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How Do People Actually 'Die From Old Age'?

When someone dies in their 90s, or even older, people aren't all that curious about what caused their death. After all, there is a limit to how long a human body can last, and death in a person who has achieved an extremely advanced age is not a surprise. But what does it really mean to die of old age? Gizmodo spoke to four experts about that. University of California, San Francisco, professor of medicine Elizabeth Dzeng says, in part,

It’s common, in our society, to say that someone “died of old age.” But nobody ever actually dies of “old age.” There are always other pre-existing diseases—or new diseases—that cause the deaths in question. “Old age” isn’t something you’d put on a death certificate—most likely, it would be something like cardiac arrest, which occurs due to some underlying issue such as an infection, heart attack, or cancer. For example, a clot could go into the lungs which prevents somebody from oxygenating their brain or their body, and which then causes the heart to stop. When somebody dies, whether or not they’re young or old, some disease or disease-process has caused their body to stop working.

There's more, and they also address aging, filling out a death certificate, and the idea of dying peacefully in your sleep at Gizmodo.

(Image credit: Angelica Alzona/Gizmodo)


The Couple Who Adopted 30 Kids

Sandra and Lloyd Simpson adopted more than two dozen children in the 1970s and '80s, to add to several that Sandra gave birth to. That was something that Toronto had never seen, and won't likely see again. But Sandra saw the need in Canda's foster care system, then in Vietnamese refugee children, and in international adoptions that didn't work for other people.

With their sprawling numbers and the haphazard way they came together, the Simpsons pressed up against the boundaries of what it meant to be a family. They arrived in Forest Hill in 1978 like an asteroid, crashing into a wealthy white neighbourhood that had never seen so many Brown faces before, let alone enough Brown faces to field both sides of a baseball game, and all under one roof. They embodied a particular strain of mid-century Canadian liberalism—a belief that the complications and inconveniences of race could simply be discarded and replaced with a new collective identity.

Talk to the Simpsons today and they’ll say they were just like any other family. Over the course of 20 years in the big house on Russell Hill Road, they played on soccer teams and got into fistfights, snuck around with boyfriends and delivered newspapers. They experienced joy as well as tragedy—troubles with the law, illness and disability.

Now, 40 years later, the Simpson kids have grown into chefs, business owners, athletes, hospitality workers and parents with kids of their own. And they’ve had time to reflect on the singularity of their childhood and of their mother’s vision, and on the peculiar moment in time that allowed their family to flourish. Sandra pushed the limits of adoption so far that her motivations still seem alien, even to her own children. “To tell you the truth, she’s not normal,” her daughter Kathryn told me. “I don’t think anyone could really explain her.” She had a unique brand of stubborn, no-nonsense altruism that persevered in the face of bigoted NIMBYism. What happened on Russell Hill Road is not just the story of an extraordinary woman, but of a radical experiment in child rearing. Sandra Simpson didn’t keep the suffering of the world at a distance. She invited it into her home and made it family.

Read the story of Sandra Simpson and the children she raised at Toronto Life. -via Digg


Submissions for Mississippi's New Flag

Mississippi is getting a new flag. The Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag will select a new design from submitted entries by September, and the state's citizens will have a referendum to accept or reject the new flag during the November election. The deadline for submissions was August first, and now those hundreds of submission are in a gallery for public view. The only rules are that the design must contain the words "In God We Trust," and that no Confederate flags are used. You can "♥" flags, but that probably won't have any sway over the commission. Most of the submissions are straightforward, many with magnolia blossoms, but the few posted here show that there is a wide range of inspirations. -via Metafilter


Dinosaurs Suffered From Cancer, Too

Scientists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology dug up 75 million-year-old dinosaur bones in Alberta in 1989. They've been studied on and off ever since, and one bone from a horned dinosaur called Centrosaurus showed some abnormalities. Thirty years later, scientists took a closer look.  

A multidisciplinary team led by a paleontologist and a pathologist studied the bone inside and out, examining everything from the outside shape to the inner microscopic structure. In the end, the experts arrived at a diagnosis of osteosarcoma–a malignant bone cancer that afflicts about 3.4 out of every million people worldwide. The team’s new study, published today in The Lancet, provides the most detailed evidence yet for cancer in a dinosaur.

Discovering osteosarcoma in a dinosaur has implications for the evolutionary origins and history of cancer. “If humans and dinosaurs get the same kinds of bone cancers,” says George Washington University paleontologist Catherine Forster, “then bone cancers developed deep in evolutionary history, before the mammal and reptile lineages split 300 million years ago.”

This particular specimen did not die of cancer, though, which itself carries implications about how dinosaurs lived. Read about this new research at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: Fred Wierum)


93% of the Time, This Beetle Survives Being Eaten and Pooped out by a Frog

Are you durable enough to endure the full trauma of a journey through a frog's digestive tract? The Regimbartia attenuata beetle species can, thus teaching us an important life lesson. Scientists at Kobe University in Japan found that fully of the 93% of beetles who made the trip finished it alive and well.

