I read a very sad story today from Time Magazine about the alarming suicide rate of U.S. Army recruiters. The United States is in the longest running war waged by an all-volunteer Army in history. Early on, patriotism in the wake of 9/11 made a recruiter's gig pretty steady. Now things aren't so easy. The longer the war drags on, the harder it is to convince young men and women to sign up for what will most likely mean a long tour of duty in an inhospitable land. The problem is, recruiters are still expected to sign two recruits per month, even if it means working 15 hour days, seven days a week.
Burnout is typical during wartime and suicide is no stranger to the military. But last year alone, the number of suicides by recruiters was three times the rate for the rest of the Army.
Back in 2001 in Altapuerca, Spain, a group of archaeologists from Madrid uncovered the remains of several Homo heidelbergensis (Neanderthal's ancestors). Recently, the researchers were able to reconstruct the bones enough to discover that among the prehuman rubble was Earth's earliest known special needs kid.
National Geographic reports that the skull of a ten-year-old -- it's unclear whether it was a boy or girl -- showed signs of a severe developmental disability known these days as craniosynostosis. When a child develops in utero, the skull is actually in pieces, held together by fibrous joints that eventually fuse the skull bones into one comprehensive mass we know and love as the skull. This process allows for the brain to develop fully before it becomes encased within the confines of the skull until it slides out again in search of a new home upon the death of the puppet it controlled.
That's right folks, your favorite little podcasting duo is being flown to New York on Thursday to get interviewed by a big time news group for a prime-time spot. Or something like that. I'll get back to you with more details, but we do know that it's an interview about our podcast, the new spoken word album we released (available at the iTunes store) and it's for one of the Web sites of one of the major networks. How's that for vague?
You'd think that centenarians -- people age 100 and older -- would owe their longevity to healthy habits, but that's not always the case. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to learn more about genes, longevity and unhealthy habits.
There's nothing better than waking up to the unmistakable aroma of frying bacon. Even some vegetarians I know admit that the smell is pretty darn tempting -- the same ones that are revolted by a whiff of a steak on the grill. In the United States you can choose from all kinds of bacon -- center cut, low-sodium, extra thick, maple flavored, etc. You can go for turkey bacon if that's your bag (which doesn't really count) or even buy it pre-cooked. We also have Canadian bacon, a.k.a. ham. I've mentioned this on the Stuff You Should Know podcast and gotten feedback from our friends from the Great White North explaining that they call "American" bacon "back bacon," "peameal bacon" or just plain old bacon.
It's great for breakfast or for lunchtime on a BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato) sandwich. In California you'll want to add avocado if you want to fit in.
CNN.com reports about the pre-dawn earthquake that struck central Italy this morning. The Interior Minister said that at least 92 people have been confirmed dead so far from the quake that registered a magnitude of 6.3. Tremors were felt in the capital city of Rome, about 60 miles from where it hit in L'Aquila. It only lasted about 30 seconds, but the 13th century buildings were no match for the scale of the earthquake.
Italy has two geological faultlines that cross the country, making it one of the most earthquake-prone regions in Europe. What's surprising is this story from Reuters -- an Italian scientist claims to have predicted the earthquake several weeks ago and was reported to the authorities for spreading panic. Seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani drove around town in a van with loudspeakers broadcasting a warning of the impending quake.
This week on Stuff You Should Know Josh and me rounded out our "death suite" with shows on the world ending in 2012 and some truly bizarre ways to die. Talk about an uplifting experience!
The good news is that neither one of us, based on our research, believe that the world will end in 2012. The concept of this whole thing is based on the Mayan calendar, but it's really just a bunch of hullabaloo to sell books if you ask us. Not only does the Mayan calendar not call for the world to end in 2012, but the event they are referring to is actually one to be celebrated. So much for that - good podcast though. Josh was on fire and we RETIRED HAIKU THEATER.
You get sick, you think: go to hospital. At least in Great Britain, where they tend to drop articles that would normally appear in a sentence before a place. If you're American, you'd think that you should go to the hospital. Either way, it's a good place to go if you're ill or injured. Problem is, it turns out hospitals are also a great place to become even more ill and even die.
A March 2008 episode of the PBS medical panel discussion show Second Opinion reveled some startling figures. Every year in the United States about two million people who enter a hospital leave with an illness they acquired during their stay, a conundrum known as hospital-acquired infections. Even worse, around 100,000 people who contract a hospital-acquired illness die from it.
It makes sense on the one hand: Hospitals are places where the infectiously ill all come together under one roof to be treated...
When it comes to shucking this mortal coil, no two deaths are exactly alike -- and some are truly bizarre. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to hear Josh and Chuck discuss some of the strangest deaths imaginable.
Since I was a kid I've been creeped out by beauty pageants. Something about the plasticity of the skin, the set-in-bronze quality of the hair helmets, the tiny subway tile teeth has always sent me screaming in the other direction. The Q&A portion is the worst. That deer-in-the-headlights, drank-the-Kool-Aid smile and an answer seemingly generated by the "P-2000 Responserator." One-piece bathing suits with pantyhose and high heels has always struck me as one of mankind's funnier inside jokes. The contestants wear it and the rest of humankind has a good lol. And don't even ask me about the kid pageants. Having said that, pardon me for thinking the following was really funny...
