From the International Business Times: Learning a New Language Stimulates Same Pleasure Centres in the Brain as Sex and Chocolate
Learning a new language apparently has certain unexpected benefits.
Researchers found that the process of learning a language and acquiring a wider vocabulary has the effect of stimulating the same part of the brain as having sex or eating chocolate.
Scientists from Spain and Germany found people who expand their vocabulary trigger a part of the brain known as the ventral striatum, a pleasure centre that is activated when people are involved in activities such as sex, drugs, gambling or eating sugary foods.
Researchers from Barcelona’s Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute and Otto von Guericke University in Germany conducted trials on 36 adults who participated in gambling simulations and language-based tests.
Scans carried out after the tests, showed that both activities stimulated the same parts of the brain.
What motivates your desire to learn new languages? What are the best ways to learn?
What are the tastiest desserts in other languages?
For years, scientists have been trying to prove that chocolate is good for us. The idea was based on more than the desires of a sweet-toothed scientist—cocoa is high in antioxidants known as flavanols. But proving those hypothetical health benefits hasn’t been easy.
Now, there’s new evidence to suggest that chocolate dramatically improves the memory skills that people lose with age. When healthy people between the ages of 50 and 69 drank a mixture high in cocoa flavanols for three months, they performed about 25% better on a memory test compared to a control group of participants.
Hat Tip to Kathy Shaidle
image illustration of deliciousness via shutterstock / Svetlana Lukienko
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the series finale of Boardwalk Empire.
No Sopranos-style ambiguity here: Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) didn’t survive Boardwalk Empire‘s series finale. The disgraced Atlantic City mob boss was gunned down by Tommy Darmody, son of Jimmy (Michael Pitt), whom Nucky had shot dead, and grandson of Jillian (Gretchen Mol), whom Nucky betrayed decades earlier—as depicted in flashbacks throughout the fifth and final season. Creator Terence Winter breaks down the decision to whack Nucky.
How long ago did you know how you wanted the show to end?
We knew definitively somewhere in the middle of Season 4 that Nucky would die. We ran the different versions of how it might end. We had talked about him going off to a life of obscurity after he gave everything up. In some ways, that felt like a punishment, too—not that we were necessarily trying to punish him. But this felt like a more powerful and dramatic ending.
Have you kept up with Boardwalk Empire? Now that you know it won’t have a lousy ending like Dexter or The Sopranos where its criminal protagonist gets off the hook for his crimes, are you more likely to give it another shot? Binge-watching on streaming at some point, maybe?
Which of the HBO or Showtime shows do you like? Have a favorite?
From the Washington Examiner today:
It is a health lesson that has been drilled into every American since kindergarten, but an amazing 26.6 percent of the nation does absolutely no exercise — not even gardening — according to a new federal report.
The details are in a new Centers for Disease Control and Preventionstudy of America’s bad habits such as smoking and binge drinking.
But when it comes to basic health, is the question of physical activity that is tops and what the government found is that much more needs to be done to push Americans 18 and older off the couch.
How often do you wish you exercised? What goals are you considering setting for your 2015 resolutions?
image illustration via shutterstock / Kzenon
Hat tip to Jon Rowe, from The Atlantic in 2012: “The Case for Drinking as Much Coffee as You Like”
“Coffee and caffeine have been inexorably intertwined in our thinking, but truth is coffee contains a whole lot of other stuff with biological benefits,” said Martin. And most concerns about caffeine’s negative effects on the heart have been dispelled. In June, a meta-analysis of ten years of research went so far as to find an inverse association between habitual, moderate consumption and risk of heart failure. The association peaked at four cups per day, and coffee didn’t stop being beneficial until subjects had increased their daily consumption to beyond ten cups.
Caffeine might also function as a pain reliever. A study from September suggested as much when its authors stumbled across caffeinated coffee as a possible confounding variable in its study of the back, neck, and shoulder pains plaguing office drones: Those who reported drinking coffee before the experiment experienced less intense pain.
The data is even more intriguing — and more convincing — for caffeine’s effects as a salve against more existential pains. While a small study this month found that concentrated amounts of caffeine can increase positivity in the moment, last September the nurses’ cohort demonstrated a neat reduction in depression rates among women that became stronger with increased consumption of caffeinated coffee.
