Saturday, September 03, 2016

Kratom Outlawed.

Very interesting indeed. Kratom gets Schedule 1 and people are freaking out.



Thursday, April 07, 2016

Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation | TED Talk | TED.com

Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation | TED Talk | TED.com

"When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have conversations — and that most of us don't converse very well. Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. "Go out, talk to people, listen to people," she says. "And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed."

Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Presidential (really?) campaign.

This (not so) presidential candidates to the highest office in the US of A are not the brightest bulbs in the drawer. Is it just me, or this whole campaign is just shameful? 

Leave me your thoughts below. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

These 29 Clever Drawings Will Make You Question Everything Wrong With The World

Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski has worked in satirical illustration since 2004, specializing in thought-provoking images that make his audience question their everyday lives. His subjects deal with everything from social media to politics to poverty, and all have a very distinct message if you look closely enough…

These 29 Clever Drawings Will Make You Question Everything Wrong With The World

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Most Fascinating Human Evolution Discoveries of 2013 | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

The Most Fascinating Human Evolution Discoveries of 2013 | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

The Most Fascinating Human Evolution Discoveries of 2013

Curated by Rene Volpi.

Sahelanthropus tchadensis

Sahelanthropus tchadensis had a
tiny brain, but one that had nonetheless undergone some reorganization
toward the human condition. Image: Didier Descouens, via Wikimedia
Wow. I’ve just spent the last couple days going through the
paleoanthropology news that broke in 2013 and I must say it was a banner
year. There were so many exciting new findings that bear on scientists’
understanding of just about every chapter of humanity’s
seven-million-year saga—from our ancestors’ first upright steps to the
peopling of the Americas. But don’t take my word for it. Check out the
links below for highlights from our latest turn around the sun and see
for yourself just how very far we have come.

  • Analysis of the shape of the braincase of seven-million-year-old Sahelanthropus tchadensis from Chad supports the claim that it is the oldest human ancestor on record.
  • The femur of Orrorin tugenensis, a putative human ancestor
    that lived six million years ago in Kenya, has a shape that is
    intermediate between that of fossil apes and early members of the human
    lineage—a finding that confirms previous claims that the creature walked upright.
  • Tiny, rarely preserved middle-ear bones from two of our ancient
    relatives that lived millions of years ago exhibit modern features,
    which may indicate an early shift in hearing ability.
  • The latest round of studies of Australopithecus sediba, a
    nearly two-million-year-old relative of ours from South Africa, reveals
    a previously unknown form of upright walking and decidedly humanlike
    jaws and teeth. But is it the ancestor of our genus, Homo? Not so fast.
  • Spectacular skull from the site of Dmanisi
    in Georgia is the fifth skull to emerge from the site, which dates to
    1.77 million years ago. The specimens are quite diverse in size and
    shape, yet they all come from the same time and place, and thus surely
    belong to the same species. The discovery team argues that the variation
    seen in this one group suggests that several early human species that
    scientists have named may in fact belong to a single, variable species.
    Not everyone agrees. Either way, some of the variation evident in the
    lower jaw bones from Dmanisi may be the result of overuse of toothpicks.
  • A hand bone dating to nearly 1.5 million years ago, probably from H. erectus, shows
    that a key feature related to the dexterity and strength necessary for
    making and wielding complex tools evolved half a million years earlier
    than previously thought.
  • Researchers unearthed a treasure trove of fossils
    belonging to an as-yet-unidentified human relative from a cave in South
    Africa’s Cradle of Humankind—and invited the world to follow the
    adventure as it unfolded (not the usual way of doing things in
    paleoanthropology, which is notoriously secretive).
  • DNA from a 400,000-year-old fossil from Spain—the oldest human DNA yet by a long shot—unexpectedly resembles DNA from the mysterious Denisovan people who lived in Siberia 80,000 years ago.
  • Stone-tipped javelins from Ethiopia
    date to more than 279,000 years ago, making them nearly 200,000 years
    older than the previous record holders. Experts thought that H. sapiens
    was the first species to invent composite projectiles, but the new
    finds pre-date the origin of our kind and thus must be the handiwork of
    another species. It’s one more wrinkle in the surprisingly complex story
    of the evolution of human creativity.
  • The first high-quality genome of a Neandertal—a
    female who lived in Siberia around 50,000 years ago–shows that her
    parents were as closely related as half siblings and that her recent
    ancestors mated with close relatives, too. Comparison of her genome with
    genomes of other extinct humans suggests that both Neandertals and an
    unknown human species interbred with the mysterious Denisovans from
    Siberia—yet more evidence of interspecies boot-knocking among our ancestors.
  • Additional wrist bones
    of the wee human “hobbits” that lived in Indonesia as recently as
    17,000 years ago bolster the case for the remains representing a
    distinct species, H. floresiensis, and not diseased modern
    humans as critics have claimed. On a sad note, archaeologist Mike
    Morwood, co-discoverer of our little hobbit cousins, passed away.

