China’s Planning A Massive Sea Lab 10,000 Feet Underwater


IN BRIEF

China is planning to build an enormous underwater lab for research purposes; however, the country notes that “it will carry some military functions.”

China plans to build a huge sea lab 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) below the surface of the South China Sea. This project is part is China’s thirteenth five-year economic plan, and it is ranked two in the country’s top 100 science and technology priorities. The purpose of this project is to help China find minerals in the waters…but it may also have military purposes.

Only a little information is available for the public as of the moment.

The platform will be movable, as noted in the recent presentation by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The deep-sea station is spearheaded by China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. It will have a dozen crew on board and could stay underwater for about a month.

So. Just how feasible is this? Well, general location faces both geological and technical challenges, such as frequent occurrence of typhoons. The area is estimated to have around 125 billion barrels of oil and around 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. China already spent 1.42 trillion yuan ($216 billion) on research and development in 2015. So they are investing big in the project.

Notably, China previously proved that they can live up to their deepsea ambitions by setting a world record when they sent their submersible Jiaolong to descend 7 kilometers (23,000 feet) into the Indian Ocean.

Interestingly, the “Underwater Great Wall Project,” a network of sensors to help detect US and Russian submarines, has also been proposed.

Honey, I love you…but we need separate beds


Because as much as you love your spouse, you love sleep just a little more.

 My husband, Josh, and I shared a bathroom before we ever shared a bed. Our individual bedrooms were separated by a full bath with a door on either side, like the Brady Bunch kids’. I always made sure to lock his side or risk his busting in on me. Which, when it did occasionally happen, was always super embarrassing — especially because we weren’t a couple; we were roommates.

A month or so after I moved in, though, the lines blurred, and we became kind of a couple. If sneaking around while your third roommate was asleep downstairs can be considered coupledom, that is. On a typical weeknight, we’d all eat burritos in the living room, watch a ball game or The Bachelor, and bid one another good night. Then, while we brushed our teeth, Josh and I would jokingly debate, his bed or mine?

But when it was time to actually sleep, we headed back to our respective bunks. For several reasons: 1) We weren’t ready to “out” ourselves to our third roommate; 2) Sleeping together is arguably more intimate than, you know, sleeping together; and 3) I knew we’d both sleep better.

BACK IN THE OLD DAYS, HAVING SEPARATE SLEEPING QUARTERS WAS A SIGN OF AFFLUENCE.

Now, seven years later, we’re married, with two little kids, and typically operate on six or seven always-interrupted hours of shuteye. I realize that I’m one of the lucky ones: My husband doesn’t snore. (Unlike my dad, who still rocks the house like Fred Flintstone and has managed to remain married for 35 years.)

But Josh is a light sleeper. A fly buzzes in his ear, a raccoon rustles outside, a raindrop freaking falls, and he wakes up — and shoots up, ready to fight the imaginary robber. And then, of course, because I’m right next to him, I wake up, too. Josh would argue that I’m the culprit — the reason he can’t sleep — but, oh, we don’t need to get into why and all that here.

This topic came up (again) with friends recently, over a late-night feast of MSG-saturated Chinese food, which doesn’t do wonders for a good night sleep, either, but that’s beside the point.

“Who invented this one-bed system?” complained my friend Lisa, who’s been sharing a queen with her 6-foot 4-inch husband for 14 sleepless years. “It so clearly doesn’t work.” Earplugs don’t help either, she said. But separate rooms would. “Space is an issue, though. Bunk beds?”

Indeed, back in the old days, having separate sleeping quarters was a sign of affluence, and before marriage became a union based on love, it made sense.

George, who grew up in Grenada, chimed in. “My grandparents always had their own rooms, and they were happy,” he said. “I’d fall asleep listening to them talking from their separate beds. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.”

We’ve all heard stories like these. About crazy, happy couples — civilians and celebs — who have separate beds (Ernie and Bert), separate bedrooms (Brad and Angelina), even separate houses (Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton). It’s called Living Apart Together (L.A.T.), and it’s a real thing. But for the majority of us in boring, long-term relationships, having two bedrooms still seems totally taboo. Tell your friends you’ve moved upstairs, and their next question is, “When’s the divorce?”

And yet, still, more couples than ever are quietly sleeping apart — 30 to 40 percent of couples worldwide in fact, according to Colleen Carney of Ryerson’s Sleep and Depression Laboratory in Toronto. And, most likely, they’re sleeping soundly.

IT’S ESTIMATED THAT 60 PERCENT OF NEW HOMES ARE NOW BUILT WITH DUAL MASTER BEDROOMS.

