Go the fuck outside and play

417586634 72442be20c 450x337 Go the fuck outside and play

Key elements: outside and… actually, nothing else. (img by Erich Ferdinand)

Kids who do play outside are less likely to get sick, to be stressed or become aggressive, and are more adaptable to life’s unpredictable turns, [dude] said. Since his book came out, things have gotten worse.

Dude coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder. You won’t find this one in the DSM, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it real. I see kids almost daily who have no idea how to play outside. Put them in a park with highly climbable trees and they’ll reach for their Nintendo DS or iPod Touch or Kindle and play games or read books about dudes who climb trees. It usually takes some effort to teach them that they, too, can climb trees.

So help me out. If you’re a parent, send your kid outside to play. For several hours at a time. Analog play devices allowed, but nothing digital.

If you aren’t a parent: go outside and play yourself. Wander around the park. Jump on things. Climb something. Draw something with an actual pen and paper.

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Watching a snake-handler die

Pastor Randy Wolford 450x340 Watching a snake handler die

Donald Dover, left, of North Carolina and Jamie Lloyd of Sidney, Ohio, right, support Pastor Randy "Mack" Wolford after he was bitten by a venomous snake. He later died. (img by Lauren Pond)

You may have heard that the somewhat-renown Pentecostal pastor Mack Wolford recently died, having succumbed to a rattlesnake bite. And while my first instinct is to chuckle, ’cause come on, this guy, for all his beliefs, is going to be remembered as a Darwin Awards candidate.

Not that he shouldn’t be remembered for that, but after reading this editorial by the photojournalist who sat by his side and documented his death, expands on what it means to die, slowly, for something you believe in, and what it means to watch it happen…

Mack’s family has accepted his death as something that he knew was coming and something that was ultimately God’s will. The pastor believed every word of the Bible and laid down his life for his conviction, they said. For them, his death is an affirmation of the Signs Following tradition: “His faith is what took him home,” said his sister Robin Vanover, 38.

Some of the people who attended last Sunday’s service have struggled with Mack’s death, as I have. “Sometimes, I feel like we’re all guilty of negligent homicide,” one man wrote to me in a Facebook message following Mack’s death. “I went down there a ‘believer.’ That faith has seriously been called into question. I was face-to-face with him and watched him die a gruesome death. . . . Is this really what God wants?”

That’s a good question.

I know many photojournalists have been in situations similar to mine. Pulitzer Prize winner Kevin Carter photographed an emaciated Sudanese child struggling to reach a food center during a famine — as a vulture waited nearby. He was roundly criticized for not helping the child, which, along with the disturbing memories of the events he had covered and other factors, may have contributed to his suicide. As photojournalists, we have a unique responsibility to record history and share stories in as unbiased and unobtrusive a way as possible. But when someone is hurt and suffering, we have to balance our instincts as professionals with basic human decency and care.

I can’t say I know what I would do in a similar situation. Read the whole thing here. Also die less by not handling snakes. Durr.

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Kine killed by cold to be bodily blasted to bits

Kaboom 450x285 Kine killed by cold to be bodily blasted to bits

Oh, they're gonna have to glue you back together, in hell! (img by Echo5ive)

Sad news about cows dying in a rather unfortunate way imminent.

It may take explosives to dislodge a group of cows that wandered into an old ranger cabin high in the Rocky Mountains, then died and froze solid when they couldn’t get out.

Speculation on what to do with the carcasses to follow.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Steve Segin said Tuesday they need to decide quickly how to get rid of the carcasses.

“Obviously, time is of the essence because we don’t want them defrosting,” Segin said.

Segin said officials are concerned about water contamination in the nearby hot springs if the cows start decomposing during the thaw.

The options: use explosives to break up the cows, burn down the cabin, or using a helicopters or trucks to haul out the carcasses.

But Segin said using helicopters is too expensive and rangers are worried about using trucks in a wilderness area, where the government bars permanent improvements and tries to preserve the natural habitat.

Just a little bit of history repeating. (I can’t get enough of this anchor.)

