garage door 

Updated November 18


Some Amish People Have a Gene That Lets Them Live Longer

Mother Nature Network - November 18

Ask an elder Amish person about the secret to a long life, and they're likely to reference their traditionalist lifestyle or their devotion to a higher power. But the real secret might hide in a rare genetic quirk that emerged decades ago in a single Amish group that has the power to significantly increase a carrier's lifespan, reports New Scientist. The gene in question is called SERPINE1, which is known to make a protein that promotes aging, called PAI-1. But when a mutation to this gene arose six generations ago in the Old Order Amish community in Berne, Indiana, lifespans among the population began booming. In fact, carriers of the mutated gene live, on average, a whopping 10 years longer.

Because of the isolation of Amish culture, their populations can remain genetically distinct, which makes for an ideal, controlled environment for a genetic study. Douglas Vaughan of Northwestern University, Chicago, and his team were able to study the impact of a mutated SERPINE1 in 43 carriers of the gene variant within the community, and reached some remarkable conclusions. The team not only found that individuals who carried at least one copy of the gene variant had a decade added to their lives, but the gene also appears to have made them immune to diabetes. "The carriers appear to be completely protected from diabetes," said Vaughan.

Notably, gene carriers had 30 percent lower levels of insulin when fasting, which is an important indicator of slower aging. Researchers also noticed that carriers had telomere chromosome caps that were 10 percent longer. Telomere length has long been associated with aging because they shorten every time a cell divides, and shorter telomeres are related to advanced aging. The next step for researchers is to see if drugs that target PAI-1 might be developed that could extend the lifespans of the rest of us, too. In fact, there is already promising ongoing research into PAI-1 treatments for baldness. "This study adds evidence that it will be possible to extend human lifespan and healthspan," said Brian Kennedy, of the National University of Singapore.



Airline Passenger Forced to Sit with Child in Her Lap - November 18

A woman has alleged that American Airlines employees forced her to fly with her child seated in her lap, according to reports. Kelly Duvall claimed to have purchased separate seats for both of her children, an 18-month-old daughter and 3-year-old son. She allegedly was required to ride with her infant daughter on a flight from Phoenix to Chicago on Aug. 17. Federal law requires any child over 2 years old to have their own airline seat and an adequate restraining system, but it's still heavily encouraged to purchase a seat for children under 2. The Federal Aviation Administration strongly urges children to be safely secured on flights. The agency claims that it is unsafe to rely on an individual's arms to protect a child because "arms aren't capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence." American Airlines allows parents or any person 16 years or older to hold an infant during a flight instead of purchasing an additional seat.

Duvall intended to use an aviation-approved child restraint system (CRS) for her two children. The airline's gate agents prohibited her from bringing two CRS seats on board, which the employees alleged was a policy on its website. The passenger was forced to check in one of the CRS seats and hold her 18-month-old daughter in her lap for the duration of the flight. The gate agents also allegedly denied Duvall permission to board the plane during family boarding because that policy was only available to families that need additional time to get settled on the airplane.

American Airlines' website does not specify whether its prohibited to bring two CRS' or that the seating system would need to be placed by a window seat. The website states: "If your infant will travel in his or her own seat, you must buy a ticket and bring a safety seat approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)." The airline's policy also only forbids aviation-approved seating from being used in an exit row or in the rows positioned on any side of an exit row. American Airlines and the FAA are reportedly investigating Duvall's complaint.



Don't Read This if You Already Have a Headache - November 17

As the common tropes of science fiction continue to break out into reality, from humanoid robots to self-driving cars, there's one concept that has seemingly remained beyond our grasp: time travel. But, jumping through time might not be impossible, after all, according to one astrophysicist. By the rules of theoretical physics, certain conditions exist that would allow for the construction of elaborate wormholes, which could transport humans back to different eras. A wormhole could be constructed in a way that allows one end to remain nearly motionless, while the other moves at almost the speed of light. This could theoretically allow humans to travel through time. An artist's impression is pictured.

While scientists have yet to discover the conditions needed to travel back in time, and construction of a system large enough for humans certainly wouldn't be easy, 'there's nothing forbidding it' in the laws of theoretical physics, explains astrophysicist Ethan Siegel of Lewis & Clark College in the Forbes blog Starts With A Bang. Backward time travel would rely on the elusive counterpart to the known positive energy or zero mass particles found all throughout the universe, and the negative mass/energy particles, which have long been theorized but never yet found. 'If this negative mass/energy matter exists, then creating both a supermassive black hole and the negative mass/energy counterpart to it, while then connecting them, should allow for a traversable wormhole,' Siegel writes. 'No matter how far apart you took these to connected objects from one another, if they had enough mass/energy, of both the positive and the negative kind, this instantaneous connection would remain.'

Siegel imagines a scenario in which the destination is 40 light years away. After the passage of one year, the fast-moving end of the wormhole would have aged 40 years, while only a year would have passed on the other side. Space-time can be warped and distorted. It takes an enormous amount of matter or energy to create such distortions, but theoretically, distortions are possible. In the case of the wormhole, a shortcut is made by warping the fabric of space-time. Imagine folding a piece of paper with two pencil marks drawn on it to represent two points in space-time. The line between them shows the distance from one point to the other in normal space-time. If the paper is now bent and folded over almost double, the equivalent to warping space-time, then poking the pencil through the paper provides a much shorter way of linking the two points, in the same way a wormhole would create a shortcut.

