Brains are so overrated. Sure, they let us know when it's time to poop and help us to find our car keys, but that's not very impressive for an organ that takes up just about all of the space in a skull. You could totally get away with a smaller brain just fine. Check it out: according to The Washington Post, a seemingly healthy fella was found to have a 3.5" air bubble in his skull where a good chunk of his grey matter should be and he was still walking around, eating sandwiches and everything.
The 84-year-old gentleman's missing brains were discovered after he complained of taking frequent falls and a loss of sensation on one side of his body – symptoms commonly associated with a stroke. When he reported to the emergency room to get checked out, the ER doctors were gobsmacked to discover that their patient had a massive, pressurized air bubble – called a pneumatocoele – in his skull where brains should have been.
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The empty head space was particularly surprising because the man arrived in the emergency department with afflictions otherwise common for his age. He had been complaining to his regular doctor about repeated falls and feeling unsteady in recent months. When the man added left-sided arm and leg weakness to the list of complaints, his doctor advised him to go to the emergency room, fearing a possible stroke.
But aside from the weakness and unsteadiness, the man was in good shape. In the case report, doctors noted that “there was no confusion, facial weakness, visual or speech disturbance… He was otherwise fit and well, independent with physical activities of daily living (PADLs) and lived at home with his wife and two sons.
The Kids in the Hall are Canada's greatest national export.
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Buying products that are locally grown or made in your community is a great way to bolster your local economy and support small businesses in your community. Unfortunately being able to tell which products actually come from near the area where you live can be next to impossible, thanks to lax regulation and bullshit on the part of international conglomerates.
According to USA Today (disclaimer: I occasionally write for their tech site, Reviewed.com), many of the state branding programs put in place to inform consumers of where the the food that they're buying comes from don't mean a damn thing. This is because many of the food branding programs currently in place allow for up to half of the ingredients in a product to come from out of state.
Over the past four months, USA Today had reporters in their network hunt down the laws and regulations surrounding how locally-sourced products are presented for sale. Of the 45 states that rock these branding programs, 18 of them set no minimum requirement for how much locally-grown content needs to be in a product to earn a state brand. Worse still, 36 of the 45 states have no annual inspection process to be able to vet whether companies are actually using locally sourced ingredients in their products. And even if they were to get caught for lying about what's in the junk they make, 40 of the states with local source branding programs have no penalties for mislabeled products. So, a company could falsely claim to be making cookies in your basement and they wouldn't face any consequences for doing so. Read the rest
Loneliness. Fear of catching HIV. Kink. No matter the reason for why someone might want to hump a sex doll, the Zambian government is against it. In fact, Zambia's politicians are so horny to put a stop to the import and use of such sex toys that it's become a top shelf political issue.
Zambia's government has always taken a hard line against anything that rubs up against their conservative christian sensibilities. Homosexuality, for example, is punishable with up to 14 years in prison. Law enforcement in the African nation is quick to clamp down on anyone who might dare to step over the line of its ethical norms. As such, you won't find any shops selling sex toys, at least not out in the open. Most of the hardware designed to turn reproductive bits into an amusement park have to be bought online before being discreetly imported into the country.
The logic for keeping adult toys and plastic pleasure partners out of the nation comes from the Bible, according to Godfridah Sumaili. She's Zambia's head of its recently created, totally-not-something-out-of-an-Orwell-novel Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs:
"Being a Christian nation, obviously we are anchored in Christian principles and one of the values is morality and ethics... The use of sex dolls is definitely in contradiction to our natural heritage and our principles. The law actually forbids anybody to trade (in) and to use such objects -- and so this is why we are saying for Zambians that this is a very unnatural thing."
