Forget about sleeping

Some nights I have to, and apparently by so doing I am setting myself up for something much, much worse:

[F]indings just published in the Journal of Neuroscience reveal that there’s an optimal sleeping position for brain health — and the good news is that this position is incredibly common.

According to the study, sleeping on your side, rather than your back or stomach is the most efficient way to help the brain discard toxic waste. The study examined rodents in three sleeping positions: lateral (side), prone (stomach) and supine (back). The researchers concluded that:

“The major finding of our study was that waste … removal was most efficient in the lateral position (compared with the prone position), which mimics the natural resting/sleeping position of rodents.”

Side-sleeping is thought to be the most common position, preferred by an estimated two out of three Americans.

And undiscarded toxic waste, particularly the protein fragments known as beta-amyloid, turns out to be implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, something I fear greatly. But there are going to be nights when every other fear in the catalog is going to be bidding for space in my brain, and behaving sensibly is completely out of the question.

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Math continues to be hard

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t even get taught this year:

Four quarters of schooling and for what?

(Found on reddit by Miss Cellania.)

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A thefty problem

Karma, you may be certain, operates on its own schedule, and sometimes it’s inconvenient in exactly the right way:

According to Michael Scott, deputy chief of Round Lake Beach [Illinois] police, officers responded at about 3 pm Tuesday to a report of a retail theft at the Wal-Mart store located at 2680 N. Route 83.

Upon arrival, Scott said, officers were informed that a man was observed loading electronics into a shopping basket and leaving the store. After employees confronted the suspect, he dropped the items and fled on foot, police said.

Hearn was later located walking by the side of the road, according to police. When asked why he was walking, he responded that his car had been repossessed while he was at the Wal-Mart, police said.

Investigators determined that the repossession company had followed Hearn to Wal-Mart, police said. The car was towed away when he entered the store, giving Hearn the only option of fleeing the scene on foot, police said.

Additional punchline: Hearn’s first name is Che, anent which Peter Green comments:

Given his namesake, I’d have expected him to use better tactics … but the archetypical Che ultimately came up short in that department in Bolivia, so I suppose it’s not surprising that his latter-day namesake did likewise in Chicago.

Not in the least.

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Papa’s got a brand new blind bag

The matter only came up once. The cashier rang up the other items, came upon a My Little Pony toy, and asked, “For the grandchild?”

“No, actually, it’s mine,” I replied. An eyebrow was raised to bangs level, maybe a smidgen higher; but nothing more was said, and nothing since has been said.

So I wasn’t too flabbergasted when Target announced they were moving away from “gender-based” signage:

Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender. In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not. Historically, guests have told us that sometimes — for example, when shopping for someone they don’t know well — signs that sort by brand, age or gender help them get ideas and find things faster. But we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.

This may benefit the 13-year-old boy who shudders every time he enters the pink aisles full of Barbie and Dora. But that boy isn’t me, and I’m figuring Hasbro will take this in stride:

To stay alive in marketing is to stay ahead of the game. Target may not have shifted the game in any noticeable way, but it has definitely “planted the plunderseeds” for the future. It’s possible that Hasbro’s future toy designs will have a little less pink and white than today’s designs. It’s also possible that nothing is going to change, and Target might roll back their choice in the coming years if it makes shopping more confusing and unfavorable towards its customers. However I have faith that Target’s choice is the beginning of something huge. Whether it’s the discussion of the social stigmas surrounding children’s toys, or an outright challenge to those by one toy company at a time, I can’t wait for what happens next.

Trust me on this: if the kids are along for the shopping trip, they’ll find the toys they want, whether you want them to or not.

(If you’re not familiar with the concept of the blind bag, this will help.)

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Party dressed

An operation called ShePolitico has a YouTube channel containing brief reels (typically two to three minutes) of still pictures of women in world politics, preferably in skirts, set to moderately innocuous music. They’ve done four such of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, this being the most recent:

Having already seen the first three, I suspect they’re finding A-level material harder to find these days.

It was inevitable that they should put together a Carly Fiorina collection, and so they have:

As a skirtwatcher of long standing, I do appreciate this sort of thing, but the only conclusion I can draw from it at this time is that Fiorina’s taste in shoes is much more conservative than Palin’s — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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Strange search-engine queries (498)

This is the usual Monday-morning romp through the thicket of search strings that’s grown up around this site. You may have seen it once or twice before. (To the handful of you who have seen all 498 of these: what should you have been doing instead?)

james bond nightflies highly compressed working game download:  I suspect when James Bond is working, the entire timeline is highly compressed.

a flower for everybody:  Covered with bees?

mesonet cool machine the joker yet babe youtube:  Maybe if we give everybody a flower.

Latina nudists:  We will have no jokes about brown people.

if bribes cost $1:  A lot of people would move out of Washington in search of a better place to earn a dishonest living.

you probably believe that the earth is spherical:  What’s more, I think this song is about me.

pony in a car:  Let’s hope the seats are adjustable.

my child won’t stop talking:  Yet when said child is very quiet, you will immediately become suspicious.

justin bieber sagging:  He does seem to be aging a bit quicker than normal.

how to get lots of subscribers on youtube fast and free:  Improve the quality of the crap you’ve been posting.

guys comparing penis size:  They’re always doing that for some ungodly reason.

guy pout:  He came up short in the comparison.