The problem with using wormholes to travel in space or time is that they are inherently unstable. When a particle enters a wormhole, it also creates fluctuations that cause the structure to collapse in on it. 'If, 40 years ago, someone had created such a pair of entangled wormholes and sent them off on this journey, it would be possible to step into one of them today, in 2017, and wind up back in time at the mouth of the other one... back in 1978,' Siegel writes. 'The only issue is that you yourself couldn't also have been at that location back in 1978; you needed to be with the other end of the wormhole, or traveling through space to try and catch up with it.'


time travel

4 Types of Kitchen Knives Every Home Should Have - November 17

Knives are an essential part of any kitchen. Without them, you'll have a heck of a time trying to chop, slice and dice your way to the perfect meal. But how many knives do you really need, and which ones should you get? Here are the best kitchen knives for your arsenal:

1. Chef's Knife

If you're going to buy only one knife, this is it. The classic chef's knife is known as European-style, but knife-makers today are creating fusion knives that blend French, German and Japanese styles. These blends can be super sharp and very versatile. Some blades even have divots on the sides (also known as Santoku style) to help vegetables slide off the surface. Chef's knives have long, tapered blades that range from 6 to 12 inches in length. When to use it: This knife is your kitchen workhorse and your go-to knife for most cooking tasks, such as mincing garlic cloves,chopping or dicing onions and peppers, and thinly slicing tomatoes or potatoes. Chef's knives can even be used for breaking down larger items like whole chickens.

2. Paring Knife

Paring knives are small, versatile blades that allow you to cut with precision. They look like mini chef's knives, with small, pointed tips and a blade that curves ever so slightly. They usually run 3 or 4 inches in length. When to use it: This knife is well-suited for cutting that requires a little dexterity. It is most commonly used for peeling apples or potatoes, but is also a fine choice for julienning small vegetables, deveining shrimp and segmenting citrus.

3. Serrated or Bread Knife

These blades are so widely known for cutting bread that some brands actually call them bread knives. The blade is long and flat, with little to no taper or curve. The blade consists of sharp, jagged teeth that easily cut through hard foods with soft interiors. They can run 5 to 12 inches in length. When to use it: Use the serrated knife for any cutting task that will benefit from a sawing motion, like slicing baguettes or other crusty bread. These knives can also be used for cutting produce with soft flesh (like tomatoes) or fruits with hard exteriors (like pineapples).

4. Fillet or Boning Knife

The blade of this type of knife is much thinner than those of other styles. The thinness makes the knife very sharp and most ideal for cutting raw meats. The knives can be called by either name, but a fillet knife always has a flexible blade whereas a boning knife can be either stiff or flexible. These knives are not designed to cut through bones, but rather around the bones. They are usually about 6 inches in length and feature long, tapered blades that sometimes curve dramatically. When to use it: These knives are perfect for breaking down whole chickens or deboning bone-in pork or beef. The ones with flexible blades are well-suited to remove the skin from fish fillets. This type of knife is really helpful if you cut a lot of raw meat, fish or other bone-in proteins. If you don't plan to cook a lot of meat, you may be able to skip this purchase and use a chef's knife instead.

Once you have all of your blades, look into buying a honing steel and a sharpening stone. If you buy a knife kit, a steel is usually included in the set. The steel will keep knives as sharp as possible, and the stone can be used when a knife is too dull to sharpen with the steel.



According to David Lynch, Twin Peaks is Dead - November 17

David Lynch has shut down rumours of a fourth season of Twin Peaks. The show's co-creator Mark Frost recently spoke to Digital Spy about his book on the series The Final Dossier that cleared up a few questions fans had after that third season finale. As well as revealing the fate of Laura Palmer and Annie, Frost's book sheds some light on what exactly was up with Audrey Horne during the show's third season The Return. Although resolving these mysteries suggests the series could well have come to an end, Frost also said the book doesn't close off season four. But while Frost has said he's "undecided" about a fourth season, David Lynch has other ideas. Appearing at at the Camerimage film festival screening of the first two episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return on Tuesday (November 14), the Blue Velvet director spoke about the prospect of a fourth season. And it doesn't sound great. As Variety reports, his exact words to the question of series four were: "There's nothing to talk about."


"Twin Peaks"

Ominous Signals Coming Out of Wall Street - November 16

All is not well beneath the surface of the stock market. Market dislocations are running rampant, suggesting turbulence ahead that could go well beyond the modest weakness that major indexes have seen over the past two weeks. And to make matters worse, some of the market's most ominous technical indicators are flashing serious warning signals. John Hussman, the president of the Hussman Investment Trust and a former economics professor, is particularly concerned about the growing dispersion of stock market returns. Dispersion, which reflects how widely market returns are distributed, is an important measure to watch to assess the crosscurrents that drive broader indexes.

On Tuesday, the number of New York Stock Exchange companies setting new 52-week lows climbed above the number hitting new highs, representing a "leadership reversal" that Hussman says highlights the deterioration of market internals. Stocks also received confirmation of two bearish market-breadth readings known as the Hindenburg Omen and the Titanic Syndrome. Hussman says these three readings haven't occurred simultaneously since 2007, when the financial crisis was getting underway. It happened before that in 1999, right before the dot-com crash. That's not very welcome company.



5 Big Brands That Won't Be Around Much Longer - November 15

The power of a brand is that it can instantly give consumers the impression of quality and consistency. A great brand is an assurance that a product or service is worth the asking price and more. However, when a brand goes bad, it can be caught in a negative feedback loop that the company, despite its best efforts, can't escape. The five household names below are in this predicament, and it may only be a matter of time before they disappear.


While the whole structure of Sears Holdings looks like it's teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, Kmart may be the division of the company that succumbs first, the lamb that's sacrificed in an effort to save the Sears brand. Although Kmart is actually performing slightly better than Sears, relatively speaking, the Kmart chain has endured the largest number of store closures over the past year. At the end of the second quarter in July, there were 273 fewer Kmart stores operating than there were in the year-ago period, while Sears had 69 fewer stores. Sears chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert swore last year he wasn't shuttering the Kmart chain despite all appearances to the contrary, saying that as long as one store remained profitable, there would always be one open. Though the chain still shows an operating profit at the moment and its sales aren't declining as quickly as Sears', it's still being dramatically downsized, and it may ultimately shrink to the point of disappearing.

