Friday, January 31, 2014

Underwear: A "Brief" History

You might find it incredible to discover that a common type of clothing, underwear, is a fairly recent addition to the clothing worn by both men and women. But, throughout most of human history, most people until the mid-1800s wore nothing under their street clothes.
Underwear is clothing worn under other clothes directly next to the skin. It keeps outer garments from being soiled by bodily secretions and discharges, shape the body  and provide support for parts of it. Some underwear is intended for erotic effect and special types of underwear have religious significance, such as the white boxers that Mormon men are supposed to use.
Different styles of underwear are generally worn by women and men. Underwear commonly worn by women include panties and brassieres.  Men generally wear any one of a number of types of briefs or boxers. Items commonly worn by both sexes include T-shirts, sleeveless shirts (tank tops) thongs and G-strings.
Some people choose to "go commando". Going commando, (aka: "free-balling" for males and "free-buffing" for females) is the practice of not wearing underwear. The origin of the phrase "go commando" is uncertain, but the most commonly held belief of the origin is that it was associated with U.S. soldiers' practices during the Vietnam War. The soldiers were reputed to go without underwear in an effort to increase ventilation and reduce moisture.
Others chose not to wear underwear, for several reasons. Among those reasons are comfort, to enable their outer garments (particularly those which are form-fitting) to look more flattering, feel sexy, to be more ready for sexual activity, to avoid creating a panty line, or just because they do not see any need for underwear. In addition, certain types of clothing, such as cycling shorts and kilts, are designed to be worn or are traditionally worn without underwear. This also applies for most clothes worn as nightwear or as swimwear.
The loincloth was probably the first undergarment worn by human beings. In warmer climates the loincloth was often the only clothing, worn but in colder areas, the loincloth often formed the basis of a person's clothing and was covered by other garments. The loincloth was worn by men. There is no evidence that it was used by women. Archaeologists have found the remains of such loincloths made of leather dating back 7,000 years.
Most people never used an undergarment until the 18th Century. The invention of the spinning jenny machines and the cotton gin in the second half of the 18th century made cotton fabrics widely available. This allowed factories to mass-produce underwear. The first underwear were called a union suit, a combination of a tee-shirt and underwear. By the end of the 1910s, Chalmers Knitting Company split the union suit into upper and lower sections, effectively inventing the modern undershirt and drawers. Women wore lacier versions of this basic duo known as the camisole and drawers.
Underwear advertising first made an appearance in the 1910s. The first underwear print advertisement in the U.S. appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1911. Early underwear advertisements emphasized durability and comfort, and fashion was not regarded as a selling point.
In the early 1800s, drawers were worn for the first time by women to the dismay of many women and men. Wearing trouser-like undergarments were worn exclusively by men it was considered immodest for women to wear them. Some women wore pantalettes,  a more feminine type of underwear  that came below the knee and had lace trim. These went out style with the advent of shorter and slimmer dresses.
Drawers became a status symbol among middle and upper class women in Europe in the 1830s.  Made of cotton or lawn cloth (another fine material), they consisted of two open overlapping legs sewn onto one waistband that tied in the back. The poor continued to wear no undergarments.
In 1841, The Handbook of the Toilet was published. It suggested that women adopt the French practice of wearing draws to avoid "many of the disorders and indispositions to which British females were subjected."  (At that time, the French were recognized as leaders in hygiene and medicine.) The handbook advised that drawers "should reach as far down the leg as possible without being seen."
In 1851, dress reformer Amilia Bloomer introduced here baggy trousers for ladies. Originally intended to be outerwear, the word "bloomers" became the term for knee-length underpants around 1910.
The chemise top was combined with drawers in 1877. This created a smoother and more streamlined single garment of underwear both for men and women.
In 1879, "knickerbockers" for women (closed drawers with inseams) were made for the first time. Nicknamed "knickers", the gathered at the knee and were trimmed with frill of lace. The British still use the word "knickers" for underwear.
Women's panties (short for pantaloons) were created in 1905. They had slimmer and shorter gathered legs than knickers but retained ornate trim.
Camiknickers for women appeared in 1916.The were a delicate combination underwear into which women steeped and then slip on their shoulder and buttoned at the crotch.
The introduction of plastic yarn in the 1930s made panties easier to remain in place and less likely to slip down while walking. Previous to this, women had to tie ribbons or use buttons to keep their panties in place , both of which could easily become undone while walking or sitting. Men had no such problem.
Modern men's underwear was invented in1935. Coopers Inc. sold the world's first men's briefs in Chicago. Designed by an "apparel engineer" named Arthur Kneibler, briefs dispensed with leg sections and had a Y-shaped overlapping fly. The company dubbed the design the "Jockey" since it offered a degree of support that had previously only been available from the jockstrap. Jockey briefs proved so popular that over 30,000 pairs were sold within three months of their introduction. Coopers renamed the company Jockey.
Also in the1930s, companies began selling buttonless drawers fitted with an elastic waistband. These were the first true boxer shorts, which were named for their resemblance to the shorts worn by professional fighters. At about the same time, Scovil Manufacturing introduced the snap fastener which became a popular addition to various kinds of undergarments.
The 1990s saw the introduction of men's boxer briefs. They are essentially a boxer but they maintain the tightness of briefs.
Underwear as fashion reached its peak from the 1970s through the 1990s during which underwear advertisers no longer dwelled on comfort and durability. Sex appeal became the main selling point of both men's and women's underwear.  Designers such as Calvin Klein and companies like Victoria' Secret began featuring near-naked models in their advertisements. And, the increased wealth of the gay community helped to promote a diversity of undergarment choice, such as the creation of thongs, G-string underwear, bikini briefs and mesh underwear.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Poem: Everybody Tells Me Everything