It's always great to see a nation using religious dogma to control how its citizens pleasure themselves or who they love to keep them scared and in line. Read the rest
I wouldn't feed Charles Manson's corpse to my dog, let alone fight over it. Not everyone's of the same mind: after a whole lotta legal jibba-jabba, the courts have finally decided on who gets possession of his remains. According to Jezebel, Manson's grandson, Jason Freeman, has won the dead cult-leader lottery, having been awarded the right to take possession of his murderous progenitor's remains:
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Manson died on November 19th after more than 40 years behind bars, but in all that time it was never agreed upon who would win the rights to his corpse once he finally kicked the bucket. If you thought he’d be quietly cremated and deposited in a dumpster behind a seafood restaurant like he probably deserved, well, you were wrong. It turns out an entire gaggle of people were after the cult leader’s ice-packed remains, including Freeman, longtime pen pal Michael Channels, a musician named Matt Lentz who claims to be his son, and another dude named Michael Brunner who also claims to be his son.
Jeff Goldblum admits that he can't cook. But that won't keep Jeff Goldblum from cooking. In this video Jeff Goldblum Jeff Goldblums the shit out of a pot of soup. Product plugs abound, but hey: Jeff Goldblum.
It's not as good as Cooking with Chrisopher Walken, but I'll take it. Read the rest
I read a lot. It's part of my job as a writer. Sadly, most of what I read these days is kind of terrible. We do awful things to one another. We've been doing it for a long time. Here's something terrible that I learned today.
In 1972, Herman Wallace was in the Louisiana State Penitentiary doing a stretch for armed robbery. While he was inside, one of the prison's guards was murdered. Wallace and two other black men--Robert King and Albert Woodfox--were convicted for the murder.
There was just one problem: they weren't guilty.
To say that Wallace, King and Woodfox, known members of the militant Black Panther Party, were unpopular with the penitentiary's staff was an understatement. Back then the trio insisted that the crime was being hung on them because of the color of their skin and their political beliefs. Their declaration of innocence wasn't enough to save them from being punished for the guard's murder. The trio was declared guilty. Wallace spent the next 41 years of his life in solitary confinement.
In 2013, a United States Federal Court Judge overturned Wallace's sentence, stating in no uncertain terms that Wallace's trial had been "unconstitutional" and ordered his immediate release. The Department of Corrections complied with the order.
A few days later, Wallace died of liver cancer. The only moments of freedom he had known in over four decades were also his last. King and Woodfox were a little more lucky--both managed to stay alive for more than a few days after leaving prison. Read the rest
If you've managed to get through the whole of Monday without being driven into a white-hot rage, don't worry, I've got your back: the owner of an unlicensed daycare has been sentenced to decades in prison for drugging the kids under her care, daily, so that she could go to the gym to work out and tan.
According to The Oregonian, when parents left their kids with 32-year old January Neatherlin at her Little Giggles, they did so believing that their children would be well cared for while they were at work. And they were--provided your definition of care includes pumping kids full of a compound that makes them sleep for hours, every day.
It seems that, instead of doing her job, Neatherlin would, on a daily basis, give each of the children under her care a gummy candy chockful of melatonin, so that the kids would snooze for long enough that she could nip out to get swol and tan. To cover for her behavior, Neatherlin insisted that parents not drop off or pick up their kids between 11am and 2pm, as it would screw with the day care's nap-time schedule.
Neatherlin might have gotten away with her high-fallootin' pro-grade narcissism, had it not been for complaints about her pattern of child endangerment to the police from a former roommate and an ex-boyfriend. The police surveilled Neatherlin and discovered that she was routinely clocking in at a local cross-fit gym when she was supposed to be watching the kids back at Little Giggles. Read the rest
As a species, we've got a long history of being shitty to one another for no other reason than skin color. White folks, myself included, have arguably earned the right to drop the mic on bigotry. Over the centuries, we honed systemic racism to such a razor edge that the cuts our ugly worldview made are still being suffered today. As our world's recent politics have illustrated, a lot of people still buy into this superiority-of-the-white-man bullshit. But it's getting better. Views are changing, albeit slowly, and we're crawling on our knees towards equality.