The Limited

The Limited was once a popular working woman's clothing brand owned by Limited Brands, which also owns Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. The parent company must have seen the writing on the wall when it sold The Limited to private-equity firm Sun Capital Partners. The Limited ended up closing every single one of its 250 brick-and-mortar stores and firing 4,000 employees, with the intent to move all its inventory online. It's not an unprecedented move. Kenneth Cole shut down its physical operations and went all in as an online-only store, as did women's fashion outlet bebe. Filene's Basement, after declaring bankruptcy, was revived by Macy's in 2015 as an online-only discount site. In mid-January, however, The Limited declared bankruptcy and was subsequently purchased by private-equity firm Sycamore Partners. Just last month, The Limited products were made available for purchase once again on its own website, but whether it can remain viable is anybody's guess.


Toymaker Mattel is reeling from the poor retail environment that caused Toys R Us to go bankrupt, as well as Hollywood's bust of a summer blockbuster season. So bad was its third-quarter earnings report that it ended up suspending its dividend, a step few companies take unless they're in truly dire straits. Mattel just can't sell its dolls anymore. Worldwide sales of Barbie were down 7%, American Girl dolls were down 30%, and other girl dolls like Monster High and Polly Pocket were down 42%. Things haven't gone well for Mattel since Disney stripped it of the Frozen and Princess line of dolls and gave them to archrival Hasbro last year. Hasbro may now be able to acquire its competitor at a low price. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean the Mattel name would live on; it's the toys and the games that have value, while the Mattel brand could be allowed to expire.

J.C. Penney

The once venerable department store chain J.C. Penney is circling the drain right along with Sears. The retailer had briefly shown signs of a comeback, but its recently released third-quarter earnings report fueled speculation that all of the changes it made may have been for naught. After being upended by efforts to drag the aged department store into the 21st century, J.C. Penney undid virtually all the new-era improvements that had been made, and the chain's finances appeared to have stabilized. However, amid a severe slump in sales, the company recently decided to "reset" its women's apparel department by liquidating much of the inventory. Given that this segment accounts for a quarter of J.C. Penney's revenue, that inventory dump did little to inspire confidence in the company's turnaround efforts. Unlike Sears, which can dip into the deep pockets of its hedge fund chairman to stay afloat, J.C. Penney is bereft of benefactors. As positions itself to become the biggest apparel retailer in the market, the outcome for this shopping-mall mainstay looks bleak.

Bed Bath & Beyond

It was expected that when Linens n Things went bankrupt, Bed Bath & Beyond would pick up the ball and keep running downfield. Instead, Amazon suddenly became a viable competitor to home goods retailers, even as mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart, Costco, and Target expanded their selections. Bed Bath & Beyond also made a major mistake in almost completely ignoring the online space. It wasn't until late in the game that it made a concerted effort to build up its e-commerce presence, and even then it got distracted, creating failed "flash sale" site One King's Lane and branching out into more categories that are far afield from its core competency. In addition to buybuy Baby, Christmas Tree Shops, Harmon Face Value, and Cost Plus World Market, it also owns Of a Kind,, Chef Central, Decorist, and Linen Holdings. And now there are more competitors encroaching on its territory, such as At Home, a sprawling home decor supercenter. In the wake of its niche's upheaval, Bed Bath & Beyond may have made itself superfluous.


Bed Bath and Beyond

This Discovery Could Rewrite Art History

Oddity Central - November 15

In 2015 researchers from the University of Cincinnati uncovered a Bronze Age tomb in Pylos, in southwest Greece. It belonged to the so-called 'Griffin Warrior', a wealthy Mycenaean man, and dates back 3,500 years. Inside archaeologists uncovered a trove of treasure including precious jewels, armor and weapons, and many vessels made from precious metals. One of the most exciting discoveries, however, came in the form of a seemingly insignificant agate stone. It was covered in limestone initially, and it took a year of careful restoration to reveal its true form.

What lay beneath the limestone is a discovery so astounding that it is set to rewrite art history. As the intricate details of the stone's design began to emerge, the researchers were astonished to discover that they had unearthed a masterpiece. The agate stone was revealed to be a seal, used for stamping an image onto clay or wax. The seal, named the 'Pylos Combat Agate', depicts a fierce hand-to-hand battle between tho warriors, with a third one already crumpled on the ground. The scene was meticulously carved on a 3.6-centimetre piece of hard stone, and some of the details are only half a millimeter in size.



Find Your Inner Patience

Mother Nature Network - November 15

Sometimes it's hard not to sigh, but hopefully you say, "Don't worry!" and find your inner patience. After all, we've all been on both sides of that grocery cart. Recently, a Walmart cashier near Clarksdale, Mississippi, showed kindness to a customer who was flustered when he went to pay with handfuls of change and miscounted his money. Spring Bowlin, who was behind him in line, took a photo of the encounter and posted about the sweet moment on Facebook. "My heart was warmed at Wal-Mart during lunch," she writes. "This gentleman's items were scanned and he was given the total. He looks apologetically back at me and starts taking handfuls of change out of his pockets. He miscounts and starts to get flustered. Gives me a muttered, 'I'm so sorry.' His hands and voice are shaking." But the clerk wasn't fazed. The man continued to apologize to her and the customer.

"This beautiful cashier takes his hands and dumps all the change on the counter and says, 'This is not a problem, honey. We will do this together.'" Once the transaction was handled, Bowlin said she thanked the cashier for being so patient with him. "She shakes her head and replies, 'You shouldn't have to thank me, baby. What's wrong with our world is we've forgotten how to love one another.'" "I want to be more like her," Bowlin says.