Couples suffer up to 50 percent more disturbances when sleeping next to someone than when sleeping alone, according to Dr. Neil Stanley, a British sleep specialist and separate-bed evangelist. America’s National Association of Home Builders says it’s likely that 60 percent of new homes are now built with dual master bedrooms.

But the elephant in the bedroom(s) remains: Many of us think separate beds equal a sorry sex life. Not so, says British writer Rachel Rounds. “As I listened to Tom’s footsteps in the hallway,” she writes in the Daily Mail, ”I smiled mischievously as I recalled our wonderful ‘date’ in his bedroom yesterday evening, which ended with a kiss goodnight before I tiptoed back to my own boudoir.”

I know, sounds like a bad novel by Danielle Steel. But, hmm, also a little like our old, run-down, three-bedroom rental, which happened to be just a few blocks from Steel’s place.

The Truth About Almonds (Almost No One Knows This Dirty Secret)


Research shows which brands to choose.
There is no doubt that almonds were once one of the healthiest foods on Earth; there are many health benefits of almonds. But before you buy almonds today, here is something you should know: most of the almonds sold in the U.S. have been fumigated with propylene oxide, a chemical that even the CDC has admitted causes cancer.

In 2007, it became illegal for raw almonds to be sold in the U.S. What brought about this law was an outbreak of Salmonella in Canada that was traced back to an almond grower in California. The California Department of Health Services stepped in to help this grower increase the safety of his almonds, and that appeared to be the end of it.

But a second surprising outbreak of Salmonella occurred shortly after, and several government agencies got together to mandate treatment so there would be no more Salmonella outbreaks. If you are thinking how strange it is that Salmonella would occur in something as dry as almonds, you are not alone.

To achieve a dramatic reduction of salmonella, almonds had to be treated in one of two ways:

-Exposure to heat sufficient to raise the temperature to 200 degrees

-Insertion of the kernels into a closed chamber to be fumigated with propylene oxide gas.

This all happened very quickly, and many small and mid sized almond growers were pushed out of business by the cost of compliance. The result is that the once-thriving almond industry made up of many small growers has been diverted to big corporate almond producers.

As it played out, almonds sold as ‘organic’ are generally treated with the heat process to achieve a kernel temperature of 200 degrees. Those not labeled as ‘organic’ are fumigated with propylene oxide gas, as a general rule.

This means that all almonds sold in the U.S. have been treated in one of these ways and thus have lost much of their life-enhancing properties. The only potential exceptions are almonds shipped from another country, and almonds sold in small amounts directly from the grower at local markets or roadside stands.

The Danger of Propylene Oxide

Propylene oxide (PPO) is banned in Mexico, Canada, and all of the E.U. In the U.S., it has been banned by both the American Motorcycle and the National Hot Rod Associations, where it had been used as fuel before the dangers of its noxious fumes became apparent.

Propylene oxide is classified as hazardous to health under the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, for its acute toxicity, ability to cause irritation, and its mutagenic and carcinogenic properties.

almonds

Which Almond Brand is Best? Research Shows…

Food Identity Theft did some research on popular brands of almonds sold both in stores and online. They found that:

-Costco’s Kirkland Signature chocolate-covered almonds as well as their whole almonds are fumigated with PPO.

-Planter’s brand almonds (now owned by Kraft Foods) are heat treated.

-Diamond of California almonds are treated with PPO fumigation.

-Blue Diamond almonds vary. Sliced and slivered almonds are heat treated, while their whole-nut ‘natural’ line is treated with PPO. Some other Blue Diamond products containing almonds may use steam-treated almonds.

-Whole Foods Market 365 brand is a question. There is an organic 365 line that is almost certainly heat treated, and a conventional 365 line that may or may not be.

-Back to Nature almonds are heat treated.

-Superior Nut Company almonds are gassed with PPO, with the exception of their organic almonds sold online, which may be imported and not even subject to being heated to a temperature of 200.

-Trader Joe’s says all the almonds sold under the their name are heat treated.

There are many other nut companies whose treatment choice is unknown, and there is no way to know how almonds used as an ingredient in other products were treated.

 

What we Have Lost

The stringent standards now in place for almonds may protect a few people from salmonella, but it guarantees chemical toxicity for the all the millions of people eating almonds treated with PPO. The treatment imperative for almonds is a tragedy in light of the many health benefits they offer, including:

  • -Lowering total cholesterol and improving LDL to HDL ratio
  • -Protection against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight gain and obesity
  • -Stability of blood sugar levels and prevention of hypoglycemia
  • -Provision of high amounts of magnesium, the mineral in which many Americans are deficient
  • -Improvement of digestive health through prebiotic action that encourages beneficial gut flora to flourish
  • -Abundance of trace minerals that are essential co-factors for production of superoxide dismutase (SOD) a powerful antioxidant made in the mitochondria
  • -B vitamins necessary for recycling glutathione, another antioxidant made in the body

The bottom line? Reasons that made the almond a premiere nut may no longer exist. Maybe it’s time to get to know other nuts that have not yet felt the heavy hand of government.

