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Women Surge Forward in 2020 Campaigns

Women have been taking more action in the political arena and their efforts are paying off since there are now more women, not only those running for the top office, but also on the ground running the campaigns, for both male and female candidates. And it's about time.

More than two dozen strategists, analysts and campaign advisers who spoke to POLITICO said the hiring and pay trends they’re seeing this presidential cycle represent a sea change in an industry long dominated by men. 
No longer elbowed out of major decision-making, women more than ever are shaping messaging and strategy as well as steering policy and financial decisions of presidential campaigns.

(Image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr; Wikimedia Commons)


Why We Pour Milk on Our Cereal

When breakfast cereal was invented in the Nineteenth Century as a masturbation preventative (among other reasons), it proved difficult to physically chew. Some people would let their cereal rest in water or milk during the night to soften it. Eventually, milk became the most popular cereal softener. Why? Dan Lewis of Now I Know explores the likely reasons:

Why milk ended up beating out water was likely a combination of a few factors: taste, the perceived nutritional benefit from the high-calcium milk, and the relative lack of sogginess. In 2012, researchers at Pontificia University Católica in Chile tested cereal and milk versus cereal and water, and determined that the former was better unless you want a bowl of slop; as Gizmodo summarized, the cereal held up okay in milk but water “will turn your Corn Flakes to mush, fast.” And while cereal eaters of the late 1800s probably didn’t run variable-controlled and peer-reviewed experiments, their persona experiences probably led them to the same result. Plus, it kept them on a path to Heaven, apparently.

-via VA Viper | Photo: Ben Seidelman


New Cooking Competition Show Will Have Chefs Try to Recreate Dishes after Having Been Shot in the Face with Said Dishes by a Food Cannon

The premise of Dishmantled is a compelling one. It summons the heroic spirit within the human psyche and thus makes for must-watch TV.

In it, cook contestants are shot in the face with a dish by a food cannon. From what they can feel, smell, and taste on their face, they must then recreate that dish faster and more accurately than their competitors. Deadline reports that Tituss Burgess, one of the stars of Unbreakable Kelly Schmidt, will host the show.

-via Dave Barry, who quips, "We live in a golden age." | Photo: Seth Lemmons


The Cat Sanctuary Where Julius Caesar Was Murdered

Imagine you're going to visit Rome and soak in its history. You think you're going to tread the stairs where Julius Caesar was assassinated? Think again, because the area is prohibited. Prohibited to humans, that is, at least for now. It's the site of Colonia Felina di Torre Argentina, Rome's oldest cat sanctuary!  

Bystanders can view the temple complex known as Largo di Torre Argentina from the fenced-off street, but according to Conde Nast Traveler, after a $1.1 million restoration process, the sanctuary will open to tourists in the second half of 2021. For now, the only living things allowed in the sacred area (area sacra) are feral cats.

These are privileged felines, although they themselves do not consider the history of their home. Read about this unique sanctuary at Mental Floss.


Raised in a Doomsday Cult

In the mid-1960s, Anne Hamilton-Byrne established a religious cult called The Family in Melbourne, Australia. Their beliefs mixed Christianity with Eastern mysticism, and held that Hamilton-Byrne was an incarnation of Jesus Christ. She collected children, both by sketchy adoption practices and by appropriating the children of her followers. Ben Shenton was one of those children. He was told that Hamilton-Byrne was his mother, and she controlled the children by beatings, drugs, and an ingrained suspicion of outsiders. In 1987, police executed a raid and took the children into custody.   

Lying in bed that first night away from Lake Eildon, Ben combed through everything he had said that day, making sure he had divulged nothing that could get him in trouble. Suddenly, he realised - it didn't matter any more. He was not returning to Anne. "I think for the first time in my life, I realised I was free," he says.

But then the real work began.

Ben learned that his mother was not Anne, but an "auntie" he disliked named Joy. The children were not his brothers and sisters - some were the children of other cult members, others were orphans Anne had adopted. He was 15, not 14 as he had been told. And of course Anne was not the reincarnation of Christ.

