Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach

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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Mary Roach

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $11.99

Publish Date: May 17, 2004

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year….Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting."—Entertainment Weekly Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach

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A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

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A Brief History of Time

Stephen Hawking

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $13.99

Publish Date: March 1, 1988

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


#1  NEW YORK TIMES  BESTSELLER A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking’s book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe begin—and what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unending—or are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space? What will happen when it all ends? Told in language we all can understand,  A Brief History of Time  plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and “arrows of time,” of the big bang and a bigger God—where the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected. With exciting images and profound imagination, Stephen Hawking brings us closer to the ultimate secrets at the very heart of creation.

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A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

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The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins

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The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $10.99

Publish Date: January 16, 2008

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company


A preeminent scientist — and the world's most prominent atheist — asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster.

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The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins

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Put Down that Styrofoam Cup!

The iconic whitecoffeecupand clamshell take-out containers weall know so well are not REALLY Styrofoam, so lets make thatclear from the beginning. That doesnt make the items Im talkingabout any less dangerous, as youll see below, but its importantto clarify what we are talking about.

Thereal Styrofoamwas invented in 1941, is made by DowChemical, and is used exclusively in building insulation, to floatdocks, and in some molds for floral arrangements With very fewexceptions its colored light blue.

The white plastic items we incorrectly refer to as Styrofoam arevery similar yet different. Heres the difference:

The trademarked product called Styrofoam is produced usinga closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam.
The white disposablecoffeecups, coolers, takeoutcontainers, and packing peanuts refers to expanded (notextruded) polystyrene foam, which is sometimes referred toas EPS.

Now that we have cleared that up, heres why the disposablepolystyrene products we can find everywhere arehazardous tohuman and environmental health.

What Is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is a petroleum-based lightweight plastic made fromstyrene, a synthetic chemical classified as apossible humancarcinogenby the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and theInternational Agency for Research on Cancer; andbenzene, aknown human carcinogen according to the EPA. It is about 95percent air and commonly used to make disposable beveragecontainers, coolers, meat and fish trays in supermarkets,packaging materials, and take-out food containers. You may seethe number 6 surrounded by arecycling symbolor the lettersPS on products made of polystyrene.

6 Reasons to Avoid Use of Polystyrene

The good news is that a slowly growing number of cities aroundthe world are phasing out or banning polystyrene. So far, morethan 100 cities have some type of ban on foam products. Thelatest city on the list isSan Francisco,whose ban affectingpacking peanuts, ice chests, to-gocoffeecups, meat and fishtrays, and dock floats goes into effect January 1, 2017. The cityalready had a ban on take-out containers since 2007.

Why all the fuss about these lightweight products? If your cityhasnt banned Styrofoam yet, you may want to initiate theprocess after reading this list.

1. Puts toxins in your food.
Would you like some toxins withyour coffee, soup, or beer? Trace amounts of styrene aswell as various chemical additives in polystyrene migrateinto food, which increases significantly in hot liquids,according toOlga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist at theEnvironmental Working Group. Although each individualdose may be very low, think about the cumulative effect!How many cups of coffee or microwaved noodles inpolystyrene cups have you consumed?

Foods and beverages in polystyrene that are more likely toleach toxic substancesinclude those that are hot (e.g.,coffee, tea, soup, chili, reheated leftovers), oily (e.g., Frenchfries, burgers, pizza, salad dressings), and/or contain acid(e.g., tomatoes, citrus) or alcohol (e.g., beer, wine). Thepictures above say it all. I personally took it a couple ofweeks ago when my mother asked me for a cup of tea at anaffair we were at. You can see from the picture how the cupstarted breaking down in the hot liquid. I showed it to thepeople in the room and they couldnt believe it.

Along with being a possible carcinogen, styrene is also aneurotoxin and accumulates in fatty tissue. The adversehealth effects associated with exposure to styrene includefatigue, reduced ability to concentrate, increase in abnormalpulmonary function, disrupted hormone function (includingthyroid), headache, and irritation of the eyes and nose.Check out the Worker exposure bullet for more about theimpact of exposure to styrene.

2. Puts workers in danger.Tens of thousands of workers areexposed to styrene in the manufacture of rubber, plastics,and resins. Chronic exposure is associated with centralnervous system symptoms, including headache, fatigue,weakness, impaired hearing, and depression as well aseffects on kidney function. A newstudy(2016) reportedexcess numbers of deaths associated with lung cancer,ovarian cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD) among such workers.

3. Lasts (almost) forever.It takes about 500 years forpolystyrene to decompose in the environment. Since thevast majority of polystyrene is not recycled (see What youcan do), our landfills are harboring a significant amount ofpolystyrene: by volume,25 to 30 percentof landfillmaterials are plastics, including Styrofoam.

