Shared posts

19 Apr 07:38

It’s time science reclaimed health food from the quacks

by Mark

Follow @Sci_ents


IMG_0189I’m not quite sure what came over me, I’d set out in search of a beer and a burger. But somehow ended up in a juice bar wolfing down falafel, quaffing a cucumber, celery, ginger smoothie and sprinkling sweet potato chips with some strange pink salt.

And it was good. Really, really good. Tasty, satisfying and altogether wholesome.

Whilst I mopped up the last of the beetroot ketchup with my rye bread and slurped the dregs of the green juice, I flicked through the menu, idly wondering why the salt was pink. Tucked away on the back page I found the info I’d been looking for.

Apparently it was Himalayan pink salt.

What I read next pretty much ruined the whole dining experience.

Himalayan Pink Salt

This is a natural salt not like white table salt, which is a drug. Pink salt is extracted from the Himalayan mountains. It is negatively charged helping to draw positive ions out the body.

I sat paralysed. And wondered if this was due to my dinner having been laced with this strange substance that had removed all the ions essential for nerve impulses.

I regained enough movement to flick on my phone and Google the credentials of Himalayan salt. My panicked state subsided. For it is 98%, good old, sodium chloride, 2% polyhalite and a smidgen of rust (hence the pink tinge).

Once my composure had returned, I continued to flick through the menu. It was laced with plenty more pseudo-scientific claptrap.



At this point I was starting to wonder if the place was run by Food babe. I rapidly made my exit and went in search of a stiff drink.

In the pub down the road, over a nice glass of single malt I got to thinking. The food, service and atmosphere in the juice bar had been great. Their products really were healthy. There was no need for the pseudo-science. Especially since genuine science about their ingredients is actually really interesting.

So I say to you Juice bar (and I will write to them) “Why not redraft your material with real science? I’ll even help you do it.”.

And if that doesn’t work, how about someone out there starts a health food cafe which doesn’t shy away from hard science, where real evidence prevails, where they tell you why the salt is pink, what chlorophyll actually does and how to eat a healthily diet. Wouldn’t such a place be more credible?

19 Apr 13:36

Thou shalt not defile the holy vas deferens

by PZ Myers


Oh, look, Alabama, that paradise for people who revere the 17th century, wants to keep doctors’ hands off men’s genitalia. It’s a novel twist, but I suspect it’s just more of the same ol’ sanctimonious regulation of the naughty bits our puritanical politicians always push.

Alabama health care professionals could refuse to perform abortions or vasectomies under legislation sponsored by a Jefferson County lawmaker.

The Health Care Rights of Conscience Act, sponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney, a Republican, allows health care professionals to refuse to perform abortions, sterilization, human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research that violate their conscience on religious or ethical grounds.

Although it would be nice to imagine some indignant old prude leaping to the defense of the vas deferens, it’s more likely this is all just a safe cover for more restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. They aren’t criminalizing vasectomies, they’re just saying you can’t be prosecuted for refusing to carry them out. Like you can’t be prosecuted for refusing to participate in a monster truck rally in your neighborhood, just like you can’t be prosecuted for denying a permit to a Planned Parenthood clinic in your neighborhood.

I’ll be more impressed when they deny doctors who perform vasectomies hospital rights, when they impose a 3-day waiting period on the operation, and when they make men who want to be sterilized sit through a long and condescending video and lecture about how adorable babies are, before they’ll let them get snipped.

18 Apr 04:00


by Jennie Breeden
18 Apr 08:31

pr1nceshawn: The 7 Stages of Not Sleeping at Night So much...


The 7 Stages of Not Sleeping at Night

So much truth

18 Apr 14:34

This might be inappropriate

17 Apr 23:00

Kids with ADHD must squirm to learn, study says

Excessive movement common among children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is actually vital to how they remember information and work out complex cognitive tasks, a new study shows. The findings show the longtime prevailing methods for helping children with ADHD may be misguided.
18 Apr 17:30

dragonpie: durbikins: oh yeah, with the new size limit for .gifs this thing can finally be...

Cary Renquist

WTF, indeed.



oh yeah, with the new size limit for .gifs this thing can finally be posted

what the fuck did I just see

16 Apr 09:00

I am 'anti-business', you might be too

by Seth Godin

A hundred and fifty years ago, when people finally began organizing to eliminate child labor in American factories, they were called anti-business. There was no way, the owners complained, that they could make a living if they couldn’t employ ultra-cheap labor. In retrospect, I think businesses are glad that kids go to school--educated workers make better consumers (and citizens).

