Recently I tried to persuade a friend, a professional woman in her 40s, to create a Facebook account. Like many people, I’m a regular user, usually to post photos and updates of my daughter’s sports and academic accomplishments — and to keep track of friends and family. But my friend believed Facebook would drain her time. She said that if she couldn’t maintain friendships in the real world, she wasn’t interested in keeping up with the small details of people’s lives.
There has been a lot of scholarship devoted to the study of Facebook, sparking debate about the mental health and personality traits of frequent users. Most recently, research from Western Illinois University suggested, like other studies before it, that Facebook appeals to our most narcissistic tendencies. The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, asked 292 people to answer questions aimed at measuring how self-involved they were.
Those who frequently updated their Facebook status, tagged themselves in photos and had large numbers of virtual friends, were more likely to exhibit narcissistic traits, the study found. Another study found that people with high levels of narcissism were more likely to spend more than an hour a day on Facebook, and they were also more likely to post digitally enhanced personal photos. But what the research doesn’t answer is whether Facebook attracts narcissists or turns us into them.
The Well Column
Tara Parker-Pope on living well.
Last month, a study of 233 Facebook-using college students by researchers at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the University of Hartford took a different approach. Were the students primarily writing self-promoting status updates? Or were they interested in others, clicking “likes” and posting comments on friends’ pages? How many Facebook friends did they collect?
Legacy: Obituaries “Legacy.com is the leading provider of online obituaries for the newspaper industry. Legacy.com enhances online obituaries with Guest Books, funeral home information, and florist links.”
There are more than 600 individual skeletal muscles in the human body. – Provided by RandomHistory.com
Painting by Lucien Freud (do a search for him and his work)
The serial infomercial-improvers at Jaboody Dubs present their take on ridiculous as-seen-on-TV bag-fastening apparatus “the Ba’Noodle.”
Who knew it was so useful for hiding bodies? Put me down for a dozen!
(Sorta not safe for work, check this sh*t out.)
Leaked Memo: Afghan ‘Burn Pit’ Could Wreck Troops’ Hearts, Lungs
A bulldozer dumps a load of trash into a burn pit just 300 yards from the runway at Bagram Airfield, January 2012. An Army memo from 2011 found the burn pit is associated with “long-term” health effects on soldiers at Bagram. Photo: U.S. Army
For years, U.S. government agencies have told the public, veterans and Congress that they couldn’t draw any connections between the so-called “burn pits” disposing of trash at the military’s biggest bases and veterans’ respiratory or cardiopulmonary problems. But a 2011 Army memo obtained by Danger Room flat-out stated that the burn pit at one of Afghanistan’s largest bases poses “long-term adverse health conditions” to troops breathing the air there.
The unclassified memo (.jpg), dated April 15, 2011, stated that high concentrations of dust and burned waste present at Bagram Airfield for most of the war are likely to impact veterans’ health for the rest of their lives. “The long term health risk” from breathing in Bagram’s particulate-rich air include “reduced lung function or exacerbated chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, atherosclerosis, or other cardiopulmonary diseases.” Service members may not necessarily “acquire adverse long term pulmonary or heart conditions,” but “the risk for such is increased.”
The cause of the health hazards are given the anodyne names Particulate Matter 10 and Particulate Matter 2.5, a reference to the size in micrometers of the particles’ diameter. Service personnel deployed to Bagram know them by more colloquial names: dust, trash and even feces — all of which are incinerated in “a burn pit” on the base, the memo says, as has been standard practice in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade.
Daily Life: May 2012 – The Big Picture
Thousands of images are supplied by multiple wire services to newspapers across the country each day. Many of those images depict ordinary scenes of life in different countries around the world. There are three picture editors that contribute to the Big Picture blog, each of them seeing the world in a little bit of a different way. Their backgrounds, their experiences, their interests – all very disparate. Each of them given the same resources (the visual wire) to edit from, each choosing very different ways to tell a story. The following photographs are my choices of those images for the month of May (and a few from late April) illustrating daily life around the world. — Paula Nelson (53 photos total)
A very honest BMW ad for used cars.
Neurosurgery Restores Quadriplegic Use of Hands
Several years after suffering a devastating spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down and cost him the use of his hands, a 71-year-old quadriplegic has regained the use of his thumb, index finger, and middle finger and is able to perform tasks like feeding himself and writing with assistance. This was achieved thanks to a pioneering procedure to reroute the nerves in his arm and restore communication between his brain and hand. Since the neural pathway between the patient’s brain and upper arm remained intact following the accident, connecting a nerve in his upper arm to one of the nerves leading to his hand restored his ability to pinch and grip things with his fingers.
