Archives for April 2017

President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke at the opening ceremonies of the New York World’s Fair i,%202017&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&utm_content=The%20Writer%27s%20Almanac%20for%20April%2030,%202017&elqTrackId=2f66b0493aed4186a12f42c63763c212&elq=b5a748965ea341a99cc5b589050b09e9&elqaid=28257&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=24886

Pretty soon they’ll be able to attach Ted William’s head to a body and revive him< maybe.

CNS Neurosci Ther. 2017 Apr 21. doi: 10.1111/cns.12700. [Epub ahead of print]
A cross-circulated bicephalic model of head transplantation.
Li PW1, Zhao X1, Zhao YL1, Wang BJ1, Song Y1, Shen ZL1, Jiang HJ1, Jin H1, Canavero S2, Ren XP1,3,4.
Author information
A successful cephalosomatic anastomosis (“head transplant”) requires, among others, the ability to control long-term immune rejection and avoidance of ischemic events during the head transference phase. We developed a bicephalic model of head transplantation to study these aspects.

The thoracic aorta and superior vena cava of a donor rat were anastomosed with the carotid artery and extracorporeal veins of a recipient rat by vascular grafts. Before thoracotomy in the donor rat, the axillary artery and vein of the donor were connected to the carotid and the extracranial vein of the third rat through a silicone tube. The silicone tube was passed through a peristaltic pump to ensure donor brain tissue blood supply. There is no ischemia reperfusion injury in donor brain tissue analyzed by electroencephalogram. Postoperative donor has pain reflex and corneal reflex.

Peristaltic pump application can guarantee the blood supply of donor brain tissue per unit time, while the application of temperature change device to the silicone tube can protect the brain tissue hypothermia, postoperative experimental data show that there is no brain tissue ischemia during the whole operation. The application of vascular grafting can also provide the possibility of long-term survival of the model.

© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Cancer in your life? Read this!

Is Reality Real?

I asked my wife if she thought our world was as it seems.

“What do you mean?” she asked as she flipped the eggs she was cooking for my breakfast.

“I wonder if I’m deceiving myself by believing the world is mine to control, or is the incredible things I say or do imposed by someone projecting their insanity onto me?” She scorched the eggs once again. I wondered why she always did that.

“You’re confusing me with your crazy thoughts,” she complained.

“Come on. Didn’t you ever think we are only props in a game?” I shoveled burnt eggs into my mouth and washed them down with coffee before I gagged.

“Who’d create a game like that?” She took my empty plate to the sink. Her smug smile revealed that she burnt my eggs on purpose.

“Someone we may have locked in an asylum for the insane if we knew how they thought?” I said, and wondered if what I saw was really there, or was it all a delusion coming from another’s awareness,or was my wife in my dream ,or was I in hers? Maybe we were both in somebody else’s dream?

“People don’t get locked up for what they think, only for what they do,” she said as she poured me coffee that looked like mud and tasted worse.

“That’s not true, ” I said, “Because it’s difficult to know what’s real and what’s imagined.”

“There you go again with your abstractions. Exactly what do you mean?”

“Matter is nothing but waves washing through a universe that may only exist in someone’s imagination. Maybe all we see is nothing but an apparition, or worse, our world is a drug-inspired hallucination.”

“You’re saying that the eggs, toast and coffee you just ate weren’t really there?” She waved the dirty frying pan in front of my face.

“Well, it’s like when I think of sex. Is it all in the mind? Do I even need you to enjoy it when all I need is the waves of pleasure provided by my mind?” I took the pan from her hand and carried it to the sink. The weight of it convinced me it was really there.

“I don’t understand your ideas of how scientists explain that I’m not really here, but as long as you don’t need me, I’m outta here.” She slammed the door on the way out.

Did I want her to go? Is that why she left, or did she want to go? Am I an avatar in someone’s game? Was she ever really here? Was I happy she had left? I looked in the closet and her clothing had disappeared. In the sink, the frying pan was clean, and the coffee pot held aromatic coffee fit for a king. Good riddance to her, I thought. I heard a knock on the door.

A woman, or rather girl of eighteen or so, stood there with a pile of luggage. “What’s this?” I asked.

“Mostly negligees,” she said and held up a transparent one for me to see.

“Do you know how to cook?”

“Like a gourmet.”

“Come on in.” I showed her the closet and watched her unpack 27 negligees, two dresses and other clothing she put away.

She put on a dress and went to the kitchen where she began to cook a meal.

“Let’s have sex before we eat.” I took her by the arm and led her to the bed. She knew things I never imagined, and I had the greatest experience of my life.

“Do you want me to serve you dinner in bed, or will you come to the dining room?” she asked as she kissed me on the forehead.