And a new article at The Atlantic today: “Research suggests that a person’s consumption of the beverage is determined in part by his or her DNA—and that its benefits could extend beyond a caffeine buzz.”
A study released last Tuesday by an international consortium of caffeine scholars may help explain why some of these customers visited more often than others. Spearheaded by Marilyn Cornelis, a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, the team investigated the link between genetics and coffee consumption. By analyzing DNA as well as data on 120,000 adults of European and African-American heritage, the researchers identified eight genetic variants that predispose individuals to seek out and drink caffeine.
“Our results show that people are naturally consuming the amount of coffee that allows them to maintain their optimal level of caffeine” to get that good caffeine feeling without becoming jittery, Cornelis told me. “If we need more, we’re reaching for it.”
Six of the genetic variants examined in the study were newly discovered by the researchers. According to Cornelis, individuals whose DNA expressed all the variants tended to drink around half a cup of coffee more than those without them. Additionally, the new genes can explain about 1.3 percent of all coffee-drinking behavior, or about the same amount that genes can explain other habits, like smoking and alcohol consumption. While those effects may seem small, Cornelis said the study sheds light on why individuals’ bodies and brains react differently to caffeine—and how some people feel anxious after a single cup of coffee, whereas others can down a Starbucks Venti and feel just fine.
I wonder who the editor(s) might be at the Atlantic with the serious coffee habit…
Anyway, what do you recommend for daily caffeine consumption? Is waking up to the smell of coffee every morning a good enough reason to favor it over tea?
And if you have a coffee/tea or other product you’d like to see reviewed at PJ Lifestyle then please get in touch: DaveSwindlePJM @ Gmail Dot Com @DaveSwindle on Twitter
From Mediaite yesterday, “Man Gets Treated for Addiction to Google Glass“:
Addiction to technology is a real thing. So is internet addiction. But a man who was admitted to the Navy’s Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Program recently may have one of the first ever-cases of an addiction to Google Glass.
Yeah, those digital glasses that in no way make you look pretentious or detached from the real world.
A recent paper by the National Institutes of Health explains this rather odd case. This unnamed man suffered from internet addiction disorder and, they write, “exhibited problematic use of Google Glass.”
From Tech Times yesterday: “When technology gets addicting: Internet, Smartphones, Google Glass and more”
Technology addiction is becoming more common, becoming a serious problem for those people and families caught in the issue.
The Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Program is currently treating a patient for addiction to the new Google Glass eyewear, in addition to alcohol. The unidentified 31-year-old male reportedly used the technology for 18 hours a day, reporting irritability and frustration when he was unable to use the equipment. He only removed the device from his body while sleeping and bathing.
Technology addiction goes well beyond its most recent history with Google Glass. Internet addiction has been recorded for years by psychologists, beginning soon after development of the network. Internet Use Disorder (IUD) is now recognized by many mental health workers, although it has yet to be recognized as a diagnosis in the standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Many other addictions, such as gambling and shopping, can also be compounded by Internet use.
Are you addicted to the internet? Do you have good excuses to justify and deny it? Will it get worse if you acquire a device like Google Glass? What do you foresee for the coming decade’s technological changes?
Or do you challenge the whole concept of internet or technology addiction?
image illustration via shutterstock / Sinisa Botas
Hat tip to The Dennis Prager Show for today’s subject. The hot question, inspired by the decision of Amal Alamuddin to take the last name of her new husband, at CNN: “Mrs. Clooney took his name; would you?”
Amal Alamuddin was well-known in many important circles long before she snagged the world’s most eligible bachelor. But Amal Alamuddin is now Amal Clooney, according to her law firm’s website.
That the 36-year-old British attorney has decided to take her famous husband’s last name has raised many questions about feminism and traditional marriage roles.
My only question is: If you married George Clooney, why wouldn’t you take his name?
In all seriousness, though, the decision over whether to take a spouse’s name is an extremely personal one. Married in May, I had to make it myself just a short time ago, and there was a lot to consider.