Don’t think bacon can get any better? We prove it can.
Watch more Super Quick Video Tips at
Debris piling up around Earth that could seriously damage spacecraft and satellites has reached a tipping point. So how are we going to get rid of it?
The six astronauts were awoken early and scrambled into escape capsules. Nasa ground control had spotted a piece of space debris hurtling towards their temporary home aboard the International Space Station 244 miles (390 km) above the Earth. The fast-moving junk was spotted just one day before its potential impact, making it too late to manoeuvre the station to a safer orbit. The only course of action for the three Russians, two Americans and one Dutch astronaut crew was to take shelter and prepare to evacuate if required.
In the event, the debris, a chunk of a defunct military communications satellite, missed by the ISS by approximately 7.5 miles (12 km). The incident, in March, was the latest close shave for the space station. Six other crew members had to take shelter in June last year when another piece of junk whistled just 1,100 feet (335 metres) past the station. ..
IN the heyday of the Soviet era, Communist leaders were described by the dissident Yugoslav theorist Milovan Djilas as the “New Class,” whose power lay not in ownership of wealth but in control of it: all the property of the state was at their beck and call. There was the apocryphal but appropriate story of Brezhnev’s showing his humble mother around his historic office, his magnificent collection of foreign luxury cars and his palatial dacha with its superb meals, and asking for her impressions — to which she replied: “It’s wonderful, Leonid, but what happens if the Bolsheviks come back?”
But if even a fraction of the stories about the wealth and lifestyles of China’s “princelings” — the descendants of Mao’s revolutionary generation — are to be believed, China’s New Class wants not only control, but also ownership. Few of China’s netizens are likely to believe that Bo Xilai, the Politburo member and party boss of the mega-city of Chongqing who was ousted in March on corruption charges, was an aberration.
Why has ownership of wealth become so important for the Chinese elite? And why have so many Chinese leaders sent their children abroad for education? One answer surely is that they lack confidence about China’s future.
The latest developments in cosmology point toward the possibility that our universe is merely one of billions.
“What really interests me is whether God had any choice in creating the world.”
That’s how Albert Einstein, in his characteristically poetic way, asked whether our universe is the only possible universe.
The reference to God is easily misread, as Einstein’s question wasn’t theological. Instead, Einstein wanted to know whether the laws of physics necessarily yield a unique universe—ours—filled with galaxies, stars, and planets. Or instead, like each year’s assortment of new cars on the dealer’s lot, could the laws allow for universes with a wide range of different features? And if so, is the majestic reality we’ve come to know—through powerful telescopes and mammoth particle colliders—the product of some random process, a cosmic roll of the dice that selected our features from a menu of possibilities? Or is there a deeper explanation for why things are the way they are?
In Einstein’s day, the possibility that our universe could have turned out differently was a mind-bender that physicists might have bandied about long after the day’s more serious research was done. But recently, the question has shifted from the outskirts of physics to the mainstream. And rather than merely imagining that our universe might have had different properties, proponents of three independent developments now suggest that there are other universes, separate from ours, most made from different kinds of particles and governed by different forces, populating an astoundingly vast cosmos.
LUSAKA, Zambia — The teenagers started arriving at the Arcades outdoor shopping center here just as the sun began to set. They took over the parking lot first, then the sidewalks. Within half an hour, the strutting and preening groups occupied just about every available pedestrian space.
Joshua Banda, a 15-year-old who wore green Converse All Stars with matching laces, sat with two friends at the edge of a gurgling fountain, surveying the crowds of girls. He proclaimed himself a fan of Lil Wayne and then told me he wants to be a lawyer.
Joshua’s parents moved to a Lusaka shanty when he was small. His father is a watchman, his mother cleans offices. Seeing Joshua’s education as the best guarantor of their own future, they saved from their measly earnings to pay for school for him and an older brother. Joshua has learned a bit about sacrifice as well, though of a different sort. Since he can’t afford a cell phone on his own — and since, in Lusaka, teenagers are nobodies without cell phones — he shares one with his best friend.
The new mall culture in Zambia’s capital, which I’ve watched expand almost exponentially in visits over the last three years, is booming all over Africa, in places like Accra and Dakar, Windhoek and Gaborone, Nairobi and Maputo. Driving it are young people like Joshua and his friends, a generation that is growing up like none that preceded it: a bulging new cohort of young people with disposable income, however modest, a keen and up-to-the-minute sense of youth trends and of consumerism around the world, and, most importantly, the expectation that life that will continue to get better and richer and fuller of choices.
