Friday, September 30, 2011

7 Random Facts - Episode 3

1- If you were wondering what new things to cook this weekend, you can always try grasshoppers. People in Mexico do it and they are a delicacy,  but apparently grasshoppers are not that safe and organic. It seems that you tend to get lead poisoning when you ate them, so do it in moderation.
Here's an easy recipe on how to cook them, if you dare. 

2 - There’s nothing like a beer on a hot day! If you want to try something new, you can always try the spit beer. Yeah, it involvesspitting. It comes from Latin America and it’s made from corn. The process is a little bit weird: people take corn, chew it and spit it out. I think I will avoid drinking beer in Latin America if I ever get the chance to go there. 

3- Witch hunting was almost like a sport in the Middle Ages and it seems there have been 40,000 to 100,000 witches executed, which makes me think that they really enjoyed this. The last witch execution was in 1782 in Switzerland, however it seems that there were still witchcraft trials in Poland at the end of the 18th century.

4- We all heard in school about Einstein and the fact that he failed math. Unfortunately for those of us who were hoping that we can still be genius scientists even if we fail math, Einstein didn't fail math. This is a common misconception. It seems that Einstein actually had very goodgrades in math which is pretty logical since he was super smart.

5- If you were searching for the longest word, search no more. Here it is: Nordöstersjökustartilleriflygspaningssimulatoranläggningsmaterielunderhållsuppföljningssystemdiskussionsinläggsförberedelsearbeten – it had 130 letters and it’s a Swedish word meaning Northern Baltic Sea Coast Artillery Reconnaissance Flight Simulator Facility Equipment Maintenance Follow-Up System Discussion Post Preparation Work(s). I really hope they don’t have spelling contests in Sweden. Oh here’s another one, this time from the island Anglesey in WalesLlanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. I know it looks like somebody sat on my keyboard but it’s actually a village. One of the longest village names. 

6- Feodor Vassilyev was just a peasant in Russia. What you didn’t know was the fact that his wife had 69 children. I guess they really wanted to be parents and birth control was probably not an option in Russian village from the 18th century.

7- Pond’s is probably one of the most famous cosmetic brands but what you probably didn’t know about it is the fact that it has been around since 1846. Scientist Theron T. Pond extracted a tea from witch hazel which healed cuts. This became really popular and when he died it took the name of Pond’s Extract. Pond’s advertisement campaigns became really popular because they had a lot of celebrities. One of these celebrities was Queen Marie of Romania who was so impressed by the products, she accepted to do an ad campaign in the late 1920s.
Here's the ad:


Monday, September 26, 2011

Freud And His Controversial Theories

Freud’s studies about the unconscious had deep impact on the 20th century though. He was born in Austria in 1856 and studied medicine in Vienna. He revolutionized psychiatry by developing psychoanalysis and this “speech therapy” replaced some medicine and electric shocks that were used as treatment. Freud was also an exceptional writer, winning the Goethe Prize in 1930.

Freud’s basic idea was the fact that human behavior is greatly influenced by sexual desire, which he considered present in humans from early childhood. He argued that dreams, like neurosis, were a disguised desire and the key to understanding behavior.

He is also known for dividing the human mind into: id, ego, and superego. The id is the primitive part of our mind, where instincts like sexual desire or hunger exist. Ego is the rational self and superego is the moral element that tries to inhibit the ego with culpability.

Sublimation, Oedip’s complex or “guilt complex” are just a few of the concepts Freud came up with and are still used in psychology today. 

One idea that managed to make feminists really angry was the one regarding childhood molesting. Freud argued that his molested female patients were imagining everything. He also had the Penis Envy theory which was about the envy women felt because they had castration anxiety. He suggested that when they are 3-5 years old, girls distance themselves from their mothers and devote their affections to their fathers because they realize that they have no penis. Unconsciously, girls believe that their mothers are responsible for their missing penis. 

Another controversial idea was the one regarding religion. For Freud, religion was an expression of neuroses and distress and also a way to control the Oedipal complex, feel fulfillment, and an attempt to gain control over the outside world. He believed that all religions were mass deceit but also added that no religious person would ever recognize that. This was probably one of his most controversial statements and it brought him even more fame.
He wrote: “A religion, even if it calls itself a religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it."