Health Benefits of Pistachios

Although from Western Asia originally, pistachios have been eaten for thousands of years throughout the Mediterranean. Nuts in general are a great source of protein and healthy fats, but did you know that pistachios have numerous additional benefits? Scientists have found these little tough nuts to be useful in preventing cancer, lowering lipids in the prevention of heart disease, and preventing diabetes, all while delivering a good source of antioxidants. And these aren’t the only health benefits of pistachios.

Outlining The Health Benefits Of Pistachios

A study published by the American Association for Cancer Research indicates that people who ate about 2 ounces of pistachios a day for four weeks saw higher blood levels of gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E. Gamma-tocopherol is known to protect against various cancers, including lung cancer. A powerful fat-soluble antioxidant, the vitamin E in pistachios is also essential for beautiful skin, protection from UV radiation damage, and strengthening cell membranes.

Another study found that eating pistachios lowered lipids and lipoproteins, a risk factor for heart disease. The researchers report that “Inclusion of pistachios in a healthy diet beneficially affects cardiovascular disease risk factors in a dose-dependent manner, which may reflect effects on Stearoyl CoA Desaturase (SCD). ” Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of nutrition and primary investigator of the study also says: “our study has shown that pistachios, eaten with a heart healthy diet, may decrease a person’s CVD risk profile.”

According to research published in the Journal of Nutrition, a diet rich in pistachios (1.5 to 3 ounces per day) was linked to increased beta-carotene and gamma-tocopherol in the blood.

There is evidence that pistachios, rich in phosphorus, may have positive effects on the prevention of Type 2 diabetes, aiding in glucose tolerance. Vitamin B6 in pistachios can increase blood health by boosting the amount of oxygen carried in the blood stream, boost the immune system, and help support a healthy nervous system. The antioxidants found in pistachios can also prevent a harmful process called glycation, which makes proteins unusable. This process ultimately helps diabetes to damages tissues, as sugars end up bonding inappropriately.

Other research shows that a diet rich in pistachios (1.5 to 3 ounces per day) was linked to increased beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, and gamma-tocopherol in the blood. The carotenoids found in pistachios offer overall protection from free radicals, and also help to decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration – a primary cause of vision problems and developed blindness. Alpha carotene-rich foods have also been shown to prevent cancer and heart disease.

How To Increase Pistachio Consumption

So, how can you increase your pistachio consumption and reap the health benefits of pistachios? Easily. These little nuts make a great snack. Here are some ideas:

  • Throw pistachios on a salad
  • Serve them with fruit
  • Munch on them during a movie
  • Chop and cook them with brown rice and herbs
  • Add them to a natural, homemade trail mix
  • Use them in place of pine nuts in a pesto
  • Crush them, make a paste with garlic and olive oil, and serve on top of baked salmon as a pistachio butter

It’s not difficult to get a few ounces of pistachios into your daily diet; the nuts are versatile and so tasty. And with the multiple health benefits of pistachios, they should be at the top of your go-to health food list!

Benefit Summary – Pistachios are great for:

  • Heart health
  • Eye health
  • Skin health
  • Diabetes control
  • Cancer prevention
  • Immune system
  • Slowing aging process

University of Sydney finds racquet sports reduce risk of death by nearly half.


  • A study has found racquet sports reduce the risk of dying by 47 per cent
  • Researchers said swimming cuts the risk of death by 28 per cent
  • The study was based on 11 annual health surveys for England and Scotland

Playing squash, tennis and badminton is the best way to reduce the risk of suddenly dying, a study has found.

The racquet sports reduce the risk of death by 47 per cent compared to doing nothing, researchers discovered.

The study, which looked at the impact of different sports on health of people with an average age of 51, found swimming cut the risk of death by 28 per cent, aerobics by 27 per cent and cycling by 15 per cent.

Interestingly, it discovered that taking part in running and jogging, or football and rugby did not have a significant effect on cutting the chance of death.

The study was based on 11 annual health surveys for England and Scotland from between 1994 and 2008.

Senior author Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis at the University of Sydney said: ‘Our findings indicate that it’s not only how much and how often, but also what type of exercise you do that seems to make the difference.’

He added: ‘We found robust associations between participation in certain types of sport and exercise and mortality, indicating substantial reductions in all-cause and CVD mortality for swimming, racquet sports and aerobics and in all-cause mortality for cycling.’

The study, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, aimed to quantify the impact of six different sports on the odds of beating death.

It examined 80,306 adults over 30 who were questioned on how much exercise they had had in the preceding four weeks, and if had been enough to make them ‘breathless and sweaty’.

Less than half the British population met the recommended weekly physical activity quota when they were surveyed.

Participants were tracked for an average of nine years, in which time 8,790 died from all causes and 1,909 from heart disease or stroke.

One ‘surprising’ part of the research was that football and running had no impact on reducing mortality.

One possibility was that low levels of football and running among the sample population – average age of 52 – may have skewed the results.

In addition, playing football and running may have other social and health benefits – which were not looked at in the study which only looked at mortality.

Researchers did find a 43 per cent reduced risk of death from all causes and a 45 per cent reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease among runners compared to people who did no exercise.

But this apparent advantage disappeared when all the potentially influential factors were accounted for – such as age, and body mass.

Researchers said a small number of deaths among footballers and runners, the ‘seasonality’ of certain sports may have had some bearing on the results.

Andy Murray was crowned as the World's No. 1 tennis player earlier this year. He also is the first player to win Grand Slam, ATP World Tour Finals, Olympic Games and Masters 1000 titles in one year

Andy Murray was crowned as the World’s No. 1 tennis player earlier this year. He also is the first player to win Grand Slam, ATP World Tour Finals, Olympic Games and Masters 1000 titles in one year

Nick Matthew is a three-time World Squash Champion and three-time Commonwealth gold medalist

Nick Matthew is a three-time World Squash Champion and three-time Commonwealth gold medalist

British tennis star Andy Murray becomes the world number one
 Playing squash, tennis or badminton reduces the risk of death by 47 per cent

Professor Charlie Foster, one of the study’s authors Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, said: ‘Runners tend to be younger with a lower BMI. They are also less likely to drink and smoke.

‘When you account for all these ‘influential factors’ the apparent benefits of running disappear, when compared to those people who don’t run.

‘Also, running works mainly the heart, lungs and legs whereas swimming and racquet sports, for instance, exercise the whole body.’

He added: ‘Running is very hard work and gets more and more difficult the older we get.’

Dr Tim Chico, Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine & consultant cardiologist, University of Sheffield, said the study may be unreliable as it used self-reported data, rather than, apps that record activity.

He said: ‘This study must not be misinterpreted as showing that running and football do not protect against heart disease. In this study both runners and footballers had a lower rate of death from heart disease.

‘Although this was not “statistically significant”, many other studies have found that runners live longer and suffer less heart disease.’ He added that the use of a single questionnaire would be less reliable than smartphone apps which track activity. These can ‘weed out people who overestimate or exaggerate how active they are’ and ‘provide more convincing evidence of the benefits of activity on the risk of heart disease. ‘

He added: ‘I will continue to tell my patients that regular physical activity (including running) is more effective in reducing their risk of heart disease than any drug I can prescribe.’

Sir David Spiegelhalter, Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, University of Cambridge, said in his view that the problem was there were ‘so few deaths among runners and football players’ the statistics could not be relied on.

 

 

Scientists Are Making Chocolate Tastier And More Cancer-Fighting.


For most people, chocolate is considered an indulgence to be enjoyed in moments of weakness. The cacao pod from which chocolate is made, though, is a rich source of healthful polyphenols, and now researchers have found a different way of processing the cocoa that will keep more of those components while maintaining that delicious chocolaty flavor we all know and love. The international team of researchers presented their work today at the conference of the American Chemical Society in Denver.

From a cocoa tree to a candy bar, chocolate undergoes a radical transformation. Workers pick pods from the cacao tree, then remove the bitter seeds from inside the pods to be fermented, then dried in the sun. The dried seeds are then roasted and combined with sugar, milk and other ingredients to create the final product.

The delicious stuff loses some of its nutritious components during this process, such as polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that have been shown to help stave off cancer and heart disease. To preserve more antioxidant activity, the researchers decided to add one extra step to the chocolate production process: storing the pods for a few days after they’re harvested but before removing the seeds to be fermented and dried. This isn’t traditionally done, and they didn’t know what effect this step would have on the nutritional content, so the researchers tested different storage times for 300 pods. They found that the ideal storage time was seven days; when the seeds were then processed as usual after that storage time, they maintained more antioxidants than seeds that were not stored or were stored for more time. The researchers believe that the stored beans were higher in antioxidants because they had the time to absorb more nutrients from their outer husks, but not so much time that they started to break down.

The researchers also wanted to assess the effect of roasting, long thought to decrease chocolate’s nutritional value. They found that seeds had higher antioxidant activity when they were roasted at a slightly lower temperature for a longer time, and the seeds from pods that had been stored for seven days performed best. Not only was the resulting chocolate more nutritious, the researchers stated, but it actually tasted sweeter, again likely because the bitter seeds spent more time in contact with the sweet pulp of the pod. The researchers plan to continue their work to fine-tune the roasting process in the future.

 

Why We Smoke After Drinking


Ever wonder why you constantly feel like smoking after a few drinks, even though you’re not really a smoker? Well, it’s been a while since we’ve all been wondering that. What is it exactly that triggers the craving for that one cigarette after alcohol?

 

Why We Smoke After Drinki

Why We Smoke After Drinking

An Indian doctor seems to have found the real reason behind it and it answers a lot of our questions. Here’s what Dr. Mahesh Thakkar says about it.

“One of the adverse effects of drinking alcohol is sleepiness. However, when used in conjunction with alcohol, nicotine acts as a stimulant to ward off sleep.

If an individual smokes, then he or she is much more likely to consume more alcohol, and vice-versa. They feed off one another.

We have found that nicotine weakens the sleep-inducing effects of alcohol by stimulating a response in an area of the brain known as the basal forebrain.

By identifying the reactions that take place when people smoke and drink, we may be able to use this knowledge to help curb alcohol and nicotine addiction.”

Now that explains it all, doesn’t it?

The Art of Fighting Without Fighting


The Art of Fighting Without Fighting
“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” –Sun Tzu

“It is useless to fight against people’s rigid ways, or to argue against their irrational concepts. You will only waste time and make yourself rigid in the process. The best strategy is to simply accept rigidity in others, outwardly displaying deference to their need for order. On your own, however, you must work to maintain your open spirit, letting go of bad habits and deliberately cultivating new ideas.”Robert Greene

Imagine you are back in high school and a bully starts making fun of you in front of everyone. What do you do? Poke fun back? Cry? Run? Punch him in the face? What? The answer is none of the above.

The best way to deal with a bully who is making fun of you is to make fun of yourself better than the bully did. The worst way to deal with a bully is to retaliate. This is because retaliation perpetuates the bully’s agenda and leads to violence, whereas making fun of yourself uses self-deprecating humor to derail the bully’s agenda while forcing the bully into a confused psychosocial dilemma. It’s a power-play, and it’s all psychological. The bully expects you to poke fun back at him, or cry, or run, or throw a punch; anything but you making fun of yourself. And if you can do it better than the bully did, then bully for you. Pun intended.

Like Carlos Castaneda said:

“Feeling important makes one heavy, clumsy and vain. To be a warrior one needs to be light and fluid… Self-importance is man’s greatest enemy. What weakens him is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of his fellow men. Self-importance requires that one spend most of one’s life offended by something or someone… The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.”

Let’s shed the heaviness of self-importance and don the lightness of humor instead. Let’s feel “offended” but then let it go, like a sponge absorbs water and then squeezes it out. The key is not to linger with the pettiness of the offense but to transcend the offense through a humor of the most high. Be present with the offense, with the pain, with the shame, but then release it through laughter. Like Mark Twain wittily opined, “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Boxers, MMA fighters, soldiers, martial artists, and any individual who gets their minds and bodies into peak condition: all of them are smart and healthy up until the point that they idiotically and unhealthily ruin everything they strived for by either egotistically, patriotically and/or greedily placing themselves into harm’s way, thus destroying everything they worked so hard to attain.

Almost every martial art philosophy can agree that the point of learning to fight is so that you don’t have to. But, sadly, almost every martial artist eventually gets seduced by ego, money, or both. Think about it. They are showcasing violence for money and ego glorification, inadvertently going against the very principles they stand (or once stood) for. Sad. You can’t even turn on the TV without seeing some idiot idiotically hitting another idiot with his/her idiot fists. Pathetic. But, hey, even Bruce Lee was victim of the ego glorification, money, and Hollywoodization of Kung Fu. Something I’m sure he would have learned to regret had he lived long enough. He was only 32 when he died.

One of the most important reasons for standing on the shoulders of giants is so that we can see further than they did. The “giant” in this case is Bruce Lee. The art of fighting without fighting was originally portrayed in his movie Enter the Dragon. The idea is simply based on outsmarting one’s “opponent” so that the fight never has to occur. It embraces the core principle of learning to fight so that you don’t have to, and it is inherently non-violent. Taken to the next level (that is seeing further than Bruce Lee did) and applying it broadly and philosophically, the idea is extremely powerful, and it’s a very effective tool for an amoral agent practicing the principles of non-violence.