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You and your farging boilerplate

You’ve all seen this at the bottom of the email:

This message contains information which may be confidential and/or privileged. Unless you are the intended recipient (or authorized to receive for the intended recipient), you may not read, use, copy or disclose to anyone the message or any information contained in the message. If you have received the message in error, please advise the sender immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachment(s) thereto without retaining any copies.

“Oh, yeah, bite me,” I mumble, and hit the delete key. This is because I am not so eloquent as LeeAnn:

I so want to tear this down bit by bit but I’ll stick to the main sticking point that stuck with me which is: if this is so privileged and confidential, and is not to be read unless I am who I’m supposed to be and since no NAME IS GIVEN in the “to” section, why do you put all this warning-ness at the very very very end? How, pray tell, did I get down to this vital admonition unless I READ the goddamn thing? Was I to be psychically drawn to the severity of this? Were there such bad voodoo vibes that I should have felt a great disturbance in the Force and been driven back by rampant mixed metaphorism?

It gets better after that, but by now you should have left here to read the whole thing anyway.

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The road to Fashionista

Revelations from a third of the way through an issue of InStyle, or how I will never, ever have any business being a fashion blogger.

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Good reasons to really like her

Carly Rae Jepsen’s album E-MO-TION drops this Friday, though it’s more of a seepage than an actual drop: I’d bought “All That” and “I Really Like You” as singles, and the iTunes Store, in acknowledgment of my pre-order, has delivered five other tracks to me. Entertainment Weekly gives it an A-minus.

And speaking of EW, they sent someone to ply Jepsen with wine and ask her questions. I found these two amusing:

EW: Americans have some preconceived notions of Canadians. But what stereotypes do Canadians have about Americans?

CRJ: That’s a dangerous question. I don’t think you got me drunk enough for that one.

EW: Have you ever denied to someone that you’re Carly Rae Jepsen?

CRJ: I did it once at a Starbucks. The girl was checking me out too much, and I was in a mood. She said, “So, what’s your name?” I said, “Erica.” And she put Carly on the cup anyways.

I may have to hunt down her pre-“Call Me Maybe” folkie album, just because.

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Toss up some more word salad

This item came into the spam trap yesterday, and it came this close to making some sort of sense:

One of the nice things about Trash the Dress photography shoots is that most shoots are done outdoors, allowing the natural light to become another element in the photo shoot. Scientists believe that if nothing is done to stop global warming, by the year 2100 the earth’s temperature will increase by 3.

Tax Assistance by your leading governance in addition to the company-pilot provinces but cities bankruptcy responsibility. A bright scarf or jacket in a color that looks good on you can be worn with a white dress. That means having at least a jean jacket and a cotton one available. Full sleeves, narrow sleeves, sleeveless styles have come and gone and come again. In the study, the researchers had a number of women from two groups, the frequent high heel wearer and the women that typically steered clear of the dangerous footwear.

Later, more stuff of this sort came in, linking to the same 404ed Web site. If nothing else, this indicates that you can teach a bot only so much.

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Bigger than big game

One thing I hadn’t noticed about the great outcry over the dentist who killed that lion in Zimbabwe: pretty much all of the outcryers were your white middle-class types. And perhaps there’s a reason for that:

What was done to Cecil was barbaric. I have not seen people show anywhere near the interest in the conditions suffered by millions of Zimbabwean people that they have in one Zimbabwean lion, though. My heart finds it difficult to process this.

Out of sight, out of mind? No. Worse than that:

There is a reason why the aforementioned view seems to exist so much more predominantly in Caucasian people — a deep-seated and resonant reason. And it is one that you simply cannot understand if you walk through this world with fair skin, because it has never applied to you.

Black people, from the moment they were first encountered in Africa until this very day in 2015, have been compared to animals.

This is not something that has happened occasionally. It is not a rarity. It is something that has happened for hundreds of years. Every attempt by black people to stand up for their rights, to raise their voices, to show basic human frustration at a system that was designed to ensure their subjugation, to simply live their lives — has been met with “They’re a bunch of animals!” This justification was used to whip slaves in 1815, and it is used to shoot blacks in 2015.

And furthermore, most of those bleeding-heart middle-class whites are women:

In our society there is no life considered more precious than that of a white woman or girl. That isn’t my opinion. That is fact. Black men were lynched for even looking at one for too long. If you want to know who is valued most, look at 99% of the persons who become the 24-hour news cycle when they go missing or fall victim to violent crime. A white female disappears and it becomes a natural story. Meanwhile, black and brown women and girls vanish year after year while devastated loved ones sit and watch their disappearances garner nary a fraction of the media attention.

Black girls are not peaches-and-cream. They’re not considered the everydaughter. They’re not the girl-next-door.

On my block, at least, they’re the girl across the street.

But I can see some of this. And in some of the bewailings over Cecil’s death, I picked up a vibe resonating with noblesse oblige: it is our duty, as the favored ones, to take a stand on behalf of the less favored. Rather a lot of American political activity operates on that same frequency — and several of its odd harmonics.

