Thursday, October 29, 2009

Documentary on Crazy Cat Ladies Trailer

A curry a day keeps the doctor away

The BBC has been publishing articles about the wonderful health benefits of Turmeric. Apparently it has just been found to 'kill cancer cells dead', relieve the suffering due to arthritis, and prevent Alzheimers. Yum!

Photos of Egyptian Animal Mummies

For more, see the Nat Geo gallery from the Egyptian museum in Cairo.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cannabis protects the brain from binge drinking

Marijuana may protect the brain from some of the damage caused by binge drinking (drinking more than 4-5 units of alcohol in one night), according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego performed brain scans on 16- to 19-year-olds in three groups: binge drinkers, binge drinkers who also smoke pot, and those with very little drug or drinking experience.

Binge drinkers showed damage in their white matter. But those who drink and smoke showed more damage than the control group in only three of eight areas of the brain. In seven of the areas, their brains were in better shape than the binge drinkers.

Researchers said in a news release from the Marijuana Project that the result was unexpected.

They said it could be that marijuana somehow stops alcohol from damaging brain cells.

The study was published online by the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology.

Astronomer Carl Sagan on Stoned Insights

A friend once told me that famed astronomer and noted head Carl Sagan wrote notes from his high self to his sober self to trust in his stoned revelations. I haven't confirmed that, but Sagan was definitely into the wacky tobaccy. In 1969, Sagan contributed a piece about his marijuana use for the book "Marihuana Reconsidered." Sagan wrote under the pseudonym of Mr. X, but he was later confirmed as the author.

From Marihuana Reconsidered:

When I'm high I can penetrate into the past, recall childhood memories, friends, relatives, playthings, streets, smells, sounds, and tastes from a vanished era. I can reconstruct the actual occurrences in childhood events only half understood at the time. Many but not all my cannabis trips have somewhere in them a symbolism significant to me which I won't attempt to describe here, a kind of mandala embossed on the high. Free-associating to this mandala, both visually and as plays on words, has produced a very rich array of insights.

There is a myth about such highs: the user has an illusion of great insight, but it does not survive scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that this is an error, and that the devastating insights achieved when high are real insights; the main problem is putting these insights in a form acceptable to the quite different self that we are when we're down the next day. Some of the hardest work I've ever done has been to put such insights down on tape or in writing. The problem is that ten even more interesting ideas or images have to be lost in the effort of recording one. It is easy to understand why someone might think it's a waste of effort going to all that trouble to set the thought down, a kind of intrusion of the Protestant Ethic. But since I live almost all my life down I've made the effort - successfully, I think. Incidentally, I find that reasonably good insights can be remembered the next day, but only if some effort has been made to set them down another way. If I write the insight down or tell it to someone, then I can remember it with no assistance the following morning; but if I merely say to myself that I must make an effort to remember, I never do.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Living close to Nature improves mental health

BBC reports
that being around nature reduces depression, anxiety and a host of physical ailments:
Research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health says the impact is particularly noticeable in reducing rates of mental ill health.

The annual rates of 15 out of 24 major physical diseases were also significantly lower among those living closer to green spaces.

I guess living in a city is more shitty.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More crazy clouds

From Wired. Looks like an upside down ocean.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cloud Halo hovers over Moscow

From the Telegraph:
Talking to the Daily Mail, a spokesman from Moscow's weather forecasting service said: "Several fronts have been passing through Moscow recently, there was an intrusion of the Arctic air too, the sun was shining from the west - this is how the effect was produced.

"This is purely an optical effect, although it does look impressive," he added.

"If you look closer, you can see sun rays coming through that cloud. Most likely, the sun was setting when the video was being made.

"If you observe clouds regularly, you may see many other astonishing things. Clouds of the same class may look absolutely different in different areas," he said.

What actual Mayans are saying about 2012

From blogger Maggie Koerth-Baker:
When your three-year checkbook calendar runs out, does that signal the end of the world? No? It's pretty much the same for the Mayan calendar and 2012.

In fact, the idea of a countdown to cataclysmic apocalypse is a Western, not Mayan idea, say some Mayans who are getting fed up with the hype. You can read more about their perspective in this AP article: "2012 Isn't the End of the World, Mayans Insist."

Another important thing to think about: The amount of money being raked in by woo-woo charlatans (and, now, big entertainment companies) who are all capitalizing off what amounts to willful misinterpretations of Mayan legends, traditions and science. My college anthropology professor (and expert in Central and South American archaeology) John Hoopes had some interesting thoughts on this...

I'd like to see more of the revenue from the hyping of 2012 mythology through books, movies, conferences, and websites go directly to the living descendants of the ancient Maya whose cultural heritage and intellectual property is being appropriated without their knowledge or consent for the financial benefit of non-Maya hucksters.

This raises a lot of questions about who owns traditional knowledge. I don't claim to have the answer, though. There are a lot of wrinkles and complications, including the good possibility that the living Maya probably have no legal standing when it comes to these issues. But I suspect it has much more to do with what's ethically responsible than with legal obligations.
I don't know that I know the best way to handle this, either. But, whether or not the living Maya should be paid for the use (or misuse) of their ancestors' ideas, I personally see a lot of racism at play in this story. Not the white hood sort of racism, sure. But I'm don't think I have a better word for what happens when the largely white and wealthy American New Age community co-opts and exoticises the traditions of a marginalized native people and then ignores those people when they say, "That's not what our traditions mean. Please stop misrepresenting us."

Monday, October 5, 2009

stop-motion building art

"cloud" cloud

Artist Ron English did some sky writing with the word cloud dissolving into clouds..

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nasal spray developed to improve memory

Long term memories are primarily encoded from the day's events during REM sleep (which is why pulling all-nighters cramming for an exam is a bad idea), now scientists have found that a nasal spray containing the immune system hormone interleukin-6 can help boost that REM sleep long-term memory formation. Smart drugs!

Giant Balloon monsters

Giant monsters made from balloons! Click the link for more.

Art mosaics made from free sample paint chips

Free samples of paint chips (like benjamin moore style) can be used to make pixellated mosaic paintings for free.