Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and prosperous 2013!

My final words here this month: may 2013 be a vintage year to all of you!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Great job, Fenton!

Here is the original:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Late-Life Brain Effects of Childhood Adversity - Psychiatry

The likelihood of cerebral infarcts in old age was greater with higher levels of emotional neglect in childhood. 

Whether childhood adversity is associated with stroke in older people is understudied. These investigators addressed the question in a longitudinal neuropathologic study of 1040 nondemented individuals (age, ≥55) who were examined annually (mean follow-up, 3.5 years) and gave permission for autopsy.

Childhood adversity before age 18 was assessed with a self-report scale that covered emotional neglect, parental intimidation or violence, family turmoil, and financial need. Psychiatric evaluations were not conducted. Of the 257 participants who died, the brains of 192 consecutive cases (mean age, 88; 68% female) were autopsied and examined for gross and microscopic cortical and subcortical infarcts in six regions of one hemisphere.

Cerebral infarcts were found in 46% of autopsies. Likelihood of infarcts was significantly correlated with adversity scores (odds ratio, 1.1). In analyses by subscores, the association was limited to emotional neglect. Infarcts were 2.8 times more likely in people who had scored at the 75th percentile of emotional neglect than in those who had scored at the 25th percentile. Clinical stroke, present in 40 participants, was not associated with neuropathology. Findings remained significant after adjustment for numerous socioeconomic and cardiovascular risk factors.

Comment: Despite study limitations (e.g., autopsy of only one hemisphere), the findings are consistent with developmental differences found in institutionalized preschool children, who improved clinically and on neuroimaging after placement in emotionally enriched homes. Shortened telomeres were associated with childhood adversity in the preschool study, and, as a commentator suggests, shortened telomeres might also be a risk factor for stroke. An important clinical question is whether corrective environmental experiences, implemented during younger adulthood, could prevent old-age cerebral infarcts.

Barbara Geller, MD
Published in Journal Watch Psychiatry September 19, 2012

Photography and its history

The history of photography is rich with chemical innovations and insights, producing hundreds of different processes to develop images in unique and often beautiful ways. But these historical images can be difficult to conserve, especially since each type of photograph requires a different preservation technique. While two photos could look very similar, they may differ chemically in dramatic ways.

This is where photo conservation scientists like Art Kaplan at the Getty Conservation Institute come into the picture. Art spends his days studying different styles of photographs, their materials and the chemistry that gave life to still life in the early days of photography. His office is loaded with drawers of photographic samples, scientific instruments and a clear passion for frozen history. In our latest video, Art explains the developmental processes of several types of photographs including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes.

Golden Oldies

Bobby Darin —  Splish, Splash, I Was Havin’ A Flash
Herman’s Hermits ==  Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Walker
Ringo Starr —  I Get By With A Little Help From My Depends
The Bee Gees —  How Can You Mend A Broken Hip?
Roberta Flack —  The First Time Ever I Forgot Your Face
Johnny Nash —  I Can’t See Clearly Now
Paul Simon —  Fifty Ways To Lose Your Liver
The Commodores —  Once, Twice, Three Times To The Bathroom
Procol Harem —  A Whiter Shade Of Hair
Leo Sayer —  You Make Me Feel Like Napping
The Temptations —  Papa’s Got A Kidney Stone
Tony Orlando —  Knock 3 Times On The Ceiling If You Hear Me Fall
Helen Reddy —  I Am Woman; Hear Me Snore
Abba — Denture Queen
Leslie Gore — It’s My Procedure,and I’ll Cry If I Want To
Willie Nelson — On the Commode Again

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What a knot

Rules of Writing

Brain Pickings sums up Helen Dunmore's wonderful rules of writing. Helen is a British novelist, poet, and children’s author:

  1. Finish the day’s writing when you still want to continue.
  2. Listen to what you have written. A dud rhythm in a passage of dialogue may show that you don’t yet understand the characters well enough to write in their voices.
  3. Read Keats'letters.
  4. Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn’t work, throw it away. It’s a nice feeling, and you don’t want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.
  5. Learn poems by heart.
  6. Join professional organisations which advance the collective rights of authors.
  7. A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk.
  8. If you fear that taking care of your children and household will damage your writing, think of JG Ballard.
  9. Don’t worry about posterity — as Larkin (no sentimentalist) observed ‘What will survive of us is love’.
Now you can join OCEARCH in tracking sharks along the side of leading researchers and institutions who are seeking to attain groundbreaking data on the biology and health of sharks, in conjunction with basic research on shark life, history and migration.