Everybody Tells Me Everything
I find it very difficult to enthuse
Over the current news.
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,
And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons. 
- Ogden Nash  (1902-1971)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Star Discoved With a Planet-Forming Ring Aound It

Japanese astronomers spotted the giant planet-forming ring while studying new images of the star named HD 142527 taken by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, in the Chilean desert The star is located about 450 light-years away from Earth and is around 2 million years old.

Alien planets may be forming inside a giant gas ring located surprisingly far from its young parent star, scientists say. But, the planet-forming region is so far from its star (about five times the distance between our own sun and Neptune) that it appears to be the first time researchers have seen such an arrangement for the birth of alian planet.

planet forming ring

This image by the ALMA radio telescope in Chile shows a giant ring of dust and gas where alien planets may be forming around the star HD142527 about 450 ;light-years from Earth.

The new ALMA observations of HD 142527 found that the star is surrounded by cosmic dust that could be smashing together to form planets. Especially encouraging is a bright "knot" in on the northern side of this disk, a submillimeter emission that is 30 times stronger than the southern side emission.
We are very surprised at the brightness of the northern side, Misato Fukagawa, an assistant professor at Osaka University, said in a statement. I have never seen such a bright knot in such a distant position. This strong submillimeter emission can be interpreted as an indication that large amount of material is accumulated in this position. When a sufficient amount of material is accumulated, planets or comets can be formed here.
Fukagawa and colleagues believe that if the ring has a ratio of dust to gas (1 to 100) comparable to other solar systems, then giant gas planets several times more massive than Jupiter could be forming in the disk. But if this dense knot in the ring has a higher ratio of dust, it could spawn a "dust trap" that gives rise to Earth-like rocky planets and small bodies like comets

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why Is It?

Have you ever thought about these questions:

If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?

Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a racecar is not called a racist?

 If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?

 If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, then doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety-one?

If 4 out of 5 people suffer from diarrhea, does that mean that one out of five enjoys it?

Why do croutons come in airtight packages? Aren't they just stale bread to begin with?

If people from Poland are called Poles, then why aren't people from Holland called Holes?

What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men?

Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office?

Whatever happened to Preparations A through G ?

Why do banks charge a fee due to insufficient funds when they already know you're broke?

Why is it that when someone tells you that there are one billion stars in the universe you believe them, but if they tell you there is wet paint you have to touch it to check?

Why do they use sterilized needles for lethal injections?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why did Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose cruel idea was it to put an "s" in the word "lisp"?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it that, no matter what color bubble bath you use, the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do people run over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it and then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will ever open from the first end you try?

How do those dead bugs get into the enclosed light fixtures?

