Americans love ancient grains.

_79749404_quinoa_afp624by Joanna Jolly
Would you like to taste the health-giving grain found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun? Or feast on the unprocessed kernels said to have been stored on the ark by Noah? Or how about a vodka made from traditionally farmed Bolivian quinoa? If any of this whets your appetite, you are not alone.
In the past five years there has been an explosion in popularity of so-called “ancient grains” in the American food market.
There is no comprehensive list of “ancient” grains, but the category is generally agreed to include amaranth, barley, bulgur, buckwheat, kamut, millet, spelt, teff and quinoa.
Many of these grains – Bolivian quinoa and Ethiopian teff, for example – have been planted and harvested in the same way for thousands of years.
“It’s been a positive perfect storm for these ancient grains,” says Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutritional strategies at the non-profit organisation, the Whole Grain Council.
“They fit with our desire to look for a super-food, a magic bullet we should be eating,” she says.
Ancient grains are perceived as the opposite of modern wheat, which is the descendant of three ancient strains of wheat – spelt, einkorn and emmer – and often heavily refined.
They are seen as more healthy, more natural and better for us, providing more vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein than modern wheat – partly because they are rarely eaten in processed form.
Continue reading via BBC News – Why do Americans love ancient grains?.

Book Readers may Live Longer.

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Let’s face it: People who love to read have long felt superior to those who would rather watch Television than crack a good book.
Now, reports The Guardian’s Alison Flood, there’s a new reason to justify those late nights binge reads and long library trips: Reading could help you live longer.
A new study in the journal Social Science and Medicine suggests that elderly people who read books have what authors call “a survival advantage” over those who don’t.
Researchers used information from the National Institute on Aging’s Health and Retirement Study, a large public resource on adults 50 years and older in the United States, to tease out correlations between reading and longevity.
The study includes a survey on activities that categorized aging adults’ reading habits.
The researchers gave participants a reading score that characterized the amount of time they spent reading books or periodicals per week.
They also assessed participants’ cognitive engagement using scores that take the ability to perform cognitive tasks, like counting backward from 20, into consideration.
Then, they matched up each participant to information in the National Death Index, a central database of the names of people who died based on state reporting.
After poring over data from 3,635 participants and adjusting for factors like age, sex, race and education, researchers found that 27 percent of respondents who replied that they had read a book within the last week during the survey had died during 12 years of the study, compared to 33 percent of people who did not read books.
People who read books lived an average of 23 months longer than those who did not. The amount of time people spent reading seemed to matter too: People who read up to 3.5 hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die, and people who read more than that were 23 percent less likely.
Periodical and newspaper readers lived longer too, but not as long as those readers who preferred books.
“We uncovered that this effect is likely because books engage the reader’s mind more—providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan,” Avni Bavishi, who co-authored the study, tells Flood.
Read on further via Bookworms, Rejoice: You May Live Longer | Smart News | Smithsonian

A Mesmerist Doctor taking Advantage of a Lady.

L0034922 A mesmeric physician taking advantage of his female patient

A mesmeric physician taking advantage of his female patient. Colour lithograph, 1852. Printed: British College of Health, London.
The word mesmerism  took its root from the name of Franz Anton Mesmer, who was a German physician and astrologist, who discovered what he called magnétisme animal  ( animal magnetism) and which others often called mesmerism.

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Franz Anton Mesmer (May 23, 1734 – March 5, 1815) was a German physician with an interest in astronomy, who theorised that there was a natural energetic transference that occurred between all animated and inanimate objects that he called animal magnetism, sometimes later referred to as mesmerism.
The theory attracted a wide following between about 1780 and 1850, and continued to have some influence until the end of the century.
In 1843 the Scottish physician James Braid proposed the term hypnosis for a technique derived from animal magnetism; today this is the usual meaning of mesmerism.
L0034922 Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

“The only good fly is a dead fly.”

Daisy1-450x280There are 30,00 types of flies, one of the most familiar and widely distributed is the house fly. Besides being annoying it can also carry diseases like typhus, dysentery, and tuberculosis,.
The introduction of cattle to Australia in 1788 gave the fly increased access to one of it’s food sources, animal dung.
Australian have battled flies in the home and in the paddocks.and the Museum holds a wide variety of approaches to combat flies from poisons like the oddly named and decorated Daisy killer pictured above to fly swats, fly paper and glass fly traps.
The Daisy killer metal tin has five holes in it which have felt wicks and it contain arsenic.
When the tin is filled with water and the corks replaced and thoroughly shaken (while kept level) the fly poison mixes with water and is absorbed through the wicks which become moist and sweet . The flies are attracted by the moisture and sweetness.
The tin is oddly pretty for a poison container which perhaps explains why a 1910 newspaper article describes a young child being attracted to the container and licking it, with fatal consequences.

