Month: June 2019

Moments of clarity in dementia patients at end of life: Glimmers of hope?

Social robot kids hosptial neurosciencenews’It happens unexpectedly: a person long thought lost to the ravages of dementia, unable to recall the events of their lives or even recognize those closest to them, will suddenly wake up and exhibit surprisingly normal behavior, only to pass away shortly thereafter. This phenomenon, which experts refer to as terminal or paradoxical lucidity, has been reported since antiquity, yet there have been very few scientific studies of it. That may be about to change.

In an article published in the August issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia, an interdisciplinary workgroup convened by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Aging and led by Michigan Medicine’s George A. Mashour, M.D., Ph.D., outlines what is known and unknown about paradoxical lucidity, considers its potential mechanisms, and details how a thorough scientific analysis could help shed light on the pathophysiology of dementia.…’

Via Neuroscience News

Better Care Urged for Bipolar Patients’ 1st Manic Episode

Therapy teenager young man large bigstock 1376x1032’An international team of experts argues that better care for people experiencing their first manic episode is urgently needed and that more research needs to go into treatment solutions for bipolar disorder.

In a new paper, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, the authors describe patchy and inconsistent care, widespread failure to detect bipolar disorder early enough, and a lack of guidance on how to treat people experiencing mania for the first time.…’

Via PsychCentral

As a practicing psychiatrist, I’d like to suggest that the approach of this ‘international team of experts’ may be faulty. This may have something to do with the divide between clinicians and the academic psychiatric pundits, who I would venture to say see far fewer real-world patients.

Bipolar disorder is a condition that can only be properly diagnosed by observing and understanding the longitudinal course of the patient’s presentation over time. Thinking you know what is going on when you take the snapshot view at a moment in time is immensely problematic. It may be clear at the time of a ‘first manic episode’ that a person’s condition declares itself as bipolar disorder but not necessarily. It is often not clear even when faced with the patient in front of you in the moment that what they are experiencing is a manic episode. The symptoms they might display, possibly suggestive of mania — increased energy, decreased sleep, loquaciousness, ambition and confidence, brightening of mood, irritability, agitation and raciness, perhaps some telltale psychotic symptoms — could also be indicative of a number of other illnesses or temperaments when taken in isolation.

‘Better care for people experiencing their first manic episode’ is often not possible precisely because it is not prudent or sometimes not even possible to diagnose it as mania. The mindset of the rapid rush to judgment embodied in the article has arguably played a large part in the epidemic over\diagnosis of bipolar disorder and concomitant rush to overtreatment, to the detriment of our patients.

FmH

What to imagine when imagining aliens:

‘The remarkable distributed nervous system of the octopus is discussed at an astrobiology conference….’

Via Big Think

Soros and Koch Brothers Team Up to End US ‘Forever War’ Policy

‘Besides being bilionaires and spending much of their fortunes to promote pet causes, the leftist financier George Soros and the right-wing Koch brothers have little in common. They could be seen as polar opposites. Soros is an old-fashioned New Deal liberal. The Koch brothers are fire-breathing right-wingers who dream of cutting taxes and dismantling government. Now they have found something to agree on: the United States must end its “forever war” and adopt an entirely new foreign policy.

In one of the most remarkable partnerships in modern American political history, Soros and the Koch brothers are joining to finance a new foreign-policy think tank in Washington. It will promote an approach to the world based on diplomacy and restraint rather than threats, sanctions, and bombing. This is a radical notion in Washington, where every major think tank promotes some variant of neocon militarism or liberal interventionism. Soros and the Koch brothers are uniting to revive the fading vision of a peaceable United States. …’

Via The Boston Globe

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The Women Who Won the Debates Are the Democrats’ Best Hope

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Michelle Goldberg in Opinion: “We need to get past the trauma of Hillary Clinton’s defeat.”

’Several things can be true at once. Without the handicap of sexism, Clinton probably would have won a race that was essentially decided by a rounding error. Misogyny will work against the next female presidential candidate. And yet the people best positioned to lead the Democratic Party are women.