The New York Times reports that reining Miss Universe Danya Mendoza of Venezuela paid a PR visit to the troops at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She then blogged about it, which in retrospect may have been a bad idea. Some of the highlights:
Just when you think you've seen it all comes a story from the "Felines: Out Of Love" society -- a cat-loving genetic research group based out of The University of Wisconsin at Sheboygan. The scientists there have designed what they're calling the "Permanent Kitten." Yes, this is exactly what you think it is -- felines that remain in a permanent state of arrested "kittenness."
Tomorrow morning from 9 a.m. to 9:30 est and then again from 10 a.m. to 10:30 est, Josh and me will be going live on the internets. We'll be doing a show about April Fool's Day for a streaming webcast sort of thing for a site called ustream.com. Tune in to hear all about April Fools Day, the nature of laughter and all kinds of other hijinks.
According to the Mayan calendar, a new age will begin on December 21, 2012. Will this mean the end of the world, or just a transition? Tune in as Josh and Chuck discuss whether 2012 will be a bad year for the planet or not.
Thanks to Slashdot for this item from the London Telegraph about a woman in England who plays classical music to ease the mood of her horses. Rosemary Greenway has been playing opera and orchestral music at her stable for 20 years and claims that the music soothes the nerves of the horses that are live near the roaring jets of RAF Lyneham air base.
There are 11 horses and more than two employees, so the Preforming Rights Society (PRS) is requiring that she pay a license fee of 100 pounds a year. Any business with more than two employees is subject to the fee. The irony is that her employees don't even like the music and turn it off in her absence. The tunes are strictly for the horses.
Back in my hippie days living on a mountain in East Tennessee, FirstWife worked in a health food store. I've never been healthier, and I've been dedicatedly working to rid my body of the antioxidants and nutrients I absorbed back then. I know there are some still floating around in me somewhere, fighting off loneliness as they try to ward off free radicals before they're overwhelmed and succumb. Down goes another one.
This article from CNN.com today focuses on the current state of the "Manson Family" -- the group of murdering murderers famous for slaying seven people in California in August, 1969. We all know that the family's patriarch was one Charles Manson, once a feared cult leader, now just an old dude in prison with a fading swastika on his forehead. It seems that a recent prison photo of Charlie at 75 years old has sparked renewed interest in the case.
The article gives updates on the current state of the other imprisoned family members. Susan Atkins is terminally ill with brain cancer, "Tex" Watson is a minister, Patricia Krenwinkel helps in a prison program to train puppies as service dogs and Leslie Van Houten is a model inmate in the same prison as Krenwinkel. They are all in their 60s, except for Van Houten, who is 59.
If you want to talk about some podcast goodness, look no further than this week my friends. Josh and I hit on two very cool subjects. Tuesday's "Deja Vu" show taught us, among other things, that there are no less than 40 hypotheses about just what deja vu is. Also - apparently 20 to 30 percent of folks never experience it, which kind of surprised me. I thought it happened to everyone until we did our research.
Yesterday's show on the number of dead bodies left on Mt. Everest was just as fascinating and macabre as I hoped it would be. Fact of the day - 120 dead bodies still lay at rest on Everest in varying states of decay. A gruesome sad reminder of just how extreme conditions are there.
Check these shows out if you haven't already and allow me to now plug a very exciting new offering from the SYSK team...
Josh and I were asked to serve as guest judges tomorrow night for a "sad song writing contest" here in Atlanta. I know it's not exactly "The Tonight Show," but the invitation came from a fan of the show and we're both pretty psyched about it. We'll be giving away some HSW swag as well so if you live in Atlanta and want to witness some performers singing their sad songs and rub elbows with us, come on down.
We'll be at Kavarna in the heart of Oakhurst Village, which is a cool little coffee shop/restaurant/bar type of place - the show starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.
Be there or be square, SYSK Nation!
There are two opposite ways of living life. One is as an upstanding citizen: not cutting too many corners, reporting all income to the IRS, tithing to churches from all of the major religions, not offending too many people. It's the risk-averse Ned Flanders method. On the opposite pole is living wholly and entirely on the edge...
Chuck and I and our producer Jeri got to do something really cool recently; we created our first spoken-word album out of thin air. One day, no spoken-word album; a couple weeks later -- poof! -- there's an SYSK spoken-word album on the economy and economics. What's cool about the spoken-word album label is that there's a Grammy category for such things. I'm just saying.
I've always viewed spoken-word albums as the kind of thing that's put out by guys who wear heavy wool cardigans with suede elbow patches -- as uncomfortably mellow as those gents in the recent Burger King commercials for their mushroom-and-Swiss burgers. True, Chuck wore one of those sweaters a lot while we recorded, and I would be lying if I said I didn't eat mushroom-and-Swiss burgers until I couldn't move without assistance, but listening to the Super Stuffed Guide now it's clear that this had little impact on the final result.