Salon says that to even have the debate about names is a sign of “privilege”:
For the vast majority of heterosexually coupled population, the issue of what to do about last names isn’t even an issue. Most women take their husband’s names, and very few men take their wives’. For it to be a subject of conversation or debate at all is usually an indication of privilege, and with privilege comes lots of opinions. Writing last year in the Guardian, Jill Filipovic asked, “Why, in 2013, does getting married mean giving up the most basic marker of your identity?” At the other end of the spectrum, noted bad advice giver Steve Harvey has opined that “If you want to keep your last name you got, marry your daddy.” These are your options, ladies, and whatever you do, you’re wrong.
I was recently at an event where a fellow guest I knew only slightly hesitantly introduced my spouse by my last name. It wasn’t a big deal for us to say that we don’t share a name, but what surprised me was that the man then pressed me on the subject. “Well, why not? Isn’t that confusing? Is it because your last name is so simple? What if your name was complicated, would you have taken his then?” Dude, what’s it to you? At the same event, I hung out with a professionally successful friend who is newly married for the first time, at over the age of 50, and who changed her name to her husband’s. And here’s what I know – we’re both fine.
The new Mrs. Clooney is a smart cookie. She’s no brainless dupe of the patriarchy. I think it’s a safe bet that her choices come from a place of thoughtful contemplation.
What have you observed in your own life?
Congratulations to the Clooney family. Marriage is wonderful.
image via shutterstock/ ChinellatoPhoto
Via NBC News:
Talented actress Penelope Cruz can add another notch to her fame. The Spanish beauty has been named Esquire’s “sexiest woman alive.”
The star of Spanish movies like “Volver” and English-language movies like Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is the 11th woman to be given the title by the magazine. Esquire’s previous honorees include Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Rihanna, Charlize Theron and Scarlett Johansson.
Sad that Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz are anti-Semites, but not unexpected given Spain's sky-high Jew-hatred http://t.co/ajnvalRqP0
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 29, 2014
Consider one of Esquire’s previous choices… The Independent in January: “Scarlett Johansson hits back at Oxfam after charity criticises ambassador over Israeli campaign deal with SodaStream“:
But the 29-year-old actress refused to back down over her campaign, stating that she “never intended on being the face of any social or political movement, distinction, separation or stance”.
“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” she added in a statement released to The Huffington Post on Friday.
“SodaStream is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbours working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”
Jennifer Lawrence on Her Hacked Nude Photos: ‘I Can’t Believe That We Even Live in That Kind of World.’
From Vanity Fair, “Cover Exclusive: Jennifer Lawrence Calls Photo Hacking a ‘Sex Crime’”:
Lawrence speaks of the wrenching moment when she had to call her father about the hack. “When I have to make that phone call to my dad and tell him what’s happened … I don’t care how much money I get for The Hunger Games,” she says. “I promise you, anybody given the choice of that kind of money or having to make a phone call to tell your dad that something like that has happened, it’s not worth it.” She allows herself to joke a little about that terrible moment: “Fortunately, he was playing golf, so he was in a good mood.”
With her words now out in the open, the F.B.I. on the case, and a billion-dollar franchise to carry over the finish line, Lawrence seems to be regaining her footing.
“Time does heal, you know,” she tells Kashner. “I’m not crying about it anymore. I can’t be angry anymore. I can’t have my happiness rest on these people being caught, because they might not be. I need to just find my own peace.”
And what do you think of Lawrence’s explanation for why she took naked images of herself?
I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.
Related: the new Hunger Games film was featured on today’s list of September’s 10 Most Popular Movie Trailers by Walter Hudson.
“What Makes Jon Stewart More Insufferable Than Bill Maher,” from October 3:
Recently four members of that least-recognized Indian tribe “Redskins Nation” agreed to participate in a Daily Show segment discussing the controversy surrounding their team name. Their conversation with comedian Jason Jones was stretching into its third hour when eight Native American activists were suddenly brought out. The newcomers became vitriolic and one fan left the set crying, saying later that she’d felt threatened.
The Washingtonians told the Washington Post that they would have gladly agreed to debate a group of the Indians, but the show had said no such confrontation would occur. The producers lied, sprang an ambush, and laughed at the acrimony that followed.
