RS HOUF O T A GREDING RE A
SKIN CANCER CELL BY CELL PAGE 32
How a Bee Sting Saved My Life
Thailand’s Elephant Hospital
Could You Live in a Town Without Wi-Fi? PAGE 60
The World’s Ugliest Colour PAGE 78
Surviving a Deadly Storm PAGE 68
My Story: Coming Out to Grandma ...................... 8 Smart Animals ....................................................
Word Power ....................................................... 125
Explore, Interact, Inspire Available now, everywhere
Contents NOVEMBER 2016
CELL BY CELL Important strides in advanced melanoma treatments spell hope for future generations.
L I SA F I E L D S
LEADER OF THE PACK A great tour guide does more than just drive the bus. Meet one of the best in the business. R O B E R T S K I N N E R FROM THE MONTHLY
GRIEVING FOR JONATHAN How do you move on from tragedy when so many digital traces of a loved one remain? N A N C Y W E STAWAY FROM THE WALRUS
SEE THE WORLD … DIFFERENTLY Vibrant colours in the city that never sleeps.
THE TOWN WITHOUT WI-FI For ‘electrosensitive’ people, our modern world offers no place to hide – except Green Bank, West Virginia. M I C H A E L J . G AY N O R FROM WASHINGTONIAN
COVER P HOTO: iSTOC K
CORTISONE Research shows the steroid hormone may not be the healer we thought it was. HAZEL FLYNN
Drama in Real Life
MAYDAY, MAYDAY! Swept overboard in the Atlantic Ocean, he thought of his wife and three sons … then fought for his life. R O B E R T K I E N E R
Contents NOVEMBER 2016
THE COLOUR THAT SAVES LIVES How the world’s ugliest colour, Pantone 448C, is helping in the fight against cancer. G R E G B A R TO N Inspiration
WORLD’S BEST BOSS Looking for a mentor? Don’t rule out your local Pizza Hut… DANIAL ADKISON F R O M T H E N E W YO R K T I M E S
REBIRTH OF A CITY Economic collapse pushed Madrid to the brink of ruin. Now there’s a renewed spirit of hope, commerce and community. L I A G R A I N G E R Humour
LAUGHING AT LANGUAGE We’ve always known that ‘snunkoople’ is funny. Now science knows why.
M I C H A E L H I N G STO N F R O M THE WALRUS
WHERE ELEPHANTS COME TO HEAL Deep in the Thai jungle lies a unique rehab centre for sick, injured – and drug-addicted – elephants. C H R I S P R I TC H A R D Photo of Lasting Interest
THE SPACE EQUATION Journey back to 1957 and the earliest days of the space race between Russia and the USA. Bonus Read
HOW A BEE STING SAVED MY LIFE A single tick bite brought her to death’s door. Then thousands of bee stings brought her back. C H R I ST I E W I LCOX F R O M MOSAIC SCIENCE
THE DIGEST Health
16 Diabetic emergencies; spotting strokes early; world of medicine
Must-see Maui; holiday disasters Home
24 House hygiene; fix a dripping tap Food
28 At-home laksa; herbs and spices Money
30 Escape the credit card debt trap 31
What to do when a pet is missing Out & About
116 All that’s best in books, movies and unexpected news REGULARS 4 8 12 14 80 97 114
Letters My Story Kindness of Strangers Smart Animals Quotable Quotes That’s Outrageous Unbelievable
122 Puzzles, Trivia & Word Power
CONTESTS 5 Caption and Letter Competition 6 Submit Your Jokes and Stories
HUMOUR 46 Life’s Like That 65 Laughter, the Best Medicine 76 All in a Day’s Work
SEE PAGE 6
Letters READERS’ COMMENTS AND OPINIONS
Free-Range Parenting When I was a child, we ran free from morning till night in the summer (‘When Good Parents Get Arrested’, August). We rode our bicycles and walked home ten blocks alone. No-one called the police or considered our parents bad. It was the norm. It’s too bad that people today think children can no longer do this safely. PATRICIA NEWTON
I let my two older children go out to play unsupervised. My
Rescuing Bärle the Bear
‘tag-along’ baby, born almost two decades later, in 1980, had to be watched when outside. I can see the difference in them to this day. L. C., v i a e -m ai l
Slaves to Smartphones
Over the years, I have been frustrated The saying ‘Science is a good by how many people remain servant, but a bad master’ holds uninformed about the suffering so true in this tech-driven age. As circus animals are forced to go we get more and more attached through for our entertainment to devices, real bonding suffers. (‘Saving Bärle the Circus Bear’, June). Moreover, our brains have been Bärle’s story brought tears to my eyes, blunted by the urge to find all the not just because of the horrible answers on the ‘know all’ conditions she had to endure, VIJAI PANT smartphone. but also because it reminded me that The Joy of LET US KNOW these animals can be Daffodils If you are moved – or saved, if only more I have been fond of provoked – by any item in the magazine, share people cared and made daffodils ever since your thoughts. See an effort. ANA FELICIANO I read Wordsworth 4
page 6 for how to join the discussion.
long ago telling us that whenever images of daffodils would flash into his mind’s eye, his heart would fill with joy. The cover story on daffodils in the August issue of Reader’s Digest (‘Daffodil: Biography of a Flower’) has done precisely that for me. I was also impressed by the bravery with which the author faced cancer. SALEEM RAZA
A Testament to Love ‘My Cancer Fight’ (My Story, August) moved me to tears. Iman’s experience proved that love can conquer anything. She is a true inspiration to heroes who are fighting cancer. I lost my best friend of 26 years to cancer last September. We talked through Facebook Messenger until ten hours before her death. She taught me that no matter what life brings, there’s always hope and even when hope dies, love lives on.
Here Comes the Bride We asked you to think up a funny caption for this photo. It is going be a BOOT-iful wedding! NICHOLAS LEE
Just in case I cry up a storm! MEHROSH ZULFIQAR MALIK
I get a kick out of you! Booty call.
G. HOOKES DEBBIE GIBBONS
Time for the bridal shower! DR HUMNA ALI
Congratulations to this month’s winner, Nicholas Lee.
NANG MOH MOH LONE
WIN A PILOT CAPLESS FOUNTAIN PEN The best letter published each month will win a Pilot Capless fountain pen, valued at over $200. The Capless is the perfect combination of luxury and ingenious technology, featuring a one-of-a-kind retractable fountain pen nib, durable metal body, beautiful rhodium accents and a 14K gold nib. Congratulations to this month’s winner, Ana Feliciano.
Come up with the funniest caption for the above photo and you could win $100. To enter, see the details on page 6.
Vol. 191 No. 1137 November 2016
Editorial Director Lynn Lewis Managing Editor Louise Waterson Deputy Chief Subeditor Melanie Egan Designer Luke Temby Digital Editor & Humour Editor Greg Barton Associate Editor Victoria Polzot Senior Editor Samantha Kent Contributing Editors Hazel Flynn, Helen Signy PRODUCTION & MARKETING Production Manager Balaji Parthsarathy Marketing Manager Gala Mechkauskayte
ADVERTISING Group Advertising & Retail Sales Director, Asia Paciﬁc Sheron White Advertising Sales Manager Darlene Delaney REGIONAL ADVERTISING CONTACTS
Asia Sheron White, firstname.lastname@example.org Australia Darlene Delaney, email@example.com New Zealand Debbie Bishop, firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHED BY READER’S DIGEST (AUSTRALIA) PTY LTD
Managing Director/Publisher Walter Beyleveldt Director Lance Christie READER’S DIGEST ASSOCIATION, INC (USA) President and Chief Executive Officer Bonnie Kintzer Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, International Brian Kennedy Editor-in-Chief, International Magazines Raimo Moysa
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. REPRODUCTION IN ANY MANNER IN WHOLE OR PART IN ENGLISH OR OTHER LANGUAGES PROHIBITED
FOR DIGITAL EXTRAS AND SOCIAL MEDIA INFO, SEE PAGE 27.
Anecdotes and jokes Send in your real-life laugh for Life’s Like That or All in a Day’s Work. Got a joke? Send it in for Laughter is the Best Medicine!
Smart Animals Share antics of unique pets or wildlife in up to 300 words.
Kindness of Strangers Share your moments of generosity in 100–500 words.
My Story Do you have an inspiring or life-changing tale to tell? Submissions must be true, unpublished, original and 800–1000 words – see website for more information.
Letters to the editor, caption competition and other reader submissions
Follow the “Contribute” link at the RD website in your region, or via:
Email AU: email@example.com NZ: firstname.lastname@example.org Asia: email@example.com We may edit submissions and use them in all media. See website for full terms and conditions.
TO SERVE YOU BETTER – OUR PRIVACY STATEMENT
Editor’s Note A Fresh Perspective BEES ARE AMONG MY FAVOURITE CREATURES. A self-confessed sweet tooth, nothing tastes better than fresh toast smeared with honey. I recently visited a friend’s country home, where she keeps a thriving hive of bees. She suited up in her beekeeper’s suit and, as a group of us looked on from a safe distance, she smoked the bees into a sleepy stupor before opening the hive to reveal the frames where the fresh honey sat. As we all oohed and aahed, I felt a nasty sting on my head. Ouch! The sting burned for hours afterwards. Despite my discomfort, this month’s Bonus Read, ‘How a Bee Sting Saved My Life’ (page 106), shines light on a new perspective on the benefits of bee venom. The article draws on the potential of bee venom to fight off Borrelia burgdorferi – the bacteria that causes the debilitating Lyme disease. It’s definitely worth your attention. This month’s Drama in Real Life, ‘Mayday, Mayday!’ (page 68), recounts the terrifying experience a recreational fisherman endured when he was thrown overboard during wild seas in the Atlantic Ocean. His mental strength and endurance will leave you genuinely impressed. Happy reading!
Coming Out to Grandma Being in love is meant to be liberating, but not if you have to keep it a secret from members of your family BY C ATH E R I N E SM Y KA
Catherine Smyka, 28, is a writer and LGBTI activist in Chicago, Illinois.
FOR A LONG TIME in my family, there was an understanding that my grandmother refused to watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show because the host was a lesbian. She used to say, “The nerve of that woman, being all gay in public like that.” There was an unspoken pact among my relatives not to tell my grandmother that I was a lesbian. My uncle had said, “You know, she’s pretty old already, so you should just, you know, wait it out until she passes away”. It became a kind of family joke: “Don’t tell Grandma that Catherine’s gay!” In college, I had this rainbow bracelet that I used to take off when I went to Grandma’s house, even though I knew she wouldn’t get what it meant. Sometimes she’d walk into the kitchen, and I’d be telling someone a story about a girl I was dating, and I would tone it down and say, “She’s such a nice friend.” It was exhausting though. The coming-out process didn’t feel very freeing if I was keeping secrets. The challenge with my grandmother was nerveracking, but she and I had that in common because she
P HOTO: iSTOCK
was no stranger to challenges. She’d moved across the country to be with her husband, who ended up dying really early. And she had to raise 12 kids, mostly by herself. She never finished school. I didn’t want to be another one of those challenges, because I thought, Having a queer granddaughter, what’re you going to do with that? Whenever we hung out, I was a wreck. It was late summer, about two years after coming out, and a bunch of people were at Grandma’s house, and the summer had been long and
wonderful and full of this new woman I was dating, whom I loved so much. I was sitting on the verandah, smiling and thinking about her. Grandma came outside; I think we were talking about how my younger sister was about to get her driver’s license, which is already a terrifying thing. And then I asked her about how she and my grandfather met. It’s a story I’ve heard a billion times, but I love hearing it again. She got this smile, and she was talking about what Grandpa was like in his early 20s and about their slightly sneaky courtship. Novemberđ2016
M Y STO RY
sitting here? Run! She’s actually going She basically conned a priest into to kill you. setting her up on a dinner date with Then she reached over and patted my grandfather, which I thought was my hand, and said, “Well, you tell her adorable and hilarious. to come around any time, all right?” She has great stories, but mostly And I was like, “What?” I love watching her talk about him. I looked over, and she I can tell that she still had a smile on her face remembers exactly how that meant she was his hand used to fit in thinking of my grandpa. hers and the intensity of Since then, She said, “You’re my his scent. He smelled of Grandma granddaughter, and I love pipe tobacco and mint. is the first you so much. You should It’s been over two to reprimand know that there will decades since he passed always be a place at my away, and I know that anyone dinner table for you and she’s thought of him who tells whomever you love.” every day. And she was a gay joke I wanted to cry and telling me about him on to hug her … and I also the verandah that day. wanted to make sure that She said, “He was the she knew I was telling her I was gay, best man I know, so you need to find like, to be clear. But she just kept yourself someone like that, someone looking at me and patting my hand, who will love you and tell you you’re and so I said, “Thank you.” beautiful. Someone to bring home to Since then, Grandma is the first to meet the family for dinner.” reprimand anyone who tells a gay Without thinking, I said, “Well, I joke. My uncles are actually the worst think I already have, Grandma.” And offenders, and when someone says, then I was like: Oh no. I said that out “OK, so a queer walks into a bar…” loud. I thought to myself, I don’t know she is the first to slap them upside what to do. What is going to happen? the head and tell them to cut it out. I’m a lesbian. She’s going to kill me. Every once in a while, I will even She said, “Is he a nice boy?” see The Ellen DeGeneres Show playing And I said, “Yes. She is a very nice in the living room. lady.” And the two of us looked at each other for a very long time. Do you have a tale to tell? We’ll pay I have no idea what was running cash for any original and unpublished through her head, but mine was going story we print. See page 6 for details something like, Why are you still on how to contribute. 10
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KINDNESS OF STRANGERS
My Angel in Disguise A chance encounter with a kindly woman made a world of difference so far from home BY MA HW I S H N A B E E L
Mahwish Nabeel lives with her husband and two daughters, Abrish and Eeshal, in Pakistan. She studied electrical engineering but is taking time off to care for her family. She loves sports, travelling, learning new things and being surrounded by her friends.