Longtime Host of "Sewing with Nancy" Dead at 64 - November 15

Nancy Zieman, host of the longest-running sewing show on television, died Tuesday morning (Nov. 14) at her Beaver Dam home after a long fight against cancer. She was 64. The host and co-producer of "Sewing With Nancy" stepped away from the show earlier this year after learning the cancer had spread and couldn't be treated. Her sewing and quilting TV show started in 1982 on Wisconsin Public Television and remains popular throughout the country on PBS. "I think Nancy really inspired this creativity ... that really drew people to her," WPT station manager Jon Miskowski said. "She was a great teacher, and she was really mindful of people learning the first steps." She also founded Nancy's Notions, a mail-order business started from her kitchen table that has become a go-to source for all things sewing and quilting. Quilting teacher Lorraine Torrence saw first-hand the influence Zieman had in the sewing community. "Everyone in the sewing world knew her name," said Torrence, who became a friend of Zieman's and filmed several episodes with her. Zieman didn't just teach people to sew, Nancy's Notions general manager Mike Schuster said; she also fostered community. Zieman developed the Quilt Expo with WPT, which still displays quilts and holds classes annually more than 10 years after its inception. She also started Sewing Weekend in Beaver Dam, another annual event meant to build friendships and community among sewists.


Sewing with Nancy

Don't Go After Accountants on Yelp - November 14

Yelp Inc. can't shield the identify of an anonymous reviewer who posted allegedly defamatory statements about a tax preparer. The ruling Monday by a California state appeals court is a setback for websites in an ongoing battle to protect their users, as well as their own businesses, from lawsuits they say are preempted by free-speech rights. Google, Facebook Inc., and the Electronic Frontier Foundation backed Yelp in its bid to overturn a judge's order requiring it to reveal the identity of the accountant's unhappy client. The online review said the tax preparer had prepared a sloppy return for double the money he initially quoted. The three-judge appeals panel in Santa Ana agreed with Yelp that it could protect the First Amendment rights of its anonymous reviewer but it still had to turn over the information. The panel reasoned that the accountant had made a showing that the review was defamatory in that it went beyond expressing an opinion and allegedly included false statements. San Francisco-based Yelp declined to comment on the ruling.



The "Suits" Exits - November 14

As USA Network's popular legal drama series Suits is prepping the second half of its seventh season, it was revealed that co-lead Patrick J. Adams is not expected to continue as a series regular in Season 8, which has not been ordered but is likely to. Co-star and fellow original cast member Meghan Markle also is eyeing an exit. The contracts of all Suits original cast members are up after Season 7, so both Adams and Markle will have fulfilled their current obligations. A few weeks aho, Markle said she was leaving the show at the end of Season 7 to plan on her yet-to-be-announced wedding to Prince Harry. USA and Suits producer Universal Cable Prods. declined comment.



"The Stranger at my Brother's Grave" - November 14

A mystery man who left flowers at a 12-year-old boy scout's grave for nearly 70 years has been revealed to be a childhood friend who was with him just before he died. Ronald Seymour-Westborough, 84, has been visiting the grave of Karl Sharp, who died in 1947 on a Scouting trip, since he was 18 years-old. He had been on the same trip and shared a tent with him on the night he died. Karl's sister Ann Kear has been trying to find out who the person who still remembered her brother is for several years after noticing flowers and poems left at his final resting place near Cheltenham. She told the BBC it was "brilliant" to discover who was responsible, it was Mr Seymour-Westborough from Gloucester.

Mr Seymour-Westborough said Karl had been his closest friend in the Scouts. They had shared a tent the night before he died, and he later found him face down in the sea. He said he had no idea Ms Kear had been looking for him, and did not even know Karl had a sister. But Ms Kear, 77, has still not found out who has been leaving the poems. A BBC Stories investigation led to Mr Seymour-Westborough being tracked down to his Gloucester home. Karl was on a scouting trip to Oxwich Bay near Swansea in August 1947, when he drowned, and was buried at St Mary's Church in Prestbury near Cheltenham. Ms Kear was just seven at the time, and two years ago she appealed for whoever had been leaving tributes to get in touch. The BBC made a programme telling the story behind the discovery called "The Stranger at my Brother's Grave".



Apple to Lose the Home Button on the Next iPads

Mashable - November 13

It looks like the iPad could be the next Apple product to get the Face ID treatment. The company's next iPad Pro is expected to ditch its home button in favor if Face ID, much like the iPhone X, according to a new Bloomberg report. The tablet will reportedly launch in 2018 and not only add Face ID, but will have an updated design with "noticeably" smaller bezels than previous iPad Pro models. Additionally, the new iPad will come with an upgraded processor, GPU, and Apple Pencil Stylus, which will come with a new set of software-enabled features. Though the iPad Pro will get an iPhone X-like redesign, the Bloomberg report notes that the company is "unlikely" to swap the tablet's existing display for OLED technology as Apple would likely face supply constraints. The story, which comes from reliable Apple reporter Mark Gurman, follows an earlier prediction from another notable Apple analyst, Ming Chi-Kuo, who said Apple would be likely to bring its TrueDepth cameras to its iPads next. Though Kuo didn't mention Face ID specifically, Apple's True Depth cameras are what enable Face ID, Animoji, and other features that take advantage of the iPhone X's depth-sensing selfie camera.



How to Waste Less at Thanksgiving Dinner

Mother Nature Network - November 13

Buying the right amount of food for Thanksgiving sometimes takes guesswork. You want to have enough, but don't want to be overwhelmed with leftovers. Save the Food wants to remove some of that guesswork while helping to eliminate food waste with its Guest-Imator dinner party calculator. Easy-to-use and free, the digital calculator helps determine how much food to buy and serve for holiday meals and other dinner parties. It also helps to prepare for leftovers if you want them. (And who doesn't want to make sure they have enough extra turkey and trimmings for a few Thanksgiving sandwiches?)

According to Save the Food, 6 million turkeys ended up in the trash in 2016. About 100 billion gallons of water went into creating those wasted turkeys, and all that uneaten meat creates emissions equivalent to driving a car across the country 800,000 times. And that's just the turkey. Without careful planning for the meal and leftovers, uneaten side dishes end up in the trash, too, wasting even more water and creating more unnecessary emissions.