Shark Name: Success
Species: Carcharodon carcharias
Gender: Female
Stage of Life: Mature
Length: 16ft 7in
Weight: 3583 lbs.
Tag Date: 22 May 2012
Tag Location: Struisbaai

Friday, November 9, 2012

50 Shades of...


Paganini's Violin Concert Performed With Facial Expressions

Invisible Parents

For thousands of children in the European Union, crossing borders means losing their right to both parents -  because they are the same sex. This film launched on 5 November to change that, and raise awareness of this inequality.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Rolling Stones do The Beatles

Never-before-seen footage from the brand new version of Charlie Is My Darling - Ireland 1965.

Baby elephant rescue

The ATE team rescued this young eight months old calf. Luckily the report came in early in the morning and they were able to get there quick before the mother was forced to leave by herders arriving to water their cattle. It was a happy ending as they were able to reunite the calf with her mother, Zombe.

Google's data centers

See where the internet lives:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Message in a bottle

A Scottish fisherman has found the world's oldest message in a bottle, the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed last week. It is 98 years old, and was cast into the ocean by Captain C. Hunter Brown*, a scientist at the Glasgow School of Navigation, who was studying the currents in the North Sea.

The bottle was one of 1,890 bottles released on June 10, 1914, and the 315th to be entered into Captain Brown's log, which is still kept and updated by Marine Scotland Science in Aberdeen.
I'd say this qualifies as a nearly century-old citizen science experiment, though that's not a term scientists would have been familiar with then. Just take a look at the card contained in the bottle (which could be sent back to Hunter without postage). These drift bottles were data traps, intended to capture information with the help of regular people.

"Drift bottles gave oceanographers at the start of the last century important information that allowed them to create pictures of the patterns of water circulation in the seas around Scotland," explained Bill Turrell, Head of Marine Ecosystems with Marine Scotland Science explained in the official press release on the event. "These images were used to underpin further research -- such as determining the drift of herring larvae from spawning grounds, which helped scientists understand the life cycle of this key species."

But we don't have to take Turrell's word for it. Google scanned some old Scottish fisheries reports that contain reports from Brown's experiments. Sadly, copyright law prevents us from looking at the 1914 experiment, but we have full-text access to an earlier operation from 1907, which appears to have been the test case for the later, larger bottle drop. In fact, here's Brown's planned card, as shown in the 1907 version.

read more

Sunday, August 26, 2012

How To Be An Explorer Of The World

If you do not know where to start, Keri Smith will show you. You can also find out more here

A Capella Science

Here is a harmony addict working on a master's in theoretical physics. what ELSE was he going to make a YouTube channel about?

Separating Egg Yolks

This looks fun!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Baroque Yo Mama

This article, written by Obama under the name “Baroque Yo' Mama,” was published in the “Harvard Law Revue,” a parody of the Review done by the law school's graduating class. The article gives a look into young Obama's sense of humor and serves a preemptive send-up of Dreams From My Father.


The Amazon rainforest could not exist as we know it without the patch of African desert pictured above.

The rainforest is amazing, but the soil it produces is not very nutrient rich. All the minerals and nutrients that fertilize the rainforest have to come from some place else. Specifically: Africa. Scientists have known for a while that this natural fertilizer is crossing the Atlantic in the form of dust storms, but science writer Colin Schultz ran across a 2006 paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters that not only produces evidence for a much larger trans-oceanic transfer of dust than was previously assumed ... it also pinpoints the exact (and astoundingly small) location where all the fertilizer in the Amazon is coming from.

The research paper itself can be found here.

The Beatles final photo shoot

It has been a booming era for rediscovered Beatles photos, from the famous lost Beatles photographs taken by their tour manager to Linda McCartney’s tender portraits to Harry Benson’s luminous black-and-white photos of the Fab Four.

On 22 August in 1969, two days after their final recording session, the Beatles gathered at Tittenhurst Park, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono resided, for a photo shoot they did not realize would be their last — an instance of those bittersweet “unknown lasts” that wedge themselves between our lived experience and our memory, sometimes violently and other times with the tender wistfulness of nostalgia.

The cast of characters on that fateful August 22, captured by photographers Ethan Russell and Monte Fresco and Beatles assistant Mal Evans, included the Fab Four, Yoko Ono, a very pregnant Linda McCarney (a photographer herself), Apple Corps’ press officer Derek Taylor, Paul McCartney’s sheepdog Martha, and two donkeys Lennon and Ono kept on the property.

