Thursday, July 29, 2021

Study suggests distortions in visual perceptions in the late teens may be predictive of schizophrenia or other hallucinogenic disorders in midlife

Schizophrenia is often diagnosed well into adulthood, typically from the late teens to early 40s. Are there early indicators that could help predict which individuals will go on to develop this serious mental illness? Researchers in clinical psychology and psychiatry have long sought to answer this question. New research by professors at Binghamton University (State University of New York at Binghamton) and Weill Cornell Medical College could point the way. Researchers explored the development of psychotic symptoms in 191 individuals with no prior history of psychosis; first assessed in their young adulthood (age 17-18), study participants were assessed a second time in their mid-30s. They found that subtle differences in perception during their late-teen years predicted the development of hallucinations, delusions, and, in some instances, psychosis later in life. These early perceptual distortions included a heightened awareness of sound or color, uncertainty about the boundaries of one’s body, feeling that the world around them is tilting, and similar experiences. Anxiety and depression played no role in the development of psychotic symptoms in mid-life. The precise causes of illnesses such as schizophrenia are largely unknown, although genetics and brain-based factors are known to play an essential role. Approximately 3.5 million people have the illness in the United States, with an estimated annual healthcare cost of more than $155 billion. (Binghamton University)


Scientists identify gene controlling the production of female cockroach pheromones

How the female cockroach regulates production of these contact sex pheromones, and what happens when she produces too few, is the subject of a new study by researchers at the Northwest A&F University in Yangling, China. It’s not the look in her compound eyes or the shape of her carapace that really attracts the male cockroach to his mate. Instead, it’s all those 29-carbon hydrocarbons in her cuticle that drive him wild. The German cockroach, Blatella germanica, is the most common, and most despised, cockroach around the world. Like other insects, its exoskeleton is impregnated with a rich mix of molecules, including oily hydrocarbons that help keep the cockroach from drying out. A key feature that distinguishes male from female cockroaches is the abundance of one such hydrocarbon, called 3,11-DimethylC29, which is chemically converted into a female sex pheromone. When the male senses the pheromone with his antennae, he raises his wings to expose a nutrient-containing gland. While the female feasts on its contents, the male copulates with her. (


1,917 turtles, reptiles, and amphibians were released back into their natural habitats in Colombia’s Meta province

The animals had been seized in April in anti-animal trafficking operations by Bogota’s environment office. Most of them were matamata turtles, which feature knobby shells, but there were also some iguanas, snakes, toads, and frogs. With the help of veterinarians, the office rehabilitated the animals and released them into their natural lagoons and forests. Colombia is one of the world’s “megadiverse” countries. It is home to nearly 10% of global biodiversity. (Reuters)


Americans are saving more money for emergencies than they did at the start of the pandemic, according to a new poll

In a One Poll/Capital One survey, 48% of Americans said the pandemic encouraged them to increase the amount of money kept in a rainy day fund, with 44% saying they wanted to slow down their impulse spending. Additionally, younger Americans consider mental wellbeing to be a good use of their money. 63% of Gen Z respondents called therapy a “healthy spending choice,” compared to only 37% of baby boomers. (Study Finds)


The Earth is either approaching or passed a number of tipping points in terms of worsening climate change, a new study suggests

Researchers said that new records were set in “16 out of 31 tracked planetary vital signs,” including ocean temperature and concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Study co-authors said that “transformational system changes” would be needed globally, citing that even decreased transportation during the pandemic was not enough to drastically reduce emissions. Despite the use of fossil fuels decreasing in 2020, concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere continue setting new records. The number of greenhouse gas-emitting animals kept as livestock also keeps increasing, their number now exceeds four billion, with a mass greater than that of all the humans and wild land mammals on Earth combined, researchers said. The study suggests that an increase in fossil fuel divestment is a good sign and says major nations must pave the way for an eventual ban on fossil fuels. (Oxford)


The Department of Justice ordered Hobby Lobby to forfeit an ancient artifact, the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, which it purchased from an auction house under “a false provenance” for $1.6M in 2014

The Department of Justice announced that the artifact, known as the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, was illegally transported to the U.S. in 2003 and 2014, authorities said. The tablet originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and is around 3,600 years old. It depicts a portion of the Sumerian poem Gilgamesh, which is considered one of the world’s oldest works of literature. The tablet was sold to Hobby Lobby by the international auction house to be displayed at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., founded by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green. It had been sold with a false provenance letter several times before Hobby Lobby purchased the artifact, authorities said. The government’s investigation revealed that an antiquities dealer first purchased the tablet in 2003 from the family of a coin dealer in London and had it shipped to the U.S. without properly declaring the contents as required, authorities said. At the time, it was “encrusted with dirt and unreadable.” (Fox News)


Kentucky woman accused of using wooden spoon to discipline children

A 25-year-old woman in Hopkinsville, Kentucky is accused of using a wooden spoon to discipline her children, authorities said. She is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal abuse. According to a police report, she is accused of using the utensil to hit the five and six-year-old children on July 13th and 14th. The report states that children told social workers about the incident, and photos showed bruising on their legs and buttocks. According to police, she admitted she had spanked the children with the wooden spoon as a disciplinary measure. Her 26-year-old boyfriend was also arrested after he allegedly hit the children with his hand. (Kentucky New Era)