Fifty years ago, when people realized how much damage was being done by factories poisoning our rivers, those supporting the regulations to clean up the water supply were called anti-business. Companies argued that they’d never be able to efficiently produce while reducing their effluent. Today, I think most capitalists would agree that the benefits of having clean air and water more than make up for what it costs to create a place people want to live—the places that haven't cleaned up are rushing to catch up, because what destroys health also destroys productivity and markets. (And it's a good idea).

When the bars and restaurants went non-smoking in New York a decade ago, angry trade organizations predicted the death knell of their industry. It turns out the opposite happened.

The term anti-business actually seems to mean, “against short-term waste, harmful side effects and selfish shortcuts.” Direct marketers were aghast when people started speaking out against spam, but of course, in the long run, ethical direct marketers came out ahead. 

If anti-business means supporting a structure that builds a foundation where more people can flourish over time, then sign me up.

A more interesting conversation, given how thoroughly intertwined business and social issues are, is whether someone is short-term or long-term. Not all long-term ideas are good ones, not all of them work, but it makes no sense to confuse them with the label of anti-business.

Successful businesses tend to be in favor of the status quo (they are, after all, successful and change is a threat) perhaps with a few fewer regulations just for kicks. But almost no serious businessperson is suggesting that we roll back the 'anti-business' improvements to the status quo of 1890.

It often seems like standing up for dignity, humanity and respect for those without as much power is called anti-business. And yet it turns out that the long-term benefit for businesses is that they are able to operate in a more stable, civilized, sophisticated marketplace.

It’s pretty easy to go back to a completely self-regulated, selfishly focused, Ayn-Randian cut-throat short-term world. But I don’t think you’d want to live there.

17 Apr 17:16

The Kanna Finish: How to Get Glass-Smooth Surfaces in Wood Without Sandpaper or Varnish

Sandpaper has to be the number one consumable in the modern-day furniture shop. But a subset of craftspeople, like Toshio Tokunaga and his four apprentices, don't use any of the stuff—yet are still able to achieve a glass-like finish on their furniture pieces, even absent varnish.

Anti-sandpaper furniture builders achieve this with handplanes and spokeshaves, or what are collectively called kanna in Japanese. While Western planes are made with cast-iron or bronze bodies, kanna are made with wooden bodies supporting the iron cutter.

While sandpaper and kanna might seem to produce the same results to the untrained eye—or hand rubbing the surface—it's simply not true, particularly when seen at a microscopic level, or touched with sensitive fingertips.

As you can see, blades cut. Sandpaper tears. Thus, as Tokunaga Furniture Studio explains,

We use no sandpaper at all when crafting our furniture. Sandpaper rubs away the natural pattern of the wood, leaving behind a smoothness that is artificial and which obscures the tree's innate characteristics. In contrast to this, the kanna cuts away successive layers of wood in a way that preserves the wood's natural appearance.

Tokunaga, by the way, makes his own kanna, from the ones that do the roughing work to the ones that take the final fine shavings.

As you can see, he's designed a staggering range of shapes. Collectively these tools can cope with every type of contour required in his work, whether flat, concave or convex.

Here's the team putting in the elbow grease:

And here's Tokunaga discussing the benefits of the kanna finish:

The blades of course require regular maintenance. Here an apprentice sharpens an iron on a waterstone.

Speaking of the irons, take a closer look:

Those look store-bought to you? Nope, Tokunaga has them made locally. And while I hate to write this hacky, clickbaitey sentence, you really won't believe where they came from! Stay tuned.

17 Apr 15:55

Christians furious after Tennessee swingers club rebrands as church to sneak around zoning law

by Tom Boggioni
In an effort to get around recently passed zoning laws the owners of  Tennessee swingers club are rebranding their proposed establishment as a church, according to WSMV. Previously the owners of the proposed club in Madison had submitted plans to convert a former medical building, situated next to a...
17 Apr 13:36

reasons i can relate to a raccoon:dark circles around eyes small & chubby lives in the trash and...

reasons i can relate to a raccoon:

  • dark circles around eyes
  • small & chubby
  • lives in the trash and eats garbage
  • cute but will fight you
  • stays up all night
  • washes hands a lot
  • communicates solely through weird noises and screams
16 Apr 15:28

Weed whacker’s got NOTHING on this scythe master

Cary Renquist

I always used a scythe instead of the weedeater... Got a good workout, was faster, and left nice piles that were easier to pick up.

11 Apr 19:30

MeFi: It's time to wake up and smell the coffee.

by Miko
Cary Renquist

Hmmm, MODERATE EVENING -- I expected extreme evening... My ideal bed-time is 3:00 am.

Stop gloating, morning people. You might be up early, but you aren't morally superior. What's your chronotype? Find out here.
16 Apr 17:09

I think Judas's biggest crime was never understanding personal space.