After all, every candidate will have something to overcome. Sanders would have to deal with widespread fear of socialism. Biden demonstrated again on Thursday that he’s ill-equipped to justify much of his long record in public life. Sexism is a disadvantage but it’s not the only one.…’

Via New York Times

Trump’s Ignorant Comments About Japan Were Bad Even for Him

Opinion by Gary J. Bass:

28Bass superJumbo

’…even by Mr. Trump’s dismal standards, his performance this week before the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, should take everyone’s breath away. More than yet another demonstration of his erratic behavior, this was also an object lesson in the dangers of his context-free hostility to the world beyond the United States.

Before arriving in Japan, Mr. Trump had reportedly been musing about withdrawing the United States from the security treaty with Japan signed in 1951 and revised in 1960 — the cornerstone of the alliance between the United States and Japan and a pillar of American foreign policy. On Wednesday, asked about the treaty on Fox News, Mr. Trump sneered, “If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III.” Then he added: “But if we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television.”

Mr. Trump’s comment demonstrates a strategic cluelessness and historical ignorance that would disqualify a person from even a modest desk job at the State Department.

Though Mr. Trump implied that the security treaty favors Japan, it was largely dictated by the United States.…’

Via New York Times

8 Tips for Interviewing a Serial Killer, According to Famed FBI Profiler John Douglas

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’Over the course of his career, former FBI agent and behavioral analyst John E. Douglas has interviewed criminals ranging from repeated hijacker Garrett Trapnell and cult leader Charles Manson to serial killers Edmund Kemper (a.k.a. the Co-Ed Killer) and Dennis Rader (a.k.a. B.T.K.). In his new book, The Killer Across the Table, Douglas takes readers into the room as he interviews four very different offenders.…’

Via Mental Floss

A Mysterious Vanishing Village in China

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’In the bizarre world of vanishings and people who have seemingly ceased to exist there is the phenomenon of whole groups of people or towns that have just sort of evaporated out of existence with no real known reason. To think that a whole population of people could just disappear without a trace is a sobering thought, leading to much speculation on what could possible be at the root of such mass vanishings, and it is a topic I have covered here before. One very curious such account that has popped up in recent times has to do with a rural village in a remote area of China, which supposedly just blinked out of existence one day to leave stories of strangeness and conspiracies in its wake.

Located in a region of Central China is the province of Shaanxi, which stretches over 79,151 sq mi and encompasses the majestic Wei Valley, the Loess Plateau, the Ordos Desert, and the Qinling Mountains. Here there once supposedly stood a rural village much like many others like it that dot the region, with nothing particularly out of the ordinary or exceptional about it other than its proximity to a rocket launch center, but it would suddenly begin making the Chinese news and generating buzz on social media in 2010 when the story came out about how this little village one day just completely vanished off the face of the earth.

According to numerous reports taken from Chinese media, in 1987 it was found that the village had been completely abandoned overnight. There was apparently not a soul remaining of the estimated population of 1,000, and every single man, woman, child, and even all of the town’s livestock and pets were simply gone without a trace. Apparently there were no signs of how they had even gotten out of there, and the homes all seemed as if they had been very rapidly vacated, with meals set out and belongings left behind. All very mysterious and spooky indeed, but it would apparently get even weirder still.…’

Via Mysterious Universe

NSA gets caught illegally collecting phone and text data (again), blames telephone companies

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’The American Civil Liberties Union released internal NSA memos received under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit revealing that, once again, the NSA improperly collected phone call and text message metadata of US citizens.

A spokesperson for the agency was quick to pin the blame on the telecommunications companies that provided the information:

“While NSA lawfully sought data pertaining to a foreign power engaged in international terrorism, the provider produced inaccurate data and data beyond which NSA sought,” NSA’s media relations chief Greg Julian told The Wall Street Journal.

In other words, “We didn’t want the data we took, and anyway, we were busy catching TERRISTS.…’

Via Boing Boing

Woodstock ‘Took on a Life of its Own,’ Recent Archaeological Survey Reveals

Htgsuzmjpup5oeybkllb’The field that once held hundreds of thousands of scantily clad, mud-soaked spectators is now a verdant meadow intersected by old wooden fences and a parking lot. Some spots have been overtaken by thick vegetation and trees, obscuring important landmarks. The Woodstock site became a protected area in 2017 when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, but with nature taking its course, the site is beginning to show the passage of time—and by consequence, is attracting the interest of conservationists and archaeologists.…’

Via Gizmodo

Incredible Photo from the Space Station Shows Raikoke Volcano Erupting

’Astronauts aboard the International Space Station caught the spectacular eruption of the Raikoke volcano off of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula over the weekend.

