This Fungus Was A Medieval Mass Murderer

St Anthony’s Fire was one of the things that made the Middle Ages a horrible time in which to live. People would feel a pricking sensation in their arms or legs. This would turn to burning pain, and the arm would swell and redden before turning gangrenous and dropping off. You were lucky if the limb simply died without taking you with it.

Source: This Fungus Was A Medieval Mass Murderer

Fun fact! Ergotamine, a chemical derivative of the ergot fungus on rye, is the major precursor for LSD.

Here’s What Really Happens When You Force-Feed Someone

The American Medical Association and the Red Cross both condemn force-feeding as a form of torture. And yet, the U.S. government and the United Nations have both force-fed hunger-striking prisoners. The real problem? Most people probably don’t realize how complicated force-feeding is, and how much can go wrong.

Source: Here’s What Really Happens When You Force-Feed Someone

The article doesn’t cover ethics, just the physical aspects that get dealt with.  Still, there’s a reason major medical organizations condemn the practice.

Health Benefits Of Diet And Exercise May Be Chemically/Lazily Obtainable

Dieting or hitting the treadmill no fun? You might be able to enjoy one of the health benefits without the hassle.

Exercising hard or not eating for a while can alter the immune system’s behaviour, suppressing some types of inflammatory response. That, in turn, seems to protect against Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and autoimmune conditions. But what triggers the change in the immune response has not been clear.

Source: No need to starve to get fasting’s immune benefits

While it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to chemically obtain the health benefits of dieting and working out anytime soon, the research is nudging us in that direction. Until then you’re still going to have to exercise… 😉

What to Eat After the Apocalypse

In 1841, an invasive water mold began to infect the world’s potatoes. Starting from Mexico, the infectious agent of blight traveled up through North America, then crossed the Atlantic. Eventually it reached Ireland, where, as the journalist Charles Mann described it, “four out of ten Irish ate no solid food except potatoes, and … the rest were heavily dependent on them.”

The Great Famine, as it came to be known, could have been avoided in any number of ways, not least by ceasing the export of food from Ireland to Britain. But the British government failed to take effective action. The question of avoiding starvation becomes harder still if some apocalyptic event causes the whole world to starve. How might a government prepare for a worst-case scenario?

This is a question Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, and electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Technological University, began to think about while working on providing low-cost drinking water to the developing world. He found the prospect of disaster terrifying. “This would make us no better off than the dinosaurs, despite all of our technical progress,” he told me. “Humanity is too smart for that.”

Source: What to Eat After the Apocalypse

The article mentions that we could feed kids wood pulp.  Sadly, most already injest as it’s used widely an additive.  It stops shredded cheese from sticking together, for one…

Years back, a coworker told me about a book called “The Death of Grass“.  It’s fiction, but the idea was that we take for granted the technology we have at our disposal.  And more importantly – we are a population with largely no ability maintain or repair what we currently have.  On a similar vein, “World War Z” speaks about roles and jobs after society broke down – some people were classified as “non employable” or something to that effect.  That their profession and/or skills provided no immediate benefit to survival…  I also know of many who stopped pursuing agriculture related bachelor degrees because they knew that food is not the issue – it’s politics that keeps food from mouths.