There has been a great variety of poisons and pesticides used to combat the fly with products named ‘Must Die’ and ‘GOT- U ‘ and Anti buzz buzz’ and ‘Aussie catchy foot’ fly papers.
The best known advertisement known to generations of Australians was the Louis the fly campaign which started in 1957, he now has his own Facebook page.
The ‘Flies have dirty feet’ poster is one of a collection of 17 Australian health and safety posters that have survived from the 1950s. In their range they cover many of the public health issues that concerned government authorities at that time. One of these issues was cleanliness.
The mid-20th century was a time when personal and civic cleanliness was stressed as a means of combating disease, both because dirt itself harboured germs and because filth and litter attracted vermin – such as rats and flies – that were branded as disease-carriers.
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Poster, ‘Flies have dirty feet’, health, paper, [printed by V C N Blight, Government Printer, Sydney], produced by the New South Wales Department of Public Health, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1955. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

via Fight the Fly: the only good fly is a dead fly | Inside the collection – Powerhouse Museum.

Galileo’s “Heresy”.

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Galileo’s support of a heliocentric theory (the planets revolved around the sun) was seen by the Roman Catholic Church as contradicting various scriptural passages.
In 1616, Galileo first defended himself against the Church. Galileo was ordered not to “hold or defend” the idea that the Earth moved and the Sun remained stationary at the center. For several years, Galileo was able to discuss heliocentric theory hypothetically without arousing undue ire from the Church.
In 1632, Galileo published Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems with the permission of Pope Urban VII, who had supported Galileo in the earlier conflict (as Cardinal Barberini). Urban had two conditions:
Galileo was to include arguments for both heliocentric and geocentric viewpoints. Urban’s own views on the matter were to be included
Unfortunately, the book turned out to be biased in favor of heliocentrism and the Pope did not appreciate the perceived public ridicule.
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Galileo was ordered to stand trial for suspicion of heresy in 1633.
The 1633 hearing did not go as well as the one in 1616, and Galileo was found guilty of heresy. His sentence had three parts: He was required to recant his heliocentric views
He was imprisoned (though this later got commuted to house arrest at his estate near Florence)
His Dialogue was banned, and all other works written by him (or to be written by him) were forbidden, though this latter part was not enforced.
While under house arrest, Galileo wrote Two New Sciences , which outlined his earlier work in kinematics and the strength of materials. This book was praised by both Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein . Galileo died of natural causes in 1642, after having gone blind.
He was reburied at Santa Croce, sacred ground, in 1737. I
n 1741, Pope Benedict XIV authorized publication of Galileo’s complete works. Heliocentrism was formally rescended as heresy in 1758.
It was not until October 31, 1992, that the Church under Pope John Paul II expressed regret over how Galileo had been treated, in response to a Pontifical Council for Culture study.

via Biographical Profile of Galileo Galilei.

The Flying Thief.

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For starlings and meerkats in the Kalahari Desert, the fork-tailed drongo, a songbird with glossy black feathers and garnet-red eyes, is like the neighborhood dog: a trustworthy pal that’s always on the alert and ready to warn you about dangerous predators.
Except when it’s lying. Because sometimes drongos, which are about the size of a scrub jay, make false alarm calls, causing their listeners to drop whatever juicy morsels they were dining on and flee the scene.
Meanwhile the deceptive birds have swooped in and made off with their victim’s meal.
Indeed drongos are notorious among wildlife observers for their thieving ways. But sometimes the birds call “hawk” too often, and like the boy in Aesop’s fables who cried “wolf” one too many times, they discover that no one’s paying attention.
Now researchers report in Science that when that happens, the clever birds deploy another trick: They imitate their victim’s alarm call or that of another species.
The discovery reveals that drongos are paying surprisingly close attention to their target’s responses to their calls—perhaps even employing a type of sophisticated cognition that researchers usually reserve for humans only.
Sentinels…Sometimes
“It’s a really cool study,” says John Marzluff, a wildlife biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “It’s the most sophisticated example of vocal deception, outside of my own species, that I’ve ever seen.”
To study the drongos’ alarm calls, Tom Flower, an evolutionary biologist at South Africa’s University of Cape Town, has habituated and banded about 200 of the birds in the Kuruman River Reserve in the Kalahari Desert.
(It’s the same area occupied by the meerkats in the television series Meerkat Manor.)
via African Bird Shouts False Alarms to Deceive and Steal, Study Shows.