When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart, then apologizes for doing so; why do we say, "It's all right"? Well, it isn't all right so why don't we say, "That really hurt you dumb shit, why don't you watch where you're going?"

In winter, why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

The statistics on sanity say that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they are okay, then it  has to be you. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Death and Dying

William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Act 1, scene 2

Better to be cremated than to fade away?
Although death and taxes have long been known as the only two things you can truly count on, what if dying isn't exactly what you thought it to be? From multiple well-funded immortality projects to new studies that are reshaping the way we think about what being "dead" actually means, you might want to know a bit more about what awaits you in the ever-looming grave, or wherever you go when you die.
Your body can embarrass you even after death.
You've probably heard that hair and nails continue to grow after death. This may sound gross, but not only is that not exactly true, but there are far more embarrassing things that happen. First off, although hair and nails may appear to grow, what is really happening is the skin is losing moisture and therefore shriveling back and exposing more hair and more nails.

When you die, you'll also likely urinate, defecate and, depending on your gender, possibly even ejaculate -- all are possible. This happens mainly due to the loss of brain function that keeps your body in check, and is then forced through the first stiffening of the body's muscles followed by an eventual return to relaxation and release. If you're male and die face down, blood begins pooling to the parts of the body closest to the ground, which can also cause an erection.

And if you're curious how long it will take to become a skeleton, after about a week, skin can easily be pushed off and after a month, teeth and everything else start to fall out.


There's a scientific explanation for why your life "flashes before your eyes."

It is now believed that instead of the brain becoming more inactive during the final moments of life, brain activity actually surges, causing a hyper-aware mental state. This heightened state of consciousness can cause unexpected things to happen, whether that be "life flashing before your eyes" or a "light at the end of a tunnel," which is also helped along by the loss of blood and oxygen flow to the eyes. The feeling of time slowing down during near-death moments also may simply be a misremembering of that traumatic experience.


We may be closer to living forever than ever before.

Calico is Google's recently launched immortality project, which will aim to reverse the aging process, whether that means just for "five or 10 years of healthy life," as one Harvard Medical School professor suggested, or if truly successful, living forever. Although Calico, or the "California Life Company," has become the highest-profile project of its nature due to it coming from Google, another huge project is being run by a Russian billionaire named Dmitry Itskov, which aims to solve immortality by the year 2045. Iskov's plan involves building android bodies for humans, into which brains could be transferred, allowing them to live forever in the never-decaying (or at least easily replaceable) robo-body.
If you're curious about the philosophical ramifications of immortality, this interview with Philosopher John Fischer is a great place to start, while the New York Times also published an op-ed worth reading.


We might have a flawed understanding of when someone is actually "dead."

You've probably heard of people being pronounced "dead," only to "come back to life." This apparently happens about three times a year in Great Britain alone. Due to new resuscitation studies, there's growing research that we might not have the best idea of when people are actually "dead." In the rare instances of successful resuscitation after brain activity has appeared to stop, some people have been able to recount conversations and other memories that a "dead" brain should not have experienced. There isn't a "death moment," and the process actually takes place gradually as various functions shut down. Perhaps over time we'll learn new resuscitation techniques that will make revival success stories more common.


We're running out of room for local cemeteries and cremation is much cheaper than typical burial.

It's already becoming fairly impossible to find burial space in areas such as New York City, but entire countries like England might run out of burial space "in 20 years." Baby boomers have caused a burial boom, but as the world population continues to grow it will become increasingly difficult to find new burial space that developers haven't snatched up first. One solution might be to go the cremation route, which is actually way cheaper than buying a burial plot, not to mention the cost of a coffin, headstone, etc. Forty-two percent of Americans were cremated in 2011, double the rate from the prior fifteen years. As burial space gets more expensive as available land disappears, that number may continue to climb.


You might be breathing in dead people -- but you don't need to worry.

With higher cremation rates come increasing concerns about the proper procedure and disposal to insure we aren't breathing in the ashes of the dead. This horror story from a town outside Ottawa, Canada, shows what happens when you do it wrong. Soot from the Hope Crematorium spewed ashes into the air and forced nearby residents to keep their windows perpetually closed. As one home-owner put it, "It makes you feel like you're breathing in the remnants of a fucking dead body."