16 Apr 14:27

How to live forever

by PZ Myers


Consider the procedure by which ancient Egyptians prepared a body for the afterlife.

In ancient Egypt, mummification was considered integral to one’s afterlife. The mummified body provided a place for a person’s ba, or spirit, to return to the body after death.

The process began with the evisceration of the body. All internal organs were removed- except the heart. The heart had to remain in place, it would testify for the deceased person in the afterlife. Often a scarab or other amulet would be placed over the heart to protect it in its voyage through the netherworld.

The brain was usually removed. A long, slightly hooked tool was introduced into the brain through the nose, swirled around to liquefy the brain. The head was then tipped forward and all contents of the skull poured out, again through the nose. It is not uncommon, as with our mummy, that the brain was left in place. It simply dried up and shrank during mummification.

The next step was to dessicate the body. The deceased was laid out under a mound of natron salts, salts native to the area, and not unlike today’s baking powder. Over a period of days, the salt absorbed all the moisture, the flesh shrank, and the skin darkened.

Egyptians used resins, cassia, cedar oil, myrrh, cassia, and palm wine as drying or anti-microbal agents in the embalming of the mummy. These, like the natron salts, helped to protect the body from decay.

The lungs, stomach, intestines, and liver were dried out and each placed in a canopic jar. The jars came in sets of four, and each of the Four Sons of Horus were assigned the duy of protecting the contents of one of the vessels.

Keep that in mind. Now consider how ​modern cryotechnicians prepare the body of a two-year-old girl who died in Thailand.

It involves moving the patient onto an ice bed, coating her in freezing materials, artificially restarting the heart with a “heart-lung-resuscitator,” administering over a dozen different medications, draining the blood and replacing it with medical grade antifreeze, opening the chest cavity to attach the major blood vessels to a machine that flushes out all remaining blood, then slowly lowering the body’s temperature, at a rate of 1˚ Celsius every hour. (After two weeks, the body reaches deep cryofreeze at -196˚ C.) Alcor had selected a well-equipped pediatrics hospital in California for the job.

Kanshepolsky examined the girl at the hospital before she was taken home, and discovered an alarming complication: since so much of her brain had been removed, her skull had filled with cerebrospinal fluid, which would make the procedure difficult.

“We typically drill two holes in the skull, so we can visually see the brain. If the brain begins to contract, it shows it’s working,” Drake said. That’s because the medical antifreeze Alcor uses dries the brain, and shrinks it. Alcor technicians also insert crucial instruments through the perforations. “Into those holes we’ll insert thermo-couplings, temperature probes basically, to monitor the brain temperature,” Drake said.

“Typically we’d move the head from the trunk of the body,” Drake told me. “We didn’t know what their reaction would be from the family, the mortuary, from border officials; this has to go through a number of shipping venues, customs, the TSA and so on. To see a frozen head in a box might have raised a number of red flags. In the US that’s not a big deal, but there, they may not be accustomed.” Instead, they kept the body intact, and frozen. “The entire patient was placed in a specially prepared dry ice shipping container and the cool down to dry ice temperature (-79 degrees C/-109 degrees F) began on-site,” More and Drake wrote. It proved to be an astute calculation; the container passed inspection.

“After the US Embassy in Thailand approved the shipment, the container was topped off with dry ice and shipped by airline to LAX for customs approval,” according to the official account. There, Alcor enlisted its mortuary agent in Buena Park to take the container. Drake and another Alcor operative drove down to collect it in what Kilma called an Alcor response vehicle. They topped off the container with dry ice, loaded it into the truck, got the necessary transit permits, and brought the human cargo back to Scottsdale. “The neuro separation was performed at Alcor after arrival and Matheryn became Alcor’s 134th patient,” according to the company.

Matheryn’s procedure was what Alcor calls a “neuro” in shorthand—where ultimately, just the brain is extracted and preserved, as opposed to the entire body. Her brain is now stored in a “Bigfoot Dewar,” a stainless steel, vacuum-insulated container filled with liquid nitrogen and kept at -196˚C, along with dozens of other masses of grey matter. The core of Einz’s two-year-old being now rests in cryofreeze in Arizona, in wait of a cure, and a means to regrow her body.

What’s the difference? Aside from the details, of course.

We can look at those old mummies today and recognize that everything done to them destroyed the tissue biologically, not that the Egyptians were aspiring to biological preservation. We shake our heads sadly at the idea that they were effectively preserving the person now.