If this doesn’t feel like déjà vu, then it should. The Daily Show lies all the time. Once a clever romp through the evening news, the show has become a tedious exercise in ideological anthem playing. Its purpose is the same as that of Neil deGrasse Tyson: to present neatly edited vignettes that assure elites of their mammoth intellectual superiority over the Fox News crowd. Satirists are supposed to poke fun at the cultural consensus; the Daily Showruthlessly enforces it, seeking out and destroying anyone who ventures outside its bounds. Its host Jon Stewart is a pathetic devotee of hegemonic center-left opinion who uses dishonest techniques to portray himself as the last honest man. Its in-studio audience is the world’s most annoying echo chamber.
Related this weekend, Mediaite reports on a heated exchange on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday. Maher and Sam Harris Vs. Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristof on Islam:
Ben Affleck, Bill Maher,Nicholas Kristol,Michael Steele, and author Sam Harris got into what could only be described as a tumultuous continuation of Maher’s comments on Islam from last week, with Maher and Affleck tearing into each other over the influence of fundamentalists in the Muslim community.
“We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where criticism of the religion gets conflated with bigotry towards muslims as people,” Harris began. “It’s intellectually ridiculous.”
“Hold on — are you the person who officially understands the codified doctrine of Islam?” Affleck, on the show to promote his movie Gone Girl, interrupted, and argued that criticizing Islam, as Maher and Harris were doing it, was “gross and racist. It’s like saying, ‘Oh, you shifty Jew!’”
Explicit language warning for video clip on next page:
An Oklahoma prosecutor said Wednesday he will seek the execution of a man accused of beheading a co-worker in a fit of rage after being suspended from his job at a food processing plant.
Alton Nolen, 30, was ordered held without bond during a video arraignment Wednesday from the Cleveland County jail. He’s been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Colleen Hufford, 54, and with two counts of assault. Prosecutors said Nolen was stabbing a second employee when he was shot by a plant manager who stopped the attack last Thursday at the Vaughan Foods plant in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.
After Nolen’s arraignment, Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn told The Associated Press he made the decision to seek the death penalty after meeting with the victim’s family.
“Even though it was my ultimate decision, I wanted to talk to them about it so that they understood what all that entails,” Mashburn said. “After talking to them, my staff and I sat down, and we’ve decided to seek the death penalty.”
Would a death sentence be just providing the martyrdom he seeks? Or would it be justice?
Google is a hypocritical company that victimizes women and enables “habitual pervert predators”… so claim more than a dozen female celebrities who are now threatening to sue.
The women are outraged that Google refuses to remove the various hacked nude photos from their search engines and various sites.
In a scathing, threatening letter — obtained by TMZ — Marty Singer, the legal pitbull repping the women, lashes out at Google, claiming their motto, “Don’t be evil” is a sham because that’s exactly what they are by turning a blind eye to the hacking.
Three weeks ago, compromising images of dozens of celebrities – including model Cara Delevingne and Jessica Brown Findlay – emerged online after a hacker reportedly gained access to their iCloud accounts and stole their pictures.
While it appears that she was unaffected by the attacks, actress Cameron Diaz recently expressed her thoughts on the scandal while in London to promote her latest movie Sex Tape.
Speaking on ITV’s This Morning in the UK, she said: ‘Whoever has done it, they will be caught and made examples of. This can happen to anyone. If these guys can do it to this group of people then everyone’s vulnerable to it.
‘I think that people really need to look at… how would they feel if it happened to them?’
Last month, actress Kirsten Dunst became the first celebrity to publicly criticize technology giant Apple when she posted a sarcastic message on Twitter.
The Spiderman star tweeted ‘Thank you iCloud’, the day after naked photos of her were published online.
From the International Business Times, “Why Facebook ‘Real Name’ Policy May Drive LGBT Users To Ello“:
What do the drag queen Hedda Lettuce, cEvin Key of the industrial-music band Skinny Puppy, and a woman with an abusive ex and a fake name on Facebook have in common? Each one is affected by the social-media site’s controversial decision Sept. 11 to institute a “real name” policy, which requires a user to either employ a “real name as it would be listed on your credit card, driver’s license or student ID” or risk having the relevant account deleted. Drag queens such as Heklina and Sister Roma, whose real name is Michael Williams, were the first to voice their protests against the policy when their accounts were suspended by Facebook.
In an infamous and much-circulated quote that Michael Zimmer, a privacy and Internet ethics scholar who is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, posted on his blog, Facebook Inc. Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told “The Facebook Effect” author David Fitzpatrick, “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” Many commenters said Zuckerberg’s position as a powerful white man led him to disregard those who might need fake names.
“Regardless of sexuality or gender expression,” one woman wrote in response to the real-name policy and to Zuckerberg’s disdain for someone with a fake name, “women are subjected to the violence of men online. When you’ve been privileged by your place in the hierarchy your whole life, I know it can be hard to imagine receiving rape threats and having random online stalkers ask to see you at your job. But this is our experience.”
Related, #2 from “7 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 I Invite You to Burgle From Me Bilbo-Style“:
Update: Facebook apologizes
A nasty showdown erupted on the set of The View last Thursday when the show’s moderator Whoopi Goldberg and co-host Rosie O’Donnell got into a heated spat in front of the studio audience.
Rosie was upset because Whoopi cut her off on a ‘Hot Topic’ subject that O’Donnell indicated she was passionate about backstage before the show. The segment ran out of time and Whoopi had to cut to a commercial, a show insider tells MailOnline exclusively.
The ‘Hot Topic’ was on spanking and the segment was running long, so producers told Whoopi it was time to go to commercial break in her ear. Rosie refuses to wear an ISD monitor in her ear so the control room is unable to speak to her.
‘Well I just don’t appreciate you saying that you were going to do something and not doing it. It makes me upset and I just don’t want to have to go through this,’ O’Donnell continued.
Goldberg, looking annoyed, shot back: ‘I said this was not the time Rosie.’
Not phased by the Oscar winner’s petition to leave matters alone until after the show, the 52-year-old comedienne continued to vent about Whoopi’s actions.
The View moderator then fired back to Rosie: ‘F*** it, I told you to leave it alone and you just don’t want to listen. If you want to go there Rosie, I will dammit. I’m really sick of your s***!’
A hush fell over the studio.
Speculation from last year when producers teased that the start of the 26th season would include the death of a major character:
So who died? A very disappointing pay-off today, as The Daily Mail reports:
It has been almost a year of anxious speculation.
But when the moment came for a ‘major character’ on The Simpsons to be killed off, viewers were less than impressed.
It was Krusty The Clown’s father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky.
Which character would you have axed instead? Or is the show just long passed its expiration date? When did you stop watching? Can you pinpoint the season when the show went off the rails?
Via Drudge today, Bret Easton Ellis at Vanity Fair goes after the millennials, whom he christens “Generation Wuss”:
My huge generalities touch on their over-sensitivity, their insistence that they are right despite the overwhelming proof that suggests they are not, their lack of placing things within context, the overreacting, the passive-aggressive positivity, and, of course, all of this exacerbated by the meds they’ve been fed since childhood by over-protective “helicopter” parents mapping their every move. These are late-end Baby Boomers and Generation X parents who were now rebelling against their own rebelliousness because of the love they felt that they never got from their selfish narcissistic Boomer parents and who end up smothering their kids, inducing a kind of inadequate preparation in how to deal with the hardships of life and the real way the world works: people won’t like you, that person may not love you back, kids are really cruel, work sucks, it’s hard to be good at something, life is made up of failure and disappointment, you’re not talented, people suffer, people grow old, people die. And Generation Wuss responds by collapsing into sentimentality and creating victim narratives rather than acknowledging the realities of the world and grappling with them and processing them and then moving on, better prepared to navigate an often hostile or indifferent world that doesn’t care if you exist.
One objection, pointing toward the experience that made the Greatest Generation more masculine than those that would follow:
Do you agree or disagree? Is war an essential experience for a boy becoming a man?
From yesterday’s discussion question, “What Is Your Favorite Candy?“: