …Columbia Engineering researchers have made a major advance in robotics by creating a robot that learns what it is, from scratch, with zero prior knowledge of physics, geometry, or motor dynamics. Initially the robot does not know if it is a spider, a snake, an arm—it has no clue what its shape is. After a brief period of “babbling,” and within about a day of intensive computing, their robot creates a self-simulation. The robot can then use that self-simulator internally to contemplate and adapt to different situations, handling new tasks as well as detecting and repairing damage in its own body. The work is published today in Science Robotics.…’

Via 3 Quarks Daily

‘We’re all passengers in a billionaire hijacking’

5c53821974c587082f6bee48 1920 1440Anand Giridharadas, the critic who has the world’s richest people buzzing:

’Q: What does Davos stand for in your view? Do you have any particular thoughts on this year’s, specifically?

Anand Giridharadas: I think Davos is a family reunion for the plutocrats that broke the modern West. I’ve never been to it, so I’m a cultural critic looking from a distance, but it seems to me to be a gathering of people who think that they are changing the world when they are exactly what needs changing. A gathering of people who use the idea of making a difference as a kind of lubricant in the engine of making a killing, of people who promote generosity as a cheap substitute for justice.…’

Via Business Insider

Happy Imbolc

UnknownToday is Groundhog Day and, this year, since Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, spring is coming early. In the Pagan calendar, it is Imbolc (or Imbolg), which has marked the beginning of spring since ancient times, coming at the midpoint between the astronomical winter solstice (“Yule”) and the spring equinox (“Ostara”) in the northern hemisphere. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals that fall at the ‘quarter cross points’ between the equinoxes and the solstices, along with Beltane, Lugnasadh, and Samhain.

Imbolc was a time to celebrate Brigid (Brigit, Brighid, Bride, Bridget, Bridgit, Brighde, Bríd), the Celtic Goddess of inspiration, healing, and smithcraft with associations to fire, the hearth and poetry. When Ireland was Christianized in the 5th century, the festival of Brigid became Saint Brigid’s Day, although the chronology of the transmigration from the Celtic goddess to the Christian saint is not universally accepted. Imbolc derives from the Old Irish imbolg meaning in the belly, a time when sheep began to lactate and their udders filled and the grass began to grow.It thus coincided with the beginning of the lambing season, the spring sowing, and some of the earliest blooming plants. The gentle curve of a ‘just-showing’ pregnancy embodies the promise of renewal, expectancy and hope.

Evidence indicates that Imbolc has been an important date in the Irish, Scottish and Manx calendar since ancient times. The holiday was a festival of hearth and home with celebrations often embodying hearth fires, feasting, divination for omens of good fortune, and candles or bonfires representing the return of warmth and light. The point of many rituals seemed to be to invite Brigid, and the good fortune she would bring, into the home. Activities included:

— Brigid crosses, consisting of reeds or willows woven in a four-armed equilateral cross, often hung over doors, windows, or stables for protection

— making Bridey (Brideog, Breedhoge, or ‘Biddy’) dolls, representing Brigid, which were paraded from house to house. People would make a bed for her and leave her food and drink.Images

— visiting of holy wells, which are circled ‘sunwise’ and offerings left. Water from the well was used to bless home, family members, livestock and fields.

— a “spring cleaning” was customary

— Imbolc was traditionally a time of weather divination. Old traditions of watching to see if various animals returned from their winter dens seem to be forerunners of Groundhog Day.

Although many of the customary observances of Imbolc died out during the 20th century, it is still observed and in some places has been revived as a cultural event.Brigid’s Day parades have been revived in the town of Killorglin, County Kerry, which holds a yearly “Biddy’s Day Festival”. Men and women wearing elaborate straw hats and masks visit public houses carrying a Brídeóg to bring good luck for the coming year. They play folk music, dance and sing. The highlight of this festival is a torchlight parade through the town followed by a song and dance contest. Most recently, neopagans and Wiccans have observed Imbolc as a religious holiday.

’…It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Ground
Hog Day), and in many places the first Crocus flowers began to spring forth from the frozen earth.

The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on this Sabbat. Straw Brideo’gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo’gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterwards at the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid’s Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is place by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.

Inbolc7Another traditional symbol of Imbolc is the plough. In some areas, this is the first day of ploughing in preparation of the first planting of crops. A decorated plough is dragged from door to door, with costumed children following asking for food, drinks, or money. Should they be refused, the household is paid back by having its front garden ploughed up. In other areas, the plough is decorated and then Whiskey, the “water of life” is poured over it. Pieces of cheese and bread are left by the plough and in the newly turned furrows as offerings to the nature spirits. It is considered taboo to cut or pick plants during this time.

Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Imbolgc Brigantia (Caledonni), Imbolic (Celtic), Disting (Teutonic, Feb 14th), Lupercus (Strega), St. Bridget’s Day (Christian), Candlemas, Candlelaria (Mexican), the Snowdrop Festival. The Festival of Lights, or the Feast of the Virgin. All Virgin and Maiden Goddesses are honored at this time…’

(Via Celtic Connection)

Imbolc also corresponds with Candlemas, the Christian observance of the baby Jesus’ presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem to officially induct him into Judaism when he was forty days old. It was originally described in the Gospel of Luke as a purification ritual. On Candlemas, a priest traditionally blesses candles which are distributed to the faithful for use throughout the year. In some places, they are placed in windows during storms to ward off damage.

Interestingly, in Scotland, along with Michaelmas, Lammas and Whitsun, Candlemas is one of the four  term and quarter days, the four divisions of the legal year, historically used as the days when contracts and leases would begin and end, servants would be hired or dismissed, and rent, interest on loans, and ministers’ stipends would become due. Although they were later fixed by law as falling on the 28th day every three months, they originally occurred on holy days, corresponding roughly to old quarter days used in both Scotland and Ireland.

Some foreign observances:

In France and Belgium, Candlemas (FrenchLa Chandeleur) is celebrated with crêpes.

In Italy, traditionally, it (Italian: La Candelora) is considered the last cold day of winter.

Tenerife (Spain), Is the day of the Virgin of Candelaria (Saint Patron of the Canary Islands). 2 February.

In Southern and Central Mexico, and Guatemala City, Candlemas (Spanish: Día de La Candelaria) is celebrated with tamales. Tradition indicates that on 5 January, the night before Three Kings Day (the Epiphany), whoever gets one or more of the few plastic or metal dolls (originally coins) buried within the Rosca de Reyes must pay for the tamales and throw a party on Candlemas. In certain regions of Mexico, this is the day in which the baby Jesus of each household is taken up from the nativity scene and dressed up in various colorful, whimsical outfits.

In Luxembourg, Liichtmëss sees children carrying lighted sticks visiting neighbors and singing a traditional song in exchange for sweets.

Sailors are often reluctant to set sail on Candlemas Day, believing that any voyage begun then will end in disaster—given the frequency of severe storms in February, this is not entirely without sense.

(Via Wikipedia)

What Is the Most Poisonous Mushroom?

Thumb wide mediumDeath Cap Mushrooms are Spreading Across North America:

’…Dr. Kathy Vo, a medical toxicologist in San Francisco, publishes case studies on rare or unusual poisonings. Amanita phalloides poisonings, she told me, are some of the worst. “When the liver starts to fail, you see bleeding disorders, brain swelling, multi-organ failure. It’s very, very rough,” she said.

The levels of fluid loss, Vo said, are some of the most dramatic she’s seen. The body flushes everything it has. “There’s not an antidote,” she said. “That’s what makes this particularly deadly. We institute a variety of therapies, but there’s not an A, B, C, D. It’s not always the same. The best bet for the patient is fluid, fluid, fluid; keep watching the liver, and if the liver is failing, go for a transplant.”

On average, one person a year has died in North America from ingesting death caps, though that number is rising as the mushroom spreads. More than 30 death-cap poisonings were reported in 2012, including three fatalities, while 2013 saw five cases and no deaths. In 2014, one person died of death-cap poisoning in Michigan; two in California; and one in Vancouver, after a Canadian man traveled to California, ate the mushrooms as part of a meal, and returned to Vancouver, where he became ill and died.

Amanita phalloides are said to be quite tasty, and a person who eats one could feel fine for a day or two before illness sets in. The poison is taken up by the liver cells, where it inhibits an enzyme responsible for protein synthesis; without protein, the cells begin to die, and the patient may start to experience nausea and diarrhea—symptoms that can easily be attributed to general food poisoning or other ailments. “If the patient doesn’t realize the connection, doesn’t see the illness as a result of eating a mushroom a day or two earlier, it’s a hard diagnosis,” said Vo.…’

Via The Atlantic

A Bold New Theory Proposes That Humans Tamed Themselves

07a450473’Why are we so much less violent day-to-day within our communities (in pretty much all cultures) than our closest primate relatives, chimpanzees, are within theirs? At the same time, how is it that human violence directed toward perceived enemy groups has been so destructive?…’

Via 3 Quarks Daily

Five Flavors

UnknownA selection of famous, but different, anarchists:

’It takes an independent mind to declare oneself an anarchist, but even so, the stories and characters of people who identify as anarchists can be surprising. Here’s five snapshots of different anarchists, each with a different take on the controversial political philosophy and different experiences. As a quick note, this list is in no way meant to be exhaustive; there are many more influential, controversial, famous, and infamous anarchists out there other than those described here.…’

Via Big Think