Apparently ingesting these ashes doesn't constitute a health problem, unless it becomes a constant, highly concentrated issue that could lead to something similar to coal miner's lung. So, if Tupac's friends actually "smoked his ashes" or Keith Richards truly snorted his father's ashes with cocaine, the negative effects of the drugs that were mixed with the remains would have been more harmful than the ashes themselves.


Around 286 Americans die every hour.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 2,513,171 Americans died in 2011. This comes out to a bit more than 286 American deaths every hour or about 6,885 a day. In comparison, the United Nations estimated 58,093,000 people died in the entire world during 2011, which would be about 159,159 deaths a day or 6,631 an hour.

You can be pronounced legally dead while still being very much alive.

A 61-year-old man named Donald E. Miller Jr. was declared "legally dead" by a judge, despite attending the court hearing as a clearly living, breathing human being. Miller was first declared dead by the same judge in 1994 after having gone missing for years, leaving thousands in unpaid child support and leading his ex-wife to make the appeal in order to receive his social security benefits. When Miller re-emerged after years of wandering the United States, he hoped to be re-instated as a living American citizen in order to get back essential rights and a social security number. The judge ended up ruling against Miller, saying that in Ohio where the case was held, rulings of death can't be reversed if the judgment has existed for over three years. A ruling that Miller was indeed alive also could have forced his ex-wife to repay years of social security benefits, financially devastating her and her new family. The judge was quoted as saying, "I don’t know where that leaves you, but you’re still deceased as far as the law is concerned."


Perhaps if death as we know evolves the point where it is no longer inevitable, at least we'll still be able to count on taxes and never-ending email.

Shakespeare: Creator of New Words

The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare. Not only is he the most read author in history, he invented over 1700 of our common words. He did so by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original. In addition to his being a particularly clever wordsmith, Shakespeare's word invention can be credited to the fact that the English language as a whole was in a major state of flux during the time that he was writing. Colonization and wars meant that English speakers were borrowing more and more words from other languages.
It's hard to say whether or not Shakespeare was the first to use many of these words, but in most cases he has long been believed to be the first to write them. So, before you dismiss Shakespeare as  outdated and  a  boring alternative to contemporary writers, remember that you have him to thank for the popularization a large number of words still in use today.

Below is a list of a few of the words Shakespeare coined linked to the play and scene from which it comes.

1. academe
Loves Labor Lost;  Act 1, scene 1
Our court shall be a little academe, still and contemplative in living art.

2. accused
Richard II;  Act1, scene 1
The accuser and the accused shall freely speak.

3. amazement
King John; Act 5, scene 1
... And wild amazement hurries up and down the little number of your doubtful friends.

4. bedroom
A Midsummer Night's Dream;  Act 2 , scene 2
Then by your side no bed-room deny;
For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.

5. circumstantial
As You Like It; Act 5, scene 4
I durst go no further than the Lie Circumstantial, nor he durst not give me the Lie Direct; and so we measured swords and departed.

6. drugged
Macbeth; Act 2 , scene 2
I have drugg'd their possets....

7. elbow
King Lear; Act 5, scene 3
A sovereign shame so elbows him....

8. gloomy
King Henry IV, part one; Act 5, scene 4
... But darkness and gloomy shades of death environ you, till mischief and despair drive you to break your necks or hang yourselves !

9. impartial
King Henry IV, part two; Act 5, scene 2
Sweet princes, what I did, I did in honor
Led by the impartial conduct of my soul.

10. laughable
The Merchant of Venice; Act 1, scene 1
... Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.

11. radiance
All's Well That Ends Well; Act 1, scene 1
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.

12. madcap
Loves Labor Lost, Act 2, scene 1
That last is Biron, the madcap lord....

13. negotiate
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, scene 2
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent.

14. obscene
Loves Labor Lost; Act 1, scene 1
I did encounter that obscene and preposterous event.

15. Olympian
King Henry VIII, part three; Act 2, scene 3
And, if we thrive, promise them such rewards as victors wear at the Olympian games.
16. premeditated

King Henry IV, part one; Act 3, scene 1
Comest thou with deep premeditated lines,
With written pamphlets studiously devised,
Humphrey of Gloucester?