You can see more pictures here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Arno is fourteen years old

Arno is "celebrating" his fourteenth birthday today. He literally takes life step by step. Congratulations, brave boy!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Canada Trust Johnny Cash Money Machine 1985

I like this one. Quite hard to believe he actually did this.

The Olympic Banana

Are you watching the Olympics? You may have seen this clip already. Some dudes in Guildford went bananas when their colleague, Omar, ran for history with his personal Olympic Torch.

Nero catches a shrew mouse

My Belgian Griffon, Nero, achieved. He caught two mice the other week, thus proving that he is a true Griffon, capable of doing what his ancestors were supposed to do for a living: catching vermin. He had never seen a mouse before. I filmed the misfortune of one mouse (there were four of them in total). It felt uncomfortable, for I did not mind the mice being there, as long as they made no efforts to enter the house...

There you go if you want to:

Music is getting louder and blander

Possibly, it is true what people say about popular music. It is getting louder, more repetitive, less good. That is the conclusion of Mr. Serrá and his team.

Popular music is a key cultural expression that has captured listeners' attention for ages. Many of the structural regularities underlying musical discourse are yet to be discovered and, accordingly, their historical evolution remains formally unknown. Here we unveil a number of patterns and metrics characterizing the generic usage of primary musical facets such as pitch, timbre, and loudness in contemporary western popular music. Many of these patterns and metrics have been consistently stable for a period of more than fifty years. However, we prove important changes or trends related to the restriction of pitch transitions, the homogenization of the timbral palette, and the growing loudness levels. This suggests that our perception of the new would be rooted on these changing characteristics. Hence, an old tune could perfectly sound novel and fashionable, provided that it consisted of common harmonic progressions, changed the instrumentation, and increased the average loudness.

The article can be read here

William Burroughs writes to Truman Capote

"Letters of Note" is a great blog, one of my favorites. I am glad to see its contents will be published in November 2012. Anyway, here is another gem:

In 1966, a few months after first being serialised in The New Yorker, Truman Capote's genre-defining non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood — the true story of a quadruple murder in 1959 that Capote investigated, and the subsequent trial he attended — was published to much acclaim. The praise wasn't universal, however. The great William Burroughs wrote the following fascinating and damning letter to Capote in 1970.

July 23, 1970

My Dear Mr. Truman Capote

This is not a fan letter in the usual sense — unless you refer to ceiling fans in Panama. Rather call this a letter from "the reader" — vital statistics are not in capital letters — a selection from marginal notes on material submitted as all "writing" is submitted to this department. I have followed your literary development from its inception, conducting on behalf of the department I represent a series of inquiries as exhaustive as your own recent investigations in the sun flower state. I have interviewed all your characters beginning with Miriam — in her case withholding sugar over a period of several days proved sufficient inducement to render her quite communicative — I prefer to have all the facts at my disposal before taking action. Needless to say, I have read the recent exchange of genialities between Mr Kenneth Tynan and yourself. I feel that he was much too lenient. Your recent appearance before a senatorial committee on which occasion you spoke in favor of continuing the present police practice of extracting confessions by denying the accused the right of consulting consul prior to making a statement also came to my attention. In effect you were speaking in approval of standard police procedure: obtaining statements through brutality and duress, whereas an intelligent police force would rely on evidence rather than enforced confessions. You further cheapened yourself by reiterating the banal argument that echoes through letters to the editor whenever the issue of capital punishment is raised: "Why all this sympathy for the murderer and none for his innocent victims?" I have in line of duty read all your published work. The early work was in some respects promising — I refer particularly to the short stories. You were granted an area for psychic development. It seemed for a while as if you would make good use of this grant. You choose instead to sell out a talent that is not yours to sell. You have written a dull unreadable book which could have been written by any staff writer on the New Yorker — (an undercover reactionary periodical dedicated to the interests of vested American wealth). You have placed your services at the disposal of interests who are turning America into a police state by the simple device of deliberately fostering the conditions that give rise to criminality and then demanding increased police powers and the retention of capital punishment to deal with the situation they have created. You have betrayed and sold out the talent that was granted you by this department. That talent is now officially withdrawn. Enjoy your dirty money. You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished. Over and out. Are you tracking me? Know who I am? You know me, Truman. You have known me for a long time. This is my last visit.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mini Performance

Fresh from recording all 205 National Anthems to be played at this summer's games, the London Philharmonic Orchestra has teamed up with MINI for one more performance. All stand please for conductor Gareth Newman and the London 2012 Limited Edition MINI's unique tribute to Team GB.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Billion Euro House

Ever wonder what happens to misprinted currency? In the case of decommissioned Euro notes, the money gets shredded and formed into a papery brick. The blocks hold no monetary value and are likely viewed as useless hunks of paper by the masses, but not to Irish artist, Frank Buckley.