4. Contributes to air pollution and climate change.Ifpolystyrene is burned or incinerated, it releases toxic carbonmonoxide into the air. If you burn trash or have a fireplace,never ever burn polystyrene.

The manufacturing process for polystyrene foam alsoreleases harmful hydrocarbons, which combine with nitrogenoxides in the presence of sunlight and form a dangerous airpollutant at ground level called tropospheric ozone, which isassociated with health effects such as wheezing, shortnessof breath, nausea,asthma, and bronchitis.

5. Comes from a non-sustainable source.Polystyrene ismade from petroleum, a non-sustainable product. ThisStyrofoam-like product is an environmental hazard fromstart to finish!

6. Harms wildlife.Polystyrene often makes its way into theenvironment, especially waterways. As it breaks down, thepieces are frequently consumed by both land and marineanimals, causing blockage of their digestive system,choking, and death.

What You Can Do

Recycle/repurpose!Polystyrene can be recycled in someareas. You can locate suchrecycling opportunitiesnear youby going toEarth911or checking with your local recyclingcompanies or city/county recycling directory. Once you finda location or two, you may want to call ahead to make sureexactly what they accept. The packing polystyrene blocksare accepted by some facilities for repurposing into buildingmaterials.

If you work for a company that handles a significant amountof polystyrene, you might look for a facility that will acceptlarge volumes of the material. In all cases, remove anylabels, tape, and other items from the polystyrene that couldcontaminate the recycling process.

Reuse.If you receive packages that contain the polystyrenepacking peanuts, you can reuse them for your own packingor donate them to a local UPS or shipping store. Blocks ofpolystyrene also can be reused for personal or businesspurposes.

Pick it up.If you are out walkingand you see polystyrenecups or other debris, pick it up and dispose of it (unless itsa form you can recycle). At least you reduce the chances ofthe plastic being consumed by wildlife, ending up inwaterways, or clogging sewer lines.

Say no to polystyrene.Choose not to buy any type ofpolystyrene products (e.g., cups, dishes, containers) oritems that are packaged in this plastic. When I eat out, I askfor an alternative to polystyrene for leftovers, and when Iorder take out I bring my own glass containers when I can.You can also bring your own stainless steel or ceramic coffeemug when visiting a coffee shop or any establishment thatserves coffee in polystyrene.

Be a maverick.
If you work or volunteer in a facility wherepolystyrene cups are used in the break room, introduce theidea of switching to ceramic mugs. Remind the powers thatbe that this switch will save money! Everyone has a mug ortwo at home they can part with for the cause. Yes, the mugswill need to be rinsed, but were all adults now, right?

Reheat safely.
Never reheat food or beverages inpolystyrene containers. Use ceramic, stoneware, or glass.


Image viaSam Johnson

Sources
Bottom Line.
Styrofoam really is bad for your health
Earth 911.
Recycling mystery: expanded polystyrene
Earth Resource Foundation.
Polystyrene foam report
Environmental Protection Agency.
Benzene
Environmental Protection Agency.
Advancing sustainable material management: 2013 factsheet
Ruder AM et al. Mortality among styrene-exposed workers in the reinforced plasticboatbuilding industry.
Occupational and Environmental Medicine2016 Feb; 73(2): 97-102
San Francisco Chronicle.
San Francisco bans Styrofoam and other cities should follow
Washington Post.
You have never actually used a Styrofoam cup, plate, or takeout box

Written by Andrea Donsky. Reposted with permission fromNaturally Savvy.

Photo Credit: Sam Johnson/Flickr

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Put Down that Styrofoam Cup!

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The Fear-Hate-Anger Click Machine

Mother Jones

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We’re at that point in the election cycle where everyone is in full-on hate-the-media mode—and not without reason. From Matt Lauer’s bizarrely imbalanced questioning of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, to Trump consultant Corey Lewandowski’s access to endless free airtime as a paid CNN analyst, to the false equivalency debate over the Clinton and Trump foundations, there’s plenty to get mad about.

So far, so familiar. People get mad about the media during every presidential campaign (and most of the time in between, too). But this year, there’s something more deeply problematic going on, and it’s rooted in the economics of online media. That’s something journalists—and people who read journalism—need to grapple with, because we’re all participants in the toxic feedback mechanism involved.

A good way to understand this mechanism is via the three words most often used to characterize what Donald Trump expresses, and feeds: Fear, hate, and anger.

Fear. Hate. Anger. Most pols appeal to these emotions in some way, but Trump doesn’t just appeal. He embodies, draws out, expertly modulates. Like a three-chord song, his campaign is an endless rearrangement of this basic vocabulary. Fear plus hate. Hate plus anger. Anger squared. Fear with an undertone of hate.

Why does this work so well? Part of the answer has become painfully obvious: It resonates with cultural bass notes that are stronger than many people believed. Racial resentment, economic anxiety, social dislocation. You can argue which one plays the biggest role, or whether all three reinforce and build on each other.