17. savagery
King John; Act 4, scene 3
 ...This is the bloodiest shame,
The wildest savagery, the vilest stroke....

18. submerged
Antony and Cleopatra ; Act 2 , scene 5
O, would thou didst
So, half my kindom were submerged and made
A cistern for scaled snakes!
19. rant
Hamlet; Act 5, scene 1
I'll rant as well as thou.

20. zany
Love's Labor Lost, Act  5, scene 2
Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight zany.


Among the other words created and/or first used by Shakespeare are: addiction, advertising, arouse, assassination, backing, bandit, beached, birthplace, bloodstained, championed, cold-blooded, critic, dawn, discontent, disheartened, elbow, excited, eyeball, flawed, frugal, gnarled, gust, hobnob, jaded, hurried, impede, label, lackluster,  lonely, lower, madcap, marketable, mimic, moonbeam, mountaineer, noiseless, remorseless, sea-change, scuffle, submerge, summit, obsequious, outbreak, puking, unreal, and undress. 

News You May Have Missed, No. 55

Photographer Sued Over Topless Photo Taken At The Empire State Building

On January 13, 2014, the management of the Empire State Building in New York City filed a $1 million lawsuit against a photographer who shot topless pictures of model atop its iconic 86th floor observatory. In August, 2013, a model climbed to the crowded observation deck and took her top off as 30-year-old photographer Allen Henson captured the image on his cell phone. The photo quickly went viral on the internet and angered the owners of the Empire State Building, one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York City, who said the observation deck was full of tourists, including children, at the time the photo was taken. We were doing a social experiment, said Henson, adding he has been photographing fashion models for three years and also shot photos of topless women in Central Park and in Manhattan's Peninsula Hotel. Henson began taking the series of photos after becoming aware of a May 2013, New York City memorandum which prevents police officers from arresting women who expose their breasts in public. Henson said he wanted to test the social implications of the rule, but added that the pictures atop the Empire State Building were not taken in a professional capacity. I am a professional photographer, but that doesn't mean that every time I touch a device with a camera on it I must be conducting a photo shoot, he said. Management of the Empire State Building charged in the suit the pictures were produced for his own commercial purpose and damaged the landmark's reputation as a safe and secure family friendly tourist attraction. Every year more than four million visitors from around the world pay to view the city from the Empire State Building's observatory, over 1,000 feet above ground. Representatives for the Empire State Building did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Henson said the building's guards did not react to the shoot or attempt to remove him from the premises. On a side note, Henson  said, she had wonderful breasts.

Study: Why Birds Fly in V Formation

Scientists have long debated why migrating birds fly in a V formation. A new study of ibises finds that these big-winged birds carefully position their wingtips and sync their flapping, presumably to catch the preceding bird’s updraft, thus saving energy during flight. There are two  other reasons birds might fly in a V formation: It may make flight easier, or they’re simply following the leader. Squadrons of planes can save fuel by flying in a V formation, and many scientists suspect that migrating birds do the same. Models that treated flapping birds like fixed-wing airplanes estimate that they save energy by drafting off each other, but currents created by airplanes are far more stable than the oscillating eddies coming off of a bird. Air gets pretty darn wiggy behind a flapping wing, says James Usherwood, a locomotor biomechanist at the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London in Hatfield, where the research took place. The study, published in the online journal, Nature, took advantage of an existing project to reintroduce endangered northern bald ibises (Geronticus eremita) to Europe. Scientists used a microlight plane to show hand-raised birds their ancestral migration route from Austria to Italy. A flock of 14 juveniles carried data loggers specially built by Usherwood and his lab. The device’s GPS determined each bird’s flight position to within 30 cm, and an accelerometer showed the timing of the wing flaps. Just as aerodynamic estimates would predict, the birds positioned themselves to fly just behind and to the side of the bird in front, timing their wing beats to catch the uplifting eddies. When a bird flew directly behind another, the timing of the flapping reversed so that it could minimize the effects of the downdraft coming off the back of the bird’s body. We didn’t think this was possible, Usherwood says, considering that the feat requires careful flight and incredible awareness of one’s neighbors. Perhaps these big V formation birds can be thought of quite like an airplane with wings that go up and down. The findings likely apply to other long-winged birds, such as pelicans, storks, and geese, Usherwood said. Smaller birds create more complex wakes that would make drafting too difficult.