Buckley collected the pulped bricks totalling over 1 billion euro’s worth of paper shredded to build his art installation. The Dublin-based artist was unemployed thanks to Ireland’s economic crisis and as he watched friends and family lose their possessions and homes over nothing more than a lack of paper currency to call their own, he decided to channel his frustration until, the house made of shredded currency was born. Buckley built the house, which he dubbed the Billion Euro House, with the help of a local hardware store that donated some basic building materials to get Buckley started.

At this point, the house serves as Buckley’s residence during weekdays, and he lives in the garden shed of his family homes (that he is no longer able to live in) on weekends. After having opened the house to the public, Buckley received more than 300 visitors in just a couple of days. His goal to make something out of nothing has been reached as far as he is concerned, and thankfully, the mint who gave him the money bricks in the first place has decided to let Buckley treat his allotment of shredded bills as a loan that will be disposed of when he is finished with them. Buckley plans to add a kitchen to his Billion Euro House in the near future.


Face Forming Animation

Your pretty face wasn't always so pretty: the first animation of a face forming in the womb reveals how different features morph during development.

The time-lapse, produced for the BBC series Inside the Human Body, is based on human embryo scans captured between 1 and 3 months after conception, the period during which a face develops. Virtual sculptures were created at different stages, then combined by mapping hundreds of points to corresponding dots on the other models. "It was a nightmare for structures like the nose and palate, which didn't exist for most of the animation," says David Barker, the graphics researcher on the production. "Their formation is a complicated ballet of growth and fusion of moving plates of tissue."

A close look at the animation reveals that a face forms from three main features that rotate into place, meeting at the philtrum, the groove above the top lip. The transformation occurs with very precise timing and delays can result in a cleft lip or palate.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

100 Riffs

The history of rock and roll according to Alex Chadwick

 1 Mr. Sandman - Chet Atkins
 2 Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
 3 Words of Love - Buddy Holly
 4 Johnny B Goode - Chuck Berry
 5 Rumble - Link Wray
 6 Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
 7 Pipeline - The Chantays
 8 Miserlou - Dick Dale
 9 Wipeout - Surfaris
 10 Daytripper - The Beatles
 11 Can't Explain - The Who
 12 Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
 13 Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix
 14 Black Magic Woman - Santana
 15 Helter Skelter - The Beatles
 16 Oh Well - Fleetwood Mac
 17 Crossroads - Cream
 18 Communication Breakdown - Led Zeppelin
 19 Paranoid - Black Sabbath
 20 Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival
 21 Funk 49 - James Gang
 22 Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
 23 Bitch - Rolling Stones
 24 Layla - Derek and the Dominos
 25 School's Out - Alice Cooper
 26 Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple
 27 Money - Pink Floyd
 28 Jessica - Allman Brothers
 29 La Grange - ZZ Top
 30 20th Century Boy - T. Rex
 31 Scarlet Begonias - Grateful Dead
 32 Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
 33 Walk This Way - Aerosmith
 34 Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
 35 Stranglehold - Ted Nugent
 36 Boys Are Back in Town - Thin Lizzy
 37 Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult
 38 Carry on My Wayward Son - Kansas
 39 Blitzkreig Bop - The Ramones
 40 Barracuda - Heart
 41 Runnin' with the Devil - Van Halen
 42 Sultans of Swing - Dire Straits
 43 Message in a Bottle - The Police
 44 Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) - Neil Young
 45 Back in Black - AC/DC
 46 Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne
 47 Spirit of Radio - Rush
 48 Pride and Joy - Stevie Ray Vaughan
 49 Owner of a Lonely Heart - Yes
 50 Holy Diver - Dio
 51 Beat It - Michael Jackson
 52 Hot For Teacher - Van Halen
 53 What Difference Does It Make - The Smiths
 54 Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen
 55 Money For Nothing - Dire Straits
 56 You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
 57 The One I Love - REM
 58 Where the Streets Have No Name - U2
 59 Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses
 60 Sweet Child 'O Mine - Guns N' Roses
 61 Girls, Girls, Girls - Motley Crue
 62 Cult of Personality -Living Colour
 63 Kickstart My Heart - Motley Crue
 64 Running Down a Dream - Tom Petty
 65 Pictures of Matchstick Men - Camper Van Beethoven
 66 Thunderstruck - AC/DC
 67 Twice as Hard - Black Crowes
 68 Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson
 69 Enter Sandman - Metallica
 70 Man in the Box - Alice in Chains
 71 Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
 72 Give it Away - Red Hot Chili Peppers
 73 Even Flow - Pearl Jam
 74 Outshined - Soundgarden
 75 Killing in the Name - Rage Against the Machine
 76 Sex Type Thing - Stone Temple Pilots
 77 Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz
 78 Welcome to Paradise - Green Day
 79 Possum Kingdom - Toadies
 80 Say it Ain't So - Weezer
 81 Zero - Smashing Pumpkins
 82 Monkey Wrench - Foo Fighters
 83 Sex and Candy - Marcy Playground
 84 Smooth - Santana
 85 Scar Tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers
 86 Short Skirt, Long Jacket - Cake
 87 Turn a Square - The Shins
 88 Seven Nation Army - White Stripes
 89 Hysteria - Muse
 90 I Believe in a Thing Called Love - The Darkness
 91 Blood and Thunder - Mastodon
 92 Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
 93 Reptilia - The Strokes
 94 Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
 95 Float On - Modest Mouse
 96 Blue Orchid - White Stripes
 97 Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Green Day
 98 Steady As She Goes - The Raconteurs
 99 I Got Mine - Black Keys
 100 Cruel - St. Vincent