It’s a pretty amazing view. Here’s the entire image:

Sy7q0atznppy59e9blfiThe image shows the classic shape of a volcanic plume rising, and then ash spreading at the top. It’s surrounded by a ring of white clouds, likely either water vapor condensing out of the air or steam from magma entering the water, Simon Carn, a volcanologist at Michigan Tech, said in a NASA Earth Observatory post. Aircraft and satellite data show that the ash could have reached altitudes of 8 to 10 miles.…’

Via Gizmodo

Scientists Film Giant Squid in North American Waters for the First Time

 

Xrlfwpylkzbxhwbwzxfq’Scientists spotted an elusive giant squid in its deep-ocean habitat in American waters for the first time. These titanic, whale-battling beasts are rarely seen, so this sighting is a thrill for biologists and regular folk alike.

Giant squids are 30- to 43-foot cephalopods that inhabit the ocean at depths of 980 to 3,280 feet, where pressures are high and very little sunlight penetrates. Plenty of other strange beasts inhabit this realm, but the giant squid has long been the subject of myth, given its enormous size and the fact that dead ones occasionally wash up on shore.

The squid is not often seen alive in its natural habitat. Scientist Edie Widder, founder of the Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA), developed the camera that first filmed a giant squid near Japan’s Ogasawara archipelago in 2013. Last week, on an expedition in the Gulf of Mexico 100 miles south of New Orleans, scientist Nathan Robinson was watching footage taken by Widder’s Medusa system when a giant squid came along and attacked the camera’s fake jellyfish (actually a ring of lights), according to a NOAA field log. It was their fifth attempt to use the Medusa system to attempt to spot the beast in those waters.…’

Via Gizmodo

How to Protest Human Rights Abuses at U.S. Detention Centers

Unknown’Many of us are feeling some combination of despair, outrage, and shock at reports of the conditions at the U.S. southern border. It’s devastating to learn that our government is separating children from their families, cramming people into overcrowded detention cells, and preventing refugees from accessing basic necessities like food, soap, and clean clothing. If you’re asking yourself what you can do to protest the inhumane treatment of individuals and families seeking asylum in the United States, here are some actions you can take right now.…’

Via Lifehacker

Link

Umair Haque wrote:

‘It’s almost exactly a year ago, to the day, that I got a little angry, and wrote an essay called “Do Americans Understand They’re Beginning to Commit the Legal Definition of Genocide?” The point of my essay, though, wasn’t just to point out that the unthinkable was happening here: it was to warn that even worse was to come, unless that much was taken lethally seriously. So where are we now — exactly a year later? Are we doing any better — or are we doing worse? …’

Read article at Eudaimonia

Careful what you wish for

What even more smarmy condescending pitiful bald faced liar waits in the wings?

‘Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, is leaving the Trump administration after a turbulent tenure marked by attacks on the media, dissemination of false information, and the near-disappearance of the daily press briefing…’

— Read at Boston Globe

Trump just put a ‘for sale’ sign on his forehead

‘President Trump’s latest comments, during an ABC News interview, indicating that he would consider accepting negative material on political opponents from foreign governments, and that he wouldn’t necessarily report the contact to the FBI, are just the latest in a long line of counterintelligence red flags. Trump said, “There isn’t anything wrong with listening.”…’

— Read on CNN

Searching for ‘Gelwans’

Eliot-GelwanThose of you with more common family names, or with appreciable extended families, may have a hard time seeing the point of this post. But, as I’ve noted before, there are very very few Gelwans. I have always wondered, or you might even say obsessed about, how/if those people with the Gelwan surname I do find are related to me. I have very little in the way of extended family; I envy those who do and thirst for deeper family connection, especially so that my children might come to feel embedded in a broader web. It becomes poignant each year around the holidays, which I imagine you all celebrate with enormous extended family gatherings while we have the four of us around the dinner table.

