We all have nearly 200 different types of fungi colonising our feet, scientists have discovered.
Fungi live all over the human body, but their favourite spots are the heel, under toenails and between the toes, according to a US study.
A new map of the body’s fungal diversity could help combat skin conditions such as athlete’s foot, researchers report in Nature journal.
Harmless fungi live naturally on skin but cause infection if they multiply.
In the first study of its kind, a US team catalogued the different groups of fungi living on the body in healthy adults.
A team led by the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, sequenced the DNA of fungi living on the skin at 14 different body areas in 10 healthy adults.
Samples were taken from the ear canal, between the eyebrows, the back of the head, behind the ear, the heel, toenails, between the toes, forearm, back, groin, nostrils, chest, palm, and the crook of the elbow.
The data reveal that fungal richness varies across the body. The most complex fungal habitat is the heel, home to about 80 types of fungi. The researchers found about 60 types in toenail clippings and 40 types in swabs between the toes.
Other favoured fungal hotspots include the palm, forearm and inside the elbow. These had moderate levels of fungi, with each location supporting 18 to 32 types. …
Posted by Xeno on May 23, 2013
Posted by Xeno on May 23, 2013
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Posted by Xeno on May 23, 2013
Tense moments in the early morning hours, as a woman carrying a gun confronts a man trying to get into her home.
The attempted home invasion happened on the 1900 block of Loxley near Upton, just before 5 a.m. Thursday.
It proved Betty Collins is a woman who stands her ground – with a gun in her hand.
“I said, ‘Get on the ground.’ and he got on his knees. I said, ‘no, put your face in the dirt and you’re gonna stay there.’,” recounted Collins.
The past two mornings, she says, someone has stolen items from her car.
This morning, she says someone was trying to get into her house.
It started outside of the Stop N Go at Loxley and Upton.
Collins’ boyfriend was riding his Harley to work at the Jeep plant when he spotted someone he described as ‘suspicious,’ so he called home to warn her.
Collins says wearing shoes and shorts – no shirt, and at 4:45 in the morning, he started heading toward her house, then started kicking the door, trying to get inside.
“I screamed as loud as I could, ‘get off my porch. I have a gun. I will shoot you.’ And he stayed at the door,” explained Collins. “I’m like, ‘Get off my porch. I have a gun. I will shoot you.’ He didn’t move, so I opened the door and there he was standing 5 inches from the barrel of a loaded .357.”
Toledo Police arrested Kyle Caldwell, who’s 31 and from Temperance, Michigan.
Collins says she didn’t shoot him after what happened not far away on Douglas last month.
A homeowner there shot and killed a 24-year-old who was also attempting to get inside.
Instead of spending the night in the hospital, or worse, Caldwell is spending the night in jail.
Meantime, Collins says she’ll be resting easier inside of the place she’s called home the past 13 years.
“I’m not moving. This is my home,” said Collins “That’s what the second amendment’s for. I’m going to continue to protect my home.”
Caldwell is set to be arraigned tomorrow morning.
By the way, Collins says she’s working on getting her PH.D. from The University of Toledo in Criminal Justice. …
Video here: http://xrepublic.tv/node/3405
I think things like this happen more often than we know due to a reluctance to report them. Of course, before going on the news like she did, you have to wait for the police to confirm that the person isn’t part of a gang and that they expect he will be in jail for a long time. Even if he gets out right away, the criminal owes her his life and if he’s smart he will spend the rest of it thanking her.
Posted by Xeno on May 23, 2013
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U.S. Special Forces getting constellation of mini surveillance satellites to hunt down ‘people considered to be dangerous’
Posted by Xeno on May 23, 2013
In September, the U.S. government will fire into orbit a two-stage rocket from a Virginia launchpad. Officially, the mission is a scientific one, designed to improve America’s ability to send small satellites into space quickly and cheaply. But the launch will also have a second purpose: to help the elite forces of U.S. Special Operations Command hunt down people considered to be dangerous to the United States and its interests.
For years, special operators have used tiny “tags” to clandestinely mark their prey — and satellites to relay information from those beacons. But there are areas of the world where the satellite coverage is thin, and there aren’t enough cell towers to provide an alternative. That’s why SOCOM is putting eight miniature communications satellites, each about the size of a water jug, on top of the Minotaur rocket that’s getting ready to launch from Wallops Island, Virginia. They’ll sit more than 300 miles above the earth and provide a new way for the beacons to call back to their masters.