“You haven’t yet opened your heart fully, to life, to each moment. The peaceful warrior’s way is not about invulnerability, but absolute vulnerability–to the world, to life, and to the Presence you felt. All along I’ve shown you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is a warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.” – Dan Millman

In the movie, Bruce Lee’s character “tricks” the other character in order to avoid fighting him. It’s not that he’s afraid to fight him, it’s that there really is no point in fighting him just to prove he can beat him. He knows he can beat him. But he would rather teach him a lesson. Hence the art of fighting without fighting requires tricking the situation somehow. It’s having the wherewithal to rise above the situation, using metamind. It’s not only having the capacity to outthink one’s opponent, it’s also the ability to out-reason one’s own emotions (i.e. rising above feelings of anger, jealousy, or revenge). It’s a kind of emotional alchemy one must master in the moment in order to get a grip on the situation before it escalates into violence.

The Art of Fighting Without Fighting
Here’s the thing: Acting violently in a violent culture only perpetuates violence. Similarly, acting immorally in an immoral society just perpetuates immorality. Unhealthy acts beget unhealthy acts. Like Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Lest the whole world go blind, eventually someone wise enough must wake up, swallow their pride, think wisely instead of emotionally, and put a stop to the vicious cycle. One who implements the art of fighting without fighting is precisely the one who ends the violent and immoral cycle. The tactics and methods one uses in practicing this art can be myriad and far-reaching, and always depend on the situation.

The key is to find a middle ground. In a violent culture, the worst thing you can do is to react violently (violence should only ever be used as an act of self-defense, and even then used only as a last resort). The second worst thing you can do is to remain complacent and allow atrocities to occur. The best course of action is to be proactively non-violent through strategic and wise civil disobedience.

Similarly, in an immoral society, the worst thing is to be immoral and commit atrocities. The second worst thing is to remain too moral (goody-two-shoes, blind-faith, status quo junkies) and simply allow atrocities to occur. The best course of action is to react amorally through tactical civil disobedience against the immoral system, or by counting coup in humorous non-violent ways.

Fighting Depression by Staying Awake.


Insomnia is a common symptom of major depression, and yet sleep deprivation can be part of the solution for a patient seeking quick relief .

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Doc. I can barely keep my eyes open as it is, and you want me to pull an all-nighter?”

I smiled. “Yes, exactly that. Maybe even two or three.”

It started out benignly enough. Jodi (not the patient’s real name) had been feeling more stressed between meeting the growing demands of her high-stakes job in business management and shouldering more chores while her husband was away on business trips. Strapped for time, she started neglecting her usual self-care routines—eating healthy, exercising, taking time to relax. Not surprisingly, her mood was poor.

Things soon grew worse. She no longer enjoyed activities that were usually the highlight of her day: story time with her children, chatting on the phone with her mom, reading a book. Although she was constantly exhausted, she could not get a good night’s sleep; she would toss and turn and still feel tired even when she slept in. Her performance at work had also been suffering; she began missing days because she just couldn’t get out of bed.

Jodi knows she should have recognized these warning signs sooner. She had experienced major depression twice before, once in college and again in her late 20s after a breakup. Now in her late 30s, she had been off antidepressants for years. Yet she found herself back in that dark place, barely eating and unable to concentrate enough to read even a short paragraph. Her thoughts circled around the same unpleasant memories and nagging fears. She felt hopeless and guilty.

When she came to see me, I confirmed what Jodi already suspected: she had relapsed into a major depressive episode. Thankfully, she was not having thoughts of hurting herself, and because she had good support from her family and friends, she would not need to be hospitalized. I recommended that she start on an antidepressant immediately. Jodi agreed but was disappointed to learn it might be anywhere from four to six weeks before her medication took effect. She had already fallen behind on work, the holidays were coming up, and she did not want to put her life on hold for this depression any longer. “Isn’t there something that will work faster?” she lamented.

“Well, there is one strategy we could try,” I said. “How do you feel about skipping a few nights of sleep?”

Jodi’s jaw dropped. “You’ve got to be kidding me, Doc. I can barely keep my eyes open as it is, and you want me to pull an all-nighter?”

I smiled. “Yes, exactly that. Maybe even two or three.”

Standard antidepressant therapies are often effective in treating depression, but it takes time for them to work. In recent years research has focused on trying to find treatments that could improve symptoms within days as opposed to weeks. Although it seems counterintuitive, an old and often forgotten approach to improving mood rapidly involves short-term sleep deprivation. As a 2015 review in Current Psychiatry Reports noted, therapies that manipulate sleep can significantly improve depressive symptoms. The treatment is not for everyone—elderly patients and those with cognitive impairment, for instance, would not be good candidates—nor should people try it without a clinician’s guidance. Still, it can help bring relief before medication kicks in.