I subscribe to a Google alert for new ‘Gelwan’ references on the web, and once received a link to this page  (gendrevo.ru). Alas, the page is now gone from the web. It appeared to me to be from a Russian genealogy site in which survivors post remembrance pages for their relatives who died in the Holocaust. On my paternal side, the generation of immigrants were my grandparents, in the early 20th century; my father’s older siblings and he were born in the U.S. between 1910-1915. I have always assumed that Gelwan was an Ellis Island anglicization of something else and thus that researching my family’s roots would become squirrelly because the family name of anyone related to me might not have precisely the same pronunciation or spelling. As the part of the world from which my ancestors emigrated shifted back and forth between Slavic and Germanic dominance, between Cyrillic and Roman alphabets, so too did the rendering of family names. I would have to pursue the Gelvans, the Gelmans, and even the Hellmans and who knows what else for relatives. [I may have made this up, but I think I learned somewhere along the way that we are actually distantly related to the Hellman’s mayonnaise family…]

gelwan_surnameThe flip side of that coin is of course that literal ‘Gelwans’ might not be related to me. Image result for Searching for 'Gelwans'For example, I found through Googling traces of a Deborah Gelwan who was in the public relations industry in Sao Paulo, Brazil who is referred to on the web. Deborah now lives in Orlando FL and runs a couple of businesses. Maybe I’ll get to see her someday.

When I was a child, a Brazilian tourist with the last name Gelwan, possibly from the same family as Deborah, arrived on our doorstep, having looked up Gelwan in the phonebooks on arriving in New York City. It appears that my parents and the visitor determined that it was unlikely we were related (although I cannot imagine how they did this, as my parents spoke no Portugese and rumor has it this visitor spoke no English). Deborah and I are now Facebook friends but we have not established a family relationship. And there are traces of other Gelwans in Brazil as well. I would at least love to figure out if these South American Gelwans descended from Eastern European immigrants. I am aware that eastern European Jews did go to South America in the diasporas, but I am not sure about Brazil per se.

Similarly, I have reached out to Gelwans in Lebanon — a Claude Gelwan was there but apparently now lives in France —  and Iraq but I doubt we are related. It appears to me that Gelwan is a transliteration of a first name, not a family name, in Iraq.

I have discovered several other Gelwans in the New York area where I grew up. Interestingly enough I have long been aware of two brothers, physicians as I am: Jeffrey, a gastroenterologist and Mark, an ophthalmologist. In years past we spoke by phone but cannot establish a common background. I assumed that it might merely be an accident that we share our name, that Gelwan might be a final common pathway of anglicization from diverse unrelated family names in eastern Europe.

Related imageSimilarly, there is a pharmacist in Brooklyn named Steven Gelwan, who never answered an email from me. Maya Gambarin-Gelwan, I think Steven’s spouse, is yet another New York area physician, at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, with a number of scholarly publications. Never heard from her either. There is a Rebecca Gelwan (my late mother’s name by marriage) who studies, or studied, law in Pennsylvania and posts alot of photos and videos of her new baby (congratulations on the newest Gelwan!) but, again, I can’t figure that we are direct relatives. Along with my brother, that’s two Gelwan attorneys. Image result for gelwanElise Gelwan, I learn, graduated from medical school at the University of Connecticut. Yet another physician Gelwan! There is a Sam or Sami Gelwan (I think they are the same person) in the New York area as well. If I mention all these names in this post, they may get hits when people vanity-search themselves, and they may get in touch, I hope.

LinkedIn, from which I resigned long ago, has thirteen ‘Gelwan’ profiles, including some of the aforementioned but also a Brazilian photographer Jacob Gelwan, and a Miriam Gelwan in Argentina. A Samantha Gelwan is/was a student at Indiana University in Bloomington. A Mohammed Gelwan is an engineer in Egypt.

From time to time I see passenger manifests listing Gelwans who disembarked at Ellis Island in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. I have found the arrival records of my grandfather’s two sisters and alot of other mysterious Gelwans. But where do I go from there? Some 19th century records show Gelwans emigrating from Ireland to Manitoba, but I cannot find Canadian Gelwans today.