IT WAS 2PM on a hot, humid August afternoon in 2009. I was sitting in a post office in Machida, Japan, where my husband and I had recently moved. I noticed a woman leaving; she was smiling at me. She asked me in English if I needed help, obviously noticing that I was a foreigner. I graciously declined but later, to my surprise, I realised she was waiting outside the building. I was six months pregnant with my first child, homesick, desperate for company and feeling the absence of my mother terribly. I shared this with her, the first person to approach me so openly after 14 months in Japan. We started chatting, ending up in a café. She was fluent in English due to her many visits abroad and we chatted about our mutual countries, the problems I was facing during my stay in Japan and our respective cuisines. Three days later, my doorbell rang; it was a deliveryman with a package. Utterly perplexed, I was unsure what to do. Then my phone rang. It was my new friend, confirming that she had sent me some drinks to make sure I was staying well hydrated during my second trimester. Teary eyed, I thanked her while her words blossomed in my mind, “From now on I am your grandmother. If you need any help please do not hesitate to call me.”
P HOTO: COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR
From left: Nishi-San, Mahwish, Abrish and Eeshal on an outing
I had found hope in a country where I thought I would have to go through this major, life-changing event alone. In short, we became best friends and I started calling her ‘Granny’. She kept me busy, taking me to tango dances as a way to cheer me up and teaching me about Japanese cuisine. Leading up to the birth of my baby, we spent at least eight hours a day together, and she was often still at my place when my husband would return from work. He was grateful that I was in such pleasant company. On November 31 at 1.15am I started experiencing labour pains. In a panic, I called Granny. Within minutes she was at our door, accompanying us to hospital. Once there, she refused to leave and gave me constant strength. When my daughter Eeshal was born, Granny’s presence and support meant a lot to me as, back home in Pakistan,
is customary to be surrounded y your whole family at this emorable time. Granny spent five days in spital with me and later would sit my home every day. She did erything for us, from bathing, essing and feeding the baby to oking our meals and providing mense emotional support. She s always fussing over Eeshal, ddling and hugging her. Granny’s e for my daughter was obvious. She was immediately attached to her. In fact, after Eeshal’s birth, Granny began distributing Japanese sweets among the hospital staff. At 72, despite having a 95-year-old mother at home to take care of, Granny never stopped helping us. One day I asked her, “Granny, are you an angel?” She laughed and replied, “Definitely not!” She was truly the most modest and humble person I have ever met. When my mother phoned from Pakistan, she said she had been hoping that I would be provided with an alternative to her. My Granny was the answer, my angel in disguise. Her name is Nishi-San and although I no longer live in Japan, we still visit each other and share a strong, loving bond. Share your story about a small act of kindness that made a huge impact. Turn to page 6 for details on how to contribute and earn cash. Novemberđ2016
Dolly Saves Her Pups MARK KUMEK
It was a summer morning in June 2015 and my co-workers and I were busily installing a communications tower in the town of Sipitang, Sabah, in East Malaysia. The materials and stock needed on site had to be collected from the nearest town, Bandar, which was 50 km away. The materials were then left at a base camp close to the construction site. My team was joined by Dolly, a 14
golden-brown dog from the local village who was in the last days of her pregnancy. She was a good dog and protected the team’s belongings at the base camp. In return, we rewarded Dolly with any leftover food from our lunches. We all enjoyed playing around with Dolly. One day, while the team was preparing lunch, one of the men heard puppy sounds nearby. Dolly had successfully delivered her seven puppies inside a drain behind the
I LLUSTRATED BY EDWI NA KEEN E
These clever animals protect against threats from below – and deal revenge from above
lunch area. Everyone was really happy to see her finally deliver the pups. By 3pm, rain started to fall heavily so we postponed our work and decided to head back to camp in Bandar. As we started moving off, our supervisor, Elijah, noticed Dolly barking differently. Then she touched him with her paws as if she had something to tell him. So Elijah decided to follow Dolly. She led him to the drain where her puppies were resting – it was getting filled with rainwater. He quickly removed the puppies from the drain and brought them back to the rest area. We all helped Dolly dry her puppies off before wrapping them in towels to keep them warm for the night. Although Dolly remained protective and caring towards her pups, she was open to letting people she knew – like us – cuddle them. I’m sure she remembers how we helped her save her puppies.
Revenge of the Sparrows ROBERT TRAYNOR
When I was in my early teens, my friend Peter trapped a sparrow in his dad’s garage. He didn’t do anything to hurt it, he just watched as it fluttered about. Once the novelty of watching the bird had worn off, he hoisted up the garage door, allowing it to fly out.
The sparrow didn’t seem at all distressed as it took flight – it wasn’t chirping, as birds tend to do when they’re distressed, and we didn’t give the incident another thought. Afterwards, we rode our bikes to the local shop and bought some treats. Then we headed back home, stuffing our faces! We lived at the top of a street that was so steep we couldn’t ride straight up it. We had to zigzag our way to the top – and that was only when we were feeling especially energetic. On this day, we couldn’t be bothered riding back up the steep hill on the way home, so we hopped off our bikes and pushed them up the hill. As we made our ascent it began to rain, though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Even more strange were the raindrops themselves. They were white and made paintball-like splats when they hit the bitumen. Then it dawned on us. We were being bombed with bird poop by an irate flock of 20 or so sparrows that wanted payback for the illegal, albeit brief, imprisonment of one of their kin. The bombing lasted only a few moments – but still, it was clear that sparrows, like elephants, never forget. You could earn cash by telling us about the antics of unique pets or wildlife. Turn to page 6 for details on how to contribute. Novemberđ2016
THE DIGEST HEALTH
Diabetic Emergencies Warning signs of a crisis and steps to take to save someone’s life If someone develops hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) or hyperglycaemia
(raised blood glucose) because of diabetes, here’s what to do to help them recover safely. Giving sugar will be lifesaving if blood glucose is low, and is unlikely to do harm if glucose levels are raised. Diabetics usually know how to control their condition, but even people who’ve had diabetes for years can be susceptible to an attack.
Raised Blood-Glucose (Hyperglycaemia) Symptoms
This is more likely to develop over several days or even weeks. Symptoms may include: Q Extreme thirst
WHAT TO DO FOR HYPERGLYCAEMIA 1. Call emergency help If a patient collapses and you suspect hyperglycaemia, open the airway and check breathing. Call for emergency help.
Q Wounds that heal more slowly than usual
2. Monitor patient If he is breathing, place him on his side. In this position, his airway is open, ﬂuid and/or vomit can drain, and he cannot roll forwards. Check and note his level of consciousness, breathing and pulse.
Q Extreme drowsiness, which will lead to unconsciousness. This is an emergency.
3. Recheck patient Continue to recheck the patient regularly while waiting for medical help to arrive.
Q Frequent urination, especially at night Q Weight loss Q Itchy skin
If you don’t know whether their blood glucose is too high or too low, give them a sugary drink or treat anyway
Low Blood-Glucose (Hypoglycaemia) Symptoms
This can occur if the blood glucose–insulin balance is incorrect. A person with diabetes often recognises the warning signs: Q Feels shaky and weak Q Skin is pale and feels cold and clammy Q Confused, irritable, and behaving irrationally Q Rapid, but full and pounding pulse; patient may tell you that his heart is pounding Q Patient will quickly lose consciousness if he is not given some sugar Q If you know a patient has diabetes and he fails to respond to sugar or his condition begins to worsen, call for medical help immediately. A person recently diagnosed with diabetes is more susceptible to a ‘hypo’ attack, especially while he is becoming used to balancing his glucose–insulin levels. WHAT TO DO FOR HYPOGLYCAEMIA 1. Sit patient down Help him to sit down on a chair or on the ﬂoor if he is feeling faint. 2. Give sugar If the patient is fully conscious and alert, give him a sugary drink, such as fruit juice, or some glucose tablets. People with diabetes often carry a dose of glucose concentrate or have some sugary food on hand as a precaution. 3. Check response If the patient improves quickly after eating or drinking something, follow this with some slower-release carbohydrate food, such as a cereal bar, a sandwich, a piece of fruit, biscuits and milk, or the next meal if the timing is right. 4. Find medication Help the patient ﬁnd his glucose-testing kit and medication and let him check his glucose levels and take his insulin if required. Stay with him until he makes a complete recovery. It is important to seek medical advice if you’re at all concerned about the patient. Novemberđ2016
7 Warning Signs of Type 2 Diabetes worldwide with diabetes, which equates to 12% of global health expenditure, according to the International Diabetes Federation. One in two adults with diabetes is undiagnosed. They estimate that in 2040 this number will increase to 642 million people and one out of every ten people will have diabetes. Diabetes NSW say the increasingg number of people living with or at risk of type 2 diabetes has been driven by a number of changes over the past 30 years. People are more aware of diabetes and medical practitioners are more likely to look at a person’s risk factors for type 2 diabetes, leading to more vigilant testing and diagnosis practices. Additionally, as well as having an ageing population, the current
obesity epidemic caused by everyday dietary changes and reduced physical activity has resulted in more people being diagnosed at a younger age.
Symptoms of diabetes The symptoms of diabetes are a result of higher-than-normal glucose levels in the blood. Symptoms are only obvious when blood-glucose levels stay high over a period of time and may include: 1. Unquenchable thirst 2. Passing more urine than normal 3. Persistent infections or slow healing 4. Blurred vision 5. Weight gain or loss or increased hunger 6. Tiredness and lethargy 7. High blood pressure or high cholesterol levels.
KNOW YOUR RISK FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES Take a diabetes risk assessment test and discuss the results with your doctor. While many risk factors are preventable – such as weight gain, unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle – some are not. Family history, age, previous gestational diabetes or ethnic background can’t be changed and can all increase your risk for type 2.
ILLUSTRATI ONS: iSTOCK
There are 415 million people
How to Act ‘FAST’ if You Sense a Stroke What is a stroke? A stroke happens when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain, or a blood vessel in the brain bursts. The onset of symptoms is sudden and sometimes dramatic. Learn what to look for and prepare to act without delay. Prompt action can drastically improve outcomes.