Her cooking wasn’t gourmet, and she misunderstood everything I said. My life became a bore, so I sent her back out the door and dreamed of the best companion a man could have, a dog. One that could cook, make a good cup of Joe, and converse in a language we’d both understand. We’d be buddies and have no need for women or sex.

My doorbell rang and there stood a male mutt with a bowl between his paws. He was a brown German Sheppard mixed with retriever, the best of all possible mixes.

“I understand you’re looking for someone like me?” the mutt said, with his mouth open in a doggy smile.

“Only if you cook and can make good coffee,” I opened the door for him to come in. He went right to the sink and washed his paws, then put on coffee and cooked a T-bone steak for dinner.

We talked, and he understood everything I said and added a few anecdotes of his own. He got me a beer and asked if I needed anything else. Then he cleaned the house. When he finished, he lay at my feet, waiting to fill any wish or command.

I taught him poker and chess, and he always let me win. When we went for a walk, I always led. He even learned to use the toilet I built for him next to mine. I called him Jeeves because he was like an old English manservant who only lived to fill my every need and I knew this world was indeed one I had created.

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I read that men who wear kilts have a higher sperm count than those who wear pants.

In this year, 2048, men with any sperm count at all are considered too masculine to leave the house alone. They must be
accompanied by a female household member to assure they don’t waste their sperm on some undeserving woman. They aren’t permitted to drive as it would give them too much independence.
I wanted more out of life than being a sex toy for my four wives, so I applied to the sperm control office for a work permit. There wasn’t one man out of the hundreds of employees there. I knew it would be an uphill battle, but I have more to offer the world than baking cookies.
The stern looking woman who called my name after a four hour wait wore a navy blue pantsuit. “I don’t understand why you’d want to work. We give you practically anything you want and we don’t want you tiring out so you can’t do your husbandly duties. A man’s place is at home where he’ll be safe.” She glanced down to see if I wore my kilt as the law commanded every male to do ever since our sperm count fell so low a doctor pronounced that the human race would expire if men’s sperm reached a point where they could no longer reproduce.
The doctor must have been a transvestite! Because of him, every man alive must wear a traditional kilt to keep their testicles cool. At least they don’t make us wear dresses. I personally don’t give a damn about how many sperm I have. I never once counted them. I don’t want to have a son who’ll have to grow up in a world dominate by women who will subjugate him to their whims and desires.
“You femdommes are all alike,” I shot back. “You treat any man with a sperm count as if all he’s good for is having sex. We have minds you know.”
“Calm down. If you’re going to be so persistent, maybe we can find you a nice safe job close to home.”
“That’s just it; I don’t want a safe job. I want excitement and danger in my life.”
She patted my hand. “Calm down, don’t want to affect your sperm count you know.”
“Sperm, that’s the only thing on your mind. I have dreams and ambitions, so it’s not fair to keep me cooped up and uneducated.”
“Men don’t need to be educated. Women will supply everything you’ll ever need.”
“I’m telling you that I want to earn my own living.” She looked at me as though I were insane.
“Tell you what Mister . . . Which of your wives name do you use?”
“I want to use my own name.”
“Okay then Mister, Christian. You can come to work here at the Sperm Control Center. We’re being forced to show that we’re not biased, so we have to have at least one male on the staff. Be here ready for work on Monday.”
Not one of my wives was happy to hear that I’d be going to work. All four of them wanted me at home so they’d be able to track me with the surveillance cameras set up throughout our house.
“How do you plan on getting to work?” Lisa, wife number one asked.
“I’ll ride my bicycle.”
“No!” shouted Pricilla, wife number two. “I don’t want your sperm count to drop and you know that’s why we don’t allow you to ride often.”
“Then, Judy can drop me off on the way to her job. It’s right around the corner from where she works.”
“How embarrassing,” Judy said. “My coworkers will think my husband has to work because I’m not taking care of him.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll wear a disguise and cover my face so no one will recognize me.”
Monday came and Judy dropped me off at work. I felt her watching me until I entered the building. I went to the sixth floor to report for work and was assigned to the communications room. Probably so I’d be out of sight, but once I started work, I discovered my job was to archive all e-mails and correspondence between departments.
A month passed and I did a good job, I thought, but I couldn’t read any classified documents without knowing the password. One night I made love to Julia, wife number three and got her to tell me the secret password. The next day at work I opened a file marked classified and got the shock of my life when I read the title.
Male Eradication Program. Looking through the folder I saw that scientist had manipulated chromosomes in a way to make each individual fetus possess both the male XY and female XX chromosome creating a hermaphrodite. Hermaphroditism is a condition, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which both partners can act as the female or male.
Holy shit, just like in The Left Hand of Darkness, they’re going to make it so women can reproduce themselves and will have no use for men in the near future. What could I do to stop this from happening?
I wasn’t sure what to do, but I had to alert all men what they were up to. I programmed a message into a robotic e-mail program and hit send. The second I hit the button, all screens went blank, lights flashed, bells rang and four women cops barged into the communications room with clubs in hand.
I awoke in a hospital bed, try to speak, but have no tongue. I look for a call button, see one and reach for it. It’s then that I notice I have no hands. Just then my boss from The Sperm Control Center enters my room with a smile on her face.
“Now you see why we don’t want men in the workforce?’
“You fucking bitch,” I wanted to yell, but could only grunt.
She put a hand on my leg. “Don’t worry big guy, we left the best part of you intact.”
My eyes followed hers and landed on my erection.