About the Author: Kate Wong is an editor and writer
at Scientific American covering paleontology, archaeology and life
sciences. Follow on Twitter @katewong.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

How to: Enjoy Paris for free | Matador Network

How to: Enjoy Paris for free | Matador Network
Curated by Stillmind on June 6th, 2013
Youthful Fortune (excerpt)
By lucky, youthful fortune, a friend of ours turned out to have a crumbling apartment in the Latin Quarter that we could stay in, as long as we were out by the end of the weekend—he’d recently sold the place and new ownership was soon to take effect.
On our last evening, we were having a meal on the mattress–cheese, pâté, wine–when a girl came into the apartment to take away all of the furniture.
It was embarrassing—our friend had forgotten to tell us she would be coming, and had forgotten to tell her that we would be there—but in broken language we all apologized until we were weary of apologizing, and then helped her unhook the washing machine from the wall.
We slept without a mattress that night, sweating profusely in the late August heat, but it was okay, somehow—and it was free.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Men and Women Can't Be "Just Friends": Scientific American

Curated by me, today.

Researchers asked women and men "friends" what they really think—and got very different answers


high school aged kids I just don't think about you that way. Image: iStock/Skip O'Donnell

  • What a Plant Knows

    How does a Venus flytrap know when to snap shut? Can it actually feel an insect’s tiny, spindly legs? And how do cherry blossoms know when to bloom? Can they...

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Can heterosexual men and women ever be “just friends”? Few other questions have provoked debates as intense, family dinners as awkward, literature as lurid, or movies as memorable. Still, the question remains unanswered. Daily experience suggests that non-romantic friendships between males and females are not only possible, but common—men and women live, work, and play side-by-side, and generally seem to be able to avoid spontaneously sleeping together. However, the possibility remains that this apparently platonic coexistence is merely a façade, an elaborate dance covering up countless sexual impulses bubbling just beneath the surface.
New research suggests that there may be some truth to this possibility—that we may think we’re capable of being “just friends” with members of the opposite sex, but the opportunity (or perceived opportunity) for “romance” is often lurking just around the corner, waiting to pounce at the most inopportune moment.
In order to investigate the viability of truly platonic opposite-sex friendships—a topic that has been explored more on the silver screen than in the science lab—researchers brought 88 pairs of undergraduate opposite-sex friends into…a science lab.  Privacy was paramount—for example, imagine the fallout if two friends learned that one—and only one—had unspoken romantic feelings for the other throughout their relationship.  In order to ensure honest responses, the researchers not only followed standard protocols regarding anonymity and confidentiality, but also required both friends to agree—verbally, and in front of each other—to refrain from discussing the study, even after they had left the testing facility. These friendship pairs were then separated, and each member of each pair was asked a series of questions related to his or her romantic feelings (or lack thereof) toward the friend with whom they were taking the study.
The results suggest large gender differences in how men and women experience opposite-sex friendships. Men were much more attracted to their female friends than vice versa. Men were also more likely than women to think that their opposite-sex friends were attracted to them—a clearly misguided belief. In fact, men’s estimates of how attractive they were to their female friends had virtually nothing to do with how these women actually felt, and almost everything to do with how the men themselves felt—basically, males assumed that any romantic attraction they experienced was mutual, and were blind to the actual level of romantic interest felt by their female friends. Women, too, were blind to the mindset of their opposite-sex friends; because females generally were not attracted to their male friends, they assumed that this lack of attraction was mutual. As a result, men consistently overestimated the level of attraction felt by their female friends and women consistently underestimated the level of attraction felt by their male friends.
Men were also more willing to act on this mistakenly perceived mutual attraction. Both men and women were equally attracted to romantically involved opposite-sex friends and those who were single; “hot” friends were hot and “not” friends were not, regardless of their relationship status.  However, men and women differed in the extent to which they saw attached friends as potential romantic partners.  Although men were equally as likely to desire “romantic dates” with “taken” friends as with single ones, women were sensitive to their male friends’ relationship status and uninterested in pursuing those who were already involved with someone else.

Men and Women Can't Be "Just Friends": Scientific American

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Honey Hunters of Nepal

The Honey Hunters of Nepal

Remarkable Photography! (Photo Gallery)

Friday, November 25, 2011

BBC News - In pictures: Cairo protests fill Tahrir Square

Truly impressive images.

BBC News - In pictures: Cairo protests fill Tahrir Square

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Somalia famine: Minister warns of starvation in rebel controlled areas | Global development | guardian.co.uk

Curated by Stillmind
August 2nd- 2011.
Somalia famine: Minister warns of starvation in rebel controlled areas | Global development | guardian.co.uk

Somalia refugee drought
A Somali refugee drags a sack with food aid given to her at a food distribution point at the Dadaab refugee camp this week. Photograph: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty

Somalia's deputy prime minister tells FAO meeting that people in areas controlled by Al-Shabaab may starve to death if aid does not reach them in the next few weeks

The vast majority of people in insurgent-controlled areas of Somalia may starve to death unless aid reaches them in the next few weeks, said Mohamed Ibrahim, Somalia's deputy prime minister.

Ibrahim's blunt warning came at an emergency summit in Rome organised by France, the current president of the G20, and the Foodand Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as the world community seeks to mobilise help to relieve Somalia's first famine in 18 years.

