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The Mid-Autumn Festival: A Feast of Thanksgiving, Family, and Mooncakes!

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a wonderful celebration of lights, food, stories, and bonding with one's family as they give thanks for a good harvest during the season.

Several Asian cultures have their own traditions in celebrating the festival but at the heart of it all, it's about spending time together with one's family and sharing in the bountiful harvest that they have received.

Of all the Chinese festivals, I love the Mooncake/Mid-Autumn Festival the most. Right after the scary Hungry Ghost Festival or Ghost Month, it is a lovely festival celebrating family gatherings, enjoying sweet mooncakes and admiring the full moon. Happy childhood memories are filled with beautiful lanterns, playing with candles and nibbling on lotus bean paste mooncakes.
A harvest festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated by Asians and the Asian diaspora, for example the Chinese and the Vietnamese. Other Asian cultures have their own harvest festivals too like Tsukimi and Chuseok. It usually falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. The 15th day is always the full moon. The festival falls between late September to early October.

(Image credit: Shizhao/Wikimedia Commons)


What Does Living Fully Mean?

We usually see a lot of influencers on Instagram “living” their best lives with vacations, brand partnerships, and  giving tips on how to live “happy” and “fully”. Whether it’s how to achieve a well balanced lifestyle, glass skin, or a great body, we live in an age where we are constantly told how to live. That what the media and society perceives as “living fully” is the only way to live. But what does “living fully” really mean, amid all these standards and expectations? Sara Kubric tells The Guardian that in the age of Instagram, life is often reduced to doing things worth documenting: 

What makes us happy, at its core, is an existential question, according to Sara Kuburic, a psychotherapist and counselor who works with millennials. She believes inspirational tropes are popular because they offer the promise of immediate fulfillment. “I find that people increasingly conceptualize living fully as seizing opportunities, taking risks and exploring the unknown,” she says. “Living fully, in the Instagram age, is often then reduced to doing things that would be worth documenting.”
“We are eager to live our lives fully,” she says. “Yet the pressure to prove this to our ‘friends’ is a major reason why we are not.”

image credit: via wikimedia commons


Different Worlds Collide: Keanu Reeves And Hideo Kojima Just Met

Hideo Kojima has blessed the Internet with evidence of a visit from none other than Keanu Reeves himself. Kojima (for those who don’t know) is the person behind the Metal Gear Solid franchise, who Reeves visited while he was in Japan, to promote the Japanese premiere of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. This meetup might result in something, but only time will tell what that something is.

image credit: Hideo Kojima via Twitter


Serra da Bodoquena: An Underwater Paradise of Biodiversity

Though the Amazon rainforest is a quite popular natural landscape in Brazil, there are many other places aside from it that offer a rich diversity of life. One such place can be found in southern Brazil, known as the Cerrado.

Within this savanna lies what Luciano Candisani describes as an underwater garden because of its clear waters teeming with a variety of species, the Serra da Bodoquena.

Such beauty—and scientific insight—is only possible because of the astounding water quality in the Serra da Bodoquena, a swell of mountains and plateaus in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Water that filters through the porous limestone of the Bodoquena emerges with such purity that the rivers seem to glow.
At the same time, the water erodes the limestone, creating a wonderland of waterfalls, caves, and turquoise pools that offer habitat for giant river otters, tapirs, caimans, snakes, subterranean cave worms, enormous varieties of fish, and so many colorful aquatic plants that Candisani calls the region an “underwater garden.”

(Image credit: Cassia Desbesel/Wikimedia Commons)


Researchers Developed Triaging Tool for Palliative Care

Deciding who needs urgent care and attention in hospitals can usually become a subjective choice. Oftentimes, people with life-threatening conditions or those with very serious injuries get treated first since it's a matter of life and death.

However, what about others who aren't necessarily fighting for their lives but still have serious illnesses? How can we decide who gets prioritized and what measures will we use to make that decision so that it would be fair to all? A team of researchers may have the answer to these questions.

Our research group has developed an evidence-based tool that aims to help clinicians with these difficult decisions. The Responding to Urgency of Need in Palliative Care (RUN-PC) Triage Tool is expected to change practice internationally.
We conducted a foundational qualitative study with Victorian health professionals to better understand which factors clinicians use to assess the urgency of palliative care needs and the ethical aspects of their decision-making.
We used these results as the basis for an international online discrete choice experiment to determine how each of these factors should be weighted. We then developed a scoring system for the final Responding to Urgency of Need in Palliative Care (RUN-PC) Triage Tool.