Take ‘FAST’ action A stroke causes numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. Speech may be slurred, and there may be blurred vision or loss of sight, unsteadiness and confusion or complete unconsciousness. If you suspect a stroke use the ‘FAST’ test, and use it fast. FACE Look at the person’s face. Do you notice any weakness? Ask the person to smile. A one-sided smile, while the other side of the face droops, suggests stroke. ARMS Ask the person to lift each arm in turn. If they cannot lift one
of them, this is further evidence of stroke. SPEAK Ask the person to speak. If they have suffered a stroke they may not properly understand you or be able to respond. TIME Act fast and if the person fails any of these tests, call the ambulance. Offer reassurance. Check and make a note of levels of consciousness. Prepare to give CPR. Novemberđ2016
NEWS FROM THE
World of Medicine Alcohol Intake Linked to Cancer
Skipping Breakfast Won’t Help Weight Loss
How much alcohol is it safe to drink exactly? A new US study has shown regularly drinking any amount has been linked to at least seven types of cancer including oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast. According to this study, even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of developing cancer earlier.
A study from the University of Bath in the UK compared two cohorts of obese subjects over six weeks: one that ate every morning and one that fasted until noon. The fasting group tended to take in more food later in the day, meaning that both groups got roughly the same amount of kilojoules overall. Those who breakfasted were more active in the morning and could better control their blood-glucose.
For a slew of reasons ranging from Parkinson’s to poor vision, many seniors give up driving. Even when it’s the right decision, getting out from behind the wheel can contribute to health problems, including cognitive decline and depression, as driving often enables social interactions and personal freedom. The authors of a review in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society emphasised that people who anticipate they’ll have to give up driving should plan other ways to get around and stay connected. 20
Irrational Fears About Chemicals Could Be Harmful People who worry overly about manmade chemicals can make unhealthy choices, according to a recent paper in Human and Experimental Toxicology. While it’s important to consider how synthetic substances affect our bodies, making assumptions rather than understanding the facts can be detrimental. Someone overly concerned about the amount of pesticide on fresh produce, for example, might not eat enough fruit and vegetables.
PHOTO: A DA M VOORHES
Quitting Driving Can Spark Health Declines
Avoid These Last-Minute Holiday Disasters TAKE VITAL DOCUMENTS Make sure
everybody in your party, including young children, has valid passports and visas. Some airlines will give you the option to print out your boarding pass at home which saves time at the airport. CHECK TRAVEL PLANS Print out all your booking confirmation slips, hotel details, airport transfers, tour operator contacts, and any prebooked tickets to events and take them with you.
THOSE LITTLE ESSENTIALS
Don’t forget your spectacles or contact lenses, and any leads or rechargers for your digital camera, mobile phone, laptop or iPad. Check your mobile phone company’s overseas roaming rates to see how much you pay or consider purchasing a SIM card at your destination.
WARN YOUR BANK If you plan to use
your debit or credit card while away, notify your bank. If it spots a string of overseas transactions, it may suspect your card has fallen into the wrong hands and put a block on it. Using your debit or credit card overseas can also be expensive, as you can rack up foreign transaction charges. CHECK YOUR HOME INSURANCE
Make sure your home insurance is up to date, and take your policy number and details. If a friend is looking after your home, give them your insurer’s details in case of an emergency. Novemberđ2016
Must-See Sites in Maui Explore the beauty of Hawaii’s most popular destination
2 THE ROAD TO HANA The road from Kahului to Hana winds along the coastline for 90 km, offering panoramic views as it passes lush gardens and parks, waterfalls and pools. The tiny town of Hana itself has retained its pristine natural beauty and old-fashioned charm. 22
IAO VALLEY AND KEPANIWAI HERITAGE GARDENS Tales of long-
ago warfare linger in the mists that crown the velvety green crags rising above Iao Valley. Today, it is a state park. Nearby Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens celebrate the cultural diversity of Hawaii’s immigrants and its original inhabitants.
4 FRONT STREET, LAHAINA Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the main thoroughfare of Lahaina is a showcase of restored and preserved sites. In the early 1800s, missionaries came to this
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MAKENA This area on the southwestern coast of Maui is home to the island’s longest and widest beach: ‘Big Beach’ (also known as Oneloa Beach and Makena Beach). It remains relatively secluded and rich in natural beauty.
seaside village determined to save the souls of native islanders. There’s no proof that souls were saved but the buildings of the era have been.
5 WAILUKU AND KAHULUI Wailuku, Maui’s county seat, and Kahului, the island’s business and retail centre, are nestled between the mountain peaks of Pu’u Kukui and Haleakala. For centuries this area was the population centre of Maui, and today it offers a vast array of culture, history, nature, dining, shopping and recreation. Gateway to Maui, Kahului is home to the island’s main airport and harbour.
BAILEY HOUSE MUSEUM This former girls’ school was established in 1837 on the site of the royal compound of Kahekili II, the last chief of Maui. The building, now a museum, has exhibits on both traditional Hawaiian and missionary life.
ULUPALAKUA RANCH Stretching across Haleakala’s southern flank, the Ulupalakua Ranch contains a winery and also a memorial park to the Honolulu-educated Chinese revolutionary Dr Sun Yat-sen.
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8 HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK This stunning park encompasses rainforests, desert and beaches, but the lunar-like landscape of the crater of Haleakala – a massive, dormant shield volcano – is the main
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attraction. The park’s entrance lies at the end of a road that winds up from sea level in 60 km of scenic switchbacks. There are hiking trails, campgrounds and cabins in the park.
KIPAHULU AND KAUPO Long before the first Europeans arrived on Maui, the Kipahulu district was prized by the Hawaiian ali‘i (royalty) for its fertile land and bountiful sea. Today, the rural communities of Kipahulu and Kaupo lie in a little-travelled area that is both isolated and rugged. The road beyond Kipahulu and Kaupo offers open vistas as it winds its way up to Ulupalakua, offering spectacular scenery of dry grassland along the way.
MOLOKINI CRATER This crescent-shaped crater, the remains of a volcano caldera, is technically not on Maui but a few kilometres off its southern coast. A marine and bird reserve, it is home to a dazzling array of corals, tropical fish, and also Hawaiian green sea turtles. If you’re lucky, you may spot a whale shark. Novemberđ2016
Is It More Unhygienic to ...?
… EAT FOOD THAT HAS FALLEN INTO THE SINK OR ON THE FLOOR?
Your kitchen sink is one of the most germ-ridden places in your home, with about 2800 bacteria per square centimetre. In comparison, the kitchen ﬂoor in front of the sink has, on average, 130 bacteria per square centimetre. ANSWER: The sink
… SKIP CLEANING YOUR BBQ OR YOUR TOILET SEAT?
The grill, including the preparation area around it, may have more than double the bacteria of the average toilet seat, according to a British survey. Food or utensils placed there could be contaminated by raw meat or animal faeces from outdoor exposure. Use an ammonia-based cleaner to sanitise before each use. ANSWER: BBQ
… USE TOO LITTLE DETERGENT OR TOO MUCH IN YOUR WASHING MACHINE?
Too many suds can actually trap dirt in the fabric or leave residue, allowing bacteria to build up. Too much soap can also promote mould and mildew growth in the machine. For the average load, you can get away with using just half the recommended amount of detergent. ANSWER: Too much
FROM TOP: TILES: ANGEL TRAVERSI. SINK: WDSTOCK. BBQ: BLUEMOON STOCK. TOILET: C SQUARED STUDIOS. BOTH DETERGENT CUPS: WALTER B. MCKENZ IE. (A LL F ROM GETTY I MAGES)
BY KELSEY KLOSS
FROM TOP: DEODORANT: KARAMMIRI. SOAP: ALBUQUERQUE. BATH TOWELS: FLOORTJE. KI TCHEN TOWELS: BRITANY GEORGE. COC KROACH: JAT30 6. F LY: RCLASSE NL AYOU TS. ( AL L FROM G E TTY IMAG E S)
… SHARE DEODORANT OR A BAR OF SOAP?
Researchers have discovered bacteria such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus on soap bars. The bars usually don’t dry completely between uses, allowing bacteria, yeast and fungi to accumulate. While bacteria is unlikely to be transferred, skip sharing soap, to be safe. Borrowing deodorant spreads skin cells and hair but doesn’t put you at risk for infection. ANSWER: Bar of soap
… REUSE A BATH TOWEL OR A TEA TOWEL?
Thick bath towels can trap bacteria and harbour odours, but kitchen tea towels carry nasty microbes. University of Arizona researchers found 89 per cent of tea towels carried coliform bacteria, and a quarter tested positive for E. coli. Dangerous bacteria from raw meats can build up and spread every time you dry your hands. Launder tea towels after each use. ANSWER: Tea towel
… HAVE A COCKROACH OR A FLY NEAR YOUR FOOD?
Houseﬂies are twice as ﬁlthy as cockroaches, according to an entomologist from Orkin, a pest control company. Both are germridden, but ﬂies carry more disease-causing pathogens and spread them quickly by ﬂying from surface to surface (rather than crawling). Flies reproduce in faecal matter, garbage and animal carcasses and harbour bacteria in the hairs on their bodies. ANSWER: Fly
Sources: menshealth.com, nytimes.com, consumerist.com, wsj.com, webmd.com, realsimple.com
How to Fix a Dripping Tap If a dripping tap has you ready to climb the walls, chances are you are a
woman. Psychologists have found that there are certain noises that bother women more than men, and a tap drip is one of them. Here is how to fix a leaking tap by changing the washer, and avoid an expensive plumber’s fee. SINK SURGERY IN 7 SIM MPLE STEPS 1. Before you start, turn off ff the water supply and drain the tap of waterr. This will stop water gushing out when you tak ke the tap apart. 2. To begin, take the top off o the tap. Nearly all handles are ﬁxed with a screw (or screws if you have individual hot a and cold handles). If you do not see it, it may be hidden under ou can prise off a decorative cap, which yo with a small screwdriver. de the tap with 3. Loosen the locknut insid an adjustable spanner.
Index cap Screw
4. Once the nut is loose, pull out the stem. Be sure to remember the order in which the parts came off – you will need to o put them back on.
6. Push a new washer of exactly e the same size into place and screw the nut back onto the tap. Be careful not to overtighten it. (If you did at not know in advance wha size washer you would o need, you now need to go to the hardware store to y.) ﬁnd one that ﬁts properly 7. Replace the parts you ttook off in the previous steps, turn the w water back on, and enjoy your drip-free tap. t 26
5. Use a screwdriver to prise off the old rubber washer at the bottom of the stem. The washer may be held in place with a small screw. If it is, remove the screw.
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If don’t have Vietnam mese mint, use e fresh der and mintt leaves.
Laksa 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 2 tablespoons ready-made laksa paste 4 cups (1 litre) salt-reduced chicken or vegetable stock ½ cup (125 ml) light coconut milk 3 kaffir lime leaves 1 kg raw prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact 165 g tofu puffs, thickly sliced 200 g dried rice noodles 75 g bean sprouts ⅓ cup (10 g) fresh Vietnamese mint Lime wedges, to serve
Preparation 35 minutes Cooking 5 minutes Serves 4 1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the laksa paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, coconut milk and lime leaves and bring to a simmer. Add the prawns and tofu puffs and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until the prawns change colour. 2 Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a saucepan of boiling water for about 4 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and divide between serving bowls. 3 Spoon the broth, prawns and tofu over the noodles. Top with bean sprouts and Vietnamese mint. Serve with lime wedges on the side to squeeze over. PER SERVING 2349 kJ, 561 kcal, 45 g protein, 20 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 50 g carb bohydrate (6 g sugars), 3 g ﬁbre, 1121 mg ssodium
Do It from Scratch Make your own pastes, blends and seasonings to avoid the salt and preservatives in commercial preparations.
SWEET AND SAVOURY
LAKSA PASTE 5 g dried re ed chillies (about 6) 50 g Asian red shallots, roughly chopped 2.5 cm piec ce galangal, chopped 2.5 cm piec ce fresh turmeric (or 1 teaspo oon ground) 3 cloves ga arlic, chopped 20 g candlenuts or macadamias 2 stalks lem mongrass, pale part only, roughly chopped 2 teaspoon ns shrimp paste 2 teaspoon ns ground coriander Place the chillies in a heatproof bowl and cover with w boiling water. Leave to soak for 30 0 minutes. Drain well and roughly chop. Place in a food processor w with remaining paste ingre edients. Process to a paste. Store in an airtigh ht container in the refrigerator.
Once used in love potions, cinnamon adds a warm, distinctive ﬂavour and aroma to sweet dishes such as poached fruit, biscuits or cakes. It is also widely used in spice mixes for savoury dishes. sp
If you are cutting down on s for your health, you salt won’t miss it if your food w is full of ﬂavour from herbs and spices For more recipes, see Cooking with Herbs & Spices, ISBN 978-1-925306-170. Available online at the Reader’s Digest website.
Ways to Escape the Credit Card Debt Trap Credit card companies make profits
on a simple fact of human nature: we buy today and worry about how to pay for it tomorrow. Feeling the pinch towards the end of the year and want to start 2017 with a clean slate? Here are some suggestions.
START A PIGGY BANK
ONLY USE ONE CREDIT CARD
The more cards you have, the more you’ll be tempted to carry a larger balance and take on unwanted debt.
PAY THE HIGHEST INTEREST RATE FIRST
If possible pay off your credit card bills and card balance in full each month. Or pay as much as you can afford above the mandatory payments on the highest interest rate card first. Set up a direct debit for minimum payments to avoid late fees or transfer your balance to a new 0% interest credit card for a limited time. 30
SPEND LESS THAN YOU EARN
Cut back on unnecessary expenses and use what you already have before buying new things. Create a self-imposed ‘spending freeze’ for a few months. Take your credit card out of your wallet and only use physical cash for a month.
DON’T SPEND ‘IMAGINARY MONEY’
Avoid spending any money you haven’t yet earned and lower your credit card limit to help avoid temptation. Financial experts suggest keeping records, making a budget and sticking to it. If you have more than one card then close off each credit card as you pay it off.
Go old-school! Save up for purchases instead of buying on impulse.
What to Do When a Pet Goes Missing BY JENNIFER VIEGAS
A missing pet often turns up – a
ILLUSTRATI ON: iSTOC K
little bedraggled and hungry, but no worse for wear. The longer a pet is missing, however, the greater its risk of becoming ill or being hit by a car. Here’s what to do.
4. ATTRACT WITH SCENT Animals
can find their way by smell, so place some strongly scented items – such as its bedding – outside your home.
1. COMB YOUR HOUSE AND GARDEN Do not assume that your
For Longer Absences
pet will respond to your frantic calls, so check your property thoroughly, including inside wardrobes, sheds – even crawl spaces and drains. If your dog went missing while off leash, return to where you last saw it.
Q Call local animal shelters, vets, animal control agencies and emergency animal hospitals further afield. Also contact your local council – some councils have their own facilities where they take missing pets.
2. CHECK THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
Q Make a poster with a description, a photo, the date your pet went missing and where it was last seen. Place it so it can also be seen by passing cars.
Leave a description and a phone number with your neighbours – and ask them to check any outbuildings. 3. MAKE FAMILIAR NOISES As you walk around, call your pet’s name, rattle a box of treats, squeeze a squeaky toy or use an ultrasonic whistle – they work for both cats and dogs.
Q Place an ad in the local paper. Q If your pet is microchipped, make sure your contact details are up to date on the relevant microchip registry. Novemberđ2016
Personalised medicine is giving hope to people with melanoma
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BY LISA FIE LDS
WICE A YEAR, I strip down to my underwear, don a paper gown and subject myself to a full-body examination at the dermatologist’s office. These are done twice as often as most other patients – and for good reason. Not only am I freckly and fair-skinned, I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with the sun, which makes me more susceptible to skin cancer.
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During my teens and 20s, when I was a lifeguard, I spent the majority of my summers outdoors. Like my peers, I’d wanted to achieve the perfect tan. I’d worn sunscreen, but it was SPF 4 – barely any protection compared with what doctors recommend today. Now I’m paying the price. This past decade, I’ve had a handful of suspicious-looking moles removed. Recently, my dermatologist sent me to a medical photographer for a full-body
branch of the US National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research in Maryland.
Sun exposure Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of melanoma in the world – melanoma being the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and the fourth highest in New Zealand. According to Cancer Australia, in
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND HAVE THE HIGHEST RATES OF MELANOMA IN THE WORLD photo session to document my moles, in case they change. My situation isn’t unique. Countless people worldwide didn’t protect themselves adequately from the sun’s ultraviolet rays during their youth. Decades ago, doctors didn’t preach about sun protection, and researchers didn’t realise that the sun’s ultraviolet rays could cause skin changes that can lead to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. “The most important reason for the increase in melanomas is thought to be due to increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sun and artificial tanning sources,” says Dr John J. DiGiovanna from the dermatology 34
2016, over 13,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in Australia. In New Zealand, over 4000 new cases are confirmed each year. A University of Queensland study published this year compared the rates of invasive melanoma in six populations – including Australia and New Zealand – over a 30-year period from 1982 to 2011. It found that while New Zealand’s rate of melanoma had increased to 50 cases in 100,000 people, Australian melanoma rates had fallen overall to 48 cases in 100,000 people. “The main reason for this decline is that Australia has put a huge effort into prevention campaigns since the 1980s,” says Professor David Whiteman, who
led the study. “Australians have become more aware of the dangers of melanoma. This has contributed to a decline in melanoma rates in people under 50. Unfortunately, rates of melanoma are still increasing in people over 50 [who] already sustained sun damage before the prevention campaigns were introduced, and those melanomas are only appearing now, decades after the cancer-causing exposure to sunlight occurred.” But even if you’ve endured decades’ worth of sun exposure, there is hope.
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Early treatment The earlier you notice melanoma, the greater your chances are of being cured. Surgery is the primary treatment for early-stage melanoma. “If you picked up an early-changing mole, you could have a virtually normal life expectancy,” says Girish Patel, lead investigator for the Skin Cancer Stem Cell Research Programme at Cardiff University. Regular skin checks and lifestyle changes to limit further damage from the sun help improve the odds. Since Imogen Cheese, 37, was diagnosed with stage II melanoma in 2013,
she’s screened by her medical team every three months. “I cover up to avoid the midday sun,” says Imogen. She also wears sunscreen with a high SPF, is active and eats a healthy diet. So far, her cancer has not progressed.
Targeted therapy Researchers have made great strides in the treatment of advanced melanoma. One option: targeted therapy, which can be given to stage IV patients with specific genetic mutations. Novemberđ2016
Tumour cells go under the microscope
GUARDING AGAINST MELANOMA ■ SHUN THE SUN Cover up and stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm, especially during summer, to limit damage. ■ WEAR SUNSCREEN Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (at least SPF 30) to exposed skin before going outdoors; reapply regularly, particularly after swimming. ■ KNOW YOUR BODY Keep an eye on your moles, and see a dermatologist if any spots change. ■ GET SKIN EXAMS Have a full-skin exam by a dermatologist or a GP with speciﬁc training in skin cancer at least once a year if you have special risk factors; every six months for anyone who’s had a skin cancer. ■ AVOID TANNING BEDS They’re associated with melanoma.
Australian melanoma researchers have been involved with targeted therapy studies since the beginning, about seven years ago. “We do testing on their tumours to look if there are any mutations in certain genes in the tumour,” says Dr Alex Menzies, a medical oncologist at Melanoma Institute Australia. “We have targeted therapy that can attack the BRAF mutation [which accelerates tumour growth], found in about 50 per cent of tumours …. If we give tablets for BRAF-mutant melanoma, almost every patient will have shrinkage of the tumour. On average, it will keep things under control for one year, and the one-year survival rate has improved to 70 per cent, from 30 per cent five years ago.” Five years after John Ambrose, 67, had a stage-IV skin melanoma removed he began coughing up blood. His disease had spread to both lungs and his prognosis was poor. He joined a targeted therapy clinical trial in 2013, and within three months, his tumours shrank by 70 per cent. After 18 months, he had clear scans. Today, John travels, plays golf and spends time with his grandchildren. “My situation has not stopped me living a normal life,” he says. Jesse Thomas, 57, also benefited from targeted therapy after being diagnosed with stage-IV melanoma in 2013, with tumours on his neck, liver and spine. Genomic testing revealed Jesse had an uncommon V600K BRAF
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mutation, and his oncologist was able to pinpoint a targeted therapy for him. “They expected the cancer to stop growing, but it actually shrank,” Jesse says. “There’s no way to cure it, but I am controllable.” Targeted therapy is only for stage-IV patients, but researchers are studying its effects on stage III patients.
Immunotherapy Researchers have been able to stimulate the T-cells in some melanoma patients’ immune systems to fight cancer, with astounding results. “T-cells kill off viruses,” Menzies says, “but with cancer, they’re sitting there around the tumour, asleep. They know that the tumour is ‘foreign’, but the tumour has turned
continue to go the way we’re going.” Immunotherapy doesn’t work for everyone, but it can be quite effective. Cardiff University’s Patel says, “In the 45 or so per cent of people who respond, they can respond for very long periods of time.” In 2013, Vicky Brown, 62, was shocked to learn that a lump in her breast was actually melanoma, not breast cancer. She’d had early-stage melanoma in 2006, which returned in her breast and lungs. Through a clinical trial, Brown received intravenous doses of two immunotherapy drugs. Her tumours shrank within weeks. Brown discontinued the drugs due to side effects, but it kept the melanoma in check for a year. In 2015, after new lung
“IN THE 45 OR SO PER CENT WHO RESPOND, THEY CAN RESPOND FOR VERY LONG PERIODS OF TIME,” SAYS PATEL them off, stopping them from killing it. Immunolog y drugs turn on the T-cells and they kill the tumour.” Melanoma researchers consider immunology the biggest breakthrough in decades. “This is our ‘penicillin moment’ in oncology,” Menzies says. “Melanoma can be turned into a chronic disease. Many people will not die from it if we
tumours appeared, she received more immunology treatments. The drugs again shrank her tumours. “I am hoping this couple of doses will give me more time again,” Vicky says. Researchers are working to get more patients to have a positive response to the treatment. “The notion is that clearly, if we can do it in a Novemberđ2016
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few, we should be able to do it in the majority,” says Patel.
Personalised medicine For years, researchers tried creating a melanoma vaccine, to no avail. Now, researchers are combining the success of immunotherapy with the concept of vaccines, leading to personalised melanoma treatments. “As we better understand how the immune system recognises melanoma cells, we are developing so-called personalised vaccines,” says Dr John Haanen, head of medical oncology at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. “We are starting now in metastatic patients and if this concept works we’ll move to earlier stages.” Hein Jambroers, 50, has benefited from a personalised treatment called adoptive cell therapy (ACT). He was
diagnosed with stage-II melanoma in 2009, but a year later, he had stage-IV disease, with tumours on his right leg and liver, and was told that he had less than six months to live. After getting some short-term benefit from targeted therapy, Hein was referred to an ACT clinical trial in 2011. Doctors harvested some of his white blood cells, then monitored them in a laboratory to identify the healthiest T-cells to fight melanoma. They were replicated in large numbers. Hein received chemotherapy to kill his existing T-cells, then got an infusion of the laboratory-created T-cells, which basically gave him a new immune system that shrank his tumours within three months. He’s what doctors call a ‘complete responder.’ He’s had clean scans ever since; no trace of melanoma.
AFTER A DIAGNOSIS IF YOU’VE BEEN DIAGNOSED with advanced melanoma, here’s what patient advocates recommend: ■ SEE A SPECIALIST Seek out a facility where doctors specialise in melanoma. “Our recommendation for patients is to get into a melanoma centre of excellence,” says Bettina Ryll, founder of Melanoma Patient Network Europe. “The new immunotherapies have very different side effects from anything we’ve ever had before, so you don’t want to have a physician who has never seen this.”
■ CONSIDER A CLINICAL TRIAL Availability of immunotherapy and targeted therapy varies. Many patients enter clinical trials to receive these drugs. A promising clinical trial may be further from home than you’d prefer, but the extra drive could be worth it. Rory Bernard, 47, travels four hours for targeted therapy treatments, which have shrunk his tumours and extended his life.
up only one to three per cent of some skin cancers. “If you got rid of the cancer stem cell population, the whole tumour could not proliferate,” Patel says. “If you take the bulk of a tumour and regrow it in a mouse without stem cells, it can’t form. But if you take a small part of the cancer stem cell population, it grows back fully.” Researchers have begun clinical trials, and treatments could be available in a decade.