His idea about death was also very unusual for that time. He considered that humans have an instinct of death that manifests itself through a need to destroy oneself.

There were no experimental studies proving that Freud’s methods worked better than the ones used by other psychiatrists at the time and soon he became less and less popular. This was a dramatic experience for Freud and he was convinced that his adversaries were mentally ill. He wrote to his friend Carl Jung that he was treating his reluctant colleagues the same way as he treated his patients. 
When he reached his forties, Freud started believing that he would die at the age of 51. He started being depressed and having more and more medical problems, so he began self analysis. The major breakthrough of his self analysis was the fact that he felt a lot of hostility towards his father and that he had sexual feelings towards his mother when he was about two or two and a half years old. He experimented with cocaine and considered it to be a great treatment. He also smoked a lot and believed that it helped him concentrate more, which eventually gave him cancer; he committed suicide with the help of a fellow doctor when his pain was unbearable.

Freud might have been an unusual character but his concepts and ideas are still widely used today and his “speech therapy” is the basis of many psychological approaches.

Further reading and references:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

7 Most Unusual Ways to Commit Suicide

Suicide is a sad and gloomy topic, probably not the favorite of most of us but there are some suicides that are really worth mentioning. Some of them might be odd and some of them are pretty sick; however, it’s fascinating to see such creativity…and such a strong will to die for some.  

It can bring you closer to God
in many different ways. 
7 – The first one on our list is not that gruesome, but very odd. I’m not a religious person and I might have trouble understanding why anyone would try to kill themselves by eating a Bible. First of all, a Bible is rectangular so I wouldn’t be eager to see the autopsy photos. My second concern is how you make that decision? I know it’s hard to find suicide supplies in a prison, but seriously, you start eating a book?
The interview with the doctor is absolutely fascinating:
I found I was physically not strong enough to pull the object out of this guy's throat”.
“The average person does not have the will to persistently shove something of such a size, such a solidity down the throat. “
If I am going to commit suicide one day, I want to baffle the doctor the same way this guy did. I mean, if you are going to die, at least be creative and this guy managed to shock everybody.
It seems he had a thing for shoving stuff down his throat because he previously tried to choke with his fists, which should have made the staff a little bit more suspicious and probably they should have kept him under strict supervision.
We can all agree that the guy who did this wasn’t sane and it seems that the jail psychiatrist can confirm it because apparently before committing suicide the man was psychotic and refused to take medication.

Perhaps I exaggerated with this,
I don't think they have Hello Kitty toilet paper in prison.
6 – Next we have something similar but lamer. However, it deserves more points because toilet paper is gross and nobody should kill themselves with it. His name was Jonathan Campos and he was convicted for murder. He killed himself by stuffing toilet paper down his throat and chocking. 
There’s not much to say about his behavior, but it seems that prisons should take more measures against suicide and not only prohibit shoe laces and belts, but also toilet paper. It would lead to a messy situation but less people would die.

They were waiting for him to snap.
5 -  If you are a janitor at a Zoo and you want to commit suicide, you can always choose to be eaten alive by wild animals.  This man from Singapore went into the tigers’ cage and...well, died. Apparently he was committing suicide. We have to give him credit because it is such a brave way to die. It seems that there is a video about it on YouTube but I couldn’t show it to you guys or see it myself because I don’t have the stomach for such things.

Shouldn't be used as a skin moisturizer
or  a main ingredient for a cocktail.
4 – If you thought only men are brave enough to commit gruesome suicides, you are wrong. Angela Scoular, an English actress, committed a really sick suicide.  She suffered from depression most of her life and tried to commit suicide by cutting her wrists. In 2009 she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and despite the fact that she managed to be cured, she was afraid that it would return. In 2011 she died by ingesting acid drain cleaner and pouring it on her body too to make sure that she would die from burns if drinking it was not enough. Apparently she was suffering from bipolar disorder.  