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Nothing of glass, probably

Our New Jersey friend Cripes Suzette spotted this while visiting Orange County, California:

Cinderella of Boston

Of course, I had to follow up:

For over 70 years we have been the leader in women’s petite fashion footwear. Sizes range from 2 to 5½ Medium or Wide and are specially crafted for a woman’s foot. Regardless of your age or lifestyle, you will find styles to fit your fashion needs. Casual to sophisticated, low heel to high heel, Cinderella of Boston has a shoe to satisfy all your petite footwear needs.

Many years ago, I had a girlfriend who wore a 4, maybe 4½. I think she’d have liked some of these. (I saw her in flats maybe twice.)

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Droning on and on

We were talking drones at lunchtime, and I vouchsafed some conventional wisdom about Amazon delivering stuff via drone. “Not a good idea,” came the reply. “Some people will see them and shoot them down.”

And not only people object to the little flying doomaflatchies:

Said the drone operator:

Do not fly drones near birds of prey, they clearly attack seeing you as a threat or the right sized dinner. This will cost you money and potentially harm to the bird. This one was fine … the drone needed some attention before it could fly again.

More successful photos by the operator here.)

(The Friar caught this before I did.)

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Nowhere plans for nobody

The folks at mental_floss suggested this as Watercooler Ammo, and, well, I have the day off so I’m pasting it here:

Next time you feel wracked by stage fright, don’t imagine the audience in underwear–pretend you’re invisible. Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm recently used virtual reality goggles to trick people into experiencing invisibility. (Participants were asked to look down at their torsos. Thanks to the goggles, it looked as if their bodies had disappeared.) When the researchers brushed the people’s bellies with a paintbrush, the participants saw it brushing thin air. The experience made them feel invisible. When they placed the “invisible” people in front of an audience of strangers, participants reported significantly less social anxiety. No word on whether the goggles will be available for your next job interview.

This seemed crazed enough to check out, and, well, it was apparently a side effect:

In an article in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers describe a perceptual illusion of having an invisible body. The experiment involves the participant standing up and wearing a set of head-mounted displays. The participant is then asked to look down at her body, but instead of her real body she sees empty space. To evoke the feeling of having an invisible body, the scientist touches the participant’s body in various locations with a large paintbrush while, with another paintbrush held in the other hand, exactly imitating the movements in mid-air in full view of the participant.

“Within less than a minute, the majority of the participants started to transfer the sensation of touch to the portion of empty space where they saw the paintbrush move and experienced an invisible body in that position,” says Arvid Guterstam, lead author of the present study. “We showed in a previous study that the same illusion can be created for a single hand. The present study demonstrates that the ‘invisible hand illusion’ can, surprisingly, be extended to an entire invisible body.”

We’re getting awfully close to that Star Trek holodeck.

In another part of the study, the researchers examined whether the feeling of invisibility affects social anxiety by placing the participants in front of an audience of strangers.

“We found that their heart rate and self-reported stress level during the ‘performance’ was lower when they immediately prior had experienced the invisible body illusion compared to when they experienced having a physical body,” says Arvid Guterstam. “These results are interesting because they show that the perceived physical quality of the body can change the way our brain processes social cues.”

If you’d like a look at the report, go here.

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The greatest rivalry of them all

Okay, maybe not the greatest. It was certainly, however, one of the longest:

Sixty-three years ago, [Harlem] Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstein asked Red Klotz to create an opponent for the Globetrotters. While the guys in the red, white and blue did their tricks and made crowds of all generations laugh and applaud, the Generals just did their thing — try to win.

It didn’t always work. OK, it never worked — except for a night in 1971, in Tennessee, when Klotz himself hit a shot at the end to beat the clowns of basketball.

The Washington Generals, with a lifetime record of 6 and God Only Knows, are still a team; but they’re no longer playing the Globetrotters, who announced earlier this week that they were seeking new opponents.

Still, the Generals will be remembered, perhaps not so much for beating the Globetrotters (in overtime!) in 1971, but as the perfect sports metaphor for half the world: the half that didn’t win, or that thinks it didn’t win.

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Forever 21st

Actually, Australian model Madeline Stuart is only 18, but 21 is the number that rules her life: she has three, rather than two, copies of the 21st chromosome. This is Down syndrome, and as a general rule, women with Down syndrome don’t walk the fashion runways.

Until now:

The fashion industry is often criticized for lacking diversity on runways and in fashion campaigns. But, after years of fighting for equal representation of every type of woman, new headway is being made. This year, Madeline Stuart, the Australian modeling sensation with Down Syndrome, will walk the runway during New York Fashion Week.

Serving as an inspiration to many around the globe, the 18-year-old is on a mission to change the way people think about those with disabilities. According to her website, Stuart sees Down Syndrome as “a blessing” and “something to be celebrated.”

“People will stare,” Harry Winston once said. “Make it worth their while.” Stuart has set this as one of two quotations on the front page of that site.

Madeline Stuart in florals

Madeline Stuart in florals

And you know, just seeing a runway model not scowling is something of a delight.

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