The Guest-Imator asks some simple questions about the type of meal you're serving and the people who will be sitting around your table, namely their appetites, before calculating the amount of food to serve.For eight average eaters, plus enough for two leftover meals, the calculator estimates you need a 7.5-pound turkey, as well as specific amounts of vegetables, stuffing, potatoes, casseroles and desserts. Remember, this is just an estimate. If you know your guests attack the mashed potatoes and you never have any left, common sense would tell you to use more than four potatoes. As far as how they come up with the size of the turkey, they have a formula for that.

One thing worth pointing out about the digital calculator is that depending on the number of guests, the Guest-Imator sometimes recommends a very small turkey size. It's difficult to find turkeys under 10 pounds unless you special order them. If you can't find the size recommended, buy the smallest size you can find, and then plan on getting creative with the leftover turkey. Or, don't buy an entire turkey. Purchase a smaller-sized turkey breast that you can still roast in the oven.



Black Death Warning - November 13

A medical expert has warned that a plague, which has already killed 140 people in Madagascar, could mutate and become untreatable. Professor Paul Hunter also said it was possible for the disease to reach Europe and North America like the Ebola virus did in 2014 following an outbreak in West Africa. Hunter, who lectures in health protection at the University of East Anglia, said: "As with any disease, it's a real worry that it mutates and become untreatable." He told the Daily Star: "If it reaches the UK, Europe or the US it would be similar to the Ebola outbreak. "We would probably have a few isolated cases but it shouldn't spread like it has in Madagascar." The island, located off the southeastern coast of Africa, has seen 143 of its citizens from over 2,000 people infected. Madagascans have been told to stop the traditional practice of Famadihana, where locals dig up deceased relatives and dance with them before they are re-buried Two thirds of the cases have been reported as pneumonic which is the most lethal strain.

Dr Charlotte Ndiaye, who works for the World Health Organisation in Madagascar, said: "WHO is concerned that plague could spread further because it is already present in several cities and this is the start of the epidemic season, which usually runs from September to April." The disease can be spread by coughing, sneezing, spitting and through contact with other fluids. It is related to the Black Death which killed around 200 million people in Europe and Asia between 1346 and 1353.


The Black Death

Sam Smith and Maroon 5 Take the Top 2 Positions

Billboard - November 12

Sam Smith scores his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as The Thrill of It All debuts atop the list. The set earned 237,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Nov. 9, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 185,000 were in traditional album sales. The album is Smith's second full-length studio effort, and was released on Nov. 3 through Capitol Records. It follows his debut studio set, In the Lonely Hour, which debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the July 5, 2014-dated chart. The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Smith claims his best sales week ever with the arrival of The Thrill of It All, 185,000 copies sold. Smith's album was led by the single "Too Good at Goodbyes," which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking his fifth top 10 song on the tally.

At No. 2 on the new Billboard 200, Maroon 5 collects its sixth top 10 album, as Red Pill Blues debuts at No. 2. The set earned 122,000 equivalent album units, of which 94,000 were in traditional album sales. The band's last album launched at No. 1 in 2014, starting with 164,000 copies sold (before the chart transitioned to a units-ranked list later that year). The debut sales frames of both Maroon 5's album as well as Sam Smith's The Thrill of It All were aided by concert ticket/album bundle sale redemption promotions in association with the acts' respective upcoming tours.  

Chris Brown's Heartbreak on a Full Moon holds steady at No. 3, with 73,000 units (up 7 percent). The album debuted a week ago with 68,000 units, but with only three full tracking days of activity, following its release on Tuesday, Oct. 31. In its second chart week, the album's sales and TEA units are down (20,000 sold; down 22 percent, and 3,000 TEA units; down 11 percent), but its SEA units gained (50,000; up 28 percent). Blake Shelton arrives at No. 4 with his latest album, Texoma Shore, starting with 63,000 units (55,000 in traditional album sales). It's Shelton's 11th top 10 album, stretching back to 2003's The Dreamer, which debuted and peaked at No. 8.

Back on the new Billboard 200, 21 Savage, Offset and Metro Boomin's Without Warning slips one rung to No. 5 in its second week (up 4 percent). Its gain is owed to streaming activity, and how the set only had three days of tracking on the previous week's chart, as like Brown's Heartbreak album, Without Warning was also released on Oct. 31. Kenny Chesney's Live in No Shoes Nation falls from No. 1 to No. 6 in its second week, (down 76 percent).

Kelsea Ballerini gets her first top 10 album, as her second studio effort, Unapologetically, debuts at No. 7 (44,000 units, 35,000 in traditional album sales). It follows her first album, the appropriately titled The First Time, which debuted and peaked at No. 31 in 2015. Kid Rock nabs his ninth top 10 album with the No. 8 debut of Sweet Southern Sugar (43,000 units; 41,000 in traditional album sales). It follows Kid Rock's 2015 effort First Kiss, which launched with 146,000 units (137,000 in traditional album sales). Rounding out the top 10: Post Malone's Stoney (5-9; down 3 percent) and Ed Sheeran's Divide (8-10; up 14 percent).


"The Thrill of it All""Red Pill Blues"

Thor Tops Again, and a Close Race for the No. 2 Spot

Box Office Guru - November 12

Thor: Ragnarok led the box office for a second straight weekend while two new releases did fairly well in their debuts. Falling a reasonable 54% in its second weekend, Marvel's latest entry into the MCU, Thor: Ragnarok, took in an estimated $56.6M bringing its total up to $211.5M. A finale in the $325M range is not out of reach for this well-received film. Overseas the movie has taken in $438.5M bringing its worldwide cume to an astounding $650M.

A couple of new films battled it out for the silver medal with Daddy's Home 2 so far in the lead. The comedy sequel made an estimated $30M from 3,575 theaters for a per screen average of $8,392. The original film opened a little under two years ago to $38M (with a finale of $150M, hence the sequel), but that film had the Christmas holiday working in its favor. Coming in a close third was Murder on the Orient Express. The murder-mystery with the all-star ensemble took in an estimated $28.2M from 3,341 theaters for a per screen average of $8,441, pretty good for a movie based on 80-year-old source material.