"Now I'm trying to work out, 'Well, this world I'm in, what are its rules? How do I function, what do I do?'" he says.

Ben Shenton tells of his struggle to adjust to living with people he'd been taught to avoid, and how he worked out his relationships with his biological mother and with Hamilton-Byrne, at BBC News.  -via Digg

(Image source: Ben Shenton)


The Secrets of Vision Revealed in This Mathematical Model

The brain receives very little information from the world, yet highly detailed images of the world appear before the mind’s eye. Why is that? This is the big mystery of the human vision. Much of what we “see” are only conjured in our heads.

“A lot of the things you think you see you’re actually making up,” said Lai-Sang Young, a mathematician at New York University. “You don’t actually see them.”

Despite this being the case, the brain does an excellent job in inventing the visual world, as we don’t bump into doors routinely. Studying anatomy alone, however, would not reveal how the brain does this in the same way as a person staring at a car engine would allow him to learn the laws of thermodynamics.

New research suggests mathematics is the key. For the past few years, Young has been engaged in an unlikely collaboration with her NYU colleagues Robert Shapley, a neuroscientist, and Logan Chariker, a mathematician. They’re creating a single mathematical model that unites years of biological experiments and explains how the brain produces elaborate visual reproductions of the world based on scant visual information.
“The job of the theorist, as I see it, is we take these facts and put them together in a coherent picture,” Young said. “Experimentalists can’t tell you what makes something work.”
Young and her collaborators have been building their model by incorporating one basic element of vision at a time. They’ve explained how neurons in the visual cortex interact to detect the edges of objects and changes in contrast, and now they’re working on explaining how the brain perceives the direction in which objects are moving.

The study is the first of its kind. Previous attempts to model human vision “made wishful assumptions about the architecture of the visual cortex, while the work of Young, Shapley, and Chariker tries to explain how the phenomenon is still possible despite the “demanding, unintuitive biology of the visual cortex as is”.

Alessandra Alegucci, a neuroscientist at the University of Utah, thinks that their model “is an improvement in that it’s really founded on the real brain anatomy. They want a model that’s biologically correct or plausible.”

Head over to Quanta Magazine to know more about this.

(Image Credit: Skitterphoto/ Pixabay)


In Order to Save Lives, These Teens Play Dead

Shingle Springs, California. On a hot April morning at Ponderosa High School, volunteers paint teenagers with fake blood. Others mess up their hair by holding battery-powered fans a few inches from their face, and a Grim Reaper examines a folding table filled with peanut butter pretzels, gummy bears, and doughnuts.

Evan Chavez, an 18-year-old senior, and Ella Beezley, a 17-year-old junior, are waiting their turn at the makeup station. “I’m in the car with Alex—as the passenger—who’s the drunk driver,” explains Chavez, who has red hair and a matching beard. “And I get critically injured and helicoptered to the hospital.” Chavez is slated to lose an arm during the event. Soon, he says, it will be “bloody and black and blue and crushed, like it’s losing blood and starting to die.” 
“I’m the passenger in the other car, and I get hit and die,” says Beezley, who will have a large head wound applied above her wide hazel eyes. “I’m dead on the scene.”
Shingle Springs, located in rural El Dorado County, is a community of less than 5,000 people, about 40 miles from Sacramento. Beezley and Chavez, along with 34 others, have been selected from around 1,800 at Ponderosa High—or “Pondo,” as everyone calls it—to play a role in their school’s version of Every 15 Minutes, a grisly pageant involving a mock car crash and funeral intended to curtail teen drunk driving through elaborate role playing. Ponderosa High stages the program every two years for its junior and senior classes.

Is this method effective in deterring teens from drunk driving? Does it work? Find out more on Topic.

(Image Credit: Brandon Tauszik/ Topic)


Is Plant-Based Sushi The Solution To Keep The Fish Alive?

