Why mushroom-picking is the best form of mindfulness

In her new book, The Way Through the Woods, the Norwegian-Malaysian writer Long Litt Woon describes the various sensory pleasures that are involved in the gathering of mushrooms: the beguiling way they yield to the human hand; their different textures, whether velvety or hairy, rubbery or powdery; even the noises they make (some pop when snapped). Above all, there are the different ways that they smell. The prince mushroom comes with top notes of marzipan. The wood blewit brings to mind burnt rubber. The common stinkhorn emits the sweet aroma of rotting flesh. Smell plays a vital role in a mushroom's popularity as food - though as Loon notes, this isn't always straightforward. Different cultures favour different smells. When the matsutake or pine mushroom was discovered by a Norwegian mycologist in 1905, it was given the name Tricholoma nauseosa on...

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New research seeks to identify location of brain consciousness

A small amount of electricity delivered at a specific frequency to a particular point in the brain will snap a monkey out of even deep anesthesia, pointing to a circuit of brain activity key to consciousness and suggesting potential treatments for debilitating brain disorders. Macaques put under with general anesthetic drugs commonly administered to human surgical patients, propofol and isoflurane, could be revived and alert within two or three seconds of applying low current, according to a study published today in the journal Neuron by a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison brain researchers. "For as long as you're stimulating their brain, their behavior — full eye opening, reaching for objects in their vicinity, vital sign changes, bodily movements and facial movements — and their brain activity is that of a waking state," says Yuri Saalmann, UW-Madison psychology and neuroscience...

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Help a Darwinist tell the difference between boys and girls

Here's a glimpse into the ideological corruption of modern biology: P.Z. Myers, author of the atheist blog Pharyngula and a leading (and loud) Darwinist, assures us that he infers nothing about human sexual identity: When I meet people, I don't know anything about their sperm count or their chromosome arrangement or even what their genitals look like (you don't have to show me), so all the sex details are irrelevant to our interactions. Gender matters because we have a huge amount of social capital, some good, some bad, invested in how people present themselves, and also because those gender signifiers are diverse and do a better job of reflecting how people see themselves in society, and how society sees them. You know, when a population is identified as a discrete binary of two kinds of individuals, male and female, my...

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