Soon, doctors may defeat cancer by attacking stem cells. Skin stem cells make thousands of healthy skin cells. Melanoma stem cells work similarly, except they make thousands of malignant melanoma cells. Researchers are targeting melanoma stem cells to stop tumours from spreading. “It’s like killing off the queen bee,” Patel says. “The whole hive then dies away, because you’ve gotten to the cell that’s giving rise to everything.” This is vastly different from chemotherapy, which aims to kill as much cancer as possible. Stem cells make
DESPITE THE SUN DAMAGE that I endured during my youth, I’m optimistic that I’m doing everything that I can to stay ahead of any problems that may crop up. I’ve got photos of all of my moles and freckles now, which I use for monthly self-exams. I’ll bring them to my dermatologist for my next full-body examination. I’ve also been raising my children with 21st-century values for sun exposure – plenty of high-SPF sunscreen, hats and time in the shade – so hopefully the next generation won’t have the melanoma worries that my generation does.
“Complete responders have an excellent prognosis,” says Haanen, who treated Hein. “‘Cure’ is always difficult to say, but very long-term remissions – which could be a cure – are seen in the majority of complete responders and in some partial responders.” Hein, who expected to die, is cautiously optimistic. “I’m very positive about my future, but I’m always on a state of alert,” he says.
AMAZING ANIMAL SLEEP SCHEDULES Q
Thrushes take hundreds of power naps a day, a few seconds at a time, in mid-ﬂight. Q
Brown bats, on the other hand, sleep 19 hours a day – upside-down. SOURCE: MENTAL_FLOSS
Leader of the
People on a bus tour can be hard to please. Sometimes it takes chewing gum and a tall tale BY ROBERT SKINNER FR O M T H E MO NT H LY
L E A D E R O F T H E PAC K
n the first day of a central go off to pee together and come back Australian tour that I regularly friends, or scatter in twos and threes ran, someone would always to collect firewood, and get bitten by ask what time we were going to ants. Sometimes I hid the matches, to arrive at camp. Because camp was make it even more fun for them. Those were the best nights, with 600 kilometres away, it was a good no-one else around and the Milky opportunity to set things straight. “Look,” I’d say, “there are rogue Way smeared across the black sky. cows, flat tyres, and headwinds We drank beer next to the fire. like you wouldn’t believe.” I’d stare People really started talking, and wistfully out the window. “In some slept closer to one another than on ways we’ll be lucky to get there at all.” any other nights. There are other ways of getting a I tried to leave it at that one morning, but the girl who asked group together. I know a guide who, the question kept looking at me if he sensed malaise, would fake a flat battery and make everyexpectantly. one push-start the bus. I sighed. “What time? I once tried to fix a raI dunno. About 6.30, 7?” Bush diator leak with Blu Tack, “OK! Thank you!” She camping but didn’t have any, so turned to her friend. “He I passed around chewsays we’re arriving at 6.37.” worked for A tour guide should not many reasons, ing gum. If you can get 21 people chewing for a say too much on the first chief among common cause, what you day. A week is a long time them that and you don’t want to deno-one wants have is a family. Sometimes, if I felt value your own currency. to die alone they could benefit from A critical job for any a sense of occasion, I’d tour guide is to bond the group. The best way is to go bush tell them this was the very sand dune camping. With the sun low and the from which 19th-century explorer cockatiels bursting from the trees, we’d William Gosse and his party first go bouncing down some dirt track. laid eyes on Uluru (aka Ayers Rock). When we stopped in a clearing, some- People oohed. “But couldn’t they have seen it from times there’d be confusion. the sand dune just over there?” “But there is nothing.” There’s always one. “I know! Isn’t it wonderful?” “You raise a good point, madam.” Bush camping worked for many reaI never had qualms about butchersons, chief among them that no-one wants to die alone. Strangers would ing the European version of things. 42
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For one thing, most of the best places are just named after some dude. What are you going to do, stand in front of that beautiful rock with its 30,000-year-old cultural history and talk about So-and-so Ayers who once governed South Australia and had certain hobbies? One should never let facts get in the way of a good story, because no-one remembers facts anyway. The best tour guides will turn an explanation into a story that’s entertaining even to someone who cares nothing for the subject. You’d hear spiels of other guides: “The canyon is made up of Carmichael sandstone, which is more than 400 million years old, and Mereenie sandstone, which is 360 million years old …” If there was ever a more boring sentence in the English language, I didn’t finish reading it. What exactly are the tourists being offered that they can’t get themselves with an encyclopaedia and a tranquilliser dart? You should never, or almost never, give your tourists the choice between two options. This is a mistake inexperienced guides often make. Are you not the leader of this expedition? Have you not been here a hundred times before and know what it’s about? You have to start early. If you start the walks too late, it will take them a whole day to recover from that heat. By 11am there’s no more birdsong, just the sounds of buzzing flies and sobbing. You explain this to your
passengers well in advance; you want them to feel like they have made the choice (though there is no choice), so they feel like mavericks in the early morning, and not like suckers. The other thing to do in summertime is sneak people into a five-star hotel, and its pool. I used to arm everyone with back stories to explain how the ragtag bunch could afford a five-star hotel. Then I would drop them off in twos and threes at various locations and staggered intervals. I’m not sure any of this was necessary, but it helped with the sense of occasion. It almost doesn’t matter what you show them, if you feed them well. German girls will commit heinous crimes for Nutella at breakfast. Europeans in general will not eat white bread and you shouldn’t bother making them try. The smallest girls from Taiwan and Korea will eat twice as much as any man. And although some Italian men might be incapable of opening a tin of tomatoes, they will nevertheless have strong opinions on how to make the bolognese. These should largely be ignored. t Uluru, we’d cook up a big gourmet barbecue and have a candlelit dinner. Once everything was ready I’d hit the lights and play Marvin Gaye. The difficulty was not cooking the dinner but getting people to eat it. They all wanted to take photos of it. However, it should never look
L E A D E R O F T H E PAC K
difficult. I still cringe about the night was technically true.) “In the gasket I made quails wrapped in sage and region.” (Which was not.) There were outraged groans. prosciutto, and spent two hours “Now listen,” I said, holding up my trying to balance them over coals in a pot-belly stove. No-one wants to see hands, “I’m pretty sure I can fix it.” I their guide running around like a was sure I could fix the leak, insofar as desperate MasterChef contestant. screwing the cap on would do the trick. We had just enough oil to make it to It’s unbecoming. There is a subtle but important Glendambo. While everyone prepared difference between taking care of lunch, I told them I was off to fix the your passengers and serving them. In leak. I parked the bus behind the gaining a servant, they lose a leader. roadhouse and sat enjoying a quiet You’re taking on expectations that drink and reading Moby-Dick. Then I can’t be met, and they will resent judiciously applied some engine grease you for it. They’ll start blaming you to my face, and drove back to the lunch spot. “Guys, I fixed it!” And for the flies, the weather, it really felt like I had. On the mediocre sunsets. some tours you will claim Tw o days after the quail incident, 40 km out There is a subtle any victory you can. difference I speak fluent German. of Glendambo, I smelled burning oil. I almost between taking I thought it would be a secret weapon, but in didn’t stop – by this care of your stage the tourists and I passengers and six years of tour guiding were engaged in psychoserving them. I almost never eavesdropped on anything logical warfare and I In gaining a interesting. At U lur u didn’t want to lose more servant, they sunsets there was a lot of, ground. But I pulled over lose a leader “Ja, I have been thinking to take a look. The unthe same thing! Why derside of the bus was does he cut the tomatoes so thick at sprayed in oil. I opened the engine block and saw lunchtime? Sometimes thicker than where it had come from: a big round the bread even!” What sounds like hole that should have had a cap complaining is really just Germans screwed over it. I knew this because having a good time. At Uluru I was doing paperwork I’d taken it off the night before to top up the oil. By some miracle, the cap outside the cultural centre. I was was still sitting on the engine block. sipping a cold lemonade. A German “Folks,” I told the tourists, “we’ve girl and her friend plonked down at got ourselves an oil leak.” (Which the table and stared at my drink. 44
everything I’ve done for you, now this?!” She was pleasantly surprised. “You’re German! That’s why you have such good ideas, like the pool!” n the last morning we’d hike Kings Canyon together. The group would climb up ‘Heart Attack Hill’, look across the desert and feel that they had survived the outback. And that they did it together. Once, when we returned to camp, I got everyone coffee and French toast, which the French couple insisted was just toast, then snuck off into the bushes for a power nap. I told the group we’d pack up and hit the road to Alice Springs by 11.30. I woke up groggy and confused to the sound of the bus horn. Somehow it was 11.30. I ran back to camp. They were all sitting on the bus. “For the love of God, guys,” I started to yell, “we’ve got to pack this place up!” And then I saw the swags tied on the roof. The food boxes, bags, cooking equipment had been packed into the trailer; our hut was swept. The only thing left in the place was a cup of fresh coffee with my name on it. They were beeping the horn because everything was done, and all they needed was me.
P HOTO: GETTY IM AGES
The girl said to her friend, in German, “I’d give anything for a drink like that.” I was thinking, What’s wrong with you? They’re $3.50 in the gift shop. “Would you like the rest of my lemonade?” I said. She looked at me with wide eyes and clutched the drink with both hands. Then she said to her friend, in her native tongue, “Wait. Do you think he’s diseased?” Something broke inside me. I started screaming in German, “After
FROM THE MONTHLY (JUNE, 2015) © 2015 BY ROBERT SKINNER. WWW.THEMONTHLY.COM.AU
Life’s Like That SEEING THE FUNNY SIDE
From the Archives
What 21st-century teenager would have reacted as mildly as the one in this 27-year-old letter from November 1989? After an exhausting day at work, I stopped at the supermarket on the way home. Finished, I drove to the groceries pick-up spot and honked my horn at a teenager lazily leaning against a post. Pointing to my two full trolleys, I shouted, “I want everything in the back of my station wagon.” The lad pushed the trolleys over and began putting my groceries in the car. “You’re doing it wrong,” I snapped. “I want the bags standing upright.” He did as I asked, then came round to the driver’s window. “I just want you to know that I don’t work here,” he told me, smiling. “I’m waiting for my grandmother.” SUBMITTED BY VANNA SHIELDS
LOST IN TRANSLATION
My husband, who’s originally from Scotland, still has a distinct accent. He recently asked Siri a question through his iPad. There was a pause before Siri answered, “I’m sorry. I do not translate.” SUBMITTED BY DIANNE MONTIETH
CALL IT A WASH
I asked my husband when was the last time he’d 46
emptied the dishwasher. His reply: “But I never put anything in it.” Unfortunately, that’s true. SUBMITTED BY EILEEN COX
Recently I came upon my 13-yearold leaning against the kitchen door with his eyes closed. When I asked if he was feeling sick, he replied, “No, I think I just have narcosleepy.” Source: gcfl.net
WARNING: GEOMETRIC LANGUAGE My six-year-old grandson overheard someone swearing the other day and commented, “That was a swear word – I’ll never use swear words.” Upon which his four-year-old brother solemnly promised, “No, I won’t either. And no triangle words or rectangle words or circle words.” SUBMITTED BY SUE FLOWERDEW
The Great Tweet-off: Husband Edition Boredpanda.com recently gathered the best tweets by Husbands Who Are Winning at Marriage. Here are our favourites. When my wife falls asleep in a public place, I shake her a little and yell, “DON’T YOU DIE ON ME!” People always clap when she wakes up. @CHEESEBOY22 [Out in public] Me: “A kid is crying.” Wife: “It’s not one of ours.” [We fist bump.] @XPLODINGUNICORN I don’t understand how God can have Ten Commandments for the whole world, and my wife can have 152 just for our house. @KENTWGRAHAM
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
I asked my friend about the pros and cons of using a Kindle as opposed to getting the Kindle app on another device. “Oh, the Kindle is way better,” she said. “Because it’s an actual book.” I LLUSTRATI ONS: i STOCK
SUBMITTED BY JANET WOHLGEMUT
I was feeling pretty creaky after hearing a TV reporter say, “To contact me, go to my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or try me the old-fashioned way – email.” SUBMITTED BY LEE EVANS
Accountant: “You’re basically broke.” Wife: “He keeps spending money on stupid stuff.” Me: “Let’s ask the dog if he thinks his jeans are stupid.” @KEETPOTATO When I awoke from the car accident in a full bodycast, my wife was right at my bedside to let me know that childbirth is still more painful. @THETHRYLL Me: “Honey, it’s really muggy out today.” Wife: “If I go outside and all our mugs are on the front lawn, I’m leaving you.” Me: [Sips coffee from bowl.] @MYNAMEISNTDAV VE
Since my husband died, I have tried to do the impossible: reanimate the love of my life word by word, tweet by tweet, text by text
Grieving for Jonathan BY N ANCY WE STAWAY FR O M THE WALRUS ILLUSTRATION BY MELANIE LAMBRICK
G R I E V I N G F O R J O N AT H A N
OR MONTHS, I HAVE BEEN SEARCHING through tweets,
emails, Facebook posts and text messages for a missing person. He isn’t a stranger. He’s my husband and the father of my two children. And he’s not really missing. He’s dead.