I was told that my family originated in Riga, Latvia. Given that, I’ve written to Vladimir, or Wladimir, Gelwan, who I learned was the principal dancer in the Latvian National Ballet and who now runs a ballet school in Berlin, suggesting that we may be related, but have never gotten a reply back. I have seen a picture of Vladimir Gelwan on the web and can even imagine a certain family resemblance, although he’s certainly got the dancer’s grace that I do not. I’m determined to try and drop in on him when next in Berlin. [Do I have any readers in or near Berlin?]

What is it, by the way, with these nonresponses? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but a message from afar suggesting the writer might be my relative, with such a rare name, would immediately pique my interest and would surely get a response. Do you think recipients might have worried that my messages represented some kind of con? I don’t want anything from them except connectedness. Is that the problem right there?

Given the waves of upheaval that repeatedly washed over eastern Europe in the 20th century, with ever-changing political hegemony over various regions, large scale displacement of populations, the Holocaust, the destruction of records, the changing of names, etc., conventional genealogical research is not possible. It is not as if there is an established family tree, with records waiting around for the taking, as is the case for many families with western European origins. My father’s older brother, now deceased, once returned to eastern Europe to try to find some of our roots. Despite a reputation for being extremely resourceful, he apparently had no success at all. Lamentably, I cannot find any notes from his research; otherwise I (acknowledged as someone with no lack of resourcefulness myself!) might pick up the trail where he left off, despite the passage of time having added fifty further years of obfuscation.

It has been a little (not much) easier to find information about my mother’s ancestors. She herself, as a young child, emigrated with her family in the 1920’s from Eastern Europe. Several years ago, my son and I visited the small out-of-the-way town of her origin looking for indications of her family, armed with notes from a maternal uncle of mine who had made a similar trip decades before and retracing his steps. Unfortunately (probably because they were a Jewish family), the town hall and the burial grounds held no traces; the Nazis had razed the Jewish cemetery. I discovered when I visited the site that my uncle had been the one to fund the reassembly of the smashed fragments of gravestones into a monument there. There were no Jews left but a non-Jew who lived adjacent to the site of the burial ground kept the key, tended the grounds and let Jewish visitors into the site to see the monument.

My son and I did see the house where my mother had been born; eerily, we had by coincidence parked our rental car right in front of it when we had entered the town center.

We learned that, because of their persecution, the entire family hid from the authorities behind a falsified family name for several generations. Interestingly, that was the same name as a boss of mine, whose family I knew originated from the same region. Instead of being intrigued when I mentioned my discovery to him when I returned from my Eastern European trip, he scoffed. (I think he was appalled at the possibility that we were related.)

I am on Ancestry.com (here is a link to what I know so far of my family tree) and Ancestry keeps notifying me that they’ve discovered someone who is probably a third or fourth cousin. None of the family trees I’ve been directed to seem to intermesh so far. (I wonder how many third or fourth cousins a person has, on average…)

If you have a complicated heritage that will not be easy to trace on a geneology research site, my advice is to embark on a project of tracking down and documenting what you can, as soon as you can. It only disappears over time. Your children and their children may appreciate it if information about their mysterious family origins might one day help them find their place in the world in the face of the increasing rootlessness of modern life.

Perhaps one day someone googling their family name will be linked to this post and wonder how they might be related to Eliot Gelwan. Hurry up, Google, crawl this post and index it!

Civilisational collapse has a bright past – but a dark future

UnknownActually, in many historical instances, it may not have been so bad for the masses of people who lived at the bottom rung of civilized societies.

’In fact, the end of civilisations rarely involved a sudden cataclysm or apocalypse. Often the process is protracted, mild, and leaves people and culture continuing for many years.…’

Via Aeon Ideas

R.I.P. Tony Glover (1939-2019)

 

Aadc2dc6503e41d18e46599be59c9965 superJumboMaster of the Blues Harmonica Is Dead at 79

Glover came out of the post-beatnik coffeehouse scene in Minneapolis, occasionally playing with Bob Dylan and more regarded as a harpist than Dylan was. In 1963 he began performing with guitarists Spider John Koerner and Dave Snaker Ray as what critic Dave Marsh called “the finest white blues group in the entire folk revival of the era,” channelling the likes of Leadbelly, John Lee Hooker, Son House and Blind Lemon Jefferson. 

