Great deal on a Dremel compatible rotary tool ($13)

I have a battery powered Dremel which is good for light work, but I wanted a rotary tool with more oomph. I decided to take a chance on the $13 WEN Variable Speed Rotary Tool Kit. This thingsis crazy powerful and fast. I used it to rough out some wooden spoons I made this weekend:

It comes with a bunch of bits, sanding discs, polishing pads, and mandrels. It also has a keyless chuck spindle lock that you can turn by hand to swap bits without a wrench.

For a few bucks more you can buy the the same tool with a flexible shaft. I just bought that one, too!

A guide to prisons for white collar criminals

When rich people are somehow forced to go to prison, they stay in minimum-security federal prison camps (FPCs). Perks include air conditioning, "superior" medical care, regular Internet access, step aerobics classes, ceramics, crocheting, knitting, practice rooms for musicians, basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, and an "on-site sweat lodge that's used for Native American religious ceremonies." This 2012 Town and Country article has photos of these places, which look like pretty nice college dorms.

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Placebos work even when you know they don't contain medicine

A review of five studies, involving 260 patients, published last month found that 'open-label' placebos – those that patients know contain no active medication – can improve symptoms in a range of conditions," reports The Guardian.

One Harvard Medical School study gave placebos to 80 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Thirty seven patients were told they were being given placebo pills and 43 were given no treatment. Those receiving the placebo had "significantly greater scores than the no-treatment control on the main outcome measure, Global Improvement Scale."

In another study "chronic lower back pain patients openly given dummy pills to add to their existing treatments reported an average 30% pain reduction." The other three open placebo studies "reported reduced symptoms for depression, lower back pain, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."

Why do placebos work? The Guardian lists three possibilities:

  1. Patients who have had positive experiences with doctors might have "subconscious boosts to levels of endorphins and neurotransmitters," making them feel better.
  2. When patients are told that placebos are effective, it could result in "a conscious expectation of improvements, resulting in chemical releases that relieve their symptoms."
  3. The embodied cognition effect: "the possibility of improvement can trigger subconscious signals to pass between different parts of the body, resulting in chemical releases that alleviate symptoms."

Watch: Women taunt men for peeing in public in new pipe ad in India

Last week, Astral Pipes released a commercial in India that addresses the lack of our most basic needs: privacy when urinating and defecating. This is especially important for women, who take a risk every time they venture out to relieve themselves in nature. In the ad, a group of men in their pajamas go out to a field to do their business, when suddenly they are surrounded by a bunch of chanting women, who shame the men and even snap photos of them with an cel phone.

When the men plead with them to consider their honor, the women respond, "Oh, really? When we are assaulted or raped because we have to go to the field in the cover of darkness to relieve ourselves, what happens to privacy or honor?"

According to NPR:

More than 500 million people — representing more than half of the world's toilet-less people – live in India. According to UNICEF, India has nearly 200,000 diarrheal deaths yearly among children under age five, the highest number in the world. Open defecation is a contributing factor.

And without private toilets, the health of women and girls suffers, too. Many develop genitourinary infections from not urinating frequently enough — and from poor hygiene during menstruation.

The U.N. report also says the lack of private toilets exposes women to physical attacks and even natural dangers like animal attacks and snake bites. Stories of girls being assaulted when they go to do their business in the fields abound.

The ad has gone viral on YouTube, at almost 600,000 views.

The DEATH STAR, an armored weed grinder with enough power to grind weed

I could not resist a $9 Death Star weed grinder.

It looks like the Death Star and it grinds weed! Mission accomplished. I am not sure I will use it very often, but this grinder will sit next to the headpiece for the Staff of Ra in my living room. Its a cool knickknack for $9.

The 'heavy feeling' zinc alloy feels heavy. You have the choice of leaving a screen in and having the weed all sit in the grinder teeth, and kief falling in a holding cell -- OR you can remove the screen and have the weed all just fall together! Not a lot to this baby.

This item appears to be the same as more expensive variants of the Death Star grinder, down to the packaging. This version does not come with the cleaning tools that I doubt you'll really want.

Formax420 Death Star Grinder Star War Round Grinder 3 Pieces Spice Mill 1.9 inch via Amazon

Thinking of the history of life on Earth in terms of "energy epochs"

Olivia P. Judson's paper in Nature, The energy expansions of evolution, presents a novel, beautifully written and presented frame for looking at the history of life on Earth: as a series of five epochs in which energy became more abundant and available to lifeforms, allowing them to scale up in complexity and fecundity: geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh and fire. (more…)

The electable Mr Corbyn

UK Theresa May called snap UK elections (after promising not to) in order to consolidate power in her own party, shutting up the MPs who didn't fall into line with her policies -- this was the same logic behind her predecessor David Cameron's decision to call a referendum on Brexit, and both banked on the idea that the UK electorate wasn't willing to vote for an "unthinkable" alternative in order to tell the establishment to go fuck itself. (more…)

Donald Trump 0045 - Superspy!

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GET Ruben Bolling’s new hit book series for kids, The EMU Club Adventures. (”Filled with wild twists and funny dialogue” -Publishers Weekly) Book One here. Book Two here.

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