I look at what those cryogenic frauds are doing to dead bodies, this elaborate ritual of surgical and chemical and pseudo-scientific alteration of the corpse with the hopeful idea that this process effectively preserves the person, and I have to shake my head sadly, too. This is just adding layers of technological modification to the dead, instead of decay. I have no hope that this is actually preserving anyone.

I also wonder what a future civilization would do if they inherited tanks of liquid nitrogen containing extracted blobs of diseased brains and decapitated heads. Does anyone really believe that they’d feel any obligation to resurrect them, even if they could? Think of the fate of so many Egyptian mummies, ground up and used in patent medicines, or propped up in museum displays. The more likely end is that there will be a rusted, broken tank in a museum, with a little plaque explaining how some 21st century Americans were so obsessed with immortality that they tortured cadavers.

I’m not even going to address the transhumanist technofetishist version of Pascal’s Wager: If you don’t freeze your body, you have zero chance of resurrection, but if you do, there’s a small chance that you’ll be brought back to life in the future. Right. And maybe you’ll get teleported into the future if you spin widdershins three times while reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards. Maybe! A tiny chance is better than no chance, right?

15 Apr 21:30


15 Apr 19:00


15 Apr 18:20

tastefullyoffensive: If I were a criminal… (image...


If I were a criminal… (image via paragonic)

14 Apr 09:46

"I'm not the kind of person who..."

by Seth Godin

We box ourselves in long before the outside world ever gets a chance.

"I'm not the kind of person who watches movies like that."

"I'm not the kind of person who proposes new ideas."

"I'm not the kind of person who reads books for fun."

"I'm not the kind of person who apologizes."

"I'm not the kind of person who gets a promotion."

"I'm not the kind of person who says 'follow me'."

I'm not the kind of person who... is up to you.

15 Apr 03:32

Social media

15 Apr 10:17

brain-confetti: nightvalemeteorologist:suctioning:Why She had...





She had a dream and she realized it.

Hey wait but sit down

This is Megumi Igarashi

She’s a Japanese artist

Japan, the country with some of the most fucked up pornography and the penis festival

Where the vagina is basically illegal to talk about 

So she did a bunch of art featuring 3D sculptures of her vagina, including this kayak, and was put in jail for it

She was indicted again in December on obscenity charges for selling vagina art to crowdfund for the kayak and could spend two years in prison

In Japan, women’s vaginas are treated as though they are men’s property. The trains here usually display pornographic advertisements. As a woman, I find that blatant objectification to be humiliating. I’m disgusted by it. My body belongs to me.
So, with this project I wanted to release the vagina from the standard Japanese paradigm. Japan is lenient towards expressions of male sexuality and arousal, but not so for women. When a woman uses her body in artistic expression, her work gets ignored, and people treat her as if she’s some sex-crazed idiot. It all comes back to misogyny. And the vagina is at the heart of it.
The vagina is ridiculed. It’s lusted after. Men don’t see women as equals—to them, women are just vaginas. Then they call my vagina-themed work “obscene,” and judge me according to laws written by and for men. [x]

She plans to turn her trial in to a manga comic. She seems pretty sure she’s not going to do any jail time but if you’d like to help her pay for her inevitable fine and court fees, you can check out her online store. There are little glow in the dark vagina characters.

14 Apr 03:31

MeFi: Seventy thousand reasons to be less unhappy

by xigxag
Entrepreneur sets $70,000 year minimum wage for all his employees Dan Price, the owner of a credit card processing company, came across an article showing that making much less than $75,000/yr. greatly diminished the emotional well-being of earners, and decided to do something about it. He's embarked on a three year plan to increase the salaries of all employees making under $70,000, which for some of them will be double their current wages.
14 Apr 01:34

eruphadriel: Mine’s “The Queen of Ash and Dust”. How about...

Cary Renquist

The Woman of Ash & Death


Mine’s “The Queen of Ash and Dust”. How about you?

I’ve been contemplating making this for so long. It seems like every YA fantasy book I come across is the daughter of something or other.

The Kingdom of Fire and FIRE….

14 Apr 19:17

The dangerous type

14 Apr 15:08

squishysandwich: cryptovolans: fleebites: Some of you might...




Some of you might have noticed I dropped off the face of the earth for a while.  That’s because I was ploughing full steam ahead on this! 

TRANSMAJICKA is the story of Henrigne, a mage who was born a Warlock, but identifies as a Witch.  Owing to the rigid gender roles of their magical community, Henrigne must overcome many an obstacle and prejudice as they embark on a journey to find themself, accept themself and ultimately transition into the mage they are meant to be.  

This is a story (and character!) which is very dear to me for so many reasons.  It’s a very personal project as well, and I hope the self-exploration involved can help others like it did for me :)

The comic is 36 pages from cover to cover in luscious colour (I love my markers! ;_;).  Also included is some jaw-dropping gorgeous guest art by rainygay and cryptovolans!  