Via The New York Times

 

I wore out several copies of the first Koerner Ray and Glover album, Blues, Rags and Hollers (1963), and I’m going to spin it up right now…

Trump’s UK trip illustrates why people worried about a Trump presidency

None of this is normal by the standard of any other president. The trip is a perfect illustration of what people feared from a Trump presidency: an immature, impulsive bully leveraging his office to demean his enemies and promote his business interests.

Unknown’President Donald Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom began with him firing off tweets from Air Force One calling London Mayor Sadiq Khan “a stone cold loser” and culminated with him posting tweets at 1:30 am London time on Wednesday denigrating actress Bette Midler as a “Washed up psycho.”

In between, the president called Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “a creep” and urged his supporters to boycott AT&T because of his displeasure with how CNN covers him. He also did a television interview with Piers Morgan in which he demonstrated appalling ignorance about climate science and attempted to walk back a comment he’d recently made about Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle being “nasty” — by calling her “nasty” again.

Trump was accompanied to the UK by his adult children and their spouses, despite the fact that only two of them (Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner) actually have official government roles. The New York Times responded by describing the Trump family as “the American answer to British royalty.”

Then, at the end of his three-day state visit, Trump left England to travel to Doonbeg, a tiny coastal town in Ireland that is home to a golf course he still owns and profits from.

Ahead of his arrival in Doonbeg, Trump had a brief meeting in Shannon, Ireland, with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. During a photo op, a reporter asked him, “Is this trip for you just about promoting your golf club?”…’

Via Vox

Link

‘In a world whose absurdity appears to be so impenetrable, we simply must reach a greater degree of understanding among men, a greater sincerity. We must achieve this or perish. To do so, certain conditions must be fulfilled: men must be frank (falsehood confuses things), free (communication is impossible with slaves). Finally, they must feel a certain justice around them…’

Two-state cat.‘…Spotting a superposition state’s formation predicts oncoming random event…’

via Ars Technica

‘…Microsoft says mandatory password changing is “ancient and obsolete”. Bucking a major trend, company speaks out against the age-old practice….’

via Ars Technica

Illustration for article titled The Deep-Sea Dragonfish Has One of the Most Terrifying Smiles on Earth‘Scientists have shined a light on one of the creepier denizens of the deep sea, a pitch-black creature that can turn itself into a living lamp called the dragonfish. New research helps explain one of the dragonfish’s more disturbing qualities: its relatively gigantic and translucent teeth.

Deep-sea dragonfish, while rarely more than a half-foot long, are at the top of their food chain in their particular niche, much like sharks, bears, and other apex predators. Its superiority is in no small part thanks to a disproportionately huge jaw, which features sharp, fang-like teeth and allows it to swallow prey up to half its size…’

via Gizmodo

‘…The Oakland City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to decriminalize magic mushrooms and other psychoactive fungi and plants, ordering law enforcement to stop the prosecution of possession of natural psychedelics. The decision came less than a month after Denver voters approved decriminalization of psilocybin mushrooms, with an initiative that bars the city from using resources to pursue criminal penalties for people over the age of 21 who use or possess psilocybin…

The resolution doesn’t allow for farming or commercial sales of natural psilocybin and clarifies that people who have post-traumatic stress or depression should speak to a doctor before using psilocybin. An amendment also advises that users “don’t go solo” when using psilocybin. The resolution only covers natural psilocybin—not MDMA, LSD, or other synthetic drugs.

As Associated Press points out, psychedelic mushrooms are still illegal under state and federal laws…’

via Gizmodo

The Dark Side of Dark Mode

Apple IIe Disk II drives Apple Monitor II 640x853’Apple’s marketing claims about Dark Mode’s benefits fly in the face of the science of human visual perception. Except in extraordinary situations, Dark Mode is not easy on the eyes, in any way. The human eyes and brain prefer dark-on-light, and reversing that forces them to work harder to read text, parse controls, and comprehend what you’re seeing.

It may be hip and trendy, but put bluntly, Dark Mode likely makes those who turn it on slower and less productive. Here’s why, if you adopted Dark Mode purely because Apple promoted it as the new hotness, you should think hard about switching back to the Light Mode that your eyes and brain prefer in System Preferences > General.…’

Via TidBITS

Could Trump Make U.S. A Dictatorship?