Who needs drones when you’ve got satellites?
The belief that the US government will be using drones to spy on its citizens might not have any basis, as its security forces move towards satellite spying instead.
In September, the US government will fire into orbit a two-stage rocket from a Virginia launchpad. According to official reports, the mission is scientific one, designed to improve America’s ability to send small satellites into space quickly and cheaply.
Satellites. So humans can hunt humans. Great. Since the days when simple spears were used for the same purpose, how have we progressed, morally? What new world-wide compassion programs, what great ethics and understanding revolutions have we had to prevent the misuse of our rockets and our meat cleavers?
Posted by Xeno on May 23, 2013
You probably feel pretty attached to your memories — they’re yours, after all. They define who you are and where you came from, your accomplishments and failures, your likes and dislikes.
Your memories help you separate friends from enemies. They remind you not to eat too much ice cream or drink cheap tequila because you remember how horrible it felt the last time you indulged.
Or do you?
One conversation with Elizabeth Loftus may shake your confidence in everything you think you remember. Loftus is a cognitive psychologist and expert on the malleability of human memory. She can, quite literally, change your mind.
Her work is reminiscent of films like “Memento” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” where what you believe happened is probably far from the truth — whether you’re the eyewitness to a crime or just trying to move past a bad relationship.
“She’s most known for her important work on memory distortion and false memories,” says Daniel Schacter, a psychology professor at Harvard University who first met Loftus in 1979 and describes her as energetic, smart and passionate. “It’s made people in the legal system aware the memory does not work like a tape recorder.”
In fact, Loftus’ research shows your memory works more like a Wikipedia page — a transcription of history created by multiple people’s perceptions and assumptions that’s constantly changing.
One of Loftus’ first experiments, published in 1974, involved car accidents. In the lab she played videos of different incidents and then asked people what they remembered seeing. Their answers depended greatly on how she phrased the question.
For instance, if she asked how fast the cars were going when they “smashed” into each other, people estimated, on average, that the cars were going 7 mph faster than when she substituted the word “hit” for “smashed.” And a week after seeing the video, those who were asked using the word “smashed” remembered seeing broken glass, even though there was none in the film.
Even a seemingly less important word in the sentence can make a difference in an eyewitness account, Loftus found. In a subsequent study she asked people if they saw “a broken headlight” or “the broken headlight.” Those who were asked about “the” broken headlight were more likely to remember seeing it, though it never existed.
Police officers’ biggest mistake is talking too much, Loftus says. “They don’t, you know, wait and let the witness talk. They are sometimes communicating information to the witness, even inadvertently, that can convey their theory of what happened, their theory of who did it.”
This is particularly troubling when witnesses are identifying a perpetrator in a lineup. One of Loftus’ studies found even facial recognition can be “contagious” — if a witness overhears another witness or police officer describe a misleading facial feature, they are more likely to describe the criminal with that feature. …
Perhaps Loftus’ most powerful — and controversial — work came in the 1990s when she first began manufacturing false memories.
In 1990, Loftus got an intriguing call from the defense attorney for George Franklin, father of Eileen Franklin. In her mid-20s, Eileen Franklin claimed she remembered seeing her father rape and murder her best friend as a child. The prosecution said she had repressed the memory up until that point.
Loftus testified at the trial about the fallibility of memories but could not say whether she had ever studied repressed memories such as Eileen Franklin was maintaining. George Franklin was convicted, and Loftus went back to the lab.
After doing some research, she became convinced a therapist might have led Eileen Franklin to suspect her father in the murder. Therapists were essentially guiding patients to remember false events, Loftus believed — asking leading questions and telling their patients to imagine an event that might have happened.
For example, if a woman came in with an eating disorder, her therapist might say “80% of patients with an eating disorder were abused. Were you?” Then the therapist might ask the patient to think about who might have abused her and when.
While Loftus couldn’t definitively prove that repressed memories weren’t real, she could show that it was possible to implant a memory of a traumatic event that never happened.
Loftus recruited 24 students and their close family members for her 1995 study “The Formation of False Memories.” She asked each family member to provide her with three real childhood memories for their student, and then sent these memories in a packet, along with one false memory, to the study participants. The false memories were about getting lost on a shopping trip and included real details, such as the name of a store where they often shopped and siblings they were likely with.
The students were told all four memories were real and had been supplied by their family member. After receiving the packet, the students identified whether they remembered each event and how confident they were that it had happened to them. In follow-up interviews the researchers asked them to recall details from the events they remembered.