But there’s a fourth factor, and this is where journalists need to look in the mirror: A growing part of this profession, our profession, is also coming to depend on fear, anger, and hate.

Here’s why. There are, give or take, 40 percent fewer journalists employed in America than there were 15 years ago. And those journalists are working to fill not just a finite number of pages or hours of airtime. They are feeding the boundless appetite of the internet, cranking out post after post in search of advertising revenue. As advertising is becoming cheaper, and Google and Facebook are sucking up those dollars instead of publishers, a diminishing number of journalists have to push ever harder, against ever tougher competition, to draw eyeballs.

What do you do in that situation? You reach for what works—and fear, hate, and anger work incredibly well. Publish something that appeals to any of the three and it’s instant gratification: People will click on that headline, share that post. So you do it again, and you try to learn how to do it more effectively. It’s a pretty straight-up Pavlovian mechanism, and there’s no one seeking an audience on the internet—ourselves included—who has not felt its pull.

And the wheel keeps spinning faster. The more something pushes the fear-hate-anger buttons, the more likely it will turn out to be false or oversimplified. But the pressure is on to publish first and fact-check later, and the fact-check never gets as much attention (or as many shares) as the original outrageous bit. Plus outrage-stoking works best among people who already agree with each other, and thanks to the social-media algorithms, we don’t often see the people who disagree with us, so we close ourselves ever more tightly within our own bubbles. It’s the reign of the rage-share.

Trump, in a way, is the most powerful expression of this feedback loop. He understands it in the fine-grained, intimate way of someone who’s been tweeting a dozen times a day for seven years. He recognizes that fear, anger, and hate work whether you express them, elicit them in response, or both. He knows a lie gets around the world in the time a fact-checker is getting her boots on. He is, as some people have said, a comments section become flesh.

This is terrible for journalism, and for democracy. We need alternatives—and here at MoJo, that’s something we’ve been thinking about a lot.

As you know, we’re lucky enough not to have to grab traffic at any cost because advertising isn’t our primary source of revenue (though the 15 percent it contributes to our budget helps a lot). Instead, as you also know, what keeps us going is support from our readers, who provide 70 percent of our revenue in the form of subscriptions and donations.

But here we run into another way that the fear-hate-anger machine exerts its maleficent pull: Like other nonprofits, we have to make the case for support to our audience, and right now we’re in the closing days of a big fundraising campaign. Conventional wisdom holds that to get to our goal, we should push exactly those buttons. Fear :bad things will happen if we don’t meet our budget! (This of course is true—but panic mode doesn’t exactly appeal to your intelligence.) Hate: Look at the bad guy du jour (or even the evil mainstream media!). Anger: People are so misinformed, can you believe what fill-in-the-blank said?! (Also true—but the real point is, how do we fix that?)

We’re betting there’s a better way. We believe that conventional wisdom is wrong, that journalism doesn’t have to depend on the fear-hate-anger machine. And over the last few months at MoJo, we’ve launched an experiment to prove it. We’ve staked our future on gaining your support with transparent, reality-based arguments: diving into the challenges that investigative reporting faces, and the threat to democracy when billionaires try to silence journalists. We want to appeal to your frontal cortex, not your brain stem. And while it’s still early days, we’ve been inspired by the results.

A couple of months ago, when we published Shane Bauer’s investigation about working as a guard in a private prison, nearly 1.5 million people read it. And then they put the information to use. Some told us they were contacting their elected representatives and government officials. Some were government officials: We heard from the Department of Justice, which a few weeks after our investigation announced it was no longer going to do business with private prisons.

And perhaps most amazingly, these readers thought about their part in making journalism like this happen. Even though we didn’t plaster the story with fundraising appeals, a record number of people chose to donate to MoJo or subscribe to our magazine after reading it.

The support has kept coming. About a month ago, we launched our first-ever push to sign up monthly donors here on the site. Our goal is to raise $30,000 in new monthly donations from sustainers by September 30. That would give us more stability to focus on truly revelatory reporting, and to create a model for quality journalism that is supported by the users—voluntarily, without a paywall or even a tote bag.

So far, it’s working. We’re right around $22,000 raised in monthly gifts from nearly 1,900 readers, and we’ve gotten there without the sensationalism or panic that fuel so many fundraising drives. We’ve learned there is a big, powerful audience that wants to buck conventional wisdom.

That audience—you!—can build the alternative to the click machine. You can invest in facts and transparency. You can expose that which hides in the shadows (like the Trump campaign’s refusal to disavow endorsements from every far-right, Nazi, and militia group out there.) And you can ensure that when politicians try to push voters’ buttons, journalists don’t just give them a platform, but challenge them with the truth.

So join us. Help us show that it’s possible to make in-depth reporting sustainable, especially with ongoing, sustaining support. We want to build a model that others in the media can follow. Let’s all get off the fear-hate-anger treadmill.

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