Somalia's deputy prime minister said the fundamental cause of the famine was the fragility of the state and enduring conflict that has hindered the provision of basic services. He also blamed insurgents who have blocked lifesaving aid.

"The plight of the Somali people is desperate," said Ibrahim. "We have witnessed suffering in the heart of the capital."

Access to affected regions has emerged as a key problem in the current crisis. Last week, the UN declared a famine in two regions of Somalia southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle. Somali Islamist rebels, who control these areas, last week denied lifting a ban on certain aid groups indrought-affected areas and rejected the UN's claim that there is a famine in the region.

Earlier this month, the rebel group al-Shabaab, which controls much of southern Somalia, had said earlier this month that it would allow all humanitarian groups access to assist with the drought response. But al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told a local radio station on Friday that the ban on specific aid agencies, which was imposed in 2009 and 2010, still stands.

At the time, the rebels accused various humanitarian groups, including the UN's World Food Programme (WFP), which is expected to lead the current drought response, of damaging the local economy, being anti-Muslim, and of spying for the government.

An estimated 11.6 million people need humanitarian assistance in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, according to the UN.

As G20 leaders met in Rome, Save the Children warned that the number of malnourished children in 14 of its feeding centres in camps in Puntland, northern Somalia, has doubled from 3,500 to 6,000 in just two weeks.

The number of acutely malnourished children – and those who will die without emergency assistance – has also doubled, rising from 300 children to 600 in the last two weeks at the charity's clinics in Puntland.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said its feeding centres were operating beyond their original capacity and, compared to last year, they were receiving up to seven times more patients in certain locations each week. MSF said "spontaneous camps" are emerging in various locations, such as in the Lower Juba Valley.

Save the Children said if world leaders at the emergency meeting fail to plug a $1bn (£613m) funding gap for the east Africa aid effort, more than a million children could die in Somalia alone.

Save the Children pointed out that, despite organising the meeting, the French government has donated just £1.6m to the aid effort, lagging far behind the UK government's recent £52m donation. Italy – the host of today's summit and Europe's fourth largest economy – has contributed only £550,000. Norway told the FAO meeting that it was ready to contribute more money to the relief effort, while the EU has increased its funding to euros 100m. It hopes to increase this further to euros 160m.

Funding commitments

In a pointed intervention, Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to the UN on the millennium development goals, said the world needed to turn to the Gulf states if it was serious about raising money quickly.

"We have to look to the Gulf states," he said. "It is the only place where the money really is. This is a room of governments without money."

In a later press conference, Kanayo Nwanze, the head of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a UN special agency, chastised the lack of political leadership in Africa in supporting agriculture.

"If Africa does not get its house in order and expects the world to help us out, we are dreaming," said Nwanze. "Thank goodness Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana are moving ahead with agriculture."

He criticised African governments for not keeping their 2003 promise to earmark 10% of their budgets for agriculture.

"Less than 10 countries have fulfilled that pledge," he said.

The World Bank promised to provide more than $500m to help drought victims. The money would be spent on projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia, including the worst-stricken areas in that country "where circumstances permit", the bank said.

"The recurring nature of drought and growing risk it poses to social and economic gains in this region calls not only for immediate relief from the current situation, but also for building longterm drought resilience," said Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank vice-president for Africa.

Opening the meeting, the FAO's director general, Jacques Diouf, said there was a need for greater co-ordination in response to the drought and famine in east Africa to "save our brothers and sisters of dying of thirst and hunger".

He said the world was faced with a similar crisis in the region in 2000, which prompted the then secretary general of the UN, Kofi Annan, to appoint an inter-agency taskforce to investigate what could be done to make the region more food secure.

The resulting report, The elimination of food insecurity in the Horn of Africa: A strategy for concerted government and UN agency action, recommended each of the seven countries in the area draft food security programmes, the implementation of regional food security programmes, expanding markets and trade opportunities, and improving in-country health and nutrition.

The report said large-scale infrastructure was needed alongside investment in small-scale projects, particularly in rural roads, livestock markets and basic services, "ensuring that these developments are community-driven".

Diouf drew parallels with the recommendations made in the report by the taskforce, which he led, and the situation now. He pointed out that irrigation was an important component in addressing the crisis. Just 1% of land in the effected region was irrigated in 2000, he said.

Little appears to have been done to increase this figure. An estimated 2% of land in eastern and southern Africa is believed to now have an irrigation system in place; only about 7% of land in the whole of Africa is irrigated, compared with more than 30% of land in Asia.

Diouf said the 2000 crisis was averted and international attention drifted to other issues. "Must history always repeat itself?" he asked. "And in the first few years of the 21st century, must the international community go through the agonising spectacle of seeing children and livestock dying, as in ancient Egyptian times?

"My hope is that the international community and the G20 in the next few years will marshal enormous resources so in the future such tragic events are nothing more than a bad memory ... that fields will be irrigated and roads will be built so the region will no longer weigh on our collective conscience."

The executive director of the World Food Programme, Josette Sheeran, said the current crisis stemmed from a "triple storm" of drought, soaring food prices and conflict.

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