Last fall, one of Spain’s greatest matadors took a horn to the face. It was a brutal goring, among the most horrific in the history of bullfighting. Miraculously, Juan Jose Padilla was back in the bullring—sí, fighting bulls—a mere five months later. And in the process of losing half his sight, he somehow managed to double his vision.
I. Zaragoza, Spain—October 7, 2011
What does the bull see as it charges the matador? What does the bull feel? This is an ancient mystery, but it seems like a safe bet that to this bull, Marques—ashy black, 5 years old, 1,100 pounds—the bullfighter is just a moving target, a shadow to catch and penetrate and rip apart. Not a man with a history, not Juan Jose Padilla, the Cyclone of Jerez, 38 years old, father of two, one of Spain’s top matadors, taking on his last bull of the afternoon here at the Feria del Pilar, a hugely anticipated date on the bullfighting calendar.
When Marques comes galloping across the sand at Padilla, the bullfighter also begins to run—not away from the animal but toward its horns. Padilla is luminously scaled in fuchsia and gold, his “suit of lights.” He lifts his arms high above his head, like a viper preparing to strike. For fangs, he has two wooden sticks with harpoonlike barbs, two banderillas, old technologies for turning a bull’s confusion into rage. Padilla and Marques are alone in the sandy pit, but a carousel of faces swirls around them. A thousand eyes beat down on Padilla, causing sweat to bead on his neck. Just before Marques can gore him, he jumps up and jabs the sticks into the bull’s furry shoulder. He brings down both sticks at once, an outrageous risk. Then he spins around so that he is facing Marques, running backward on the sand, toe to heel.
A glancing blow from Marques unsteadies Padilla; his feet get tangled. At the apex of his fall, he still has time to right himself, escape the bull. His chin tilts up: There is the wheeling sky, all blue. His last-ever binocular view. This milestone whistles past him, the whole sky flooding through the bracket of the bull’s horns, and now he’s lost it. The sun flickers on and off. My balance—
Padilla has the bad luck, the terrible luck, of landing on his side. And now his luck gets worse.
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If money were no object…
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Study: Greece sitting on natural gas reserves worth $600 billion
Vitamin D Not So Hot for Cold Prevention
Vitamin D is thought to play a key role in immune function and has long been touted as a way to ward off colds and other ills, but research suggests that taking the supplement does not actually cut the incidence of colds. A study of 322 healthy adults found that those who took large monthly doses of vitamin D got just as many colds as those who were given a placebo. The vitamin also did not appear to make a difference in length or severity of illness.
Science | The United States is a new mecca for parents who choose their baby’s sex
Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg works with the laser device that helps prepare embryos for implantation
Some couples want a baby boy badly. So badly they’re willing to fly halfway around the world to get one. Destination? The United States.
Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, director of The Fertility Institutes in Los Angeles and New York City, has for several years offered a fertility procedure allowing affluent couples to choose their baby’s gender. Sex selection, outlawed in many countries, is legal in the United States: Steinberg’s clinics have treated “thousands” of couples from India, China, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and 142 other nations.
Steinberg recently told the London Evening Standard that he’s helped around 400 British couples conceive their choice of a boy or girl. They sometimes pay $45,000 or more for one of Steinberg’s package deals that includes treatment, plane tickets, and a hotel.
Oh, to be Jewish in China
BEIJING — When I tell people in China that I am Jewish, I often get the same response. ‘‘Ah, so clever!’’ the Chinese person will say with a nudge. ‘‘So good with money! The Chinese and the Jews — we have so much in common!’’
Aside from visits to the Chabad community center for the High Holy Days and Passover meals shared in Jewish friends’ courtyard homes, little differentiates me from the thousands of other Europeans living in China’s capital.
On the outside I am a laowai, a faceless foreigner from a world whose history and people the vast bulk of the Chinese population knows very little about. Yet when I reveal my ethnicity I am always surprised by the expressions of affection that the Chinese show for the Jews. Both cultures, the Chinese emphasize, share respect for family, learning and, yes, money.