Seven of the 24 students “remembered” the false event in their packets. Several recalled and added their own details to the memory.
“It was pretty exciting to watch these normal, healthy individuals pick up on the suggestions in our interviews, and pick up the false information that we fed them,” Loftus says.
Loftus continued her experiments, convincing study participants they had broken a window with their hand, witnessed a drug bust, choked on an object before the age of 3 and had experienced other traumatic events. And she continued to testify in cases involving repressed memories.
“I don’t think there’s any credible, scientific support for this notion of massive repression,” Loftus says. “It’s been my position that, you know, we may one day find (the evidence), but until we do, we shouldn’t be locking people up.”
Loftus soon began to wonder if she could influence other behaviors. What if she could convince people they had a negative experience with unhealthy food as a child? Would they eat less of it as an adult?
Using her finely tuned “recipe” for memory implantation, she guided study participants to believe they had gotten sick eating strawberry ice cream as children.
A week later, researchers asked about the ice cream incident. Many participants had developed a detailed memory — what Loftus calls a “rich false memory” — about when they had gotten sick. Subsequent studies showed this memory affected the participant’s actual eating behavior. ….
It is quite exciting and unexpected that you can change what seem to be a deep and permanent personality traits, habits or preferences just by adjusting your memories. Adjusting memories is not as difficult as you might think when you understand that we don’t remember actual events. When we remember something, we recall the last time we remembered it. The details can change over time with each remembering in order to fit logically with the other details we have collected and juggled.
Posted by Xeno on May 23, 2013
Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion — the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.
A new study by researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that adults can be trained to be more compassionate. The report, published Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, investigates whether training adults in compassion can result in greater altruistic behavior and related changes in neural systems underlying compassion.
“Our fundamental question was, ‘Can compassion be trained and learned in adults? Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?’” says Helen Weng, lead author of the study and a graduate student in clinical psychology. “Our evidence points to yes.”
In the study, the investigators trained young adults to engage in compassion meditation, an ancient Buddhist technique to increase caring feelings for people who are suffering. In the meditation, participants envisioned a time when someone has suffered and then practiced wishing that his or her suffering was relieved. They repeated phrases to help them focus on compassion such as, “May you be free from suffering. May you have joy and ease.”
Participants practiced with different categories of people, first starting with a loved one, someone whom they easily felt compassion for like a friend or family member. Then, they practiced compassion for themselves and, then, a stranger. Finally, they practiced compassion for someone they actively had conflict with called the “difficult person,” such as a troublesome coworker or roommate.
“It’s kind of like weight training,” Weng says. “Using this systematic approach, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”
Compassion training was compared to a control group that learned cognitive reappraisal, a technique where people learn to reframe their thoughts to feel less negative. Both groups listened to guided audio instructions over the Internet for 30 minutes per day for two weeks. “We wanted to investigate whether people could begin to change their emotional habits in a relatively short period of time,” says Weng.
The real test of whether compassion could be trained was to see if people would be willing to be more altruistic — even helping people they had never met. The research tested this by asking the participants to play a game in which they were given the opportunity to spend their own money to respond to someone in need (called the “Redistribution Game”). They played the game over the Internet with two anonymous players, the “Dictator” and the “Victim.” They watched as the Dictator shared an unfair amount of money (only $1 out of $10) with the Victim. They then decided how much of their own money to spend (out of $5) in order to equalize the unfair split and redistribute funds from the Dictator to the Victim.
“We found that people trained in compassion were more likely to spend their own money altruistically to help someone who was treated unfairly than those who were trained in cognitive reappraisal,” Weng says.
“We wanted to see what changed inside the brains of people who gave more to someone in need. How are they responding to suffering differently now?” asks Weng. The study measured changes in brain responses using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after training. In the MRI scanner, participants viewed images depicting human suffering, such as a crying child or a burn victim, and generated feelings of compassion towards the people using their practiced skills. The control group was exposed to the same images, and asked to recast them in a more positive light as in reappraisal.
The researchers measured how much brain activity had changed from the beginning to the end of the training, and found that the people who were the most altruistic after compassion training were the ones who showed the most brain changes when viewing human suffering. They found that activity was increased in the inferior parietal cortex, a region involved in empathy and understanding others.
Compassion training also increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the extent to which it communicated with the nucleus accumbens, brain regions involved in emotion regulation and positive emotions.
