from the world's big
No one knows monsters better than Guillermo del Toro. The director of "Pan's Labyrinth" and the "Hellboy" franchise is renowned for creating fantastical beasts like the terrifying Pale Man, with his sagging skin and his eyes in his palms. With his new vampire fiction trilogy, "The Strain" (co-authored by mystery scribe Chuck Hogan), del Toro focuses his talents squarely on reimaging the age-old blood suckers.
Vampires are so popular right now because intimate human relationships have become completely demythified, says del Toro. Vampires, like Edward Cullen, from "Twilight" are fused with the Gothic bad boy romantic lead myth to create a lover more eternal than Heathcliff and more chaste than a choirboy. "For the first time in the culture of mankind, the vampire has been sort of defanged by making them celibate and asexual as opposed to polysexual, like Anne Rice did," he says. "They have been Mormonized, so to speak, into being a sanitized creature." But the vampires in del Toro's novels are anything but sanitized: "The only sensuality in 'The Strain' books is the sensuality of feeding that pleases the predator, but doesn’t please the prey."
In his Big Think interview, del Toro explains that the monsters we create, like vampires, can tell us much about our own fears and desires. "Obviously, monsters are living, breathing, metaphors," he says. "But for me, half of the fun is explaining them socially, biologically, mythologically, and so forth." Western culture teaches us to understand the world in terms of binaries, which is why we create demons in the first place—to balance out angels.
Del Toro also tells us that creating monsters is like jazz. "You don’t take a bunch of ciphers and try to add them or subtract them or multiply them or factor them. You’re dealing with almost a physical process and, like jazz, what is important is that you riff—you riff by instinct and you riff with the best you can." Since he deals with monsters every day, they no longer scare him, but there are plenty of things in real life that scare him, including cops and politicians. "When people talk about the collapse of society, there an anarchist inside of me that kind of digs it. You know, I really, I’m very afraid of institutions. And especially the ones that do anything but what they were supposed to do."
He also offers some advice for aspiring directors and screenwriters. "If you don’t like the movies that are being made, make your own. Show the world what you want to do, what you think this medium should be. And I find that much more creative than simply putting it down and complaining about it. It is a more active, fascinating role to take. So the advice is that if you want to direct, direct. And even easier, if you want to write, write."
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Is focusing solely on body mass index the best way for doctor to frame obesity?
- New guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argue that obesity should be defined as a condition that involves high body mass index along with a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
- The guidelines note that classifying obesity by body mass index alone may lead to fat shaming or non-optimal treatments.
- The guidelines offer five steps for reframing the way doctors treat obesity.