But this warmth comes with an uncomfortable catch and bizarre inconsistencies.
It is uncontroversial that the human brain has capabilities that are, in some respects, far superior to those of all other known objects in the cosmos. It is the only kind of object capable of understanding that the cosmos is even there, or why there are infinitely many prime numbers, or that apples fall because of the curvature of space-time, or that obeying its own inborn instincts can be morally wrong, or that it itself exists. Nor are its unique abilities confined to such cerebral matters. The cold, physical fact is that it is the only kind of object that can propel itself into space and back without harm, or predict and prevent a meteor strike on itself, or cool objects to a billionth of a degree above absolute zero, or detect others of its kind across galactic distances.
But no brain on Earth is yet close to knowing what brains do in order to achieve any of that functionality. The enterprise of achieving it artificially — the field of ‘artificial general intelligence’ or AGI — has made no progress whatever during the entire six decades of its existence.
First Episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus Airs on BBC (This day in 1969)
A highly influential British sketch comedy show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus ran until 1974 and subsequently spawned four movies and several live shows. With scenes such as “The Dead Parrot Sketch” and “The Spanish Inquisition,” the innovative, disjointed, non-traditional show became a cult favorite noted for its surreal, sarcastic, innuendo-laden humor. Interspersed throughout the show were Terry Gilliam’s iconic animations, including a giant, crushing foot taken from what painting?
Painkilling chemicals with no side effects found in black mamba venom
The black mamba has a fearful reputation, and it’s easy to see why. It can move at around 12.5 miles (20 kilometres) per hour, making it one of the world’s fastest snakes, if not the fastest. Its body can reach 4.5 metres in length, and it can lift a third of that off the ground. That would give you an almost eye-level view of the disturbingly black mouth from which it gets its name. And inside that mouth, two short fangs deliver one of the most potent and fast-acting venoms of any land snake.
Combined with its reputation for aggression (at least when cornered) and you’ve got a big, intimidating, deadly, ornery serpent that can probably outrun you. It’s not the most obvious place to go looking for painkillers.
But among the cocktail of chemicals in the black mamba’s venom, Sylvie Diochot and Anne Baron from the CNRS have found a new class of molecules that can relieve pain as effectively as morphine, and without any toxic side effects. They’ve named them mambalgins.
Yaz’s Triple Crown: Work, Resolve, Concentration
Carl Yastrzemski in 1983. He retired after the season.
Who or what is a sports hero? Is winning enough? Or being supremely good? Making your teammates better? Overcoming on-the-field adversity, setbacks and injuries?
If your favorite player, when you were 10 years old, was Jackie Robinson, your standards are high beyond matching. Back then, I don’t remember thinking much about moral fire and social heroism. Robinson’s forbearance, his courage, the price he paid — all that was part of the grown-up world, a vague background to the thrill I felt when he rattled opposing pitchers with the challenge of his quickness on the basepaths.
Robinson’s presence alone, his daring assurance, could make the opposition crumble.
It was five o’clock on a Sunday in May, two hours before showtime, but already thousands of K-pop fans had flooded the concrete playa outside the Honda Center, a large arena in Anaheim, California. Tonight’s performers were among the biggest pop groups in South Korea—SHINee, f(x), Super Junior, EXO, TVXQ!, and Girls’ Generation. In the United States, Korean pop music exists almost exclusively on YouTube, in videos like “Gangnam Style,” by Park Jae-sang, the rapper known as PSY, which recently went viral. The Honda Center show was a rare chance for K-pop fans to see the “idols,” as the performers are called, in the flesh.