(Image credit: Adhy Savala/Unsplash)


Scientists Feel 'Ecological Grief' Over Great Barrier Reef's Decline

Witnessing many catastrophes befall people is heartbreaking enough, but we also experience loss and grief when we see nature suffering from the effects of our negligence and abuse, especially since we are supposed to be the ones to take care of it.

When Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral-reef system, was hit by record-breaking marine heat waves that bleached two-thirds of it in 2016 and 2017, many researchers were left in a state of shock.
Social scientist Michele Barnes witnessed this disaster first hand. She works at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Townsville, which is adjacent to the reef. Barnes decided to interview scientists and others working on the reef to investigate their response to this climate-change-driven catastrophe.
Barnes, who is still analysing her results, was surprised that many of the scientists whom she interviewed felt intense grief and sadness about the reef’s deterioration. Nature has also spoken to several coral-reef scientists not involved in Barnes’s study who echo those sentiments.

More from Nature. -via Real Clear Science

(Image credit: The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers; Stop Adani/Flickr)


Gwen Murphy's Foot Fetish

Artist Gwen Murphy calls her series "Foot Fetish." Within a pair of old shoes, she can see expressive personalities. She adds those animistic personas with clay ash and acrylic paint. Since 2005, she's made about 150 of them.

Continue reading


Why This Creepy Melody is in So Many Movies

You probably never realized how many times you've heard the same four-note logo during a sad, stressful, or foreboding scene in movies over the years. It's not as blatant as the inception BRAAAM, and it's far older. It goes back as far as the 13th century, believe it or not. Here's the song's history from Vox. -via Digg


Teaching Kids How to Behave Through a Game of Positive Reinforcement

Children don't have a built-in sense of what is appropriate or not in any situation. They acquire good behavior through interaction, experience, and instruction from parents and other authority figures.

But there are methods which might bring more harm than good such as verbal or even physical punishment. These methods of reproach could scar a child's mental and emotional well-being which could also lead to physical damage in the future.

So there are educators who employ a different manner of instilling good behavior in children through a game called the PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX GBG).

The game, which was first described in a 1969 paper in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, has been taught in schools by the PAXIS Institute since 1999. “We’re looking at behavior as a skill that we teach versus that we punish kids into,” says Ewen, who is the multitiered systems of support coordinator for the Missoula County public schools and a PAX GBG trainer.
PAX GBG can be played during any activity that challenges students’ focus, such as classes like math or reading or transitions between subjects. Children have 50 or more such transitions every day in elementary school, says Dennis Embry, president and chief scientist for the PAXIS Institute.

Based on several studies done regarding the effects of the PAX GBG method, the results were astounding and uplifting. Children who were exposed to this method of behavioral development were less likely to develop antisocial behavior, had less aggression, and exhibited more prosocial behaviors, among other results.

Of course, there could also be other factors involved such as how these children were raised at home, the kind of environment to which they have been exposed, and how they socialized with other children. But it is a good initiative to take so that children won't bear trauma into adulthood from humiliation or punishment.

(Image credit: Nicole Honeywill/Unsplash)


The Maker Movement in Egypt and North Africa

Big manufacturing companies, design laboratories, and R&D departments no longer have the monopoly of innovation as creativity hubs and spaces are emerging in various places around the world. Here, we see small teams of people coming up with new ways and ideas to change the way we live, think, and collaborate.

In Egypt, one such movement has become a new trend. It's called Makerspaces.

Makerspaces are collaborative environments where would-be creators and inventors find access to technological resources that would often otherwise be prohibitively expensive, as well as membership in a community of other makers.
Egypt’s growing maker movement focuses on giving entrepreneurs opportunities to build up their technical knowledge and products rather than ameliorating the employment market.