“People seem to become more sensitive to other people’s suffering, but this is challenging emotionally. They learn to regulate their emotions so that they approach people’s suffering with caring and wanting to help rather than turning away,” explains Weng.
Compassion, like physical and academic skills, appears to be something that is not fixed, but rather can be enhanced with training and practice. “The fact that alterations in brain function were observed after just a total of seven hours of training is remarkable,” explains UW-Madison psychology and psychiatry professor Richard J. Davidson, founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and senior author of the article.
“There are many possible applications of this type of training,” Davidson says. “Compassion and kindness training in schools can help children learn to be attuned to their own emotions as well as those of others, which may decrease bullying. Compassion training also may benefit people who have social challenges such as social anxiety or antisocial behavior.”
Weng is also excited about how compassion training can help the general population. “We studied the effects of this training with healthy participants, which demonstrated that this can help the average person. I would love for more people to access the training and try it for a week or two — what changes do they see in their own lives?”
Both compassion and reappraisal trainings are available on the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds’ website. “I think we are only scratching the surface of how compassion can transform people’s lives,” says Weng.
There is hope!
Posted by Xeno on May 23, 2013
They first hit the man, thought to be a British soldier, with a car in broad daylight. Then the two attackers hacked him to death and dumped his body in the middle of a southeastern London road. As the victim — dressed in what appeared to be a T-shirt for Help for Heroes, a charity that helps military veterans — lay prone, one of the two attackers found a camera.
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone,” said a meat-cleaver-wielding man with bloody hands, speaking in what seems to be a London accent.
“The only reasons we killed this man … is because Muslims are dying daily,” he added, in video aired by CNN affiliate ITN. “This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth.”
One witness, Michael Atlee, described the gruesome, frenzied and ultimately fatal sequence of events Wednesday afternoon as “a bloody mess.” British Prime David Cameron called it a terrorist attack.
“We will never buckle to terror,” Cameron wrote on Twitter. Home Secretary Theresa May offered a similar assessment Wednesday night of the situation and a similar message of resolve.
“We have seen terrorism on the streets of Britain before, and we have always stood against it,” she said. “Despicable acts like this will not go unpunished.” A witness, who identified himself only as James, told London’s LBC 97.3 radio station that he saw two men standing by the victim, who was on the ground in the British capital’s Woolwich neighborhood. At first James thought they were trying to help the man. But then he saw two meat cleavers, like a butcher would have.
“They were hacking at this poor guy, literally,” he told the radio station, as if they were trying to remove his organs.
“These two guys were crazed. They were just not there. They were just animals.” Afterward, the men appeared to want to be filmed, with one of the attackers going over to a bus and asking people to take photos of him as if he wanted to be on TV.
A man who asked not to be identified told ITN that he was on his way to a job interview when he came up on the scene and started filming it. Then, a man with a cleaver and knife in his bloody hands “came straight to me (and) said, ‘No, no, no, it’s cool. I just want to talk to you.’” The suspect went to apologize to women who had witnessed the attack, then quickly added “but in our lands our women have to see the same.”
“You people will never be safe,” he said. “Remove your government. They don’t care about you. You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns?
“… Get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so we can all live in peace.” The first call about an assault came in at 2:20 p.m. (9:20 a.m. ET). At some point afterward, police responded, including armed members of a firearms unit, even though British police typically don’t carry guns. Metropolitan Police Commander Simon Letchworth noted that “early reports” indicated the attackers had “weapons.” Metropolitan Police say they’re aware of reports it took 30 minutes for police to arrive. The suspects rushed at the arriving officers before being shot, James told the radio station. The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the Metropolitan Police informed them at 2:50 p.m. of “an incident,” as would happen when police shoot and injure someone. Letchworth said both suspects were taken to separate London hospitals for treatment. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe later said the two had been arrested, though it wasn’t immediately clear if this happened at the hospitals or elsewhere.
“We understand concern about the motivation, and we will work tirelessly to uncover why this occurred and and who was responsible,” Hogan-Howe said, adding that his force’s counterterrorism unit will lead the investigation. “I understand people want answers, but I must stress we are in the early stages of investigations.” …
Just one citizen with a handgun might have saved the dead soldier’s life. Oh wait, guns are too dangerous for average London citizens who want protection. Someone might get hurt. Just ignore the fact that a foreign soldier claimed there are future plans to “burst guns” in the streets of London.