The comic is now available as a digital download in my store! Check it out by clicking any of the images or HERE!

Enjoy :)

gosh I can’t recommend this comic highly enough, I’m such a fan of Fala’s work and everything comes together so beautifully in this volume. Definitely check it out if you can!

hooooly shit this looks AMAZING.

14 Apr 15:29

Louisiana firm fired trans man for refusing to wear a dress and identify as female

by David Ferguson
A Louisiana trans man says he was fired from his job at a New Orleans financial firm because he refused to obey his employers’ edict that he wear dresses and identify as female. According to ABC News, a number of rights organizations are banding together to support Tristan Brussard in his laws...
14 Apr 15:17

Awesome Words You Didn’t Know You Needed

by Strange Beaver

UrbanDictionary is packed full of words for today’s slang, but it also has a ton of hidden gems like these. Some of these are so perfect they need to be more commonly used

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

Funny words that you should use more often

13 Apr 18:00

The Gritty Reboot Of Gilligan’s Island

by Mallory Ortberg

EXT. NIGHT. The PROFESSOR'S hut. It is raining. GINGER stands outside the entrance, mascara running down her face. She has a machine gun for a leg or something. The PROFESSOR opens the door. 

GINGER: I need another abortion.

THE PROFESSOR: Christ. Christ. Christ motherfucker.

Read more The Gritty Reboot Of Gilligan’s Island at The Toast.

13 Apr 15:47

Rough Monday? Watch this kid get his cochlear implant turned on.

13 Apr 15:25

Better Drinking Through Chemistry

This is a fascinating article about a guy who's looking into the chemistry of aged spirits - rum, whiskey, cognac, and so on - and trying to find ways, as he puts it, to hack the process. I'm not a drinker myself, but I've watched with interest as the craft spirits movement has become popular. How, I wondered, could anyone start up a business in this area, when you need years in wooden barrels to make the stuff high-quality? Did someone have the idea back when Bill Clinton was running for office that there would be a market for small-volume distilled spirits, and plan accordingly?

Not at all. What happens is that the many of these tiny-label outfits buy their stuff from large-volume distilleries, sometimes doing the minimum possible to get their own brand on it. That might involve running some neutral spirits through another layer of charcoal to make your own "proprietary" vodka, or in the case of the aged liquors, it might just involve slapping a label on whatever showed up on the truck from Lawrenceburg, Indiana, which is where a lot of this stuff really comes from.

But that's not the business model that this new piece is talking about. It's been known for a long time that many of the flavor notes that come into aged spirits are products of extraction from the wood and often subsequent esterification. So do you have to wait twenty years for this to happen, or not?

The trick then is to encourage esterification in a short time period, and that’s the core science behind Davis’s Model 1 reactor. The reactor accomplishes this in three stages, taking white distillate and chunks of oak as inputs. The first stage forces the esterification of short-chained fatty acids in the white spirit, turning them into fruity, short-chained esters. Phase two literally splits apart big polymer molecules in the oak, extracting the compounds needed to complete the esterification process. This pulls out the aldehydes needed for the final step, but also some unpleasant medium-chained acids. In the final stage, those acids and phenolic compounds are forced to esterify, with simple esters being made to bind and combine into longer-chained esters that would normally be associated with a very mature spirit.

What comes out the other side is not necessarily an aged spirit, but rather one that bears the same chemical signature of an aged spirit. Davis uses mass spectrometry to compare old spirits with products put through his process. Spikes on the chromatogram correspond to compounds that appear in the highest concentrations in the spirits.

He's planning to be completely up front about the process, not trying to sell the products as if they've been sitting around for decades, but just tasting as if they do. And it sounds like it could be a successful business, at the right price point. It also sounds like the sort of thing that could bring on a lot of irritated commentary from fans of the traditional methods, naturally. I would doubt that the two techniques produce identical results (and they're not claimed to), but what if they produce equally desirable ones? Blind-taste-test style results? The traditional distillers will always have a market, because some customers will surely always want to pay for the time and effort that goes into making that product (or be seen paying for it, which amounts to the same thing, economically). But if this new technique catches on, they may well not have as large a market as they do now.

It'll be interesting to watch this play out. The same points that get debated around industrially produced foods will surely be argued in this area, too, but the line between nasty, lowbrow "processed food" and high-end "molecular gastronomy" can get pretty blurry, especially if you need an LC/MS to distinguish them from each other, or from a classic preparation. And we're going to see that debate played out in many other food and drink areas in the coming years, too. . .