Gene Therapy: A Possible Cure for Blindness

Surgeons in Oxford have used a gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind. The operation involved inserting a gene into the eye, a treatment that revived light-detecting cells. The doctors involved believe that the treatment could in time be used to treat common forms of blindness. Prof Robert MacLaren, the surgeon who led the research, said he was absolutely delighted at the outcome. We really couldn't have asked for a better result, he said. BBC News reported on the start of the trial two years ago. The first patient was Jonathan Wyatt, who was 63 at the time. Wyatt has a genetic condition known as choroideremia, which results in the light-detecting cells at the back of the eye gradually dying. He was still just about able to see when he had the operation. His hope was that the procedure would stop further deterioration and save what little sight he had left.  He, like another patient in Professor MacLaren's trial, found that not only did the operation stabilize his vision, it improved it. The other subjects, who were at earlier stages in their vision, experienced improvements in their ability to see at night. Wyatt is now able to read three lines further down in an optician's sight chart. I felt that I had come to the edge of an abyss, he told BBC News.  Another of the patients who underwent the treatment, Wayne Thompson, said he had noticed an immediate effect after the operation. My color vision improved. Trees and flowers seemed much more vivid and I was able to see stars for the first time since I was 17 when my vision began to deteriorate, he said. If the improvements seen in these patients continue, the aim will be to offer the treatment to younger choroideremia patients to prevent them from losing their sight.

Nun Surprised At Giving Birth To A Baby

A nun from the Central American nation of San Salvador who said she had no idea she was pregnant gave birth in Italy to a boy.  The Italian newspaper, La Repubblica , the birth occurred on January 15, 2014 after nun felt stomach cramps in her convent and was rushed to hospital. The hospital had no comment about the birth. The 31-year-old mother and her 9 pounds (3.5 kilograms) boy were said to be doing well and other new mothers in the hospital have been collecting clothes and donations for the nun. I did not know I was pregnant. I only felt a stomach pain, the nun was quoted as saying at the hospital, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. The nun has named her baby Francesco (Francis) ,the  Spanish version of current pope's chosen name and one of the most popular names in Italy. St Francis of Assisi  was Italian and in Italy , he is a popular national patron figure and saint. The nun belongs to the "Little Disciples of Jesus" convent in Campomoro, Italy, which manages an old people's home. Her fellow nuns were quoted saying they were very surprised. The nun will keep her baby and presumably bring him up in the convent.

Manure Dumped In Front Of French National Assembly

The stench of manure was in the air outside French parliament January 16, 2014, after a protester dumped a truck-full of animal excrement in front of the National Assembly in Paris. According to local reports, the driver left the odorous present for parliament members and President Francois Hollande. Out with Hollande and the whole political class!, a statement on the side of the truck read, the Agence France-Presse reports. According to Reuters, the man, who works as a horse breeder, delivered several tons of manure to the gates of the lower house of French parliament to protest a recent tax hike on equestrian activities. After dropping the load, the man was promptly arrested by police. He is expected to face charges. He has been arrested for similar feces-related protests in the past. However, opponents of Hollande were quick to throw their support behind the "poop attack." Speaking to Le Huffington Post, the head of a group calling for the president's resignation said he has encouraged these types of manure protests. We salute the courage of sympathizers and support citizen protest, David van Hemelryck said. Hollande has faced increased criticism lately following a magazine's report that he is having an affair with a French actress.
Comedians Have Psychotic Traits