Contrary to claims that the killers were crazed and “not there”, the one knife killer who spoke to a video camera before being shot by police was obviously quite lucid. He did not seem to be on any kind of drugs. After he was done with the horrific attack, he spoke clearly and with relative calm. It seemed to me that he was telling the truth about seeing this kind of thing before in his homeland. Senseless tragic revolting stupidity.
Perhaps some kind of a god could appear and demand an end to all religion on Earth while simultaneously making everyone the same race and distributing the natural resources equally. Would that end our problems? No. The real problem is diseased thinking.
Posted by Xeno on May 22, 2013
It’s the staple of almost every kung fu action film ever made: the hero is targeted for revenge after teaching the deadly and closely guarded secrets of the martial art to outsiders and, even worse, foreigners.
But ask Lam Chun-fai Sifu — the 73-year-old practitioner of the 300-year-old kung fu style known as Hung Kuen — and he will tell you that making the martial art accessible to foreigners is the only way to save it from extinction.
The son of a student to Wong Fei Hung, one of the legends of the fighting style and the subject of countless films, Lam Sifu (sifu is a Cantonese term that means ‘master’) says the fighting art may be growing fast overseas, but struggles in the region where it was born.
To counter the decline, he has co-authored the world’s first English-language manual on the ancient kung fu style that he has taught for 60 years and has been his family’s trademark for more than three generations.
Called Hung Kuen Fundamentals: Fok Fu Kuen, the manual outlines scores of moves and stances that were hitherto only taught and transmitted orally.
While there are dozens of fighting styles in kung fu (the northern styles represented by fast, high kicks and rapid, fluid movements), Hung Kuen is a southern Chinese fighting art characterised by strong stances and fast footwork. One practitioner famously destroyed the bamboo planks in a demonstration platform simply by shifting his feet in the ‘hard stances’ of Hung Kuen.
Lam Sifu, meanwhile, teaches a steady stream of foreigners the ancient fighting art in the cramped living room of his tiny apartment on the 7th floor of a tenement block in Hong Kong’s North Point.
In terms of Hong Kong kung fu, it’s about as traditional as it gets, right down to the name ‘Di Dat Clinic’ which translates as ‘Hit Fall Clinic’; a name unchanged from the days when kung fu masters, so used to treating the training accidents of their students, were the first stop for neighborhood trauma injuries and broken bones.
Using a spear against his sword-wielding son Oscar, Lam Sifu is a blur of threshing weapons amid the armchairs, ornaments and computer printers in his urban home.
“Training in a small area like this is very good for control,” he says in a space so cramped it looks like two men having a knife fight in a telephone booth. For his long-standing foreign students — Hung Kuen teachers from Italy, the Czech Republic and Germany — the turn of fighting speed still draws a gasp of admiration.
“Many students in Italy like traditional kung fu and especially this style which is the origin of the martial art,” said Massimo Iannaccone, who runs an academy in Rome but perfects the art in Lam Sifu’s living room on trips to Hong Kong.
Pavel Adamek, who teaches Hung Kuen in Prague, Czech Republic, says his students are drawn as much by the Eastern philosophy associated with the martial art as they are by learning a fighting style.
“It’s very popular in the Czech Republic — people there are really looking for something more than fighting arts. They want to train their bodies and their minds — this style is really very good for that,” he said. …
Posted by Xeno on May 22, 2013
This morning, inches from where I last had a poltergeist move a bottle of dish soap while I was feet away, my blender started by itself. This was about 3 minutes after using it. It just came on. It has never done this before and I was unable to make it happen again, even strongly shaking and bumping the blender base after turning it off as lightly as possible.
- The off switch was not fully off and during those three minutes was slowly depressing due to completely natural forces until the electrical contact was made and the motor started.
- Someone rigged my blender with a remote control switch to mess with me
- A focused beam energy weapon deployed on a cloaked floating platform above my house was used. Someone saw the human heat signature in my kitchen through the roof and some joker at the controls at Area 51 decided to have some fun and prove just how advanced technology has become.
- A ghost is trying to send me a message of some kind. Candidates: a deceased grandparent, the deceased previous owner of the home, the deceased maintenance man who had the key made.
First a key falls to the floor from a nail on the wall, then the soap bottle rocks back and forth, now the blender comes on. All in the same kitchen. All weeks apart.
Key, Soap, Blender… KSB. Hmmm. Someones initials? The urban dictionary say it stands for “Kick Some Butt”.