Cows, Kaiser Wilhelm and Daylight Saving Time

Billions of people around the world experience general fatigue all day after losing an hour of sleep to daylight saving time. For years, conventional wisdom has been that it benefits one particular group: farmers, but that’s not actually true. There are no farming activities that benefit from daylight saving.

‘Of course daylight saving doesn’t benefit farmers, cows don’t care what time it is, because they’re cows, and cows are idiots.[1] So if it’s not for them, who is it for?

The modern daylight saving was introduced during the first world war as a fuel saving measure by the Germans. – That’s right, you lost an hour of sleep this morning thanks to Kaiser Wilhelm!

And while back then, daylight saving may indeed have saved fuel, in the modern era, energy consumption is a little more complicated. In fact, when Indiana adopted daylight saving in 2006, guess what happened: the data shows that daylight saving actually led to a 1% overall rise in residential electricity.

Of course it did, because switching on a lamp an hour later in the summer doesn’t really matter when you’re blasting an air conditioner and staying up all night psychotically scrolling through instagrams of your ex’s honeymoon to Morocco.

But that’s not to say daylight saving doesn’t have any effects at all. Studies show there is an increase of car accidents and work-related injuries the week after the time change. – That’s right, what you lose in sleep, you gain in mortal danger.

Despite all this, 70 countries around the world still observe daylight saving and yet by going by local news reports, none of them could tell you why. […]

So if it doesn’t benefit our energy bill, our health or our stupid, stupid cows, it has to make you wonder: daylight saving time, how is this still a thing?’

– Oliver. J. et. al. (2015, March 8) Daylight Saving Time – How Is This Still A Thing?: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

[1] The authors would like to underline they do not endorse the view that all cows are idiots. A 2004 study by Cambridge University researchers revealed cows have “eureka” moments, taking pleasure in their own learning achievements. When the cows made improvements in learning, they showed emotional and behavioral reactions that indicated excitement.

French Paradox

The French have a diet in which they consume a comparatively high amount of fat and drink quite a lot of wine; yet, in comparison to the U.S., they have half the rate of heart disease, have a lower obesity rate and live 2.5 years longer.

Traditionally, cardiologists and dieticians have considered the staples of the French cuisine to be the worst possible diet choices for the cardiovascular system. It therefore begs the question: what is this (apparent) French paradox?

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” – Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Firstly, the French have a culture of actually enjoying food. It has been found that during the day the French spend more time with food than Americans. Taking the time to eat more slowly in a leisurely atmosphere may be part of the reason why people in certain societies such as France have a better digestion.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Secondly, saturated fat (which contains vitamin A, D and B8) maintains our teeth, bones, gums, hair, skin, liver and kidneys. Scientists universally accept that trans fats – found in almost all fast foods, many bakery products, and margarines – increase the risk of cardiovascular disease through inflammatory processes. But the mantra that saturated fat must be avoided in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has been proved erroneous. In fact, scientific evidence shows that reducing the saturated fat intake has increased cardiovascular risks.

The people with the highest longevity in France live in the Gers region, a Midi-Pyrénées department in the south-west of the country. It is no coincidence that the traditional regional fare is very high in saturated fats: duck fat is used for cooking, often combined with ingredients such as pork, goose, duck, foie gras and cheese.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Thirdly, wine improves cardiovascular health. The average French person consumes 16 gallons of red wine per year. On average, that comes down to quite a small glass of red wine a day. Red wine contains substance called piceatannol which inhibits the formation of new fat cells and prevents them from developing into mature fat cells. The compound blocks insulin’s ability to store fat. In fact, several researches have found that moderate wine drinkers show the lowest accumulation of abdominal fat among all drinkers.

As for the red wines of the Gers region in south-west France, the Madiran, Cahors, Bergerac and Saint-Mont are exceptionally rich in procyanidins, a flavonoid that functions as a saturated fat scraper in the bloodstream.

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” – W.C. Fields

In short, the French paradox is not a paradox at all. There are proven reasons why red wine and food with saturated fat – from avocados to grass fed beef – are good for you. With intelligent habits, everyone can eat the most delicious dishes, taste the most amazing wines and generally indulge in culinary epicurean delights, and still be healthy.

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” – Erma Bombeck

ACHOO Syndrome

Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helioopthalmic Outburst Syndrome is characterized by uncontrollable sneezing in response to the sudden exposure to bright light, typically intense sunlight.

This type of sneezing is also known as photic sneezing, also known as photoptarmosisa condition of uncontrollable sneezing in response to numerous stimuli. About one in four individuals who already have a prickling sensation in their nose will sneeze in response to sunlight, but pure photic sneezing is far less common.

Sneezing is usually triggered by contact with infectious agents or after inhaling irritants, but the cause of photic sneezing is not fully understood. It may involve an over-excitability of the visual cortex in response to light, leading to a stronger activation of the secondary somatosensory areas.

“I like to write when I feel spiteful. It is like having a good sneeze.”
– D. H. Lawrence

Sneezing usually feels good because, much like an orgasm, sneezes are reflexes involving tension and release. Also, like climaxes, they sometimes feel like they are about to happen, but do not; and like the final throes of sex, they can erupt as loud crescendos or pop off like a string of firecrackers.

Some evidence suggests that sneezing, like orgasms, also releases endorphins. Unlike orgasms though, sneezes can travel at about 100 miles per hour.

Ross: I was in the shower, and I felt something.
Chandler: Was it like a sneeze, only better?
Friends (1996) Season 3, Ep. 23; “The One with Ross’s Thing” [No. 71]

Curiously, in English, it is common to say “Bless you”; in German, “Gesundheit”; in Hindu, one person says “Live” and the other responds “With you”; and in Zulu people say “I am now blessed”. The ancient Greeks and Romans said “Banish the Omen”.