Decapitation probably isn't covered by insurance.
3 – This next suicide story is about a wealthy man who died in a really cool way.  He wanted to get revenge on his wife. But he didn’t do it the way most people get revenge, like cheating with a younger woman, going to Las Vegas and spending money on strippers, participating in a Donkey Show or having mushroom trips. No, the guy decapitated himself. 
But that’s not the cool part of the story, the cool part is the fact that he used an Aston Martin to do it. He used a rope which he tied on a tree and then tied it on his neck;so, you probably imagine what happened next. He drove away on a very busy road and got decapitated while a lot of people watched. That's such a badass way to die. 
And they say shooting yourself is the easiest way to die.
- The will to die can be incredibly strong and sometimes people will do whatever they can to die.
This suicide is so sick and the man wanted to die so much that I really feel sorry for him trying so hard. Apparently he started by shooting himself in the rib cage after loading the first cartridge. That didn’t work so he went to his car and got another cartridge and shot himself in the throat. That didn’t work either because it only took a part of his lower jaw. Probably pretty upset about his suicide, he then walked about 136 meters on a hill so that he could load another cartridge and shot himself in the chest. That last one was fatal and by the time I read that I was really hoping he managed to do it because that’s probably the most unlucky person in the universe. The moral of this story: keep your cartridges near and always aim for the heart. 

At least he was eco friendly about it
and made himself biodegradable.
- The first place should be given to someone special and there’s nothing more special than a schizophrenic artist. He was very creative with his death. Richard Sumner was missing for three years when a skeleton was found in a forest. Apparently, he handcuffed himself to a tree and then threw away the key to make sure it was out of his reach. They discovered that he changed his mind about the suicide because he tried to free himself, but he failed. That’s probably the most creative and sickest way to commit suicide, but he was an artist so he wanted to die like one too. He was also suffering from schizophrenia for a very long time, so that might have added to his creativity. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stones in your drink, calling a man 65 000 times, and the dangers of watching Sponge Bob

My busy days are over, at least for one week. I've discovered interesting things lately, especially studies. I found an alternative for ice cubes , those are actually stones that you  keep them in the freezer and then put them in your drink. Cool huh? This article is hilarious. It's about things that are useful but people are embarrassed to use them :D Nava K posted an interesting article about a woman who called a man 65 000 times in an year. I've also read a really good article called My Meddling Mind: The right way or wrong way to mourn. Another interesting article is this one and it refers to quitting and resisting the urge to quit while you are trying to accomplish something.

I've also received an award from Cooking Varieties, she was nice and gave me the 100 hearts award. Thanks a lot Wan!
Now the studies articles I found, which were extremely interesting. I've learned from this study that women who eat high fat before pregnancy will program their children to be overweight. Two very good articles about how the brain makes decisions can be found here and here. I also found out that there is a link between breast cancer and alcohol metabolism so be careful girls with your alcohol consumption. Alcohol metabolism also causes DNA damage. If you want to protect yourself from strokes all you need is to eat an apple or a pear per day. It seems that Sponge Bob makes your children have difficulties in learning and may affect their behavior.

These are all the interesting things I've read this week. Here's a cool song:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Aphasia - A short Overview

Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to the portions of the brain that are responsible for language. It occurs suddenly and usually as a result of a stroke or head injury. However, it may also be the cause of brain tumor, an infection or dementia.

Aphasias can be divided into:
-receptive and expressive aphasias
-fluent and non-fluent
-anterior and posterior aphasias

Broca Aphasia
The name of this aphasia comes from the area that is affected, the Broca area. This area is located in the  posterior inferior frontal gyrus of the brain. It is the most common type of aphasia and it’s non-fluent.
The speech is affected and talking is only reduced to a few nouns and verbs. This is usually the first sign that occurs when a person has Broca aphasia. In some extreme cases, patients only produce a single word. Sometimes writing can be affected too.
Here is a girl suffering from Broca aphasia after an ischemic stroke:

Here is a man suffering from Broca Aphasia:

Wernike Aphasia
The name of this aphasia also comes from the affected area. It is a fluent aphasia and it is characterized by a severe impairment of understanding. Patients can hear that the person is speaking but they cannot understand the message. Although it is a fluent aphasia, talking can be affected too. People can produce “word salad” in the most extreme cases. This happens because the person cannot verify what they say since they cannot understand language. So even if they hear themselves talking and they are able to talk (their expressive ability is not impaired), their speech seems affected because they simply cannot correct themselves. A word salad happens when a person says intelligible words but they are randomly put together. If a person has used certain expressions for a long time, they are automated and they can be preserved and understood.