Sleep issues are a core symptom of depression. They exacerbate fatigue and cognitive deficits, which are also core symptoms, making daily functioning even more challenging. People often cope by taking daytime naps, which makes falling asleep at night difficult, feeding the cycle of sleep dysregulation. These observations have led many researchers to ask what the connection between sleep and mood is and what biological determinants underlie this relation.

All creatures sleep—or at least exhibit a circadian rhythm based on the earth’s light-dark cycle. In animals, populations of nerve cells have rhythmic activity thought to be the basis of an internally generated timekeeper. This master clock can be found in the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus. If this area is damaged, daily bodily rhythms become erratic. Research has also shown that genetic regulation of circadian rhythms is off-kilter in people with major depression.

Circadian-sensitive circuits are influenced by external cues, the most important being sunlight. They receive information about the timing and duration of sunlight from the eye: a special subset of cells in the retina, found at the back of the eyeball, transmits this information, even in people who are blind.

Many of us have experienced the power of circadian misalignment when traveling to another time zone. The mismatch between the environmental light-dark cycle and that of our neural circadian pacemakers is more commonly referred to as jet lag. (We undergo this experience to a lesser degree twice a year during daylight saving time switches.) It can take several days for neural circuits to become entrained to the new light-dark schedule, but in the interim, sleep is disrupted, appetite does not match up with mealtimes and our state of mind can suffer.

But could adjusting these cycles reset our mood and, in turn, address mood disorders? In fact, it has been known for 200 years that sleep deprivation can treat depression rapidly. (In 1818 German psychiatrist Johann Christian August Heinroth described the therapy in his Textbook of Disturbances of Mental Life.) Since the 1960s numerous clinical studies have shown that as little as one night of sleep deprivation can relieve symptoms, and a 2015 paper reported swift improvement in 50 to 80 percent of subjects.

Sleep is generally thought to be a mood-stabilizing force. It is certainly one of the first symptoms targeted by clinicians, usually with medications, to help patients feel better. Furthermore, studies have shown that sleep deprivation has an effect on neurotransmitter activity throughout the brain, just like some medications. In 2015 scientists at the University Medical Center Freiburg in Germany, the University of Bonn in Germany, the University of Naples Federico II in Italy and the National Institutes of Health discovered that the effects of sleep deprivation, tricyclic antidepressants and ketamine on mood may all rely on the same molecular target, a receptor in the brain’s frontal lobes whose activity may ultimately influence brain connectivity related to mood regulation.

Unfortunately, the gains made by sleep-deprivation therapy alone are not long-lasting. Typically depressive symptoms return within one week, which still leaves four to six weeks before antidepressants can kick in.

There may, however, be a way to maintain this therapy’s benefits using the ultimate circadian rhythm calibrator: sunlight. In one of the earliest studies combining sleep and full-spectrum light therapies, psychiatrists at the University of Vienna asked 20 patients with depressive symptoms who had undergone sleep deprivation to take an antidepressant medication in conjunction with either dim or bright light exposure. Their findings, published in 1996, showed that among those patients who responded well to sleep deprivation, receiving daily bright light maintained the antidepressant effect of that limited sleep during a trial period of seven days.

My colleagues and I are now investigating whether this benefit can be maintained even longer. Thus, I offered Jodi the opportunity to participate in a new study of “wake therapy,” which combines sleep deprivation, timed sleep (that is, following a schedule in which sleep time shifts over a number of days) and light therapy. She was hesitant—but then again, she was already sleeping poorly, so what did she have to lose?

To avoid workplace fatigue, Jodi started the treatment that weekend. Adhering to a schedule we had tailored for her, she went through a period of prolonged wakefulness, an “all-nighter.” After that point, she followed a prescribed routine of specific bed and wake times to shift her sleeping cycle. She also sat in front of a full-spectrum light box at breakfast every morning.

When I saw Jodi the next week, she reported that although staying up had been tough, she had noticed a significant improvement in her symptoms. She no longer felt depressed, was able to go back to work and was handling the stresses of everyday life more successfully. We continued to work together, and within a few weeks, with the help of medications, wake therapy and psychotherapy, Jodi was herself again—just in time for the holidays.

The Dawn of AI: Congress Is Discussing What We’ll Do in a World Run by Robots


IN BRIEF
  • Last week’s US Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness focused on the impact AI has in various sectors of US society.
  • Scientists predict that investments in AI will increase by more than 300 percent over the next few years, meaning AI will have a more prominent role in society.