Because the beetles are so large, they tend to plug up the frogs' butts, so they probably stimulate the frogs' digestive systems to loosen up. Again, another life lesson provided to us by Mother Nature. Let us do likewise.

-via Dave Barry


When Jagger and Jimi, Pink Floyd, and The Cream Rocked the Rafters at Ricky-Tick

In the late 1950s, two musicians, John Mansfield and Philip Hayward, bought up a string of small clubs in and around London and named them all Ricky-Tick. These clubs were intimate and welcoming, and became a favorite among young musicians trying to hone their craft and try out material in front of an audience. These included bands that made it big, like The Rolling Stones, and bands that didn't, like Hogsnort Rupert and the Good Good Band. Bob McGrath, Hogsnort Rupert's alter ego, played the Ricky-Ticks, designed the posters, and witnessed the early days of many musicians' careers.   

As a participant, McGrath had an insider’s view of the birth of the British R&B scene. Of the Rolling Stones, McGrath is matter of fact. “They were good,” he allows. “Jagger couldn’t sing to save his soul, but Charlie Watts was one of the few English drummers who had any sense of rhythm. It was quite a shock to see their audiences clapping on the right beat, the 2 and the 4 instead of the 1 and the 3. Jagger and Richards had very little interest in anything other than themselves,” he concludes. “Apart from Brian Jones, they all seemed like immature assholes.”

McGrath also sheds light on why the Ricky-Tick clubs outside of London seemed so much more fun than the ones in the city proper. “London and Soho were mean streets,” he says, “even then. It was pretty seedy—drug people, gangsters—not a friendly place to be. I never felt at ease there, and I was there an awful lot.”

In contrast, the Ricky-Tick clubs that popped up in the cities and towns of the Thames Valley were welcoming places, notwithstanding the occasional punch-up between rival groups of mods and rockers. Beyond the more relaxed attitude that came with being outside of London, the U.K. in general warmly embraced music performed and/or composed by Black artists. Unlike in the United States during the early 1960s, when rhythm and blues records by Black performers were mostly listened to by Black audiences, white kids in England were fully on board. Thus, when Black performers from the United States such as Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe played Ricky-Tick, they were greeted by packed clubs filled with adorning fans, from the predominantly white locals to the Black American servicemen stationed at nearby U.S. Air Force bases in South Ruislip, West Ruislip, and High Wycombe.

Read about the clubs that gave birth to rock 'n' roll as we know it at Collectors Weekly.


Watermelon Bag

Fancy an elegant and beautiful bag to carry watermelon-sized fruits? Worry not, as Japanese designer Tsuchiya Kaban designed a leather bag that can hold your fruit. The tote, part of The Fun of Carrying project, can carry exactly one round watermelon. Now you can carry your melons in style and comfort! 

image via The Colossal


The Many Uses Of Seaweed

The tangled algae we see along the beach are more than additions to our dining table! Did you know that seaweed can improve gut health, and act as an anti-inflammatory agent? Not only is seaweed a good ingredient for skin care, it can also serve as a substitute material for plastic bags! Wallpaper has more details:

The most common second home for seaweed outside of the ocean is no doubt the dining room table. Nicknamed the ‘vegetable of the sea’, seaweed contains a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are key to a healthy diet. Slipping some onto your plate can help you get some much-needed A, C, E, and B vitamins, as well as iodine and calcium.

Beyond the dinner table, seaweed has long been used for cosmetic and medical purposes. It is a key element of ‘thalassotherapy,’ or ‘healing through the sea,’ a form of therapy that became popular in 19th century coastal France and which uses seawater and sea products for improved physical and emotional health. 
In Ireland too, seaweed baths have long been used to relieve aching joints and calm anxious minds. Since 1912, Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths in Sligo has offered soaks in porcelain bathtubs filled with seawater and seaweed. The iodine-rich bath is meant to combat symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis, as well as improve general health.

image via Wallpaper


This Tesla Engineer Redesigned The Chocolate Chip

Now that’s a venture I did not see coming. Tesla’s senior industrial designer Remy Labesque has redesigned the chocolate chip. Labesque believed that the classic chocolate chip’s teardrop shape is not suited to its function, as Dallas News detailed: 

The chip isn’t a designed shape,” Labesque said. “It’s a product of an industrial manufacturing process.”
The baking standby is optimized for mass production, not for baking in cookies, whose broad surface area is better suited to maximize taste and melt-in-your-mouth
texture. Labesque’s redesign for artisanal Dandelion Chocolate is a square, faceted pyramid, kind of like a flattened diamond. Two edges are thick, and two exceedingly thin, for even more textural pleasure.

image via Dallas News


8 Surprising Jobs That Keep Film Sets Running

This video can enlighten you about some of the people behind the magic that happens in film. Filmmaking is no easy feat, and is a combined effort of many. Insider details eight different jobs that are part of every film set, from styling food for a shot to creating realistic-looking food props. 