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The FDA is still not saving you

2808680555 9cf97563bc 450x337 The FDA is still not saving you

Antibiotics make this totally okay. (img by Farm Sanctuary)

Meanwhile, the FDA just passed some new rules that look just like the old rules, except lamer:

[T]he FDA finally got around to announcing its plan to address something it has seen as a public-health menace for 35 years: overuse of antibiotics on factory-scale animal farms.

Unfortunately, the plan contains a bull-sized loophole—and to boot is purely voluntary.

Read the rest at Mother Jones, then try not to let yourself turn into this:

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Intermission: Microscopic badassery

After you’ve watched these microscopic badasses, read Annie Dillard, patron saint of Die < Less.

A child’s microscope set comes with a little five-watt lamp. You place this dim light in front of the microscope’s mirror; the mirror bounces the light up through the slide, through the magnifying lenses; and into your eye. The only reason you do not see everything in silhouette is that microscopic things are so small they are translucent. The animals and plants in a drop of pond water pass light like pale stained glass; they seem so soaked in water and light that their opacity has leached away.

The translucent strands of algae, you see under a microscope– Spirogyra, Oscillatoria, Cladophora–move of their own accord, no one knows how or why. You watch these swaying yellow, green, and brown strands of algae half mesmerized; you sink into the microscope’s field forgetful, oblivious, as if it were all a dream of your deepest brain. Occasionally a zippy rotifer comes barreling through, black and white, and in a tremendous hurry.

My rotifers and daphniae and amoebae were in an especially tremendous hurry because they were drying up. I burnt out or broke my little five-watt bulb right away. To replace it, I rigged an old table lamp laid on its side; the table lamp carried a seventy-five-watt bulb. I was about twelve, immortal and invulnerable, and did not know what I was doing; neither did anyone else. My parents let me set up my laboratory in the basement, where they wouldn’t have to smell the urine I collected in test tubes and kept in the vain hope it would grow something horrible. So in full, solitary ignorance I spent evenings in the basement staring into a seventy-five-watt bulb magnified three hundred times and focused into my eye. It is a wonder I can see at all. My eyeball itself would start drying up; I blinked and blinked.

But the pond water creatures fared worse. I dropped them on a slide, floated a cover slip over them, and laid the slide on the microscope’s stage, which the seventy-five-watt bulb had heated like a grill. At once the drop of pond water started to evaporate. Its edges shrank. The creatures swam among algae in a diminishing pool. I liked this part. The heat worked for me as a centrifuge, to concentrate the biomass. I had about five minutes to watch the members of a very dense population, excited by the heat, go about their business until-as I fancied sadly-they all caught on to their situation and started making out wills.

I was, then, not only watching the much-vaunted wonders in a drop of pond water; I was also, with mingled sadism and sympathy, setting up a limitless series of apocalypses. I set up and staged hundreds of ends-of-the-world and watched, enthralled, as they played themselves out. Over and over again, the last trump sounded, the final scroll unrolled, and the known world drained, dried, and vanished. When all the creatures lay motionless, boiled and fried in the positions they had when the last of their water dried completely, I washed the slide in the sink and started over with a fresh drop. How I loved that deep, wet world where the colored algae waved in the water and the rotifers swam!

Read the rest online, or do something crazy and pick up a dead-tree version of Teaching a Stone to Talk.

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Be vigilant or bed bugs will eat you

4604240844 b87403ed24 450x337 Be vigilant or bed bugs will eat you

"I will eat your skin while you sleep!" (img by David Hill)

“I woke up in the middle of the night itching bad. Turned on the light. It was bedbugs. Look like someone scattered a bunch of watermelon seeds all over the bed. Momma sprayed our mattress with DDT that night, changed the sheets, and we went back to bed.”

Since it was my dad telling me this story, I figured bed bugs, like polio, tuberculosis, and the dodo bird, were scourges of the past… thanks to science, technology, and cleanliness, I don’t have to fear being mauled in my sleep by a herd of dodos. Then a friend of mine this past year told me that she was moving out of her Seattle apartment because the bed bugs were so bad. Bed bugs are making a comeback, and you can read some itch-inducing stats online.

If you, like me, know jack about bed bugs, watch this great 12 minute explanation of the problem and solutions, dramatized for your pleasure:

Thinking of moving into a new apartment in your metro area? Check the bed bug registry first… and if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, don’t take a powder, and don’t ignore that weird rash, either.

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