And rounding out the top 10 for new entries was the critically acclaimed Lady Bird which took in an estimated $1.25M from only 37 theaters for a per screen average of $33,766. Debuting outside of the top 10 to terrific numbers was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri which opened on only 4 screens to $320,000 for a whopping $80,000 per screen average.


"Thor: Ragnarok"

Holiday Jingles May Be Hurting Our Brains

Mother Nature Network - November 12

There may be a special place in jingle hell for stores that break out the Christmas music too soon. You've probably already heard the seasonal strains wafting up from the local mall or big box store, telling us those halls need to be decked out with boughs of holly. And you probably took more than holly home with you, humming those songs all the way to bed. But imagine the particular kind of madness visited upon people working at stores this time of year. For retail staff, the music starts sometime around Thanksgiving. And it isn't over until the fat elf sings, nearly a month-and-a half later. 'Tis the season to be locked into an endlessly repeating refrain. And that may be a very bad deal for the brain. Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist in the U.K., suggests what may be comfort music to some can be a source of stress for people who hear it over and over again, a constant refrain forcing people to remember all the things that need to get done in time for the holidays.

Think about it. The idea that Santa Claus is coming to town may be a quaint and sweet notion to some. But when you hear it over and over again, it could have a vaguely menacing ring. Santa Claus is coming to town. So you'd better have everything done before he lands. Because if you're not ready, we're talking dinner menus, presents for absolutely everybody and that tree (DON'T FORGET THE TREE), there's going to be trouble. "People working in the shops at Christmas have to learn to tune it out," Blair tells Sky News. "Because if they don't it really does make you unable to focus on anything else. You're simply spending all your energy trying not to hear what you're hearing."



World's Biggest Diva? - November 12

The wife of hip-hop legend Ice T was filmed walking down the street as an assistant vacuumed the pavement in front of her. Nicole 'Coco' Austin was captured following a man in a blue blazer cleaning a New York City street with a portable vacuum cleaner on Friday. Wearing a bright, pink outfit, the mother-of-one could be seen talking to curious onlookers who form a small circle around her. Carrying her infant daughter, Chanel, in her arms, Coco tells the small gathering that she merely wants the dirt off the street as she makes her way through Manhattan. The footage, uploaded to Facebook, has already garnered more than 10,000 views since its posting Friday afternoon. Coco and Ice T have been married since 2002 and share a home in nearby Edgewater, New Jersey. 



Hasbro Toying with the Idea of Buying Mattel

Wall Street Journal - November 12

Hasbro is one of the largest toy companies in the world (after Lego), and according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, it recently made an offer to take over its chief rival, Mattel. If the deal were to go through, it would bring the two largest toy companies in the US and their vast catalog of brands together. The WSJ's sources say that the deal was made recently, didn't disclose terms, and that it might not go anywhere. But, the deal could be an opportunity for Mattel, which has struggled financially in recent years. The company reported a decline in sales after Toys R' Us filed for bankruptcy in September. The bankruptcy also impacted Hasbro's sales, but the Rhode Island-based company has fared better this year, due in part to its toys based on Disney properties such as Star Wars, and Frozen.


Hasbro Mattel

Why Some People Get Chills When Listening to Music - November 12

Some of us react more intensely to music than others. For some, listening to a certain track can send shivers down their spine, and goosebumps appear on their skin. According to a new study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, there's a deeper reason for this than some people simply appreciating music more than others. The researchers studied 20 students, half of which reported experiencing chills when listening to music. They used Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), MRI scans which map out the brain, to examine the differences between the two groups. Those who reported chills had a denser volume of brain fibres that connect the sections that process auditory information and emotions. More fibres means you have more efficient processing between the two sections, explained Matthew Sachs, a co-author of the study from the University of Southern California. He also concluded that those with these stronger connections may feel more intense emotions generally, not just when they are listening to music.

"Emotional reactions to aesthetic stimuli are intriguing experiences to humans as they are profoundly pleasurable and rewarding, yet highly individualised," the study says. "Finding the behavioural and neural differences between individuals who do and do not experience such reactions may help gain a better understanding of the reward circuitry and the evolutionary significance of aesthetics for humans."

When you have intense emotions towards something, adrenaline is released and races through your body. According to Professor William Griffith, the head of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, they are basically a product of our fight or flight response. This response is usually triggered when we are scared or feeling threatened, as adrenaline prepares our body to defend itself or run away. However, strong emotional reactions to other things, such as a passionate scene in a film or listening to your favourite song, can also cause us to have this reaction. The reasons for this are unclear, but one theory is that adrenaline release could be linked to a surge of dopamine, one hormone involved in the body's reward response.

Another study, conducted by researchers at the University of York, found that music could help us manage our emotions. The team wanted to find out how listening to selected music pieces could elicit emotional responses and also be enjoyed by listeners at the same time. They found that playing "sad" songs counter-intuitively could make people happier. "One of the most important motivations to engage in music listening is its emotional effect on us," the team wrote on the York website.



Not a Bird, Not a Plane, It's Butterflies - November 11

Facing challenges from climate change and increasing loss of habitat, butterfly populations worldwide have been affected one way or another. So it's a real wonder when you see them in large numbers, as weather scientists at the National Weather Service did last month on their radar screens. However, the meandering blob flying near Denver, Colorado on their monitors was so large, about 70 miles across, that they first mistook it for a group of birds. As the Denverite reports, the staff at the Boulder meteorology office initially ruled out the possibility of an insect horde, since they "rarely produce such a coherent radar signature." But after posting the image below to social media, the scientists got their answer: it was an enormous group of painted lady butterflies, slowly making their way from north down to warmer climes in the south. 