Late at night, after I put our kids to bed, I begin my hunt for Jonathan. I reread emails about mundane dental appointments or brunch dates. “Whose job is more important today?” reads one, sent when a child needed to be collected early. I linger over quick asides, our children’s pet names and his simple sign-off, “love JJ”. Each time, I find another morsel, some note that makes me smile. I can almost hear him. But I know I am trying to do the impossible: to reanimate the love of my life word by word, tweet by tweet, text by text. My husband was a writer. He made wry observations in a few crisp syllables. We met at journalism school in Winnipeg, Canada, in the early 1990s. I am strangely attracted to a badly dressed man, I thought at first. He needed a haircut, and he wore runners and rugby shirts he got from playing the game. I hated sports. We used the same carpool, and our daily commute became a rolling, laughing ride through the streets. Jonathan’s biting wit earned him the sarcastic moniker ‘Sunshine’. In school we learned how to interview and tell stories accurately, all while meeting high-pressure deadlines. Soon after graduation, eager to begin our careers, Jon took a job as a 50
newspaper reporter in Edmonton and I started working as a managing editor at a news and entertainment weekly in Winnipeg. We were still just friends, but I felt hollow when he moved away. One perk of my job was a computer with internet access. I quickly connected with Jon and two other members of our carpool. Online, we resumed the banter of the icy drives to school. I teased Jon for his ineptitude at dating in an email with the subject line, “Why Jonny Can’t Breed”. His hilarious responses became the highlight of my day; my heart jumped whenever I saw his name appear in my inbox. One summer day, Jon came home to Winnipeg for a visit. We took a walk and I told him I was crazy about him. We started dating immediately. Our long-distance relationship was both exciting and excruciating. We would hug in the airport and launch into a whirlwind weekend. But halfway through a visit, I would begin to crash, awaiting the inevitable goodbye. And far too soon we’d be back in the airport, saying our farewells. We filled the physical gap with frequent emails about our days and the stories we were pursuing. It was years before we lived in the same city.
Nancy Westaway and Jonathan Jenkins in September 2013, the month of his cancer diagnosis
P HOTO: JOEE WONG
We broke up, got back together and, finally, both landed jobs in Toronto. After one year of sharing an address, we got engaged. We married in Winnipeg on December 28, 2000, on an extremely cold afternoon. OURS WAS A MEDIA -driven household; we consumed newspapers over coffee and breakfast before starting long, unpredictable days working as reporters – Jon in print and me in radio. We never knew whether we’d be home for dinner, and understood when a movie night was cancelled because of a breaking story. We were highly competitive and taunted each other on slow news
days with emails asking about madeup events. “Do you know about the thing? Can’t believe it blew up.” Or, “Did you get to talk to that guy? Amazing story he has.” If we appeared at the same scrum, we would smile hello, ask our questions and run back to our respective newsrooms, each of us trying to outdo the other’s story. After three years in Toronto, Jon went to Australia to cover the Rugby World Cup. While he was away, I flew to Calgary for a wedding and wound up calling Jon with some news of our own: I was pregnant. In the first few emails, we dubbed our tiny offspring Grain. But only a week and a half later, doctors told me I was having Novemberđ2016
G R I E V I N G F O R J O N AT H A N
a miscarriage. Jon was still away, home, he sent me sanity-saving trying to support me through phone emails from the outside world; I gave calls and emails as best he could. him the scoop on grins, crawls and Everything would be OK, he said. But spit-ups. When I returned to work, bad turned to worse when I collapsed we sent each other hasty messages from what turned out to be a ruptured about daycare drop-offs and pick-ups. ectopic pregnancy and was rushed Over the years, Jon became a pointo emergency surgery. Through the litical reporter with a busy online time difference, the sadness and the presence. He effortlessly turned the haze of painkillers, email continued news of the day into acerbic oneto be our connective tissue. liners on Twitter. When he covered Our dream of a family came true elections he would be away for when we welcomed our son in 2004 weeks, and I wouldn’t know where and our daughter in 2007. Jon crafted he was on the campaign trail until I news release–style looked at his tweets. birth announceI’d piece together his ments in which we day 140 characters at were identified as I wouldn’t know a time. CEO and president where Jon was until Our lives settled of Jenkaway Inc., a into a fairly predictI looked at his merger of our last able pace until one tweets. I’d piece names. September day in The email notice 2013, when I found together his day of our first-born inmyself at an endoscharacters cluded the line: “The copy clinic, waitat a time launch, widely exing ner vously for pected for the past Jon to appear. He nine months, went smoothly, and had booked an appointment after a stock in the new division opened sore throat had turned into trouble trading at 9 pounds 12 on the London swallowing. When he finally arrived, exchange.” Three years later, a new he told me he had been stuck in an ‘operating system’ was “unveiled to a elevator but hadn’t called because he rapturous industry after a laborious thought I would have seen his playoperation that went off with surgical by-play tweets. (“Help! I’m trapped precision at exactly 4:53pm EST”. in a Queen’s Park elevator with no Jon worked newsroom shifts that politician to grill.”) sometimes allowed him to be my I didn’t read the elevator posts co-pilot during the day while I was until weeks later, when I needed on maternity leave. When he wasn’t a reminder of when things were
simpler. While Jon was waking up to see me. I knew Jon was either from his throat scope, the doctor took dead or dying. I began to cry as I was escorted into me aside in the hallway and told me the worst news I’d ever heard: Jon a small room inside the main waiting had oesophageal cancer. I could say area, where I frantically tried to call everything changed that day, but our family. My phone kept cutting everything kept changing. Dramati- out, and my texts couldn’t seem to escape that little room. When the surcally. Terrifyingly. Helplessly. We started communicating differ- geon arrived, she told me the cancer ently: I took notes at doctor’s appoint- had spread too far for surgery. I went ments and wrote emails – that Jon to Jon’s bedside and held his hand as would then proofread and edit – to the doctor told him he was dying. Hours later, we sent the toughest update family and friends. In them, we shared our hopes for Jon’s treatment email we had ever written – the story of his impending r e g i m e . We a l s o death. I read it to Jon, explained how we and he offered his told our son and edits. It included our daughter about their While Jon was dad’s diagnosis using waking up from his determined resolve enjoy each and the three Cs : the throat scope, the to every day, no matter kids didn’t cause it, doctor took me how many we had. cancer isn’t contagious and they will aside and told me always be cared for. I’ VE BEEN LIVING the worst news It was important for with one foot in the I’d ever heard us to make sure our past, rereading traces friends and family of a journey that had a vocabulary for talking about ended on April 28, 2014. cancer, with their children and ours. The first line of Jon’s obituary read: T h e i n t e n s e c h e m o t h e r a p y “Family man, Winnipeg Jets fan and drained Jon. He lost his mop of hair. journalist Jonathan Jenkins died after He couldn’t eat because he couldn’t a brutal home invasion – cancer crept swallow. He stopped being able to in and robbed him of his life in his work. Six months after his diagno- 50th year”. The line first appeared sis, we prepared for a major daylong on Facebook and then on Twitter. surgery. While Jon went into the OR, A cascade of messages soon took over I found a couch in the waiting room. my feeds. Kind words began ricochetOnly one hour into the procedure, ing around the internet. Jon’s name I was told the surgeon was coming started trending on social media. Novemberđ2016
G R I E V I N G F O R J O N AT H A N
He was everywhere and nowhere. As much as I want to hold onto At first, I was uncomfortable virtual pieces of Jon, estate business with the online grieving. When people involves erasing your beloved. I’ve clicked ‘like’ on a Facebook post sent back his driver’s licence and of Jon’s obit, the action felt remote health card. I’ve cancelled his credit and impersonal, as if someone were cards and redirected bills. When I taking something that belonged to us. register the kids for summer camps But digital death notices and online online, Jon’s name often autofills the goodbyes are now part of modern forms, and I have to put my cursor in love. When I saw the names of people each field and hit delete, delete, delete. Before he died, Jon shared the I had never met posting their condolences, I understood it. When I die, important passwords with me, but I want my friends and family to be we were too busy living the last of his days to get caught up in paperwork. comforted, too. When he was gone, After he died, Jon’s I was astounded internet presence by how many other grew (curiously, for passwords I needed a while his Twitter The echoes of for basic online account even gained Jon, the pulses transactions, such as followers) and then of his digital continuing a newsfaded. Every time I presence, help paper subscription Google his name, his or downloading articles have slipped me get through a movie. Jon had further down in the the days always taken care search results and his of all the technical email accounts keep stuff. Now I’m relucfilling up with spam: “It’s been a long time since we heard tantly teaching myself things I never from you, Jon,” and “You can still get a wanted to learn about: uploading picdeal on…” Once, his e-book subscrip- tures, upgrading operating systems, tion service sent him an email about removing viruses and keeping Apple a title it said had been chosen just for TV running. As I navigate solo parenting, I’m him: Heaven Is for Real. These things building an archive for the kids of would have made him laugh. Sometimes I forward emails from their dad – a bread-crumb trail of Jon’s account to mine to keep track their father’s spirit for them to follow. of something important. And my But I worry about storing the copies of heart still leaps when I see his name his tweets, Facebook posts and emails. Our house is filled with obsolete appear in my inbox. 54
technology, a reminder that Jon could disappear further when computer systems change. A few weeks after Jon died, I dropped my iPhone and the glass shattered. I used packing tape to try to save the screen and carried the device around like a bandaged Bible. I comforted myself by flipping through text messages and time-travelling back to before we ever used words like cancer, chemo, morphine or palliative care. I tried to transfer texts with date stamps to my email. I bought an app, but it didn’t work. Then one day, when the phone was in my pocket as I was shovelling snow, water from a melting snowflake slipped under the tape and washed away most of the screen. My phone’s demise was another kind of ending. How many virtual strands should I be holding onto?
When is it time to retire Jon’s Twitter and Facebook accounts? When should you say goodbye to old, broken mobile phones? And what else should be kept? A shirt our son might grow into, or the pink tie Jon wore when our little girl sat perched in a pink dress on his lap in the press gallery of the legislature? What about my wedding ring? I always called Jon my good thing. We said our love would last a lifetime, and for one of us it did. The echoes of him, the pulses of his digital presence, help me get through the days. Every time I search through my emails for the words “love JJ”, I know that with every click, I will be filled with both comfort and torment. I often think of the last text he sent me, four days before he died. It posed a question I struggle with each day. “Is everything OK?”
THE WALRUS (JANUARY 22, 2016) © 2016 BY NANCY WESTAWAY. THEWALRUS.CA
IT COMES AT A PRICE Q Some old VHS horror ﬁlm tapes are now collectible. Not all of them, of course, but some are selling for ridiculously high prices. The 1987 Tales from the Quadead Zone fetched $2000 on eBay. Q Rent on a hot-dog cart near New York’s Central Park Zoo: US$289,500 a year (more than an apartment in the same neighbourhood).
All the loose change Americans leave at airport security: US$674,841.06 in 2014 (which the Transportation Security Administration gets to keep).
Sources: New York Times and Gawker
THE WORLD ... Turn the page
Where are we? A) An all-day quilting marathon at a country fair. B) A big-city version of an outdoor cinema. C) An attempt to throw the worldâ€™s largest picnic.
