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The fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral was probably caused by an electrical short.  France has already announced a design contest for a new spire.
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The landmark cathedral of Notre Dame is on fire and massively damaged.  :( 

EDIT 4/15/19 -- Understand that it is natural to feel sad and upset over losing something big, even if it is not something you own or have visited personally.  The cultural relevance creates a connection that most people feel, whether or not they can articulate it as such.  Some resources that may prove helpful in coping with the aftermath:

Coping with Stressful Situations

Self-Care Links

Emotional First Aid

Helping an Online Friend in Difficult Times

I have not yet seen fundraising for any of the obvious things that are going to need money -- either reconstruction or site clearance, and support for people exposed to toxins such as lead released by the fire -- or other methods of direct support relating to this tragedy, so if anyone else spots those, please include a link.

Check for historic buildings near you and inquire about their fire safety status.  Many operate on a shoestring budget and may not have enough funds for things like smoke alarms, annual examination of fire extinguishers, or security to watch for problems.  Most have a donation page where you can contribute to the upkeep.  Drop them a few bucks and mark it "in memory of the Notre Dame Cathedral" or the like.

It's also a good time to check your fire alarm batteries, fire safety plan at home or at work, etc. 

Does your local fire department offer fire safety classes?  Do they have the funds to do that for free, or some kind of subsidy for people who need it but can't afford it?  Do you have skills to offer fire safety presentations yourself, even if it's just for your own area?  Those may be useful responses too.

Enjoy some pictures of the Notre Dame Cathedral.  If you have visited there, share pictures or descriptions.

Watch The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  It's a breathtaking movie in which the setting really acts like a character.  

Write, paint, or otherwise depict Notre Dame in creative works.  What is remembered, lives.

EDIT 4/16/19 -- The fire is mostly out now.  Despite massive damage to the cathedral and the loss of its spire, the towers remain standing and firefighters have declared it "saved."  Reconstruction should be possible.

EDIT 4/16/19 -- Many artists have drawn tributes to the fire of Notre Dame.  Check out the repeating motifs!  Quasimodo, tears, hearts, the red-white-blue of the French flag, and horizontal striped tops all appear in multiple images.  While disasters like this are awful, they do create a great opportunity to see cultural works about the same thing at the same time.  I hope that when the cathedral is rebuilt, it will include -- or have added nearby -- an exhibit about the fire featuring some of these passionate pictures.  For students of art, it's a valuable lesson to see how artists respond to a major cultural upheaval, and how their expression homes in on a small cluster of closely related symbols.  That offers inspiration for others to do likewise, and making art is a very healthy way of dealing with tragedy.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
A trio of bald eagles are raising eaglets together.  Just in case people thought polyamory was somehow "un-American."  Here are some pictures of them nesting
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article talks about weight gain across species, in different environments.  It's not just humans: everything seems to be getting fatter.  Some ideas are suggested as causes, but little is know for sure except this is happening.  Even lab animals in highly controlled conditions are getting fatter.  :/

Salt Intake

Apr. 8th, 2019 05:02 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
... has a fairly narrow range, not greatly affected by diet.

I'd be happy if restaurants quit over-salting their food, because I've had some bad experiences with it.  I can't eat things that are too salty; it makes me desperately thirsty until the excess gets flushed out. >_<  Conversely, it takes very little to run down the supply.  When I work outside in warm weather, that little bit of sweating is enough to make me want salt.  I'll come indoors, eat 3 potato chips, and be fine.  Based on my observations of other people, I thought my range was much narrower, but maybe it's not that far off and other people are just less alert to their range.

Anyhow, efforts to minimize sodium in the body by manipulating diet are unlikely to work, as it is not controlled by diet but instead by biochemistry.  I would say, try to avoid excessive  salt, but don't try to force it down artificially low.  Even with excessive salt, it won't stay put -- the body flushes it out.  The documented range is really quite stable.

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Child abuse is 40 times more likely when single parents find new partners.

Children living in homes with unrelated adults are nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents.