I think that one of the reasons that it's taking us so long to get there is that no one likes to admit that they're wrong. Doing so puts you in a perceived position of weakness, which is ironic given that owning one's faults can be so powerful. Believing this as I do, I was really surprised to read this morning that National Geographic decided to call itself to account for the racist reporting that its correspondents have written and they've published over the decades:
Instead of wasting their time on naval gazing, the magazine's editorial team asked an outsider, historian John Edward Mason, to hunt down all of the ugly, racist writing he could find from National Geographic's archives. As National Geographic's current Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg explains, examining the publication's past was both painful and necessary:
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I’m the tenth editor of National Geographic since its founding in 1888. I’m the first woman and the first Jewish person—a member of two groups that also once faced discrimination here.
My wife and I love Shakey Graves. Love. Him.
His music is in constant rotation in our motorhome, no matter whether we're parked or on the move. He fills our ears when we're out for groceries or driving our pooch to the park. After years of listening to him from afar, we finally had the opportunity to catch him live this past November. The show was in San Antonio, Texas. The doors opened 90 minutes before Shakey hit the stage. We were surrounded by people half our age. The concrete pad we were standing on and a chill in the air had everyone there uncomfortable in feet and temperature. Everyone drank $10 mixed drinks and buckets of canned beer in a misguided attempt to stay warm. Some folks partook in left-handed cigarettes. Those people were kicked out. The wife and I re-upped our cups with hooch from the flask I'd snuck past the doormen. She and I discovered that maybe we're getting too old for going to outdoor gigs. She and I agreed that maybe we were even too old to bother with any venue that doesn't come with theater seating. Our feet and knees hurt for a days, afterwards.
But it was totally worth it.
I've seen a lot of performers in my time. I used to be one myself. Some are terrible. Some, like me, are capable but have no presence on stage--ham and eggers looking to make a living. Others are all show and no real talent--they rely on a skilled band and tricks of the trade to sell songs and tickets. Read the rest
Working as a housekeeper at a hotel is a disgusting, thankless job. Read the rest
Viola Desmond was the badass mother of the Canadian civil rights movement.
Born in 1914 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she grew up in the predominately pale-faced province avoiding notoriety until until she was old enough to leave home. In her home province, her skin color made it impossible for her to attend beauty school – local educators wouldn't have her. Determined to better herself, Desmond traveled to Montreal for her education as an aesthetician, before continuing on to Atlantic city and New York City to round out her skills. Returning to Nova Scotia, she opened her own beauty salon – the first by a black woman in the province. While chasing down her dream of being a business owner is impressive, it's not what brought her the most notoriety in our country.
While attending a movie in the village of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1946, she called bullshit on the theatre's bigoted ticketing rules. The owner of the theater demanded that whites and blacks sit in different parts of the building. Additionally, anyone with skin that wasn't as white as the driven snow was forced to pay an additional penny for the privilege of seeing a film. Desmond refused to pay more than the white moviegoers did, nor would she comply with the owner's order to leave the whites-only seating area. For her trouble, she was charged for a tax violation – it was the only way that the government of her day could punish her for daring to defy the horse shit of racial segregation. Read the rest
A war hero who saved American lives under fire deserves the best care our government can muster. It's the very least they deserve for bravely serving overseas. Unfortunately, not all soldiers returning from active duty have been paid this respect. Nor have the canine soldiers in their ranks.
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In a country that has so much, it should be a crime to leave the less fortunate with so little. But it isn't, so here we are: As part of a United Nations study on poverty and human rights abuses in America, researchers have stated that rural Alabama is home to the worst poverty in the developed world.
According to Advance Local, the U.N. Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, was shocked at the level of environmental "degradation," economic inequality and systematic racism in the state:
Of particular concern to Alston are specific poverty-related issues that have surfaced across the country in recent years, such as an outbreak of hookworm in Alabama in 2017—a disease typically found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa.