... DIFFERENTLY Answer: B. Launched in 1993, New York’s Bryant Park Summer Film Festival attracts more than 100,000 viewers each year – and that’s not counting those watching from the rooftops. Leaning over the edge of a nearby skyscraper, photographer Navid Baraty gets this pigeon’s-eye view of the moviegoing masses staking their territory hundreds of metres below. “After seeing countless skyline photos of New York,” he says, “I found that the real life of the city can best be captured by pointing the lens straight down from high above.” PHOTOS: NAVID BARATY
The Town Without
Wi-Fi BY M IC H AEL J. GAYNO R FR O M WAS H I NGTON I A N
YOU CAN’T MAKE a call or send a text on your mobile phone in the US town of Green Bank, West Virginia. Wireless internet is outlawed, as is Bluetooth. As you approach the tiny town on a two-lane road that snakes through the Allegheny Mountains, the bars on your mobile phone fall like dominoes, and the scan function on the radio ceases to work. The rusted pay phone on the north side of town is the only way for 60
a visitor to reach the rest of the world. It’s a premodern place by design, devoid of the gadgets and technologies that define life today. The reason for the town’s empty airwaves is visible the moment you arrive. It’s the Robert C. Byrd telescope, aka the GBT, a gleaming white, 147-metre-tall behemoth of a dish. It’s the largest of its kind in the world and one of nine in Green Bank, all
P HOTO: CLA IRE BENOIST. P ROP STY LIST: N ICOLE HEFF RON FOR BERN STEIN & AND RIU L L I
A clash among locals, newcomers and scientists has made this place both a heaven and a hell
As you approach the tiny town of Green Bank, the bars on your mobile phone fall like dominoes
T H E TOW N W I T H O U T W I - F I
of them government owned and operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). The telescopes aren’t the ‘ocular’ kind you’re probably thinking of. They’re radio telescopes, so instead of looking for distant stars, they listen for them. There’s a long line of astronomers all over the world who want to use the GBT, a telescope known to be so sensitive that it can pick up the energy equivalent of a single snowflake hitting the ground. Such a highly tuned listening tool needs total technological silence to operate, so in 1958 the US Federal Communications Commission established a one-of-a-kind National Radio Quiet Zone, a 33,000 km2 area encompassing Green Bank where, to this day, electromagnetic silence is enforced every hour of every day. Residents who live within a 15 km radius of the Green Bank observatory are allowed to use landline telephones, wired internet and cable televisions, but microwave ovens, wireless internet routers and radios are forbidden. You can have a mobile phone, but you won’t get a signal. Lately, because of how much its way of life diverges from the rest of America’s and whom that has attracted, Green Bank (pop. 143) has come to feel smaller than ever. For locals, the technology ban is a nuisance. For others who come to Green Bank for their health, the town has become a refuge. 62
A Mysterious Illness In 2007, Diane Schou, now 66, moved with her husband, Bert, 69, to Green Bank from Cedar Falls, Iowa, hoping that living free of technology would relieve her relentless headaches – headaches, she insists, that were caused by signals from a mobile phone tower near her home. The Schous are members of a growing community who say they suffer from ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity’, or EHS, caused by exposure to radio frequencies. The symptoms, according to sufferers, also include nausea, insomnia and chest pains. Mainstream medicine doesn’t recognise the syndrome but Diane and Bert couldn’t be more sure. After her declining health forced her to give up her job as an agricultural scientist, the couple drove thousands of kilometres across the United States seeking a respite from her condition. After returning from a sojourn with relatives in Sweden – the first country to consider EHS a disability – the Schous heard about the Quiet Zone from a national-park ranger in North Carolina. The couple pulled into Green Bank shortly thereafter, and Diane lived in her car behind a convenience store to give the town a try. “Life here isn’t perfect,” Diane says. “But at least I’m not in bed with a headache all the time.” Fellow sufferers heard about Diane, and soon she was letting visitors stay
in her home when they came to to change their lighting or turn their experience life in Green Bank. By lights off when they’re there, which 2010, roughly two dozen ‘electrosen- creates some issues.” sitives’ had moved to Green Bank. Jennifer Wood, a busy architect Echoes of the Past before electrosensitivity felled her, Friction between the locals and the remembers walking into the Schous’ transplants has happened before in home and being welcomed by a Green Bank. After breaking ground handful of other electrosensitives. on the initial telescope in 1957, the “It was just like family,” Wood says. NRAO needed to hire PhDs and enBut not everyone in Green Bank gineers, and it began hiring scientists has been so keen to meet the new from out of town. But the locals – neighbours. Diane ruffled some some of whose farms and homes had feathers when she tried to get the been displaced to make room for the local church to remove its fluores- observatory’s campus – didn’t take so cent lights, which electrosensitives kindly to the influx. In 1965, a group find excruciating, of farmers even comand when she told plained to their mempeople to stop using bers of Congress that By 2010, their mobile phones observatory scientists as cameras around roughly two dozen had caused a cropher. The senior centre, killing drought. ‘electrosensitives’ o n e o f t h e t o w n ’s “I remember one few gathering places, fella said the observahad moved to obliged her request tory would make it rain Green Bank to replace the fluoreswhen they wanted it cent lights in one area, to,” says Harold Crist, but when she asked that her food be a 90-year-old Green Bank native who delivered to her from the centre’s worked for the telescope at one time. kitchen – so she wouldn’t have to The big-city transplants didn’t imwalk under other fluorescent lights – mediately warm to the locals either, Green Bankers began to protest. but with time came acceptance. “There have been some rough spots Today many Green Bankers work in dealing with other members of the various jobs at the telescope. The community,” says the diplomatic sher- campus cafeteria is a favourite lunch iff David Jonese, whose department spot for locals. And more than a few has been called in several times to scientists moonlight as artists, with mediate disputes. “They want every- work hanging in the local art centre. At Green Bank Elementary-Middle body in the stores and restaurants Novemberđ2016
T H E TOW N W I T H O U T W I - F I
School, right next door to the telescope, you’d expect to find teenagers bemoaning the unavailability of the cool gadgets they see on TV. But that’s not the case. According to one student, plenty of kids in Green Bank have smartphones, and although they can’t get a signal, they’ve found a workaround. By connecting to a home Wi-Fi network (that the telescope interference protectors apparently haven’t picked up on), kids don’t need a mobile network to talk to their friends – they can just use the new texting functions inside apps like Facebook Messenger. Teenagers and technology, it seems, will always find a way.
The End of Quiet? A force outside Green Bankers’ control may ultimately settle the clash of old-timers, newcomers, technology and tranquillity: the fate of the thing that started all the trouble in the first place – the telescope. It’s funded entirely by the National Science Foundation, and in 2013, in a wave of belt tightening, a committee recommended shutting down the campus. The NSF hasn’t said whether it will accept the proposal, but if it does, and the observatory can’t find outside funding, it could close by 2017. Which might spell the end of Green Bank’s quaint life free of Wi-Fi. Some say that may be best for the town. “We’ll be so far out of the loop one of these days that we won’t
be able to catch up,” says Crist, who raised six children in the Quiet Zone and watched some of them move away. “People come back home and think we’re living in the Dark Ages.” But a shuttered telescope would obviously be a nightmare for the electrosensitives who are just making inroads with the locals. In mid-2013, Monique Grimes moved to town from Florida when her EHS symptoms forced her to quit her job as a speaker for a public policy group. She married a native Green Banker, Tom Grimes, and now helps out around their farm, and he introduces her to locals. “They get to know me first as Mo, not as an electrosensitive,” Monique says. “Now friends of ours have gone so far as to replace the light bulbs in their house because they want me to come to visit.” Whatever happens to the telescope, Monique is pretty convinced that her version of the science will prevail and that future generations will see the folly of iPhones and laptops just like past ones did of asbestos and cigarettes. As one sympathetic doctor told her, “You were just born a hundred years before your time.” “Or after,” Tom quips, knowing there’s a decent chance they’re sitting in the last quiet place on Earth. In July 2015, the NRAO received funding for the Green Bank Telescope for at least five more years.
REPRINTED FROM WASHINGTONIAN, JANUARY 2015 ISSUE © 2015 BY WASHINGTONIAN, WASHINGTONIAN.COM.
Laughter THE BEST MEDICINE
A man went to the police station and asked to speak to the burglar who broke into his house the previous night. “You’ll get your chance in court,” the desk sergeant told him. “I have to know how he got into the house without waking my wife,” pleaded the man. “I’ve been trying to do that for years!” SUBMITTED BY SUZANNE DEVONSHIRE
CA RTOON: JON CARTER
The murder suspect’s trial wasn’t going well, so his lawyer resorted to a trick. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” he said. “I have a surprise for you. In one minute, the real murderer will walk into this courtroom.” Stunned, the jurors looked towards the door, but nothing happened. The lawyer chuckled. “I lied. But that you all looked with anticipation proves there’s reasonable doubt as to my client’s guilt. I insist he be acquitted.” The jury retired to deliberate, then returned with a verdict of guilty. “But you must have had some doubt,” bellowed the lawyer. “You all stared at the door!” “Oh, we looked,” said the jury foreman. “But your client didn’t.” SUBMITTED BY SARAH BROWN
I have never been especially cool. When I was a kid, I once shoplifted a thesaurus. But then I felt so guilty, so sorry, so remorseful, so shameful, so repentant – I returned it. COMEDIAN JESSICA SALOMON
Whenever our mother played the piano, our poodle would sing along – with an enthusiastic, ear-splitting howl. We would all laugh, but after a while my dad couldn’t take it any more. “For goodness’ sake,” he begged. “Play something the dog doesn’t know.” SUBMITTED BY TEMPLE LYMBERIS Novemberđ2016
The molecular structure of cortisone
START AT THE BEGINNING
Cortisone is one of a family of steroid hormones called corticostteroids. These are produced naturally in the body by the adrenal glands. Corticosteroids are also synthesised as medications that mimic the effects of these natural hormones in the body. Others in the family include cortisol (who ose synthetic version is hydrocortisone) and prednisone (synthetic). Some people use the term ‘cortisone’ to mean any corticosteroid while others refer to these drugs as ‘steroids’, although they are very different from the anabolic steroids used to artiﬁcially boost muscles. BY H AZ EL FLY N N
WHAT ARE THEY USED FOR?
ARE THEY EFFECTIVE? Cortisone is produced by the adrenal glands
Corticosteroids can relieve the inﬂammation, pain and discomfort of many different diseases and conditions, although doses and treatment duration need to be carefully managed to avoid serious side effects. The use of cortisone to treat tendon injuries is contentious, however.
“Patiients should be informed ab bout the optiions rather than n just being sho ot with an in n njection.” PR ROFESSOR BILL VINCE ENZINO, University of o Queensland
al processes, Corticosteroids take part in a wide range of physiologica including the stress response, the immune response and the regulation as tablets or of inﬂammation. Synthetic corticosteroids can be given g injections to treat auto-immune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis; by inhaler or nasal spray for asthma a and in nasal or oral form to treat allergies; topically, as a cream or ointment for skin conditions; and injected into inﬂamed muscles, join nts and bursa.
CONTENTIOUS? WHY CONT TENTIOUS?
Soon after their introduction in the la ate 1940s, cortisone injections became a favoured treatm ment for tendon injuries caused by overuse, such as tennis elb bow. However, in recent years medical researchers have found that, conversely, having a cortisone injection might hamper the injury’s ability to recover. Higher risk of tendon n injuries recurring after receiving a cortisone e injection versus waiting for the injury to heal.
TELL ME MORE
e Australian researchers examined the results of 41 randomised trials covering more than 2600 ow, participants who suffered elbo shoulder (eg rotator cuff) or Achilles tendon pain. The d majority of patients treated with cortisone injections reported fast, signiﬁcant pain relief. But six to 12 months later those who were injected had much lower er rates of recovery and much higher risk of relapse compared to those he injury to heal and those who simply waited for th who treated it with physsiotherapy. e healing the injury? In injuries So why isn’t cortisone such as tennis elbow, the tendon generally isn’t e ﬁbres within the tendons inﬂamed, but rather the are ‘fraying’. While corttisone shots may have an ceptors creating the pain, effect on the neural rec al the structural damage. they don’t actually hea
WHAT DOES IT M MEAN FOR ME?