This Vase Got Sold For Way More Than Expected

A glazed ceramic vessel set an auction record for a work by the Arts and Crafts-era design firm. The small vase sold for a whopping $431,250 after a forty-minute bidding war. It was initially estimated to sell for between $7,000 and $9,000 at a Sotheby’s auction, as artnet news detailed: 

“The work exhibits a highly unusual and rare glaze coloration for Grueby pottery, with terrific proportions and crisp modeling, which helped drive the intense competition between at least two collectors,” a representative for the auction house said in a statement to Artnet News. “It is unlikely that another work with this particular glaze coloration will be discovered.”

image via artnet news


Fox Steals Over 100 Shoes

As the Imelda Marcos of the fox world, this fella has a good start building a shoe collection. Humans in the Zehlendorf neighborhood of Berlin found that a local fox had stolen a hoard of over one hundred shoes, mostly crocs. BBC News reports:

For weeks residents of Zehlendorf were baffled that a thief was stealing their flip flops and sports shoes from their gardens at night.
Finally a man spotted the culprit on a patch of wasteland, "in flagrante, carrying two blue flip flops in its mouth", the daily Tagesspiegel reports.
The fox had a hoard of over 100 shoes, but not the man's missing running shoe.

What would a fox do with crocs? April Kit Walsh goofs on Dr. Seuss:


-via Marginal Revolution | Photo: Felix Hackenbruch


BoxVR: An Effective Workout Amidst Lockdown

With his physical movement constrained at home, and with countless snacks consumed, Mat Smith is unsurprised that he gained a bit of weight since March. Since he can’t go to gyms and workout classes, as both of them have been cancelled and closed down, he was left with no choice but to search for the right kind of workout for him in his own apartment.

Destroying most of my excuses, one of those workouts was delivered to my door: BoxVR, alongside an Oculus Quest kit.
VR workouts have been around for a few years, but with lighter and wireless hardware finally here, the case for them has strengthened. BoxVR was at the vanguard, launching over three years ago. It’s now available across most VR platforms including Steam, PlayStation Store and the Oculus Store. While there’s now further DLC content — my other reason for testing it all out — the central premise hasn’t changed.

Unlike other VR workouts, Mat found out that this particular VR workout “tries to keep it all full-body workout”.

…neon balloons will shoot towards you, demanding jabs, hooks and uppercuts, but these are joined by “walls” that you’ll need to duck under. These seem set at a good level (given the game can gauge your height) to feel the burn of squatting; it’s always a little deeper than comfortable, but that’s probably good for a workout. 
It’s a VR cliche, but I appreciated the escapism — a workout that’s not a dull run, nor push-ups or handstand holds in my one-bedroom apartment. I am getting pretty sick of these four walls. 

If there’s a downside, however, it’s when you get a little too sweaty, and you have to remove the goggles to wipe your face.

What are your thoughts about this one?

(Image Credit: BoxVR/ Engadget)


Is This Dog Real?

Check out this photo of a dog which looks pasted on a background, much like in Photoshop. But while this photo looks manipulated, the fact is it isn’t. What you see here is a real dog.

“My dog totally looks like a Photoshopped image,” tweeted @BristolShubun with the photo, mentioning another thing it arguably looks more like than real life. But @BristolShubun assures us the Shiba Inu is real.
Part of what makes the photo so surreal is the leash, which stretches up into the sky and looks like it should be being held in the hand of someone who’s been digitally scrubbed from the photo. But actually it’s attached to a rope that runs above the yard, giving the dog more space to run around.

Pretty cool, huh?

(Image Credit: @BristolShubun/ Twitter)


A Joystick For Your Tongue

If you have your hands full and can’t add another task to your plate, then that’s the time that you should ask for a helping hand. But why get a helping hand, when you can get a helping tongue?

Graduate student Dorothee Clasen imagined constructing a tool that would allow users to bypass their hands or feet and control digital devices with their tongue. As part of her master's degree thesis at the Köln International School of Design, an institution of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Clasen came up with [In]Brace, a plastic retainer attached to a wireless transmitter.
The mouthpiece, customized to fit each user's mouth, contains a magnetic ball running along a sensor track that can be pushed or pulled by the tongue. A thin wire from the mouthpiece is connected to a wireless transmitter that is worn around an ear.

Clasen states that this could be useful for performers, such as pianists, who might be able to use the tech to turn the pages of a digital music sheet, or motorists, who could use the device to manipulate GPS routing alternatives.

More details about this device over at TechXplore.

What are your thoughts about this one?

(Image Credit: TechXplore)

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