Trump’s history-mimicking, incremental assaults on democracy

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’Trump hasn’t made a blatant lunge for dictatorial power. But his intermittent impulses toward autocracy have made it necessary for advisers, Congress and courts to contain him.

He argued during his campaign for the efficacy of torture and prosecuting his opponent, Hillary Clinton. He has threatened media whose coverage he found insufficiently admiring, and tried to suppress the Trump-damning book “Fire and Fury.”

He proposed an un-American religious test for immigrants and refugees to ban Muslims; infected the body politic with nepotistic and business-crony appointees; shrugs off Russian meddling in our elections; and discussed a mass roundup-cum-deportation of illegal immigrants…

To top it off, the president plays fawning footsie with real dictators.…’

Via WBUR Cognoscenti

Related: How America could become a dictatorship (Google search)

Ravens Spread Negative Emotions to Their Friends, Study Finds

1558461476225 201011 webRavens get bummed out if they see a feathered friend who’s in a bad mood, according to a study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The adoption of feelings expressed by others is known as “emotional contagion,” and while it’s familiar to humans, it’s not as well understood in other social animals. Examining the phenomenon across species could shed light on the evolution of important abilities such as empathy, according to the study, which was led by Jessie Adriaense, a PhD student at the University of Vienna.…’

Via VICE

Did an era of lightning burn humanity out of the trees?

Unknown’A new paper just published in the Journal of Geology puts forth a new idea: A pair of supernovae ionized our atmosphere to such an extend that lightning became exceptionally common, and burned down the trees in which our ancestors lived.

The paper’s lead author, physicist and astronomer Adrian Melott of the University of Kansas, says, “It is thought there was already some tendency for hominins to walk on two legs, even before this event. But they were mainly adapted for climbing around in trees. After this conversion to savanna, they would much more often have to walk from one tree to another across the grassland, and so they become better at walking upright. They could see over the tops of grass and watch for predators. It’s thought this conversion to savanna contributed to bipedalism as it became more and more dominant in human ancestors.”…’

Via Big Think

R.I.P. ‘heroic icon of modern rock’n’ roll’

Roky Erickson dies aged 71

4066‘…Erickson’s death was confirmed by his representatives in a statement that described him as a “heroic icon of modern rock’n’roll and one of the best friends the music ever had”. The cause of death had not been released and the representatives appealed for privacy for his family.

ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, a long-time friend, said: “It’s almost unfathomable to contemplate a world without Roky Erickson. He created his own musical galaxy and early on was a true inspiration.”

Erickson was the frontman of the 13th Floor Elevators, a psych-rock band from Austin, Texas, where he grew up. Their rollicking debut single, You’re Gonna Miss Me, included on the Nuggets compilation that defines 1960s garage rock, remains one of the most celebrated songs from that scene – REM’s Peter Buck once described it as “Louie Louie, sideways”. It reached No 55 in the US charts and prompted a TV appearance on American Bandstand; Janis Joplin at one point considered joining the band.

The band were advocates of the use of LSD and their work became increasingly expansive – their eight-minute song Slip Inside this House, from their second album, would later be covered by Primal Scream.

Erickson struggled with mental health issues throughout his life, and was frequently treated in hospital for schizophrenia. When he was arrested for marijuana possession in 1969, he chose to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital instead of taking a jail term – he ended up spending three years in a maximum security hospital and was given damaging electric shock therapy. The hospitalisation brought the band’s career to an end, though they reunited for one-off gigs in 1984 and 2015.

Erikcson continued solo, with backing bands including the Aliens and the Explosives, though his mental health continued to suffer and he performed less in the 1980s and 90s. He was married twice and had three children. He told the journalist Nick Kent that he was an alien, something he confirmed to the Guardian in a 2007 interview: “At one time I had it notarised that I was from another planet. By a lawyer.” In 1989, he was arrested for stealing his neighbours’ mail, though the charges were later dropped. His younger brother, Sumner, was given custody of him in 2001.

Improved health meant that he returned to performance, collaborating with bands including Mogwai and Okkervil River. Both acts paid tribute to him on Saturday, the latter describing him as “the most beautifully unique person I’ve ever known and perhaps the most brilliant”.…’

Via The Guardian