Obviously, doing something that raises your child's risk of maltreatment or death is abusive.  But it is not reasonable to order adults to refrain from leaving bad relationships or to abstain from sex/romance after leaving.  I also don't think it's going to be very effective just expecting people to ignore a very potent if subliminal evolutionary drive -- it's quite common for animals to injure or kill unrelated offspring.  If that would work, we wouldn't be seeing these astronomical increases.  

I think the best solution is to build better relationships in the first place.  That is, return to serious courtship.  If you want to screw around, that's fine, but don't make babies while doing it.  First find a partner, then get married and make a home, then have kids.  Today, people often do it backwards.  That's not a great way to make a life, and apparently it's a great deal more dangerous to the kids than expected, beyond the usual heartbreak, upheaval, financial wreckage, and lost fault tolerance.  If people put in the effort to make solid relationships first, that would greatly reduce the number of kids living with unrelated adults, and thus lower the risks.
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The golden eagle's diet includes rabbits, squirrels, other birds ... and deer.  Daaaaamn.

Yeti Bear?

Apr. 3rd, 2019 11:24 pm
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This article suggests that the yeti may be an unknown species of bear.  As some bears stand erect and even walk a few steps, it is plausible to consider a species that does so more often.  Certainly a bipedal stance would be one way to deal with the snow and to reach food overhead.  Another interesting fact is that some species cope with cold weather by adapting a more compact form, such as shorter muzzle, ears, tail, etc.  That could make its face look more apelike even if it is not a primate.  Bears are also pretty smart, and while some are pugnacious, others are really shy and hard to find.  It's not hard to imagine one with the social tolerance of a snow leopard.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Common Bonds: An anthology of speculative fiction featuring aromantic characters and centering platonic relationships by Claudie Arseneault has reached its first stretch goal to pay contributors a professional rate. With about 6 hours left in the campaign, they're $1000 from the next stretch goal of illustrations.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Today I learned something new about gender history: President James Buchanan was gay.  That is so awesome.  Feel free to prompt me for that if you wish.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Older brains may respond slower not because they are declining but because they have a a much larger database to search.  This reveals severe flaws in the cognitive testing array.  I would like to see a test for accuracy added, because a larger database should -- if healthy -- do a better job of solving problems than a smaller one.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Today I found this article about climate change causing an increase in kidney stones, which become more frequent as temperatures rise.

That reminded me of a previous article I read about climate change causing chronic kidney failure.  Normally dehydration is an acute problem, easily fixed by rehydration.  But the higher the temperature gets, the harder it becomes to stay hydrated.  If people work hard in high temperatures, eventually that starts destroying their kidneys.  Previously healthy people with none of the usual factors for kidney disease develop kidney failure over a few months, and often die because they can't get treatment.

So there you have it: climate change kills kidneys.  Since all humans have kidneys and need them to survive, that poses a threat to everyone.  It will hit the hardest workers first, and it is already an epidemic in the hottest parts of world, which will spread poleward as the climate cooks off.

Things you can do:

* Avoid high temperatures, and especially, working hard when it is very hot.  If you must work outside, consider the siesta pattern: work in the morning and evening when it is cooler, resting during the hot midday.

* Drink until you slosh, and if you sweat a lot, choose a beverage that replenishes electrolytes too.  Avoid dehydrating drinks such as alcohol or soda.

* If you have to work in the heat, especially if you can't keep up with water loss, keep a close eye on your kidney health.  Ideally, tell your health provider about your concerns and figure out a tracking plan.  Catching this stuff early can mean the difference between life and death.

* Know the symptoms for kidney stones and kidney disease.  Also learn about heat stress.

* Most crucially, remember that heat stress and dehydration are typically acute problems that are quickly fixable with lots of water and cooling off.  If that does not work,  then you have an emergency which requires expert care.  Then you have to avoid that situation again, or it's quite likely to kill you just like it's killing people around the equator.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 I've said this myself, but this rendition is nearly liturgical in its elegance.  Look at the lovely parallels.  Such a graceful way of saying, "Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye."
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Science says your eyelashes are already the correct length, and messing with them will increase the amount of debris hitting your eyeballs.


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