Doctor in mid-surgery heart scare

 

 

wallpaper-2127593An Italian surgeon is recovering after completing a brain operation despite suffering an angina attack during the procedure, media reports say. Continue reading

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Dust Veil of AD 536

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According to written records and supported by dendrochronology and archaeological evidence, for 12-18 months in AD 536-537, a thick, persistent dust veil or dry fog darkened the skies between Europe and Asia Minor. The climatic interruption brought by the thick, bluish fog extended as far east as China, where summer frosts and snow are recorded in historical records; tree ring data from Mongolia and Siberia to Argentina and Chile reflect decreased growing records from 536 and the subsequent decade.

The climatic effects of the dust veil brought decreased temperatures, drought and food shortages throughout the affected regions: in Europe two years later came the Justinian smallpox plague. The combination killed perhaps as much as 1/3 of the population of Europe; in China the famine killed perhaps 80% of people in some regions; in Scandinavia the losses may be been as much as 75-90% of the population, as evidenced by the numbers of deserted villages and cemeteries. Continue reading

A Woman’s Story

wallpaper-2306118A little over sixty years ago, a young, intelligent black woman named Gwen was graduating from Allenby Junior Public School in Toronto. Her teacher provided her with a notice telling her where to attend secondary school the following Autumn, and she carefully carried it to her home on St. Clements Avenue, in an area that was affordable and populated by young, middle-class families. Continue reading

Civil War hero Robert Smalls seized the opportunity to be free

wallpaper-600775He sat at the conference table next to Frederick Douglass as they tried to convince President Abraham Lincoln that African Americans should be allowed to fight for their own freedom. He served five terms in Congress. He ran a newspaper and helped found a state Republican Party.

But first, he had to win his freedom.

To do that, he conceived a plan that struck a blow against the Confederacy so significant that he was heralded across the nation. Carrying out his mission required bravery, intelligence and precision timing — attributes that many whites at that time thought blacks didn’t possess.

Robert Smalls proved them wrong and changed history in the doing. Continue reading

The burglar with the lemon juice disguise

wallpaper-616593In 1995, McArthur Wheeler walked into two Pittsburgh banks and robbed them in broad daylight, with no visible attempt at disguise. He was arrested later that night, less than an hour after videotapes of him taken from surveillance cameras were broadcast on the 11 o’clock news. When police later showed him the surveillance tapes, Mr. Wheeler stared in incredulity. “But I wore the juice” he mumbled. Apparently, Mr. Wheeler was under the impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to videotape cameras (Fuocco, 1996). Continue reading

There are some games in which cheering for the other side feels better than winning

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They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.

Did you hear that? The other team’s fans?

They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, “Go Tornadoes!” Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.

Continue reading

The Grandmaster Experiment

ImageThe world’s first female grandmaster was ready to deliver her regular Thursday-night lecture. Susan Polgar was perfumed, coiffed, made-up and dressed in a sleek black pantsuit, an elegant contrast to the boys and young men hunched over their boards in her Queens, New York, chess club. “I have a special treat,” Susan, 36, announced in her gentle Hungarian accent. “Tonight, everyone will get to play me.” Blitz chess it was—each opponent received five minutes on his clock to Susan’s one. She first sat across from a young Serbian man. The two began slamming pieces and punching down their side of the clock, creating a percussive sound track to their lightning-fast moves. Susan beat him with a good 30 seconds to spare. He shook his head and avoided her eyes. A retired bartender and a 14-year-old boy succumbed almost as quickly. A reluctant 9-year-old suffering from an allergy attack was then coaxed to step up to the challenge. “Don’t worry about your eyes—everybody loses to her anyway,” his mom said helpfully. The boy’s minutes slipped away to inevitable loss. “Once you have a winning position,” Susan said, “play with your hands, not your head. Trust your intuition.” Continue reading