(Image credit: Erin Hayes/The Cairo Review)


Here Is The Dogs’ Side Of The Story During 9/11

Every year, we commemorate the 9/11 tragedy, sharing different stories that happened that day. From last calls, messages, to heroic deeds, these memories are remembered to remind the world that the events of 9/11 happened, and that the lives we lost won’t be forgotten. For this year’s 9/11 commemoration, twitter user Clays and Birds decided to focus on the dogs of 9/11:

image credit: via Clays and Birds


Museum Diplomacy: Spreading Influence Through Art and Culture

The arts are one way of exercising cultural influence on a global scale. Though we would often think of pop music as the top cultural export which any country could have, other means are emerging which could help countries exert some influence. One example is through museums.

Museums around the world in the 21st century are no longer solely dependent on government funding to operate internationally. Museums today build new branches in different countries, collaborate with global brands, and even generate their own profit.
Since the 2000s, when the Guggenheim Museum successfully implemented its global expansion, franchised museums have multiplied around the globe. Interestingly these strategies aren’t limited to Western museums.

Chinese and Russian initiatives are already making use of museums as a way of spreading their cultural influence abroad. Some examples being the K11 Art Mall which started in Hong Kong and the State Hermitage Museum from Russia.

These museums and foundations are using the same model that the Guggenheim implemented which was to franchise museums in different parts of the world along with collaboration as well as art programs and international exchange programs.

These cases from China and Russia do more than offer captivating examples of how the Guggenheim’s global expansion museum models have been successfully adopted and further transformed by museums beyond the western world.
They are evidence of emerging new alternative avenues of museum diplomacy that no longer depend on government commissions directed at serving immediate geo-political interests.

(Image credit: Baycrest/Wikimedia Commons; CC by SA 2.5)


Climate Change Could Accelerate the Spread of This Fungal Infection

Apart from warming our oceans and killing coral reefs, climate change can also affect the spread of diseases. Researchers say that there is a possibility for valley fever to expand its range of affected states and spread quicker.

“The range of valley fever is going to increase substantially,” said Morgan Gorris, a former UCI PhD student in Earth system science and lead author of the new study.
“We made projections out to the end of the 21st century, and our model predicts that valley fever will travel farther north throughout the western United States, especially in the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains and throughout the Great Plains, and by that time, much of the western U.S. will be considered endemic.”

(Image credit: Brittany Colette/Unsplash)


The Chicken and Egg Dilemma of Chess

Some say that chess can help improve one's focus, concentration, memory, and strategic thinking. It has always been thought of as an intellectual game. But it's difficult to measure the benefits that chess has on someone who regularly engages and plays the game or whether just casually playing the game would have any benefits at all.

So Dr. David Poston, who is working on NASA's Kilopower project and is a chess enthusiast, wanted to conduct a study to measure the effect that chess could have on people who play the game. Can chess really enhance the academic performance or even the mental ability of a person?

Teaming up with Kathryn K. Vandenkieboom, the learning systems, assessment and curriculum director for the Los Alamos Public Schools, he tracked the academic performance (as measured by standardized test scores) of kids who participated in the chess club at Aspen Elementary School versus kids who did not.
Critically, the study examined seven years worth of data, covered 854 students (from kindergarten to 6th grade), and compared kids from diverse academic backgrounds with varying levels of chess experience. It also explored whether there is a "dose effect" of chess. In other words, does playing more chess lead to better academic outcomes?

To see the analysis of the data, check out the article on Real Clear Science.

(Image credit: Ed Lyons/Flickr)


The Best Experiment Ever

If you wanted to reward your hard-working graduate students with a new assignment, what would be better than an experiment that involved observing 40 kittens playing? And if you wanted to explain how the scientific method works to elementary students, you couldn't find a more engaging example than an experiment to find what kind of scratching toy those kittens prefer. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

Two-choice preference tests were conducted to compare scratchers and preferred scratchers with or without additives (ie, catnip, catnip oil, cat hair) in six studies. Kittens (n = 40, *8 weeks old) had access to two scratchers on the floor of a simulated living room for 20 mins and interactions were video-recorded. The time each kitten spent scratching each scratcher was compared.

Facts and figures are presented, and there was a clear preference among the kittens for one of the scratching devices shown above. Can you guess which one? Since the results "were not in agreement with other survey-based studies," and the experiment did not include adult cats, the paper concludes that further research is indicated to determine if the difference is attributable to the cats' ages. Do tell. Where do we sign up to conduct the next experiment? -via Metafilter

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