Of all the indignities visited on the writer’s life these days, none is more undignified than the story or pitch meeting, a ritual to which every writer, from the gazillion-dollar screenwriter to the lowly essayist, will sooner or later submit. “So tell us the story,” the suits say after a few minutes of banter and schmooze, and the writer gulps and jumps in. “Well, uh, it’s sort of, like—it’s sort of a fish out of water story…“and then as one pale incident succeeds the next, the tycoons emit a slow burn of polite disbelief and boredom, ending with a forced smile and a we’ll-get-back-to-you. Sometime. Soon…
And yet something interesting, even encouraging, is revealed in this ritual, all its humiliations aside. Stories, more even than stars or spectacle, are still the currency of life, or commercial entertainment, and look likely to last longer than the euro. There’s no escaping stories, or the pressures to tell them. And so the pathetic story-pitcher turns to pop science—to Jonathan Gottschall’s new book, “The Storytelling Animal,” for instance— for some scientific, or at least speculative, ideas about what makes stories work and why we like them. Gottschall’s encouraging thesis is that human beings are natural storytellers—that they can’t help telling stories, and that they turn things that aren’t really stories into stories because they like narratives so much. Everything—faith, science, love—needs a story for people to find it plausible. No story, no sale.
Penn Jillette and Michael Goudeau talk about President Barack Obama’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon and his previous drug use.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Born on this day in 1859)
Conan Doyle was a Scottish writer noted for his tales about fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally a doctor, Conan Doyle studied under the sharp-eyed Dr. Joseph Bell, who was noted for his ability to draw accurate conclusions about people through observation. Bell was thus the model for Holmes, who appeared for the first time in 1887. Conan Doyle “killed off” Holmes in 1893 but was forced by public demand to resurrect him. What famous unsolved hoax might the author have perpetrated? More…
Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras: ‘It’s a war between people and capitalism’
“I don’t believe in heroes or saviours,” says Alexis Tsipras, “but I do believe in fighting for rights … no one has the right to reduce a proud people to such a state of wretchedness and indignity.”
The man who holds the fate of the euro in his hands – as the leader of the Greek party willing to tear up the country’s €130bn (£100bn) bailout agreement – says Greece is on the frontline of a war that is engulfing Europe.
A long bombardment of “neo-liberal shock” – draconian tax rises and remorseless spending cuts – has left immense collateral damage. “We have never been in such a bad place,” he says, sleeves rolled up, staring hard into the middle distance, from behind the desk that he shares in his small parliamentary office. “After two and a half years of catastrophe Greeks, are on their knees. The social state has collapsed, one in two youngsters is out of work, there are people leaving en masse, the climate psychologically is one of pessimism, depression, mass suicides.”
But while exhausted and battle weary, the nation at the forefront of Europe’s escalating debt crisis and teetering on the edge of bankruptcy is also hardened. And, increasingly, they are looking towards Tsipras to lead their fight.
“Defeat is the battle that isn’t waged,” says the young politician who almost overnight has seen his radical left coalition party, Syriza, jump from representing fewer than 5% of Greeks to enjoying ratings of more than 25% in polls.
“You ask me if I am afraid. I’d be afraid if we continued on this path, a path to social hell … when someone fights there is a big chance that he will win and we are fighting this to win.”
What baboons can teach us about social status
ScienceDaily (May 21, 2012) — Turns out it’s not bad being top dog, or in this case, top baboon.
A new study by University of Notre Dame biologist Beth Archie and colleagues from Princeton and Duke Universities finds that high-ranking male baboons recover more quickly from injuries and are less likely to become ill than other males.
Archie, Jeanne Altmann of Princeton and Susan Alberts of Duke examined health records from the Amboseli Baboon Research Project in Kenya. They found that high rank is associated with faster wound healing. The finding is somewhat surprising, given that top-ranked males also experience high stress, which should suppress immune responses. They also found that social status is a better predictor of wound healing than age.
Farmer Discovers Howe Caverns (1842)
Howe Caverns is a cave system in east-central New York that lies 156 ft (48 m) below ground. It was discovered in 1842, when farmer Lester Howe began to wonder why his cows all seemed to gather near one particular hill on hot summer days. Upon investigating, he felt a cool breeze blowing from a hole in the hill. He and a neighbor began to dig out the hole and uncovered the entrance to a cave. They explored it extensively and opened it for tours the next year. Why are there boats in the cave?
A Georgia woman who is fighting the disease brings to light how devastating it can be.