"Migrating butterflies in high quantities explains it," they said, after coming to the conclusion that the painted lady butterflies, which travel between the central and southwestern United States and northern Mexico every autumn, showed up on the radar due to their large wings and because they were all flying in the same direction. Another big hint was the fact that the blob seemed to be following the wind; butterflies are able to fly long distances, sometimes over 200 miles in a day, thanks to the carrying power of the prevailing winds.

Birds, however, tend to fly more straight toward their destination, regardless of wind direction. Recognized for their orange-black markings and two large spots under its wings, the American painted lady (Vanessa virginiensis) butterflies are found in many parts of temperate North America, and their population size swells in relation to when flowers, a main source of food, bloom abundantly. Populations of this species have also been found in Europe, migrating to Africa during cold weather.



Alabama Jury Hits Walmart with a 7.5 Million Verdict - November 11

A Russell County Circuit Court jury returned a $7.5 million verdict late Wednesday against retail giant Walmart at its Phenix City, Alabama store. In July 2015, Henry Walker, a retired Army sergeant, was purchasing a watermelon at the store when his foot got caught in the wooden pallet and he fell, breaking his foot and hip, according to court testimony. Walker, 59 at the time of the incident, was awarded $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages by the seven-black, five-white member jury. The trial started Monday in front of Judge Mike Bellamy with the striking of the jury. The case was presented Tuesday and Wednesday with the jury deliberating for about two hours before returning the verdict. For Walker's attorney David Rayfield, it was his second large verdict in less than two months. In September, a Muscogee County State Court jury returned a verdict of almost $1 million against a Columbus bail bonding company in a case of mistaken identity. The jury awarded Jasmine Hayes $350,000 in compensatory damages and $600,000 in punitive damages against John F. Law, doing business as Ace Bonding Co. Rayfield represented Hayes.



Why McDonald's Fries Tasted Better When You Were a Kid - November 11

It's no secret that McDonald's fries are superior to all other fast food restaurants' fries, but somehow, we can't deny that the taste of those fries in our fond, childhood memories were somehow better than they are now. So why did those perfectly golden fries taste so much better when we were kids? Is it because our parents would only buy them for us on special occasions? Or maybe it's just a case of rosy retrospection? Au contraire, it may not just be your nostalgia making you feel that way. It turns out that there's a legitimate reason as to why the taste of McDonald's fries have changed over the years.

According to Business Insider, author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell says the reason behind the taste change is because McDonald's changed their recipe in 1992 due to pressures from health campaigners. "They went from frying them in beef tallow to frying them in some combination of vegetable oil," said Gladwell on an episode of the podcast Revisionist History. "And as you dig into this, what you realize is that that is not an inconsequential move. It's not like when you're frying an egg where it doesn't really matter what you fry it in. A fried egg is a fried egg. A french fry is a combination of a potato and some kind of cooking element. The thing you fry it in becomes a constituent part of the fry." The early 90s was a time when consumers were trying to avoid saturated fats like the plague and businesses were trying to reinvent their menus with "healthier" options, like fries that were fried in vegetable oil to make them vegetarian-friendly. I mean, vegetable oil has the word "vegetable" in it so it has to be healthy, right? Wrong.

"It turns out to be false that vegetable oil is healthier for you than beef tallow," Gladwell said. "So not only did they destroy the french fry, they gave us something that was worse for us from a health perspective. So everything about it was a mistake." But Gladwell is a merciful man and there's only one way that McDonald's can right their wrongs. "If they had any balls at all, they would turn around and say, 'We were wrong, and we're going back to fries the old way." Will McDonald's have the balls to change their recipe? Will they even have the balls to respond to Gladwell? We'll be sitting here patiently waiting.



The Mysstery of 'Venice of the Pacific' - November 10

In a remote region of the western Pacific, just north of the equator, lies the ruins of the ancient and enigmatic city of Nan Madol. The magnificent ruin, built in a lagoon on the east side of Micronesian island Pohnpei, consists of 92 artificial islets constructed on coral reefs which are linked by a network of canals, giving it the nickname Venice of the Pacific. Nan Madol is an engineering wonder, with massive basalt walls reaching 16 meters high in some places. Carbon dating indicates the structures are around 900 years old, but the islets themselves date even further back to the 8th and 9th centuries AD. The basalt stones originated on the opposite side of Pohnpei from a volcanic plug, where magma had hardened within the vent of an active volcano. What has modern archeologists mystified is how these massive stones were moved from one side of Pohnpei to the other using what primitive technology would have been available at the time. Furthermore, once the basalt had been successfully transported, it would have then been hoisted to heights of 16 meters. The effort required to build the megalithic structures would have rivaled that of the Egyptian pyramids, with a total area of 75 hectares, and an estimated total weight of 750,000 metric tons.

Experts have suggested that the giant rocks may have been transported to the coral islands making up Nan Madol with the help of rafts, but they have yet to come up with a theory for how they were originally moved from their distant quarries and used to erect impressive structures. Its location, so far away from civilization, is also a mystery. Mythology offers an explanation where science fails, as according to Pohnpeian legend the city was constructed by twin sorcerers Olisihpa and Olosohpa. The brothers sought a place to build an altar so that they could worship Nahnisohn Sahpw, the god of agriculture. They performed rituals to levitate the massive basalt into the form of Nan Madol. Olosohpa eventually became the first Saudeleur, the dynasty that went on to rule Nan Madol until about 1628. Their reign ended with the invasion by the legendary warrior Isokelekel, who also resided at Nan Madol, and implemented the Nahnmwarki system of a tribal chiefdom, which continues into the modern era. Most Pohnpeians still believe that the ancient city was the work of sorcery.

However it came to be, it is known to have been a sacred site founded by The Saudeleur dynasty, and populated by chiefs and priests, as well as commoners to serve them. The Saudeleur rulers required local nobility to reside in the city as a means to monitor their activity and maintain control. The subjugated Pohnpeians brought food and water to the city, as there were no means to grow food or collect water on the reef. It was this logistical problem that may have eventually led to the abandonment of this incredible city. The mystery of the ancient city's existence and purpose has also inspired some legends of spirits and ghosts, making it a scary place to visit for most, despite its UNESCO World Herritage status. While similar sites receive hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, only around 1,000 tourists come to Nan Madol, many of them ghost hunters.