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bloom 2012

During the weekend of 7 July 2012 the Ostend Thermae Palace Hotel was turned into a flower oasis thanks to the skills of dozens of florists.

I was one of the first people to enter the exhibition on 7 July and did some filming. A lot of cutting took place afterwards, for it was impossible to bundle all the floral splendor I saw into a short video in which I tried hard to steady my camera and avoid people. Some of the exhibition space was kept in the dark or the shade to protect the flowers. What you see is an impression of my Bloom visit. Enjoy.

It is possible that the quality of the video is not 100% yet. YouTube is still processing it at the moment.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Slow down, fast eaters!

Research presented at the International Congress of Endocrinology and European Congress of Endocrinology shows that people who eat fast have a 2.5-times higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, compared with slower eaters.

"The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is increasing globally and becoming a world pandemic. It appears to involve interaction between susceptible genetic backgrounds and environmental factors," study researcher Dr. Lina Radzeviciene, of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, said in a statement. "It's important to identify modifiable risk factors that may help people reduce their chances of developing the disease."

For the study, researchers examined the eating habits of 468 people without diabetes and 234 people who had just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Everyone answered a questionnaire, where they explained whether their eating habits were slower, faster, or the same as others. The researchers also noted their waist and hip circumference, height and weight.

After adjusting for other factors like body mass index (BMI, a ratio of height to weight), smoking status, diabetes and education, the researchers found that Type 2 diabetes risk seemed to be linked with eating faster.

This is certainly not the first time research has suggested a link between eating speed and health risks. A previous study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that speed-eaters are more likely to be obese than slow-eaters.

And the faster people ate, the more their BMI rose - 2.8% for each "step" increase on the five-step eating-speed scale (equivalent to an extra 4.3 pounds), researchers found.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stress and dementia

UK experts are to begin a study to find out if stress can trigger dementia.

The investigation, funded by the Alzheimer's Society, will monitor 140 people with mild cognitive impairment or "pre-dementia" and look at how stress affects their condition. The researchers will take blood and saliva samples at six-monthly intervals over the 18 months of the study to measure biological markers of stress.

They hope their work will reveal ways to prevent dementia. The results could offer clues to new treatments or better ways of managing the condition, they say.

read more

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Matter of Weight

The average weight of an adult human is 137 pounds (62 kg) according to a league table of the world's 'fattest' nations from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Find out how you compare to other adults using this interactive graphic.

The pacific island nations of Micronesia and Tonga are at the top of the league table, followed closely by the United States where the average adult weighs 180.62 pounds (81.93 kg).

The United Kingdom is the tenth fattest country in the world, where an average adult weighs 167.1 pounds (75.8 kg).

The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health and launched on Monday at the United Nations conference Rio+20, highlights the problem of obesity in relation to the environment.

Excess consumption shortens people's lives and accelerates the destruction of the environment, and is concentrated in richer countries.

While the average body mass globally was 62 kg, North Americans weigh in at 81.9 kg.

R.I.P. Lonely George

Staff at the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador say Lonesome George, a giant tortoise believed to be the last of its subspecies, has died.

Scientists estimate he was about 100 years old.