You should know that economic inequality and racial discrimination lend themselves to civil rights abuses. That makes poverty a human rights issue.
A lot of us, including myself, live comfortably enough. I know where my next meal is coming from. Too many of our fellow citizens aren't as fortunate. The fault for this, according to Alston, can be laid at the feet of our governments:
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“The idea of human rights is that people have basic dignity and that it’s the role of the government — yes, the government! — to ensure that no one falls below the decent level,” he said. “Civilized society doesn’t say for people to go and make it on your own and if you can’t, bad luck...
Whaling isn't as cool as it used to be, and it's far from necessary. Many of the products we used to make from whale carcasses, such as lamp oil or whale bone baleen – which was used to make everything from typewriter springs to shirt collars – have been replaced by modern technologies. So it's puzzling to hear that Norway has announced a 28% increase of its whaling quote this year.
According to The Guardian, the new quota will raise the number of whales that the Norwegian fisheries are allowed to harvest to 1,278 animals. The increase smacks of political bullshit, given the fact that, in recent years, Norway's fishing industry wasn't able to kill enough whales to meet the existing quota. In 2017, Norwegians only killed 432 whales. Two years earlier, their fisheries took out 660 animals. That sounds like an industry in decline to me. But Norway has a different spin on the falling numbers: high fuel prices and too few whale processing plants have kept the nation's fishing industry from fulfilling its quota.
“Greenpeace believes Norway should take the logical consequences of the International Whaling Commission’s ban on commercial whaling, the widespread opposition to whaling, as well as the lack of local market for the products, and close down this unnecessary and outdated industry.”
The increased quota might be a stab at stimulating Norway's fishing industry, creating new jobs and infrastructure spending. If that's the case, it's a shortsighted plan, at best. There's only three countries in the world that still authorize whaling: Norway, Japan and Iceland. Read the rest
According to The Hill, a Florida middle school teacher who moonlighted as a hate-spewing white nationalist podcast host has been removed from the classroom by the school board she worked for. Her suspension from shaping young minds was put in place by school board officials while they investigate exactly how shitty a person she might be:
On Friday, March 2, 2018 the Citrus County School District was made aware of a concerning podcast by a Huffington Post reporter. The reporter indicated they believed one of the persons participating in the podcast was a teacher at Crystal River Middle School. The Human Resources department was notified and an investigation was initiated immediately. The teacher has been removed from the classroom and the investigation is ongoing. Pursuant to Florida Statute an open investigation and materials related to it are exempt from public record and cannot be discussed until the investigation is complete.
Last week, the Huffington Post reported that Dayanna Volitich, a 25-year-old social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle School, located just north of Tampa, was hosting a white supremacist podcast, using the name "Tiana Dalichov.” to separate her racist bullshit from her life as a teacher. Given that Volitich bragged on a recent about podcast about bringing white nationalist ideals into her classroom, her being kicked to the curb, even on a temporary basis, is a win for anyone who doesn't want the next generation of Americans raised with a head full of hateful bullshit.
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According to Engadget, America's futurist military think tank, DARPA, wants to figure out the means to slow down the biological functions of the human body to provide more time for medics and doctors to treat their wounded patients.
If the notion of biostasis sounds like the stuff of science fiction to you, that's because it totally is – at least for now. While some creatures are able to regulate the cells in their body to the point where they can survive long-term freezing or dehydration, humans are, comparatively, delicate little snowflakes. We bleed out, we die. By finding a way to slow down or freeze the functions of our bodies, combat-injured soldiers could have more time to make it to life-saving treatments away from the front lines. Were DARPA to find a way to do this for soldiers, the rest of us could likely wind up benefiting too. In the past, other medical technologies, antihemorrhagic compounds, like those found in QuikClot bandages, found their start on the battlefield, but have made their way into the civilian market.
If you're interested in seeing how DARPA's biostasis program pans out, you'd best get comfortable. DARPA won't even start answering the questions from companies looking to throw science at the problem until later this month.
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