Here is the patient with Wernike Aphasia:

Conduction aphasia
This is also called associative aphasia – is a rare form of aphasia. It is caused by damage in the language centers and it’s usually acquired from stroke, traumatic brain injuries or localized lesions – like the rest of the aphasias. The main characteristic is the fact that patients cannot repeat words, not even when they read aloud. However, their speech and writing is almost normal. They understand words and their grammar is good. They might also have frequent errors during spontaneous speech but they are aware of them.

Anomic aphasia/ amnesic aphasia/nominal aphasia
Patients suffering from this type of aphasia have a problem with recalling words or names. In severe cases the person speaks without nouns. It is probably one of the most frequent forms of aphasia and it can also appear as a residual aphasia.

Transcortical motor aphasia 
This aphasia affects speech and writing but it can also induce a strange phenomena: echolalia  - the patient automatically repeats what another person says perfectly but they cannot talk themselves.

Transcortical sensory aphasia 
The patient has a poor comprehension but has a good speech with correct grammar. Patients will be able to communicate and repeat. However, they suffer from semantic paraphasia, so they cannot understand what they are being told.

Global aphasia 
 A massive aphasia that effects both expression and understanding.

Recovery: speech language therapy and support groups

Further reading:
The National Aphasia Association

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nature vs. Nurture - Feral Child Victor of Aveyron

In the year 1800, in a village located in the French province Aveyron, a child gained a lot of popularity among the villagers. Many considered him a savage beast because he was searching and digging for roots, he climbed trees, and didn’t walk in a biped position. It seems that he was about 12 years old. He became popular and people all over came to see the “oddity”. He couldn’t speak, he had a lot of scars on his body, and he had weird food preferences. Soon he was taken for study. He was called Victor and he was a feral child.

Feral children (are also called wild children) are human children who have lived isolated from human contact from a very young age. 

Victor seemed to ignore any form of civilization that was offered to him: he ripped his clothes apart, he didn’t eat meat, he preferred raw potatoes, roots, and nuts. He was not making any sounds and he was indifferent to human voice. He was also accustomed to exposure to cold and when a biology professor Piere Joseph Bonnaterre took him outside in the snow, the child started playing and running nude. Our perception of cold and warmth is mostly based on the experience we have, so it seems that Victor was used to cold weather and he probably spent his life outside.

Apparently Victor lived all his early childhood alone, he was a stranger to social norms and something about him made him closer to his animal status. A lot of people hoped that he was going to offer answers regarding the true nature of human beings, a subject that was highly disputed by philosophers in that time. There were questions that needed to be answered: What makes us different from animals? What would happen if we would be raised totally isolated from the human society? How much do we owe to education in the process of our upbringing?

Another thing people thought was the fact that the boy had to have a noble character; this would have proved the theory that children were born good, but they are corrupted by society. However, instead of a good child, he wasn’t adapted to society, he couldn’t walk in a biped position and he couldn’t talk. So there was no way to see if he was good or bad.  Doctors concluded that he was mental retarded and recommended putting him into an asylum.

Jean-Marc Itard did not agree with the diagnostic and argued that the deficiencies were caused by his social isolation. Because he was away from humans he couldn’t have developed social skills, but he was an extraordinary being because he had the ability to survive on his own. Itard personally took care of the child, wanting to show that the environment is the one that influences human behavior. He started publishing reports on his progress and it seemed that Victor showed significant progress in understanding language and reading simple words; however, this was only at a very low level. When it came to emotions, he had affection for the people who took care of him but he couldn’t communicate and he spoke just a few words. He had no sexual interests and he didn’t manage to adapt to social life. The fact that he showed affection was an amazing thing and there’s a record about one event: the housekeeper was mourning the loss of her husband when Victor showed a sympathetic behavior towards her.
Throughout the years Itard spent working with the boy, he managed to obtain some small gradual progress. It seems that Victor understood the meaning of actions and used an “action language” which is a more primitive form of communication.