American Butter

From the 19th century onwards, particularly powerful US dairy lobbies in states like New Hampshire have demanded that margarine should not be coloured creamy yellow and, in some places, even managed to insist it should be coloured bright red to put people off from buying it and purchase real butter instead. This, to protect local dairy farmers from a decline in demand of their milk.

In fact, by the start of the 20th century, eight out of ten Americans could not buy regular yellow margarine, and those who could had to pay a hefty tax on it. The regulations and taxes had a significant effect: the 1902 restrictions on margarine colour, for example, cut annual US consumption by almost two-thirds.

As iffy as this sounds, it turns out capitalism got it right. Even though a number of shameless profit-obsessed lobbyists were only seeking to protect their businesses in the political arena regardless of effects to public health, animal welfare and conservation of the environment; they were, nevertheless, (albeit accidentally) promoting the healthy alternative: real butter.

“I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.”
― Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

Not only does butter taste incomparably better, it’s a natural product that human beings have been eating and cooking with for centuries without ­damaging their health. Why swap it for margarine, a highly synthetic and unpleasant-tasting concoction laced with additives and cheap, low-grade oils refined on an industrial scale?

There has been a growing body of scientific research that not only indicates that there is absolutely no reason to stop eating ­butter, but also leads to one inescapable conclusion: that decades of health advice, particularly in regard to heart disease, cholesterol levels and the consumption of fats and oils, have been plain wrong.

The scientific evidence is compelling and totally at odds with decades of official advice that we should all be cutting down on our consumption of animal fats. The exact opposite turns out to be true. People who eat more of the safflower-derived products are almost twice as likely to die from all causes, including heart disease.

And consider this: there is, and never was, any good evidence linking intake of dietary saturated fats with blocked coronary arteries and heart disease.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

For so much of what we were told was gospel truth turns out to be plain wrong. Butter is not bad for you; in fact, it’s healthy, being high in vitamins, saturated fats which are beneficial to the kidneys for instance; it has the sort of cholesterol that is vital for brain and nervous system development and various natural compounds with anti-fungal, anti-oxidant and – therefore – anti-cancer properties.


Dyspraxia is a hard condition to explain to people who are not acquainted with it. There are so many aspects to it which make it very difficult to explain it and many dyspraxics have a variety of symptoms that other dyspraxics do not have.

However it can be said that developmental dyspraxia is a chronic neurological disorder beginning in childhood that can affect planning of movements and co-ordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body.

For example, one dyspraxic may be able to tying shoe laces without difficulty, whereas another dyspraxic may not. Dyspraxia is different in every single individual although there is a general list of problems many dyspraxics face every day.

Dyspraxia is a neurological condition which affects the brain. It prevents messages to and from the brain being transmitted properly. It affects all or any areas of development in children which are mainly these six areas: intellectual; emotional; physical; language; social; sensory.

It may also impair a person’s learning ability. Dyspraxia mainly affects people’s fine and/or gross motor co-ordination as well as many other things.

Dyspraxia causing some many problems, some more common than other but here is a general list of problems dyspraxics face every day:

  • Clumsiness. May drop things, spill things, bump into people, etc.
  • Difficulty writing, both forming letters and the speed. Writing may even be painful.
  • Reading difficulties.
  • Speech problems.
  • Poor short term memory, e.g. if given a list of instructions to carry out, may remember the first and last one but not the ones in between.
  • Awkward walking and running.
  • Trouble using a knife and fork, e.g. cutting food or spreading butter.
  • Sensitive to touch, e.g. uncomfortable brushing your teeth, brushing hair and having it cut and certain clothes uncomfortable to wear.
  • Sensitive to the texture of certain food, e.g. mashed potato
  • Sensitive to sounds, e.g. may not like loud music or the noise from a hoover.
  • Poor concentration, e.g. easily distracted by background noise.
  • Poorly organised, e.g. leaving things you need for school at home
  • Have trouble learning new tasks particularly those involving organization and concentration.
  • Problems carrying out personal hygiene tasks, e.g. cleaning teeth, applying deodorant, cleansing face, etc.
  • Trouble with social skills, e.g. problems reading and understanding body language, trouble understanding distance rules when sitting/standing next to someone, cannot keep eye contact, etc.
  • People will not understand your problems so you may not be accepted socially and you may have trouble making friends.
  • Phobias or obsessive behaviour and impatient.

See other: Hall of Fame Posts

Mirror Box

The mirror box is a box with two mirrors in the centre (one facing each way), invented by Vilayanur S. Ramachandran to help alleviate phantom limb pain, in which patients feel they still have a limb after having it amputated.

English: A diagrammatic explanation of the mir...

The patient places the good limb into one side of the box (in this case the right hand) and the amputated limb into the other side. Due to the mirror, the patient sees a reflection of the good hand where the missing limb would be. The patient thus receives artificial visual feedback that the “resurrected” limb is now moving when they move the good hand.

Their hypothesis was that every time the patient attempted to move the paralysed limb, they received sensory feedback (through vision and proprioception) that the limb did not move.

This feedback stamped itself into the brain circuitry so that, even when the limb was no longer present, the brain had learned that the limb (and subsequent phantom) was paralysed.

To retrain the brain, and thereby eliminate the learned paralysis, Ramachandran created the mirror box. The patient places the good limb into one side, and the stump into the other.

The patient then looks into the mirror on the side with good limb and makes mirror symmetric movements, as a symphony conductor might, or as we do when we clap our hands.

Because the subject is seeing the reflected image of the good hand moving, it appears as if the phantom limb is also moving. Through the use of this artificial visual feedback it becomes possible for the patient to “move” the phantom limb, and to unclench it from potentially painful positions.