Venice of the Pacific

The Poorest 50% of the US Has Less Money Than the Top 3 - November 10

The three richest people in the US -- Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos, own as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population, or 160 million people. Analysis of the wealth of America's richest people found that Gates, Bezos and Buffett were sitting on a combined $248.5bn (£190bn) fortune. The Institute for Policy Studies said the growing gap between rich and poor had created a "moral crisis". In a report, the Billionaire Bonanza, the thinktank said Donald Trump's tax change proposals would "exacerbate existing wealth disparities" as 80% of tax benefits would end up going to the wealthiest 1% of households. "Wealth inequality is on the rise," said Chuck Collins, an economist and co-author of the report. "Now is the time for actions that reduce inequality, not tax cuts for the very wealthy." The study found that the billionaires included in Forbes magazine's list of the 400 richest people in the US were worth a combined $2.68 trillion, more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of the UK. "Our wealthiest 400 now have more wealth combined than the bottom 64% of the US population, an estimated 80m households or 204 million people," the report says. "That's more people than the population of Canada and Mexico combined." The report says the "billionaire class" continues to "pull apart from the rest of us" at the fastest rate ever recorded. "We have not witnessed such extreme levels of concentrated wealth and power since the first gilded age a century ago."


rich folks

Here's a Shock: Sean Hannity is an Idiot - November 10

Reacting to allegations that Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore had "relationships" with a teen girl when he was in his 30's, Fox News host Sean Hannity appeared to deflect criticisms on the former judge because he reportedly had sexual contact with a 14-year-old "consensually." Soon after, CNN's Jake Tapper fact-checked him, saying that legally, 14-year-olds cannot consent to sexual contact. In response, Hannity attacked Tapper, calling him "Lazy Fake Jake." During his show on Fox News later that night, Hannity claimed he "misspoke" about the age of consent, but then doubled down on his attacks against the CNN host by criticizing former President Barack Obama and praising himself for "reserving judgement." "One of the reasons I have been right and so many of my bratty friends in the media that are overpaid and lazy like fake Jake Tapper is they rush to judgement , I don't," Hannity said on-air. "Jake, listen to the whole two hours of my radio show tonight. It's one of the reasons we have been more right than wrong."


Sean Hannity

"You Have No Idea What is Going On in Other People's Lives" - November 9

A woman currently battling stage two brain cancer has revealed she was cruelly shamed and branded 'lazy' for using a disabled parking spot, which she absolutely needs due to her exhausting radiation treatment. Lexi Baskin, of Lexington, Kentucky, shared shocking photos of her vandalized vehicle on social media. The student had parked in one of five disabled parking spots in front of the medical library at the University Of Kentucky, where she attends the pharmacy school, when someone took it upon themselves to cover her vehicle in insulting signs, even threatening to have her vehicle towed. Lexi recently had ependymoma, a cancerous tumor, removed from on her brain stem. As such, she required radiation treatment, which can leave her exhausted and dizzy. That is why her doctor gave her a parking placard enabling her to use spots for disabled people, so that she won't have to walk long distances.

The student usually doesn't have any problems, but last week, after meeting with a professor, she returned to her vehicle to find the cruel messages taped all over it. One note, printed on white paper, reads: 'Shame on you! There are legit handicapped people who need this parking space. We have seen you and your friend come and go and there is nothing handicapped about either of you. Your tag must be borrowed or fake.' The message ends on a menacing note and adds: 'We will make every effort to see you fined or towed for being such a selfish, terrible person.' The anonymous vigilantes also placed sheets of paper of various colors reading 'Shame on you!' around her SUV. Lexi shared photos of her vehicle on social media, including on the Facebook page Love What Matters, pointing out that while her reason for needing disabled parking might not be immediately obvious to an onlooker, it doesn't make her need for it any less real. 'Just a gentle reminder that you have no idea what is going on in other people's lives,' she wrote. Lexi, meanwhile, hopes her message will prompt others to be kinder and more understanding of people with invisible disabilities.



Christopher Plummer Will Replace Spacey in Upcoming Film - November 9

In an unprecedented bold move, director Ridley Scott, along with Imperative Entertainment's Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas have decided to remove Kevin Spacey from their finished movie All The Money In The World. Christopher Plummer has been set to replace Spacey in the role of J Paul Getty. Re-shoots of the key scenes are expected to commence immediately. Scott is also determined to keep the film's December 22 release date.

In a unified front, the cast and crew of the film, and Sony Pictures, unanimously agreed to re-shoot all of Spacey's scenes, with Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams' cooperation part of the mix. This comes on the heels of the decision to pull the film from the prestige closing night slot of the AFI Festival. That move resulted after a weekend of back and forth, with Scott and Friedkin in particular incensed that the sordid allegations against Spacey might doom a film that Scott dropped everything to direct, and on which so many people worked hard and did not deserve to see the results hobbled in the marketplace because of the taint of scandal. So they took control of the narrative. Scott is a maverick, and didn't shrink under the pressure to re-stage the key scenes involving J Paul Getty, the oilman who refused to pay a ransom after his grandson, John Paul Getty III was kidnapped.

Spacey worked about eight to ten days on the film, but the character is an important presence even if much of the action in the thriller involves the frantic efforts of the kidnapped heir's mother Gail Harris (Williams), and Getty's advisor (Wahlberg) to free the youth. The nightmare escalated after the family received his severed ear as proof the kidnappers were going to kill him if the money wasn't delivered. Scott once before was forced to deal with re-shooting on a film, following the death of Oliver Reed in the Oscar winning Gladiator. Those circumstances were dramatically different than the decision that was made Wednesday on All The Money In The World.


Plummer and Scott