Most doctors reached the conclusion that he had mental deficiencies after all but this is not certain. He was sent to live with a woman and died in 1828.

Itard created new methods of diagnostic for mental and language abilities and combined these procedures with a program of instruction. He became the founder of “oral education of the deaf” the field called otolaryngology.

The subject of feral children is still controversial nowadays; some people believe that there are no genuine feral children. Others believe that the child suffered from autism or schizophrenia. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Becoming a tree, expensive food, ideas and the button that makes everything ok

I haven't posted much recently because I'm so incredibly busy with work and school. However, I still have a few links I want to share with you guys. So, I found a cool way for people to keep me after I die. It's this.  Apparently that thing turns you into a tree after you die. Your remains are placed in that urn and a tree seed is put inside so your family can plant a tree with your remains after you die. Isn't that the best idea? I know it's gloomy, but I think it's wonderful. Another article about very expensive food around the world. And here's one that teaches you how to come with new ideas for your blog. 

Psychology related articles include this one, about people with schizophrenia, their distinctive smell and the research done on this topic. Another interesting article is this and it refers to memory and birth control pills.

I'm going to go now and press the button that makes everything ok. 
I can't wait for winter to come.

I'll leave you with this smart guy:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

7 Random Facts - Episode 2


Men's tear ducts are smaller than women’s tear ducts. And we wonder why our boyfriends or husbands never cry? It’s not their fault, it’s the tear duct.

False eyelashes were invented in 1916, by D.W.Griffith who wanted actress Seena Owen to have big lashes that brushed her cheeks and to make her eyes bigger. He had a wigmaker create those lashes from human hair and they were gummed to Seena’s eyelids.

George Washington grew marijuana in his garden. However, he didn’t use it as a recreational drug (well, we don’t really know that for sure) but he promoted it and used it as hemp and for soil stabilization.

4 In the 18th century women wore bathing gowns in the water. They were just like dresses and they were made of fabrics that didn’t become transparent when wet. They also have weights sewn on them so they wouldn’t rise up in the water. 

5 During medieval times people rarely drank water. They mostly drank alcoholic beverages and used water for preparing food. This was a good decision since water in those times contained a lot of impurities. 

Tomatoes are actually fruits and not vegetables as most of us believe. But tomatoes don’t have a big amount of sugar so they are usually treated as vegetables. 

7 Next time when you go to someone’s house, bring them a bottle of snake wine. That will surely impress them and you can always show your courage by drinking it and eating the snake inside for a great show. Imported from Vietnam, this wine is made by infusing whole snakes with rice wine or grain alcohol. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

6 Execution Methods You Probably Don't Know About

We all heard about the Iron Maiden (no, not the band), impaling, and burning at stake as methods of execution or death. Yeah, those are really cruel deaths which involve a lot of planning and probably some mad psychopath behind the whole idea, but there are some execution methods that you probably haven’t heard about. So, check out these gruesome deaths that were quite popular in their time. I’ll even rank them according to their gruesomeness just because it makes things a little bit more fun.

 Nero, the ruler of Rome, was kind of a psychopath. He hated Christians so he liked to have a bit of fun with them by lighting his garden with their bodies. Yeah, that’s correct, he used humans as candles. They were tied or nailed to stakes and then the Romans poured boiling substances over their heads. This was done at night and apparently it pleased Nero as he used them as garden decorations during some special events. You know that type of firework called a Roman candle? Well, now you know the origin of its name.


Flaying actually means skinning (as in, removing the skin from a person's body OMG). As an execution and torture method flaying humans was done, of course, while they were alive. If it was merely a torture method without death, then only parts of the skin were removed. However, if the person was sentenced to death by flaying or they were captured by enemies, then death was the goal of this practice and usually a lot of skin was removed. Apparently Assyrians were even more inventive and they captured the children of their enemies which were flayed before the eyes of their parents. Very popular in China too, flaying was used by Sun Hao, Fu Sheng, and Gao Heng but they mostly liked to remove the skin from the face.