AUTOMATION IN PUBLIC DISCOURSE

Senator Ted Cruz opened up last Wednesday’s hearing by the US Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness with a description of the changing landscape of technology: “Whether we recognize it or not, artificial intelligence is already seeping into our daily lives.”

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Andrew Moore speaks at a Senate hearing on AI. Image: TechRepublic

Senator Cruz explained that scientists are predicting how investments in AI will increase by more than 300 percent in the next few years, which means AI will have a more prominent role in society. With that in mind, the subcommittee’s hearing focused on the impact AI has in various sectors of US society, and how to best ensure US leadership in AI development.

The hearing came at a time when developments in computing are giving rise to faster and smarter AI. Dr. Andrew Moore from Carnegie Mellon University and Dr. Eric Horvitz, Managing Director at Microsoft Research Lab both stress how the increased computing speed, digital datasets, and the development of deep learning techniques have created an “inflection point” for the rapid development of AI.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOUND IN AI

The committee’s experts pointed out that AI can introduce rapid developments in fields like medicine and space exploration. However, there’s still the problem of worker displacement as automation threatens to take out numerous job sectors in the future. Senator Bill Nelson from Florida said at the hearing, “there’s another part about A.I., and that is the replacement of jobs and we’ve got to prepare for that.”

“[Elon Musk] predicted — predicted! — robots could eventually take over many jobs away from folks so that they would have to depend on the government in order to have a living.”

It’s an issue that experts in the field have thought about. “There is an urgent need for training and re-training of the U.S. workforce so as to be ready for expected shifts in workforce needs and in the shifts in distributions of jobs that are fulfilling and rewarding to workers,” said Horvitz in his testimony.

The preliminary hearing didn’t touch much on concrete solutions for solving the looming job crisis, but the conversation could lead to more public discussions on AI. “We are truly living in the dawn of artificial intelligence and it is incumbent that Congress and this subcommittee being to learn about the vast implications of this emerging technology to ensure that the United States remains a global leader throughout the 21st Century,” Senator Cruz declared.

Psychedelic party drug MDMA is now being used to treat PTSD


By all appearances, Calgary couple Thomas and Melanie Heath lived a very normal suburban life, busy with careers and raising two school-aged children. But there was something they could no longer hide.

Separately, their respective pasts had destroyed part of their lives and they needed help. Despite societal stigma and judgment, they discovered MDMA – commonly known as ecstasy.

He and his wife Melanie both tried MDMA.

“It was significant, it was profound, it was life-changing.”

But they didn’t use MDMA to get a euphoric high. They were using it for the same purpose it was originally intended for.

“If somebody could look at the current state of psychiatric care and go, ‘we need a drug that increases chances of talk therapy being effective,’ they would come to MDMA.”

For the first time in decades, Canadian researchers are probing the potential of a psychedelic drug – ecstasy – for use in psychotherapy in a clinical trial approved by Health Canada

For the first time in decades, Canadian researchers are probing the potential of a psychedelic drug – ecstasy – for use in psychotherapy in a clinical trial approved by Health Canada

Thomas said he used it to cope with the sudden passing of his first wife from cancer.

“I felt guilt thinking there must have been something more we could have done.”

Melanie, Thomas’ second wife, said she wanted a way to heal after suffering a childhood of abuse and an adulthood of shame. Years of talk therapy couldn’t compare to her experience with one session of MDMA.

“I had done cognitive behavior therapy and sat for 15 years in that chair wanting to be the best self I could be and never being able to get there,” Melanie said. “All it did was allow me to tread water.”

MDMA was first made in 1912 and re-developed in the 1960s by a chemist. It was used for psychotherapy.

But once the drug went mainstream and hit the streets in the 1980s, different forms showed up on the party scene and it was then made illegal. But a non-profit organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), is looking to resurrect the drug to be used in assisted therapy.

 FILE: MDMA

 

Global News

Mark Haden is with MAPS Canada. He’s working with his American counterparts to bring MDMA to market by 2021.

The group has been actively conducting clinical trials for people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They selected patients who were resistant to other forms of therapy.

Results have shown almost 85 per cent no longer have PTSD.

“Phase 3 of the clinical trial will cost us $1.5 million,” Haden said. “The traditional drugs can’t be patented by large pharmaceutical companies, so if you can’t patent it, they’re not going to make money, so there’s no money to promote the research.”

People around the world are raising money to help them achieve their goal. Thomas and Melanie are fundraising, too.

“We’ve lost a lot of time and lot of lives,” Thomas said. “That’s why we are willing to step up and talk about it.”

Melanie feels compelled to advocate.

“I have gained so much because of this medicine and I will be ever indebted.”

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