Park officials said they would carry out a post-mortem to determine the cause of his death.
With no offspring and no known individuals from his subspecies left, Lonesome George became known as the rarest creature in the world.

For decades, environmentalists unsuccessfully tried to get the Pinta Island tortoise to reproduce with females from a similar subspecies on the Galapagos Islands.
Park officials said the tortoise was found dead in his corral by his keeper of 40 years, Fausto Llerena.

read more

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cook With The Hook

On Saturday, July 6, 1974, Mississippi-Delta bluesman John Lee Hooker was one of the star attractions at an all-day festival attended by 6,000 people. The event in the town of Gardner Massachusetts was called "Down in the Dumps" perhaps the first in what was proposed as a series of musical events to be held in the city landfill area. Luckily, very luckily, Hooker's performance was captured on a three camera shoot and broadcast on cable television in local cities and towns.

A Couple of my Faves

When studying for my exams I take breaks at very regular intervals during which I stroll through the tiny garden and make pictures of the flowers. Here are a couple of my faves. The fun part of the exercise is watching the flowers on my big computer screen. The detials you see are stunning.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

BC Telenet Oostende: they did it.

It has been a while but Oostende managed to win the final play off game against Spirou Charleroi (75-74) yesterday evening. Since I have exams I could not go, and just watched the final minutes on TV. Congrats Oostende! Afterwards, I could not sleep...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hello, I am Nero

Nero is feeling a lot better again. The limp is as good as gone, especially if he has serious business to attend to: barking, keeping an eye on the new chickens in the garden next to ours, sun bathing... which is his priority number one.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wish me well

Little Nero hurt his leg in the garden yesterday. It is unclear what happened, but he came back limping, and appeared to be unable to stand on his leg.  He is an active little fella, jumping and running around a lot. So, it has happened before that he maneuvered a bit too passionately. This time however, he needs more time to recover. As a result I dog walked on my own yesterday evening, leaving both Arno and Nero behind, wondering "Why is she leaving without us?"
Nero is asleep at the moment. He gets medication for his leg, and will spend the next couple of weeks resting. He is already walking around again, albeit with a minor limp. If the situation does not improve any further, I will take him to the vet. And please, wish him well! It helps more than you can imagine...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dog behavior

As you can see Nero is a pervert. He just forces himself upon Arno's nose. Some of his body parts will soon get their share of trimming too, but he does not know that yet.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

But mummy?

The Gruesome History of Eating Corpses as Medicine        

The last line of a 17th century poem by John Donne prompted Louise Noble’s quest. “Women,” the line read, are not only “Sweetness and wit,” but “mummy, possessed.”

Sweetness and wit, sure. But mummy? In her search for an explanation, Noble, a lecturer of English at the University of New England in Australia, made a surprising discovery: That word recurs throughout the literature of early modern Europe, from Donne’s “Love’s Alchemy” to Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene,” because mummies and other preserved and fresh human remains were a common ingredient in the medicine of that time. In short: Not long ago, Europeans were cannibals.

Noble’s new book, Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture, and another by Richard Sugg of England’s University of Durham, Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians, reveal that for several hundred years, peaking in the 16th and 17th centuries, many Europeans, including royalty, priests and scientists, routinely ingested remedies containing human bones, blood and fat as medicine for everything from headaches to epilepsy. There were few vocal opponents of the practice, even though cannibalism in the newly explored Americas was reviled as a mark of savagery. Mummies were stolen from Egyptian tombs, and skulls were taken from Irish burial sites. Gravediggers robbed and sold body parts.

“The question was not, ‘Should you eat human flesh?’ but, ‘What sort of flesh should you eat?’ ” says Sugg. The answer, at first, was Egyptian mummy, which was crumbled into tinctures to staunch internal bleeding. But other parts of the body soon followed. Skull was one common ingredient, taken in powdered form to cure head ailments. Thomas Willis, a 17th-century pioneer of brain science, brewed a drink for apoplexy, or bleeding, that mingled powdered human skull and chocolate. And King Charles II of England sipped “The King’s Drops,” his personal tincture, containing human skull in alcohol. Even the toupee of moss that grew over a buried skull, called Usnea, became a prized additive, its powder believed to cure nosebleeds and possibly epilepsy. Human fat was used to treat the outside of the body. German doctors, for instance, prescribed bandages soaked in it for wounds, and rubbing fat into the skin was considered a remedy for gout.