Comedians have personality types linked with psychosis, like many other creative types, which might explain why they can entertain, researchers claim. They score highly on characteristics that in extreme cases are associated with mental illness, a study by Oxford University researchers suggests. Usually, they have high levels of both introversion and extroversion. The team says the creative elements needed for humor are similar to traits seen in people with psychosis. The idea that creativity in art and science is connected with mental health problems has long captured the public imagination. However, there has been little research on whether comedians have some of the traits associated with psychosis (delusions or hallucinations that can be present in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). Researchers from the University of Oxford and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust studied 523 comedians (404 men and 119 women) from the UK, US and Australia. The comedians were asked to complete an online questionnaire designed to measure psychotic traits in healthy people. The four aspects measured were: unusual experiences (belief in telepathy and paranormal events), cognitive disorganization (distractibility and difficulty in focusing thoughts), introvertive anhedonia (reduced ability to feel social and physical pleasure, including an avoidance of intimacy), and impulsive non-conformity (tendency towards impulsive, antisocial behavior). The questionnaire was also completed by 364 actors as a control group, and by a group of 831 people who worked in non-creative areas. The researchers found that comedians scored significantly higher on all four types of psychotic personality traits than the general group, with particularly high scores for both extroverted and introverted personality traits. The actors scored higher than the general group on three aspects but not on the introverted personality aspect. The researchers believe this unusual personality structure may help explain the ability of comedians to entertain.  Professor Gordon Claridge, of the University of Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology, said, The creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He said that although schizophrenic psychosis itself could be detrimental to humor, in a lesser form it could increase people's ability to associate odd or unusual things or to think outside the box. Manic thinking, which is found in those with bipolar disorder, may help people combine ideas to form new, original and humorous connections, he added. The research is published in The British Journal of Psychiatry

The First Thing My Mom Did When She Learned I Was Gay... and the 'Miracle' That Occurred After

by Lance Bass (singer, actor, producer, writer, entrepreneur and philanthropist)

Growing up as a gay kid in the south was not easy. The constant fear of people discovering who you really were and the inevitable shame that would fall upon you and your family dictated how you lived your life  every day. Luckily for me, I was fortunate enough to move to places where it wasn't a constant daily reminder that I was an abomination. For my family, however, they still live in ground zero of intolerance for the LGBT community and have the unique pressure of having a well known gay relative. When I came out, they came out.
For years they have had to deal with the judgmental looks and constant condolences from friends and strangers as if I had died. "I'm so sorry, you are in our thoughts."
Now, my parents aren't very outspoken and shy away from any type of attention. For years they have quietly educated themselves about their son and the LGBT community like responsible adults. My mom read the Bible four times in a row and bought every book written about Christianity and the subject of homosexuality. When she saw things were not getting any easier at her church regarding this issue, she decided to go against her passive character and let her community know exactly how they were making her feel.
In a very open and honest letter to the church, she suggested how true Christians should act towards the LGBT community. Her letter was so well received that another local church invited her to speak to their congregation, as it believed it was finally time to start a dialogue within the church. The following is the transcript from that speech. I am extremely proud of my family and especially my mother for the way she has handled herself in this confusing time in her life. To me, she represents a true Christian and what the majority of Christians believe today in the country.
Let me start out by saying that I am not a public speaker. As a matter of fact, this is the first time I have ever spoken publicly on this topic and I hope you will bear with me. Ever since I agreed to speak to you, I have asked for courage and I hope you will pray for me as I try to tell you what is in my heart. I am here to share my testimony. Please know that I am NOT here to debate the issue of homosexuality. I would never do that because I do not have all the answers and will probably never have them in this life. The Bible warns of false teachers and I would never say anything that might possibly be considered false teaching. However there are some things I feel led to share that I know beyond a doubt are true and I will share those with you tonight.
First, I need to let you know that I have been a Southern Baptist all my life. I attended Sunday School and church as a child. I married a man with the same Christian principles as me and we raised our two children in the church as well. My husband is an ordained deacon, I taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, taught vacation Bible School, attended Bible studies and revivals just like most of you. Both my children were saved and baptized at an early age and two of my three small grandchildren have already been baptized. We are a Christian family with deep roots in the church and the teachings of the Bible.
Seven years ago, we found out that Lance is gay. We were totally blindsided and devastated because never in a million years would we have guessed it. Also, because it was such a public thing, the situation was so much worse on the family. I do not want to go into the personal details of that revelation, but I will tell you that the first thing I did was fall to my knees and ask, "What would Jesus do?" I almost immediately knew the answer... love my son. And that is what I have done. Never once did I ever think about turning my back on him. Never once was I ashamed or embarrassed. My feelings were more of sadness and just sheer disappointment in life.
If you believe that being gay is a choice, then the rest of what I say will not matter. I do not know why, but even as a staunch Christian, I personally never believed that being gay was a choice. I never knew a lot of gay people, but the ones I did meet I felt compassion for because I could feel their pain of being rejected and my heart always went out to them. Even though I never did believe Lance chose to be gay, I did not accept it as quickly as my husband did. His attitude was "It is what it is." My attitude was "Yes, it is what it is but my God can perform miracles so I'm going to beg for a miracle to zap Lance and change him to straight!" And I did just that. I continued to love my son, stand beside him, and defend him, but for several years I continued to pray relentlessly for a miracle.
Well, Lance is still gay. However, I did get a miracle. It is just not the miracle I prayed for. You are looking at the miracle tonight. The miracle is that I learned to have unconditional love and compassion for my son and others in the gay community. I haven't marched in parades or spoken at conventions, but I do feel that God has led me to speak out concerning the church's role. My son is a Christian and wants to be able to worship, but he does not feel that the church cares about him and has pretty much disowned him as a fellow believer. There is something terribly wrong with that and I have to speak up on behalf of my son and others who find themselves in the same situation. When I was a little girl, I went to a celebration with my grandparents on the courthouse lawn in Laurel. I was thirsty and ran to drink some water from one of the water fountains. My grandmother screamed at me to stop. When I looked at the fountain it had the word "Colored" on it and she told me I had to drink out of another one. I was only 6 years old but I knew something was just not right about that. Just as my heart told me something was wrong that day on the courthouse lawn, my heart is telling me that something is wrong with the way the church treats those who are gay.