Fish is an essential ingredient when it comes to traditional nigiri, sashimi, and maki. However, if we keep on consuming fish without caring for their dwindling numbers, there will come a point in time where there would be no fish in the sea.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nation’s 2018 State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture report leads with this jarring quote: “Since 1961 the annual global growth in fish consumption has been twice as high as population growth.” As of 2018, 33 percent of our fish populations were at “biologically unsustainable levels”—meaning they were critically overfished. We are basically at risk of eating our oceans bare.

Seafood watch senior program manager at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Ryan Bigelow states that tracking sustainability can be a hard task since restaurants carry so many species of fish, and many of the popular ones, such as the bluefin and eel, have significant environmental issues. Shifting the focus towards sustainability would be a slow process.

Add the fact that your fish was likely flown in on ice and you’ve got a hefty carbon footprint, too.
Plant-based sushi eliminates these woes, especially when made with local ingredients. And there’s more to vegetarian rolls than the singular obligatory cucumber offering. In fact, Planta, a restaurant in Miami’s South Beach, serves an entire menu of vegan sushi. Think mushroom and celeriac nigiri and spicy rolls made with dehydrated watermelon in place of tuna.
Of course, it’s a bit more work to make vegan rolls than your more traditional options. “You can buy the right piece of tuna and do nothing to it and put it on sushi rice and away you go. Plant-based sushi is more difficult, but it’s also definitely more sustainable,” says David Lee, Planta’s executive chef. He’s found success in dehydrating vegetables, which creates a texture similar to that of raw fish and concentrates its flavor.

Check out these plant-based sushi recipes over at Outside.

(Image Credit: Einladung_zum_Essen/ Pixabay)


Amazon Forest Fires Raise Stakes in Climate Change Crisis

The fires that destroyed a large swath of the Amazon rainforest this past week have possibly made it more difficult to slow down the effects of climate change while also worsening our current state due to the carbon emissions from the smoke rising to the atmosphere.

"The effects of forest destruction in the Amazon don't stay in the Amazon. They affect us all," said Robin Chazdon, professor emerita at the University of Connecticut who has studied tropical forest ecology.
But there's more at stake than people might realize, Chazdon said. "There are large negative consequences for climate change globally, as the fires contribute to carbon emissions," she added. If the rainforests are "not allowed to regenerate or be reforested, they will not be able to recover their high potential for carbon storage."

Forests may be able to recover after a fire but not if there are periodic fires occuring, such as what has been happening at the Amazon rainforest. It would take more effort for us to mitigate the effects of climate change with our forests depleting at an alarming rate. Even plans to repopulate and plant a trillion trees might not be enough.

"Forests can regrow following fires, but not if fires are repeated every few years and not if the land is converted to agriculture," Chazdon said.
She added that the shrinking of the Amazon and its transition into scrubland "could bring a tipping point to forest functioning that is not easily reversible."

(Image credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT/Flickr; Wikimedia Commons)


Clever Student Crosses Flooded Street Using Just 2 Chairs

Tropical Storm Falcon hit Iloilo City, the Philippines on July 16. Some high school students were stranded at school, unable to cross the water, which appears to be about a foot and a half deep.

This clever fellow was an exception. He staged two chairs across the flooded street, moving gradually across without getting into the water.

-via Geekologie


Star Trek Jean-Luc Picard's Make It Soap Mini Soap

Star Trek Jean-Luc Picard's Make It Soap Mini Soap

All hands to their battle stations! Set a course for cleanliness! It's time to engage with the Jean-Luc Picard's Make It Soap Mini Soap.  

It may seem impossible to love a soap this much, but things are only impossible until they are not. The Jean-Luc Picard's Make It Soap Mini Soap comes in tea, earl grey, scent. This mini soap makes a wonderful addition to your bathroom crew and is ready, willing, and able to be assimilated into your bathroom decor. With its engaging and punny packaging, the Star Trek Jean-Luc Picard's Make It Soap Mini Soap is eager to make the voyage to its final frontier.     

Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great bath and body. New items arriving all the time. 

Don't forget to also check out the store for great custom apparel and bags. We specialize in curvy and hard to find sizes. We carry baby 6 mo. all the way to 10XL shirts. We know that fun, fabulous, and bold people come in every size. 


The Bottled Water Conundrum

The argument against bottled water is valid. There are other sources of water from which we can drink and whose quality may not be at all different from that of water in a plastic bottle. Then, there's the waste from the single-use container which just adds to our environmental problems. So what's the use of bottled water?

A single-use bottle of water is often held up as the defining example of a product that solves a nonexistent problem while simultaneously creating a new one. So it’s no wonder that some climate activists have scoffed at those who profess their sincere efforts against the carbon apocalypse while clutching a plastic bottle of Fiji water.
But let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment. Bottled water can be a literal lifesaver, and I don’t mean for irresponsible Klean Kanteen owners. Water is supposed to run from the tap unrestricted and nearly free of cost, and it’s also supposed to be safe to drink. For billions of people across many developing countries, this is not the case — and nor is it true for residents of an increasing number of municipalities in the U.S.

(Image credit: Steve Johnson/Unsplash)


Don’t Want to Die Early? “Get Moving” Says Study

A report today published in the medical journal BMJ suggested that higher levels of physical activity at any intensity is linked to a lower risk of early death in middle-age and older people.

Previous studies have repeatedly suggested that any type of sedentary behavior, such as sitting still, is not good for your health. Being sedentary for 9.5 hours or more a day, excluding sleeping time, is associated with an increased risk of death.
According to the researchers, the public health message may simply be: "Sit less and move more and more often."

“We humans did not evolve to be sitting creatures. We evolved to be naturally moving all day long,” says Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an American-Indian neurosurgeon. “In fact, some people have called sitting the new smoking,” he continues. He then concludes the video that our best bet to live to 100 is to “get up and walk around.”

What are your thoughts on this one?

(Image Credit: skeeze/ Pixabay)


Which Plastic is Recyclable?

The average American goes through over 250 pounds of plastic waste yearly. Much of this waste comes from packaging.

We know that plastic is harmful to the environment. Some would take hundreds of years before decomposing, while others don’t decompose at all. This is why we do our best in recycling plastic, so that we can minimize the plastic waste. However, not all plastic is recyclable. This begs the question: which plastic is recyclable and which is not?

Fortunately, NPR looks into the matter to help us identify which is which. Why don’t you check it out?

(Image Credit: stux/ Pixabay)


DNA as Memory Tape

U.S scientists say that they can turn living cells into computers or recording devices through a new technology that they developed. The artificial program shall be encoded in the cells’ DNA.

The technology is called DOMINO (DNA-based Ordered Memory and Iteration Network Operator), which works similar to the CRISPR gene editing method. DOMINO can trigger simultaneous DNA writing events — where one DNA mutation event triggers another – in response to biological signals. Thus, the acronym DOMINO.

Writing in the journal Molecular Cell, the team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the technology enables the deep interrogation of biology and the use of engineered cells as devices that can process, monitor, and store information occurring within cells and/or their environment.
Potentially it could be used to create sensors that sit in the body collecting and storing information for health monitoring, or in systems to measure and record contamination in rivers and waterways.
"We need better strategies to unravel how complex biology works, especially in diseases like cancer where multiple biological events can occur to transform normal cell into diseased ones," says senior author Timothy Lu.
"With this method we are using DNA as a memory tape to permanently record biological events that are occur in disease. This technology can give us deeper insights into what signals go up and down over time to drive disease development."
Instead of cutting the DNA at a specific location, as CRISPR does, DOMINO uses a base editing approach to overwrite DNA at particular locations.

See more details of this news over at Cosmos Magazine.

(Image Credit: geralt/ Pixabay)

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