Blood was procured as fresh as possible, while it was still thought to contain the vitality of the body. This requirement made it challenging to acquire. The 16th century German-Swiss physician Paracelsus believed blood was good for drinking, and one of his followers even suggested taking blood from a living body. While that doesn’t seem to have been common practice, the poor, who couldn’t always afford the processed compounds sold in apothecaries, could gain the benefits of cannibal medicine by standing by at executions, paying a small amount for a cup of the still-warm blood of the condemned. “The executioner was considered a big healer in Germanic countries,” says Sugg. “He was a social leper with almost magical powers.” For those who preferred their blood cooked, a 1679 recipe from a Franciscan apothecary describes how to make it into marmalade.

Rub fat on an ache, and it might ease your pain. Push powdered moss up your nose, and your nosebleed will stop. If you can afford the King’s Drops, the float of alcohol probably helps you forget you’re depressed—at least temporarily. In other words, these medicines may have been incidentally helpful—even though they worked by magical thinking, one more clumsy search for answers to the question of how to treat ailments at a time when even the circulation of blood was not yet understood.

However, consuming human remains fit with the leading medical theories of the day. “It emerged from homeopathic ideas,” says Noble. “It’s 'like cures like.' So you eat ground-up skull for pains in the head.” Or drink blood for diseases of the blood. Another reason human remains were considered potent was because they were thought to contain the spirit of the body from which they were taken. “Spirit” was considered a very real part of physiology, linking the body and the soul. In this context, blood was especially powerful. “They thought the blood carried the soul, and did so in the form of vaporous spirits,” says Sugg. The freshest blood was considered the most robust. Sometimes the blood of young men was preferred, sometimes, that of virginal young women. By ingesting corpse materials, one gains the strength of the person consumed. Noble quotes Leonardo da Vinci on the matter: “We preserve our life with the death of others. In a dead thing insensate life remains which, when it is reunited with the stomachs of the living, regains sensitive and intellectual life.”

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Monday, April 30, 2012

The psychosis cannabis link

There seems so be something wrong with the titles of my posts.  My huge computer screen refuses to show them to me. My laptop proves to be more willing. Anybody else experiencing trouble reading the titles of my posts?
Anyhow, here is an interesting article about the link between psychosis and cannabis use. I am currently doing an internship in a psychotic ward, and it is quite unnerving to watch the struggle of young people. A struggle (partially?) caused by substance abuse.

"Marijuana doesn’t count, does it?” Clinicians are familiar with this common reply when screening for drug use. Cannabis—the most common illicit substance—has managed to exempt itself from the hazardous reputation held by other illicit drugs.1 As mental health practitioners, it is our duty to educate our patients about the potential harms and consequences of cannabis use. This important task is complicated by the disagreement and uncertainty surrounding the nature of the interaction between cannabis and psychotic disorders.

While research suggests that cannabis use can induce an acute psychotic state, there is controversy about whether it may precipitate psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. In this article, we provide an update on the literature on this important issue, emphasize areas in need of research, and provide clinically useful recommendations.

More than 16 million Americans use cannabis on a regular basis, typically beginning in adolescence. Notably, it is estimated that approximately 4% of the population have a diagnosis of either cannabis abuse or dependence.1 A history of cannabis misuse is even more common in patients who are schizophrenic than in the general population; 25% of patients with schizophrenia have a comorbid cannabis use disorder. Cannabis use disorders are especially common in younger and first-episode patient samples and in samples with high proportions of males."

Continue reading here.


From The Guardian, 27 April 2012:

"This week, with the help of national treasure Joanna Lumley, Marks & Spencer launched its Shwopping campaign. The idea is to encourage people to bring old garments into stores when they buy new ones, to reduce the 1bn items chucked into UK landfill each year. The old clothes will be sold or recycled by Oxfam, which already offers a £5 voucher to people bringing old M&S clothes into its charity shops.
Lumley is no fool. "We women, I think, know in our hearts that we shouldn't chuck stuff away," she told the Telegraph. "I think young people have been encouraged to buy something, wear it for months and throw it out."
One is tempted to suggest M&S would achieve its aims better if it discouraged feckless clothes-buying, by specialising in more expensive investment items, made in Britain, like it used to. Or refrained from selling so much of its food in plastic packaging.
But all retailers want consumers to keep consuming. If they can market the idea that it's green to do so, they will. And "Shwopping"? It's an ugly word for a mildly dubious enterprise. I don't suppose there's much harm in it. But I can't help feeling it's not good enough for such enthusiastic endorsement from Lumley."