K-pop is an East-West mash-up. The performers are mostly Korean, and their mesmerizing synchronized dance moves, accompanied by a complex telegraphy of winks and hand gestures, have an Asian flavor, but the music sounds Western: hip-hop verses, Euro-pop choruses, rapping, and dubstep breaks. K-pop has become a fixture of pop charts not only in Korea but throughout Asia, including Japan—the world’s second-biggest music market, after the U.S.—and Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
Everything You Need To Know About The Designer Drug Known As “Smiles”
Contrary to what its name suggests, this drug can be very dangerous, as evidenced by the tragic case of Sons of Anarchy actor Johnny Lewis.
Tomb of Maya Warrior Queen Found in Temple
A small alabaster jar depicting an old woman was found in the tomb.
Photograph by El Peru Waka Regional Archaeological Project
The suspected tomb and remains of a great Maya warrior queen have been discovered in Guatemala, archaeologists say.
Uncovered at the site of the ancient city of El Perú-Waka’, the tomb has been identified as likely belonging to Lady K’abel, military ruler of the Wak, or “Centipede,” kingdom between A.D. 672 and 692.
The tomb was found this year in the ruins of the city’s main pyramid temple during excavations led by archaeologist David Freidel of Washington University in St. Louis.
Do as the Berliners do. Rory MacLean, travel writer and historian, separates the schaden from the freude…
From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, September/October 2012
DO go to both East and West; stay in either the stylish Soho House (East) or the soothingly cool and reasonably priced Ellington (West). In many ways Berlin remains divided along the lines of the Wall. Mitte is the hip, post-communist centre, but its cutting edge has lately dulled. To the west, green Tiergarten and Charlottenburg are reclaiming their glamour. Or head south to Kreuzberg, neighbourhood of Turks, thinkers and drinkers.
DON’T come in January and February unless you are a night owl. Weeks can pass without sight of the sun.
The mobster next door
MIAMI — Joseph Merlino steps out onto the iron-railed balcony of his $400,000 Boca Raton, Fla., townhouse. Bare-chested, ripped and clad in nothing but grey skivvies, he looks more like a former Calvin Klein underwear model than one of the most ruthless mobsters of his time.
A year out of prison, Joseph Salvatore “Skinny Joey” Merlino isn’t so skinny anymore. But he looks almost as boyish at 50 as at 39, when he was sentenced to 14 years in prison for racketeering. Back then, he was a 5-foot-3, 100-pound dapper young don who masterminded the bloody takeover of the Philadelphia mob. Today, he is a two-hour plane ride from the Southwest Philadelphia row house where he grew up to become an underworld icon, both feared and eerily revered in the city of Brotherly Love.
“How’d ya find me?” he asks, his Philadelphia accent unmistakable.
Surely Merlino, who has survived at least a dozen attempts on his life and has been accused and acquitted of ordering the grisly murders of plenty of wise guys, knows the answer to his question: If you really want to, you can find just about anyone.
Study: Omega-3 Supplements May Actually Affect Aging
Balancing our fatty acids is associated with longer telomeres — the things that protect our chromosomes from breaking down.
PROBLEM: It’s an eternal and irreversible certainty that as we get older, our telomeres shorten. Every time a cell divides, a bit of the chromosomal end-piece is clipped off, our DNA diminishing in length; aging, cancer, and our ultimate demise following closely behind. If we can’t preserve our fleeting youth, can we at least save our telomeres? And — let’s be honest, here — can we do so without making any major lifestyle changes?
METHODOLOGY: Researchers at Ohio State University put adults (over one hundred of them, middle-aged and older, mostly overweight but otherwise healthy) on a four month regimen of already-known-to-be-good-for-us omega-3 supplements. The pills, derived from cold-water fish like salmon and cod, were administered in two different doses, while a control group received placebos.
RESULTS: Members of both groups given the real stuff had longer telomeres than the sugar pill group — a promising sign. But differences in telomere length reached statistical significance when looked at as a function of the lowered ratios of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 in the experimental groups’ blood.
Originally posted 2012-10-05 10:50:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter