Contrary to popular myth, the environment over the past 200 years has become less polluted and toxic for humans.
In July 1924, Calvin Coolidge Jr., the Presdient’s 16-year-old son, died of an infection from a toe blister he got playing tennis on the White House lawn. The bacteria that took young Calvin’s life is staphylococcus aureus, known as “staph.” …
Were health-care products such as antibiotics, antibacterial ointments, and inexpensive clean and disposable bandages available 92 years ago, Calvin Coolidge Jr., would have escaped the bacterial pollution that killed him. Factories and vehicles used to produce and distribute these items use energy, and dispense waste. But capitalist production and consumption are not destroying a pristine Eden. Instead, capitalist production and consumption are replacing more immediate and more lethal forms of environmental pollution for less immediate and less lethal forms.
We denizens of modern market economies are today largely free not only of the filth of lethal staph infections, but also of other up-close and dangerous pollutants that our ancestors routinely endured, or died of. We sleep, in sturdy buildings, on beds that rest on hard floors beneath hard roofs. Our pre-industrial ancestors did not. Save for the tiny fraction of people in the nobility and clergy, nearly everyone slept in flimsy huts on dirt floors beneath thatched roofs. (Sometimes these dirt floors would be strewn with hay, thresh, to make them less unpleasant.)
Not only were thresh-strewn dirt floors obvious sources of regular up-close pollution of a sort that is unknown to a typical first-world person today, thatched roof themselves were ferments of filth. They kept out rain and cold less effectively than our modern dwellings. Worse, they were home to rats, mice, birds, spiders, hornets, and other animals, which would drop their own wastes onto the huts’ inhabitants. They were also highly flammable.
Of course these pre-industrial huts contained no running water or indoor plumbing. Daily bathing and other routines of personal hygiene that we moderns take for granted were largely unknown to most before the industrial revolution.
For heat in the winter families would bring farm animals into the huts, especially at night. To shield themselves from the droppings of these farm animals, each of these families would cut a trench in the floor across the width their hut. They’d sleep on the side of the trench opposite where the animals slept. Unfortunately, the trench did little to protect the family from whatever insects the animals brought into the huts with them. Read the rest of this entry »
Ohio doctors insert microchip into Ian Burkhart’s brain allowing him to move hand for first time since accident
For the Telegraph, Rosa Prince reports: A young American paralysed in a swimming accident has become the first patient to move his hand using the power of thought after doctors inserted a microchip into his brain.
“Physically, it was a foreign feeling. Emotionally it was definitely a sense of hope and excitement to know that it’s possible.”
Ian Burkhart was able to open and close his fist and even pick up a spoon during the first test of the chip, giving hope to millions of accident victims and stroke sufferers of a new bionic era of movement through thought.
Doctors at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center created the “Neurobridge” technology, whereby a microchip reads patients’ thoughts in order to replace signals no longer transmitted by their broken bodies, in conjunction with engineers from Battelle, a non-profit research centre.
While doctors have seen some success in recent years in getting stroke victims to manoeuvre robotic arms
using their thoughts, Mr Burkhart is the first to move his own body.
Paralysed from the chest down during a swimming accident four years ago, the 23-year underwent surgery in April to drill into his skull and implant a chip into his brain.
At just 0.15 inch wide, the chip has 96 electrodes which ‘read’ what he is thinking and is housed in a port inside his skull.
After weeks of practice sessions, when Mr Burkhart focused intently on wiggling his fingers while the chip responded by moving an animated hand on a computer screen, the first proper test took place last week. Read the rest of this entry »
Think a low fat diet is the key to health? Think again.
You can’t blame patients for being skeptical. After years of advocating low-fat diets, Dr. Oz recently declared that eating saturated fat might not actually be all that bad. And the month before that, the press hyped a new study that indicated there’s no good evidence that saturated fats cause heart disease. The American Heart Association, on the other hand, continues to promote low-fat diets. So what should physicians tell patients now?
Check out the book: The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet at Amazon.com
Most practicing doctors are poorly equipped to make sense of it all. (Even the doctors on the 2013 cholesterol guideline committee hired other people to read the literature for them.) What should doctors advise—stick with low fat or start cooking with lard?
In the new book, The Big Fat Surprise, science writer Nina Teicholz implies that we should do the latter. Like many people, Teicholz herself was once a disciple of low-fat diets—but after she took an assignment writing restaurant reviews, she found herself losing weight on a diet of heavy creams and fatty meats. Her curiosity was piqued, and she began a nearly decade-long critical review of the research on dietary fat. Her conclusion? Eating saturated fat can be the key to developing a healthy and lean body.
First purchase of legal marijuana in Colorado, 2014
Astronauts go for a walk
A young Afghan woman shows her face in public for the first time after 5 years of Taliban Sharia law, 2001.
[AUDIO] NSFW: MSNBC’s Ed Schultz Goes Cuckoo-Bananas on Caller, Drops F-Bomb Before Censors Catch ItPosted: April 7, 2014
“I hope that they didn’t go out — did we catch that one? I need some direction! Did we catch that one? Yes or no?”
The fiery caller accused Schultz of “fascism” and for “capitulating” to people who are benefiting from the worsening state of affairs, prompting Schultz to say he hoped that caller didn’t “have a stroke…”(read more)
From architales’ blog: The Society for Community Organization (SoCO) has released these overhead photos showing how people live in tiny, cramped Hong Kong apartments to highlight the ongoing housing problems in one of the richest cities in the world. Equal opportunity for participation and fair distribution of social resources is the foundation of human rights. Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in caged homes and wood-partitioned cubicles.
SoCO took shots of the homes to show just how tight these living quarters are. The aerial perspective is not just an artistic choice; The apartments were so small that they had to be photographed from the ceiling to capture them.
A travel and food blog, Bitten by the Wanderlust Bug, has a great little photo series featuring an unlikely theme for a Hong Kong restaurant. The Charlie Brown Cafe. View the whole series, it’s fun. Here’s some samples:
[VIDEO] Curiously, CNN Reporter Appears High on Weed During Segment on What? Where Were We? Oh yeah. MarijuanaPosted: January 15, 2014
Via Gawker, if you can’t watch the whole thing, skip to 4:00 to see why last night Anderson Cooper called this the greatest live hit the show’s ever done. My favorite moment is that big, bright, glassy-eyed smile at 5:15. (Second-favorite: The thoughtful explanation of the difference between sativa and indica.) The question here isn’t whether she’s high — the symptoms she describes are familiar even to non-users (losing her train of thought, finding things unusually funny, etc) — but whether she could have gotten this giggly from a contact high, i.e. from second-hand smoke without taking a hit herself. Answer: Yes, if she was around lots and lots of it. A single joint won’t do much to a bystander; 16 joints might. According to Kaye, she was riding around in the close confines of a limo all day with veteran potheads smoking blunts as big as cannons. Contact-high verdict: Plausible.