Gen X may shoulder jobless crisis

It’s becoming harder for workers aged 45 and older to secure jobs, according to a Generation study, especially as the pandemic amplifies unemployment challenges for everyone. Mid-career workers are perceived as having weaker skills compared to younger candidates, despite often outperforming them, pointing to age bias among hiring managers. Many also believe older workers are reluctant to learn new skills, causing 45- to 60-year-old workers to emerge as “the most overlooked employee bracket.” (Generation)


Pizza Delivery Guy Takes One Slice Out Of Box After Customer Refuses To Tip

A pizza delivery guy was refused a monetary tip, and instead asked to take a slice of the pizza he delivered. The video clip has been shared across social media platforms, including YouTube where it received thousands of views. In the short clip, we could see a recording taken from the door camera. The pizza delivery guy keeps the pizza on the side, and then goes towards the doorbell. He finds a sign that reads, “No money for tip, please take a slice of pizza instead.” Being left with no option, the delivery person resignedly opens the box to grab a pizza slice and bites into it after removing his mask. (NDTV)


Wife ordered to pay husband for snooping on his phone

A civil court has ordered a woman to pay the equivelant to $23000 in compensation to her husband after she was found guilty of snooping on his phone and sharing private conversations between him and his first wife with his daughter. The disclosure of the conversations led to marital discord between the husband and his first wife, which resulted in their divorce. Earlier, the Court sentenced the accused to one month in jail for violating her husband’s privacy, secretly accessing emails on his phone and sharing the private conversations. The husband filed a lawsuit before a civil court, where he stated that the defendant (his second wife) accessed his phone without his knowledge and shared the conversations between him and his first wife with his daughter, both of whom live abroad. He claimed that he incurred expenses for his foreign travel while trying to reconcile with his estranged first wife, who had filed for divorce. He also claimed to have incurred shipping expenses for his belongings and that he had to cough up his outstanding dowry dues. The man alleged that he had lost his job due to the marital dispute. He had demanded a large sum of money for suffering financial and moral damages along with breach of privacy. (Khaleej Times)


New York’s $200 french fries offer ‘escape’ from reality

On Manhattan, New York’s Upper East Side, there is a restaurant where a $200 plate of french fries stretches the definition of expensive cuisine. The restaurant Serendipity 3 already claims world records for the most expensive burger at $295 and ice cream sundae at $1,000. Guinness World Records certified the feat. As of July 13, the fries are officially the most expensive on earth. (Reuters)


Couple reunited with wedding ring lost at sea after metal detectorist finds it weeks later

A British couple celebrating their anniversary received a miraculous gift when the wife found her wedding ring that fell off while she was surfing back in May. She made a drawing of the white gold ring and reportedly went door-to-door to cafes and shops along the beach she lost her ring at asking anyone to contact her if they find it. She also posted the drawing on social media with the same plea. Then, 11 weeks later, a metal detectorist reportedly reached out after seeing her post. She heard back from a man saying he discovered the ring on the beach after seeing her sketch. Serendipitously, the discovery happened to be on the couple’s 17th wedding anniversary. (Fox News)


Soaring tortilla prices hit struggling Mexican households hard

Prices have risen “suddenly” for basic staples like tortillas, the corn-based flatbread that is ubiquitous on dining tables across Mexico. The price hikes are so frequent that some people no longer buy them at local grocery store. Before the pandemic, the average price people paid was 13-14 pesos ($0.65 – $0.70) for a kilo of tortillas. Now, most are lucky to find them for less than 20 pesos ($1.00). Those price pressures are felt by ordinary people across Mexico. In the first two weeks of July a kilo of tortillas cost 13.5 percent more than they did a year earlier, marking the sharpest price increase since March 2012, according to the national Consumer Price Index. In Mexico City tortilla prices rose from 14.47 pesos to as high as 20 pesos. Since the onset of the pandemic in February 2020, prices of other staple foods, like tomato and chicken, have also gone up squeezing household budgets. (Aljazeera)


Thursday Gets Half A Smack For:

  • Army Chaplain Corps Anniversary
  • Chicken Wing Day
  • Chili Dog Day (Last Thursday in July)
  • Earth Overshoot Day
  • Intern Day (Last Thursday in July)
  • International Tiger Day
  • Lasagna Day
  • Lipstick Day
  • Rain Day


Historical Events

  • 1014 – Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars: Battle of Kleidion – Byzantine emperor Basil II inflicts a decisive defeat on the Bulgarian army, and his subsequent treatment of 15,000 prisoners reportedly causes Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria to die of a heart attack less than three months later, on October 6.
  • 1693 – War of the Grand Alliance: Battle of Landen – France wins a Pyrrhic victory over Allied forces in the Netherlands.
  • 1793 – John Graves Simcoe decides to build a fort and settlement at Toronto, having sailed into the bay there.
  • 1851 – Annibale de Gasparis discovers asteroid 15 Eunomia.
  • 1907 – Sir Robert Baden Powell sets up the Brownsea Island Scout camp in Poole Harbour on the south coast of England. The camp runs from August 1 to August 9, 1907, and is regarded as the foundation of the Scouting movement.
  • 1932 – Great Depression: in Washington, D.C., troops disperse the last of the “Bonus Army” of World War I veterans.
  • 1958 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which creates the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  • 1965 – Vietnam War: the first 4,000 101st Airborne Division paratroopers arrive in Vietnam, landing at Cam Ranh Bay.
  • 1973 – Greeks vote to abolish the monarchy, beginning the first period of the Metapolitefsi.
  • 1987 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President of France François Mitterrand sign the agreement to build a tunnel under the English Channel (Eurotunnel).