Weekend Coffee: November 5
On my old site, I had regular link roundups for all the stories I saw that interested me, but that I didn't have the time to write about at greater length. And I've had a lot of those stories this week, so here's some things to read over your Saturday morning coffee:
• I've previously reported on whether the American Cancer Society turned down a big donation because it came from atheists. Now the redoubtable Greta Christina has written a lengthy follow-up piece for AlterNet, laying out the evidence which shows that the ACS has been and continues to be dishonest and evasive in their explanations of why they didn't accept the FBB's offer.
• A petition drive is launched to rename a street in George Carlin's honor in his old neighborhood of Morningside Heights. Carlin's old church lashes out at the idea. Personally, I don't know why they're so upset - Carlin owes his Catholic education a debt, as he said himself:
"They gave me the tools to reject my faith. They taught me to question and think for myself and to believe in my instincts to such an extent that I just said, 'This is a wonderful fairy tale they have going here, but it's not for me.'"
• Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, had its office firebombed after publishing an issue guest-edited by the Prophet Muhammad. ("100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!") No perpetrator has yet been arrested, though the connection seems too obvious to deny.
• Female bloggers speak up about the onslaught of sexualized hate and threats they receive on a regular basis. This is a phenomenon that doesn't affect men to anywhere near the same degree and isn't discussed nearly often enough.
• And lastly, here's the definitive advice on how to keep your child from becoming an atheist.
It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.
- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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