I didn’t know he was so smart! It’s the birthday of naturalist John Muir

It’s the birthday of naturalist John Muir, born in Dunbar, Scotland (1838). He grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. His father was a strict Christian, and by age 11, Muir could recite three-quarters of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament by heart. One evening, the boy was up late reading, and his father forbade him from staying up late, but decided that as a compromise, he could get up as early as he wanted in the morning. Muir began getting up at 1 a.m. and going to the cellar to work on inventions by the light of a tallow candle. He invented a self-setting sawmill, thermometers, barometers, complex door-locks, an automatic horse-feeding machine, clocks, a firelighter, and many more tools. For motivation in the dark winter mornings, he invented an elaborate clock that also told the day of the week and the month, and was connected to a bed that set him on his feet at an appointed hour.

He exhibited some of his inventions at the state fair, and made enough money to enroll at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. One day, he was standing underneath a black locust tree when a fellow student asked Muir if he knew what family the locust tree was in. Muir said that he didn’t know anything about plants, so the student asked him, well, what does the flower look like? Muir said it looked like a pea flower. When the student explained that they were in the same family, Muir was amazed, even more so after the other student explained the principles of taxonomy. He wrote: “This fine lesson charmed me and sent me flying to the woods and meadows in wild enthusiasm. […] I wandered away at every opportunity, making long excursions round the lakes, gathering specimens and keeping them fresh in a bucket in my room to study at night after my regular class tasks were learned; for my eyes never closed on the plant glory I had seen.” Despite his new fascination with plants, he was a mechanical genius, and he remained equally interested in inventions. He improved his clock-bed, which now set him on his feet and simultaneously lighted a lamp. The bed was supplemented by a clockwork desk that kicked into gear as soon as he woke up; it took each book he needed to study in order, pushed it to the top of the desk, and opened it for the correct number of minutes. He invented a wide variety of complex scientific instruments. Professors were so amazed that they regularly brought visitors to Muir’s dormitory room on the weekends to show off his inventions. Muir chose not to follow a recommended course of study. Instead, he dabbled in whatever interested him, from botany to Latin, and left Madison without a degree. Before his death, he wrote about his college years: “I wandered away on a glorious botanical and geological excursion, which has lasted nearly 50 years and is not yet completed, always happy and free, poor and rich, without thought of a diploma or of making a name.”

Muir found work as a sawyer in a wagon wheel factory. He was quickly promoted, and expected to have a great career. But after a year, he was repairing a belt for a circular saw when a file slipped and struck his eye, and he was temporarily blinded. He spent six weeks in a dark room, not knowing if he would ever see again. When his sight did return, he realized how important the beautiful world was to him. He wrote: “It was from this time that my long continuous wanderings may be said to have fairly commenced. I bade adieu to all my mechanical inventions, determined to devote the rest of my life to the study of the inventions of God.” He set out on a 1,000-mile walk from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico, then walked from San Francisco to the Sierra Nevada.

Muir went on to become one of the most important naturalists and conservationists in American history. He founded the Sierra Club and helped fight to protect wilderness areas, especially the area around Yosemite Valley in the Sierra Nevada mountains. His books include Picturesque California (1888), My First Summer in the Sierra (1911), and The Story of My Boyhood and Youth (1913). reposted Writer’s Almanac.

It’s the birthday of one of the founders of psychiatry,

It’s the birthday of one of the founders of psychiatry, Philippe Pinel, born in Saint-André, France (1745). He studied mathematics, theology, and internal medicine before becoming the chief physician at a Paris insane asylum in 1792. Before Pinel arrived, conditions at the asylum were horrible: Among other things, patients were chained to the walls, and people could pay a fee to come in and watch them.
Pinel put a stop to these practices, as well as misguided treatments like bleeding, purging, and blistering. People generally believed that the insane were possessed by demons, but Pinel argued that they were just under a lot of stress. He started treating patients by talking to them about their problems in intense conversations on a regular basis, which paved the way for modern psychiatric practices.

from Writer’s Almanac

Have a Good One! Easter

Just a little I thought,
and then a little more
and now I know

it has me in its grip
promising me what I need
there’s no letting go.

blinded by claims of fame
and in pain I believe
what I have done

is okay to even try
to fill my needs
my desire takes money

and eager to please I
don’t need any drugs
to work but know

everything I need
to even try to fill
my needs came in
I found today

Don’t believe man is screwing up our atmosphere? A little taste from the 1930s of how easy it is.