The Human Body

Yes, it has been a while... During my absence the Blogger user interface has totally changed. As a result it has taken me about twenty minutes to find the button which allows me to add new stuff.  What I would like to share today is a link to a book about the human anatomy. If only that book would have served as my manual last year... My exam results would have been much better. I am sure of it. Hell, what am I blathering about? "The human body, what it is and how it works". Just look at the illustrations. Wonderful! Absolutely stunning.

And there is more:

Originally published in 1959, this colorful gem was inspired by German artist and researcher Fritz Kahn, who in his 1926 classic Man as Industrial Palace described the human body as “the highest performance machine in the world” and used industrial metaphors to illustrate its remarkable capacities.

From the nine systems of the body — skeletal, muscle, nervous, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, endocrine, and reproductive — to the intricacies of the different organs and senses, the tantalizing tome demonstrates, in delightfully illustrated detail, just how magnificent our physical complexity is.
You can find more information about it here. Of course, you can also buy it. Check Amazon.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On the road again

Hmmm, I suppose this is good soul food: a documentary from 1963 going back to where it all started. Enjoy.

OTRA from J. Sprig on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012


To celebrate my mom's and my own birthday we had lunch at the Ganache. I was told that the chef gained experience at restaurant De Karmeliet, which is not bad at all...
What matters is that the food was fresh and tasty. I want more.

Digital tools to save languages

Facebook, YouTube and even texting will be the salvation of many of the world's endangered languages, scientists believe.
Of the 7,000 or so languages spoken on Earth today, about half are expected to be extinct by the century's end.
Globalisation is usually blamed, but some elements of the "modern world", especially digital technology, are pushing back against the tide.
North American tribes use social media to re-engage their young, for example.
Tuvan, an indigenous tongue spoken by nomadic peoples in Siberia and Mongolia, even has an iPhone app to teach the pronunciation of words to new students.
"Small languages are using social media, YouTube, text messaging and various technologies to expand their voice and expand their presence," said K David Harrison, an associate professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College and a National Geographic Fellow.
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The Beauty and The Geek

No more keyboard trouble with the Beauty and The Geek pants. As well as being a pair of comfortable jeans, the pants also contain a wireless mouse, keyboard, and speakers. Look closely, the orange stitching also resembles a printed circuit board pattern pattern.

Oh, and get this: The pants can be tethered to your computer using either a bluetooth connection, or a cable that wraps around your waist like a belt. Just be sure you aren't wearing any cords.

nerd alert

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Little Arno

Generally speaking Arno is doing better than say six months ago. Is not that excellent news? He lost 1,5 kg in one year, which was really necessary. He is digesting his new diet well, and I can now give him food supplements he could not handle before. His skin and fur are beginning to look better again too. On the other hand, his little short legs and back are clearly hurting. So walking remains a very hard thing to do. He is also sleeping an awful lot. My mother reports he sometimes sleeps until 1,30 PM. He is also growing increasingly deaf.  He will be 13,5 years old this month.  Considering how often that little fella has been ill, nobody ever believed he would grow that old.
A new month has started. That means it is time for the dogs to take a bath!!!!  Oh, it has started freezing. Babe, the pig, is really living inside the house now. Her behind is built for warmth.

Earliest Copy of Mona Lisa

The earliest copy of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, Mona Lisa, has been found in the vaults of a Spanish museum, looking younger and more ravishing than the original (original = left, copy = right).

Art historians have hailed the discovery, made during conservation work at the Prado Museum, as one of the most remarkable in recent times.

Museum officials said it was almost certainly painted by one of Leonardo da Vinci's apprentices alongside the master himself as he did the original.

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Saint Dominic's Preview - Van Morrison

He never sings a song the same way twice. That is one of the reasons why Van is Van The Man. I have been listening to "It's Too Late To Stop Now"  a lot lately. Saint Dominic's Preview is one the many great songs on that album. This rendition is different, but equally superb.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ha! Men are worse at parking their cars than women.

I do not know how trustworthy The Telegraph is, but I surely enjoyed reading their article about covert surveillance of car parks across Britain, which has shown that while women may take longer to park, they are more likely to leave their vehicles in the middle of a bay.
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jeff Rowley tames big wave

Extreme Big Wave Surfer, Jeff Rowley has raised the bar for his Charge for Charity in 2011/12 by pledging to catch a 50 foot wave by hand, conquering his fears and raising money for his charity, Breast Cancer Australia.
Breast Cancer Australia is a non-profit trust which raises funds to support breast cancer research programs, to raise awareness for prevention measures and early detection of breast cancer, provide equipment used at diagnostic, treatment and research levels and to provide dignified accommodation for patients and families during oncology treatment.