The name of this torture method is very cool. The Five Pains almost sounds like a quest in an RPG game. But it was a way to torture people in China during the Qin Dinasty. It involved, well,  five ways of inflicting pain. First the victim had their nose cut, nothing amazing here because we are used to nose cutting from medieval times. Then the executioner cut the hand of the victim. As a third pain they cut a foot and ultimately they castrated the person. The last pain inflicted was death and it was usually done by cutting half at the waist. What’s cool about this method is the fact that its inventor died this way himself.

Slow Slicing (Death By a Thousand Cuts)

You know Chinese people have these patience and perseverance proverbs like The journey of a thousand steps begins with the first step or The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. Well apparently they like to use their philosophy in all areas of life, even torturing and executing. The death by a thousand cuts is exactly what it sounds like. And they didn’t do it fast either. Of course, there is no perfect method to this, every executioner had its own way and signature cut. Apparently the person was tied and brought to a public place where they were executed in this way. Ultimately, if the executioner was kind enough (or bribed by the victim’s family), he would stab them in the heart faster in order to kill them. Some emperors even wanted the executions they ordered to last for three days. Apparently, the remains of the victim were often used as Chinese medicine.  

In England, they had other horrid torture methods such as being hanged drawn and quartered. The torture began with the person being drawn by a horse to the place of execution. The whole execution was done before a public because, you know, executions in the past were sort of like our reality shows nowadays. The public was ecstatic when an execution was programmed and if it was a famous man, it was just like the Super Bowl of medieval times. First they were hanged for a little while just to play a little with them. Some victims were lucky enough and died during hanging, most of them were not. Then they were taken to be disemboweled. While their stomach content was hanging, they would be emasculated which means that their penis and testicles were cut off. Because cutting a person’s genitals is not enough torture, the executioner burn them in front of the victim. Other organs were torn out and finally the person was beheaded. Of course, being quartered comes from the fact that the body was divided into four quarters afterward. Also, the executioner also had a blast by parboiling the remains so that they won’t rot too sun while being displayed on the city gates. 

Ok, so it seems that the person who invented this method was not sane at all. It is an ancient Persian method that involves a lot of pretty sick things. The victim was stripped naked and well tied to tree trunks or boats. It’s pretty normal execution until now, but the fun part just begins. The executioner forced the victim to ingest milk and honey until they developed severe diarrhea. Also, because that was not enough they also rubbed some of the honey on the body for the insects; after that he was just left in the sun. Now imagine attracting a lot of flies and mosquitoes that will probably bite your skin because you are covered in honey.  They would also leave their eggs on the victim’s body and the guys who are torturing him would come back every day and give him some more honey. This would last for a long time, a very long time. Death was usually caused by dehydration, starvation or septic shock. However, if the victim was lucky enough they would develop delirium fast, but that usually takes a few days. Some records of this method state that people survived even 17 days before dying. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Explosions in the sky, Milgram experiment, psychopathic traits and real life RPG

I have been pretty busy this week but I managed to read a few interesting articles. The first interesting article is about the Milgram Experiment arguing that the participants were not blindly obeying orders but identifying with a leader and a cause.If you don't know what the Milgram Experiment is you can read about it here.  I wanted to write an article about it but I guess there are too many articles on the internet on this subject. Another interesting article is from Cracked  although I don't agree with the 3rd fact. Actually, older people are not better at solving problems, unless they have been solving those types of problems their entire life. The point I'm trying to make here is that fluid intelligence is not better than in young people, however crystalized intelligence (the one accessed from long term memory) might work better. But anyway, this is a good article and it's definitely worth reading.

I also read this article which argues that psychopathic traits are linked to the brain's reward system and I also found out that suicide methods depend on the person's sex.
Another cool website I found helps you calculate when you should go to sleep in order to wake up without feeling tired.  I also found a real life RPG that motivates you to do things in real life. You get points and coins for the things you do. Pretty cool!

If you want to vent or listen to somebody you can check out this site. Also, a very fun site is What The Fuck Should I Make For Dinner for those of you who don't know what you should make for dinner (of course).

I'll leave you guys with this great song from Explosions in the sky...and have a nice weekend!