I could tell you many stories that gay young people have told me about how so-called Christian people have treated them but I will only share one. One of the young men told me that he was searching for God and visited a large church one Easter Sunday. He was enjoying the beautiful service and feeling so drawn to what he was experiencing. 
Everyone was standing singing a hymn and when he sat down there was a note in his chair. It said, "You know you are going to hell." He told me that he never went to church again. I don't blame him, but to my knowledge, he has not accepted Christ and is lost. 
When I found out Lance was gay, I dove into the scriptures looking for answers. The scriptures that kept jumping out to me were Jesus' warnings about judgment. The person who wrote that note should heed those warnings. Jesus says in Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven." Jesus is telling us that we cannot lead others to him if we are judging and condemning them.
When I hear fellow Sunday School members, co-workers, politicians, and Christian people on TV and radio say negative, judgmental things about gays, I just cringe and it breaks my heart. Not only are the Christian community pushing away gays who are Christians, we are alienating those who are lost.
I believe with all my heart that Jesus would say to all Christians who are gay that they belong to him and that he loves them unconditionally. Jesus says in John 10:27-28, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."  
I feel like I am on a journey and it just continues on each day. I would like to share one final revelation on this journey. Because I am such a tenderhearted person, sometimes my broken heart felt unbearable so I asked God to take away my tender heart. I don't know why I did this, but I looked up the word "tenderhearted" in the dictionary and it meant "having compassion". One day after that I read this scripture: "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any TENDERNESS and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love... Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 2:1-5) God's message to me was clear. If he took away my tender heart, I would no longer have compassion for others. If I did not have compassion for others, I would not have the attitude of Christ. I never prayed
that God take away my tender heart again. I believe the church needs to show that some compassion for everyone regardless of gender, regardless of race, and regardless of sexual orientation.
My favorite scripture has always been, "God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1) I truly have found refuge in my Lord but I have to sadly tell you that I have not found refuge in my church. And neither has Lance and so many other Christians like him who want to be loved and accepted in a world that can be very cruel and hateful. I still attend church but admittedly with a heavy heart and with much anxiety. If I feel that way as the mother of a gay child, can you imagine the anxiety that a gay person sitting in my church feels? Once again, there is just something wrong with that.
It would take a book to tell you every little detail of my journey and all that I have experienced and learned along the way. I have tried to briefly give you a testimony of the things God has laid on my heart. It is my prayer that we can all try to have a Christ-like attitude while on this earth. We, as Christians, must let the Holy Spirit lead us to find ways to reach out to all people regardless of our differences because I truly believe it is the right thing to do. I am convinced that is what Jesus would do.
Thank you for allowing me to share with you and God bless you.
Diane Bass