On this day in 1935, “Black Sunday,” the Great Plains region experienced one of the largest dust storms in American history.

That morning, the weather was clear and warm, little to no breeze. But by afternoon, the sky had turned a strange purple and the wind had started to whip. A towering black plume of dust shot across the Plains, from South Dakota to Texas, before people could react. Cars were shorted out, and animals were smothered on the spot – countless birds, mice, jackrabbits. Cattle’s stomachs were later found to be filled with several inches of dirt, their eyes cemented shut by a mixture of tears and dust.

The disaster of the Dust Bowl years was completely manmade. Motivated by a spike in wheat prices right after the First World War, settlers had rushed into America’s farmland to remove the native grasses and plant more wheat. When the price in wheat fell during the Depression years, farmers abandoned their now-empty fields. With no native grasses in place to hold the soil down, it was free to move in the air. A few more years of drought after that was all it took to turn a once-thriving prairie into an arid wasteland.

Nearly 850 million tons of topsoil was displaced in 1935 alone, with the worst dust storms hitting areas in Oklahoma and the panhandles of Texas. People adapted their lives to the dust. Women would knead their bread in a dresser drawer draped over with cloth, working the dough through two hand-holes cut in the drawer’s sides. They abandoned stovetop cooking in lieu of the oven, where less dirt could get through. Meals had to be eaten immediately or else they would accumulate a layer of dust. Children walked to school in goggles and dust masks.

Thousands fled to California during the Dust Bowl, overwhelming the state’s resources. Others suffered health and respiratory problems from the constant presence of dust. Homes and farm equipment were buried in great dunes of sandy dirt. The multiyear tragedy led to the federal government’s passing of the Soil Conservation Act in 1936.

Today, farmers use more careful agricultural methods to prevent the kind of erosion that would lead to another Dust Bowl.

From the Writer’s Almanac

Today is the birthday of American jazz legend Billie Holiday, born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia (1915).

Billie Holiday’s parents were barely teenagers when they had her, and unwed – her mother only 13 years to her father’s 15. Shortly after her birth, her father left to pursue his dreams of becoming a jazz guitarist. Her mother left young Eleanora in the care of her aunt so that she could work during the day.

By age 12, Billie was already a fan of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. She accepted a job running errands for a local madam because she let her play records on the madam’s Victrola gramophone. A few years later, Holiday became a prostitute herself, and was arrested along with her mother after a raid at the brothel.

Afterward, Billie began performing in Harlem nightclubs. She was discovered there by producer John Hammond, who would also launch the careers of Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Leonard Cohen, and Bruce Springsteen. She took the stage name Billie Holiday, after the popular Swiss actress Billie Dove and her own father, Clarence Holiday.

In the span of her nearly 30-year career, Holiday released 38 charting singles. She took on the nickname “Lady Day,” and her voice was singular. “If I’m going to sing like someone else,” she said, “then I don’t need to sing at all.”

In 1937, Holiday joined Count Basie’s band. Neither she nor most of the band members could read music – they played instead by memory and feel. In this time, she competed with, and then befriended, fellow jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald.

When she was fired from the Count Basie Band, she was immediately picked up by bandleader Artie Shaw for his all-white orchestra. The arrangement was highly unusual, the first time a black female singer toured the segregated South with a white composer. Shaw defended her as they toured, but it was too much for Holiday. When she was made to use the service elevator at one of their hotels because of guest complaints, she left the group for good.

She signed onto Columbia records for the ’30s and ’40s, but re-signed with Commodore and Decca Records after Columbia rejected her hit “Strange Fruit” on the grounds that it was too controversial. The song, adapted from a poem, had special meaning to her in relation to her father Clarence’s death – he was denied medical treatment for a lung disorder on the basis of race. “It reminds me of how Pop died,” she explained in her autobiography, “but I have to keep singing it, not only because people ask for it, but because twenty years after Pop died the things that killed him are still happening in the South.” She also starred in a film in 1946, but her screen time was severely cut because of pressure to avoid the implication that black people created jazz music.

Holiday suffered from many drug and legal troubles throughout her life. She was arrested for narcotics possession in 1947 and made to serve time in jail. After her release, she sold out a show at Carnegie Hall. Still, she could not make a clean break from heroin and the police forces trying to punish her for it. As she lay dying in her hospital bed from liver cirrhosis in 1959, she was handcuffed and arrested for drug possession.

Today, her voice and music remain unmatched. She was awarded four posthumous Grammys, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

reposted from Writer’s Almanac.