If you have a tendon injury, ﬁnd a doctor who is up on the latesst research and discuss your options with the em. Then weigh the beneﬁts (short-term pain relief) against the risks (possible lo onger-term negative consequences) befo ore automatically choosing corticosteroid injections. Novemberđ2016
DRAMA IN REAL LIFE
Left: Damian Sexton Right: The Atlantic Ocean at Cape May, New Jersey
In the blink of an eye a fishing trip turns into a matter of life and death
MAYDAY! P HOTOS: DANI EL S HEA
BY RO BE RT K IENE R
M AY D AY, M AY D AY !
I DON’T LIKE THE LOOK OF THIS, Damian Sexton thought as he piloted his 12-metre Hatteras Convertible fishing boat through rough seas some 40 nautical miles (75 kilometres) off the coast of New Jersey, in the US. It was nearly 10pm. When Damian, 45, and his friend Michael Schinder, 63, had set off on a tuna fishing trip from Cape May just before sunset on August 1, 2015, the Atlantic Ocean had been relatively calm. But a fierce storm was moving in and the Sea Robin, named after Damian’s wife, Robin, was being buffeted by two-metre waves. After checking the boat’s radar and seeing that storms were approaching, Damian pushed a button to set the boat’s trim tabs to help stabilise it in rough seas. Damian, who owns a tree service in nearby Williamstown, is an experienced boater but the storms concerned him, as they couldn’t be avoided. Damian left Michael at the controls on the fly bridge and told him, “I’m going down to the state room to find my satellite phone and night-vision goggles.” The state-of-the-art boat far exceeded Michael’s limited experience, but the boat was on autopilot, making a brisk 22 knots (about 40 km per hour) through the rough seas and heading for the Wilmington Canyon, which was 120 km offshore and known for its excellent tuna fishing. THE BOAT ROCKED and pitched
in the waves as Damian clambered down. He was crossing the deck when a huge wave crashed against the Sea Robin and knocked him off the stern of the boat, sending him reeling headfirst into the Atlantic Ocean. 70
He screamed, “MIKE! MIKE!” Another wave, then another, slapped him hard and forced him under the surface. Again and again he fought his way back up. Trying to tread water, he watched as the Sea Robin navigation lights soon disappeared from sight. He noticed lightning strikes approaching. He was alone in the dark without a life jacket; 40 nautical miles from land and fighting to keep adrift in increasingly violent, roiling seas. A thought flashed through his mind: My life can’t end like this! LIEUTENANT JUNIOR GRADE Christopher Shivock was on duty as command duty officer at the Coast Guard’s Sector Delaware Bay command centre in Philadelphia when the radio suddenly crackled into life. “Mayday, mayday. Man overboard!” The message was full of static but there was no mistaking its urgency. It was a
As Whalen organised a briefing for call from Michael Schinder on VHF Channel 16, a radio channel reserved her crew she noted the heavy thunderfor distress calls, which was picked up storms in the region. Nasty night for by a container ship, the Maersk West- a rescue, she thought to herself. But it would get much worse. port, and relayed to the Coast Guard. Shivock, 25, swung into action. The incident was immediately classified DAMIAN FOUGHT BACK panic as he an emergency. Radioing Schinder tried to stay afloat in two to 2.5-metre for his position, he got a broken waves. He stripped off his shirt, shoes reply. Regional Coast Guard stations and pants and tried to tread water, were placed on high alert, as were all but the waves swamped him and he vessels in the area. inhaled seawater. Schinder’s mayday The more water he message had been swallowed, the more he picked up by several of vomited. Once he inWhenever the Coast Guard’s radio haled gulps of water into a large wave towers, but not clearly his lungs and – terrified lifted him, enough to triangulate of drowning – exhaled he could see the signal. The crew of violently, forcing the wathe Maersk was able to ter from his lungs. The the lights of communicate clearly salt water burned his a massive with the Sea Robin, and mouth and throat, but he ship in the was eventually able to kept going. “Breathe, distance, relay Schinder’s posiswim, breathe!” he told 16 km away tion, about 44 nautical himself. miles out to sea. Whenever an espeIn Cape May, the cially large wave lifted Coast Guard station readied their him high, he could see the lights of a 14-metre boat for a possible rescue massive ship in the distance, perhaps operation. Meanwhile, a siren went 16 km away. He remembered seeoff at the Coast Guard Air Station ing the same ship on the Sea Robin’s Atlantic City 70 km to the north. Hel- radar screen and decided to swim icopter pilot Lieutenant Tammy Wha- towards it. It was a 180-metre-long len and her three-man crew listened container ship, the Maersk Westport. as loudspeakers blared through the Now he had a target. He thought of station, “There has been a report of a Robin and their three boys, Bobby, 17, person in the water 44 nautical miles Cole, 11, and Giovanni, 10. Damian off Cape May. Now put the ready helo had lost his own father when he was [helicopter] on the line.” just three years old, and he couldn’t Novemberđ2016
M AY D AY, M AY D AY !
bear the thought of Robin having to raise the boys alone. Besides, he had so much to teach them. As lightning began flashing all around him, he envisioned someone going to his home and telling Robin and the boys that he had been lost at sea. “No way,” he told himself. The thought helped push him forward. SHIVOCK AND THE ON-DUTY staff had received responses. Several fishermen in the area and the Maersk Westport container ship had radioed back, offering help. A Maersk crew member radioed that the ship would set a course for the position of the Sea Robin. The crew of the Cape May station’s 14-metre rescue boat was manned and ready, as was the helicopter in Atlantic City. The Sector Delaware Bay command team plugged in the only detail they knew – the location of the Sea Robin – into SAROPS, the Coast Guard’s search and rescue computer program, which pulled the wind speed, ocean temperature and wave heights from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration server. SAROPS calculated a search area and an ‘estimated survival time’ of 86 hours. But Damian had no life jacket, no-one knew his exact location and there was a raging storm in the area. Shivock and others knew that he would have a hard time surviving more than a few hours in those conditions. The clock was ticking. 72
AFTER LIFTING OFF from the Atlantic City airport, Whalen hoped to avoid the fast-moving storms that blanketed the 260 km2 search area to the south. However, as she piloted her MH-65 Dolphin helicopter over Atlantic City, there were lightning bolts everywhere. So much lightning could take out the chopper’s electronics, or worse. She told James Hockenberry, an aviation maintenance technician, “We can’t risk this.” Hockenberry radioed the Coast Guard’s command centre at Sector Delaware Bay that they were going to fly south to Cape May to see if they could reach the search area. But the storm didn’t relent. Time ticked away as Whalen and her crew sat on the tarmac in Cape May waiting for a break in the severe weather. Frustrated and feeling that Damian’s chances for surviving in the open sea were dwindling, she told the crew, “I think we just killed him.” LIGHTNING BOLTS the size of tree trunks flashed around Damian. I’m going to get electrocuted! he thought as a bolt flashed into the ocean next to him. But he kept swimming. His years of weightlifting and martial arts training had kicked in. He had been relentless at his tae kwon do classes. He would never give up and prided himself on working towards earning a black belt, and he had developed what tae kwon do practitioners call an ‘indomitable spirit’. It
manoeuvered itself alongside the Sea Robin and threw a verypanicked Michael Schinder a line. Whalen and her crew returned to Atlantic City where they refuelled. This time when they flew over Atlantic City they were buffeted by strong winds but the lightning storm had moved on. AFTER MORE than three hours in
Damian’s 12-metre Hatteras Convertible fishing boat powers through the water
P HOTO: BOAT P IX
dictated, “You cannot be subdued or overcome in the face of fear or failure.” Now Damian put failure – and fear – out of his mind. Then a wave lifted him and he saw the container ship, seemingly heading closer to him. I can make it, he thought. A huge thunderbolt exploded like a bomb right above him. He looked up and shouted, “Really is this all you got? You’re not going to beat me.” ALTHOUGH DAMIAN had no way of knowing it, the Maersk Westport had been in constant communication with the Coast Guard since hearing Michael’s initial radio message. Eventually it located the Sea Robin, which was no longer running on autopilot. It reached Michael on Channel 16,
the water, Damian was exhausted. He stopped swimming to tread water. While 2.5-metre waves crashed over him and buffeted him like a cork in the ocean, he realised the wind had shifted and was now pushing him towards the Maersk. Maybe they will see me, he thought, cupping his hands and powering through the choppy seas. After another few kilometres a huge swell lifted him up again and he couldn’t believe his eyes: in the distance he saw the Sea Robin alongside the container ship! His entire body ached but he kept swimming. LIEUTENANT WHALEN was just about to crisscross the search pattern she was assigned when she suddenly heard a message come over the radio from the Maersk Westport: “Coast Guard, Coast Guard. There is a man in the water near the boat.” Somehow, against all odds, after almost four hours in the water, Damian had reached the container ship and the Sea Robin. Whalen flew to the scene. Novemberđ2016
Damian with his wife Robin and two of their boys Giovanni (left) and Cole (right)
No way, thought Christopher Lynch, an aviation survival technician and rescue swimmer, when he heard this. He’s been in the water four hours and he thinks he is good to go? He told Whalen, “We need to check this guy out medically before we let him go.” The crew lowered Lynch to the Coast Guard’s 14-metre boat. But the seas were so rough the boat couldn’t safely approach the Sea Robin. Lynch jumped into the ocean and swam to Damian’s boat. LYNCH KNEW IMMEDIATELY there was something wrong with Damian. The rescued fisherman began to shiver. Then he curled up into a shivering mass on a couch in the state room, his muscles contracting wildly. Damian was hypothermic and Lynch knew that he was in real danger of heart failure.
P HOTO: DANIEL SHEA
IT CAN’T BE! thought Michael when he first saw ‘a white blob’ in the ocean near him and the container ship. Fearful of being smashed against the container ship, he had cast off the line and was circling the area, hoping against hope that he would spot his friend. He stared at the blob and then heard the raspy-throated scream, “Mike! Mike! Don’t leave me!” As the boat neared Damian, Michael cut the engine and threw a life jacket and a line to him. Damian grabbed on to the swim ladder at the stern of the boat. With a superhuman effort, he hauled himself up and onto the boat. Remarkably, after putting on dry clothes and gulping down over a litre of orange juice, Damian set his boat’s autopilot for home and radioed the Coast Guard to say that he was planning to take the Sea Robin back to Cape May.
Lynch radioed Whalen for a rescue basket to hoist Damian to the chopper. The Sea Robin had an eight-metre tall outrigger at the rear of the boat that would interfere with a hoisting, so Lynch would have to help Damian, who was now close to being catatonic, stand up. Once on his feet, Damian was able to walk to the bow of the boat. The 2.5-metre seas and the fact that the chopper’s rotor wash would cause the Sea Robin to spin complicated matters. Sure enough, on the first attempt, the basket from the chopper landed too far from Lynch’s grasp. There was another problem. To keep it hovering above the Sea Robin, Whalen’s helicopter was using up fuel quickly. “Seven minutes,” the co-pilot, Lt. Jordan Kellam, warned Whalen. “We only have time for one more attempt,” he told her. After a second failed attempt with the basket, Lynch hand-signalled to Whalen to drop a sling, hoping that he could grab it as it was lowered above him. Whalen was flying blind and relying on the helicopter crew to position her above Lynch, at the bow of the Sea Robin. As Whalen flew over the boat it
began to twist in the sea from the chopper’s rotor wash. Whalen fought the winds and expertly worked the controls with both hands and feet while the 5 mm steel winching cable was lowered. It dropped above Lynch, swinging over his head, and he grabbed it. With just five minutes of fuel left before they had to leave the scene, Lynch placed Damian into the sling, attached his own hoistable vest to the rescue hook, and secured Damian’s chest strap. The pair was whisked off the deck and into the helicopter in less than a minute. While Lynch bundled Damian into a hypothermic bag, Whalen headed for Atlantic City. Aboard the Sea Robin, Michael was accompanied home by a Coast Guard crewman from the rescue boat. IN HOSPITAL, DAMIAN was treated for hypothermia and a muscle-wasting condition called rhabdomyolysis caused by his ordeal – and released. “This was one for the record books,” says Whalen. “We are especially thrilled because, sadly, most ‘man overboards’ do not end like this.” As Damian later said, “You guys saved my life.”
WHY DO WE CALL IT... A BUCK? Because in the 1700s, North American trappers could sell a single buckskin for one dollar. Source: Bathroom Reader’s Institute
All in a Day’s Work HUMOUR ON THE JOB
WHAT ARE YOU DRIVING AT? Safety is a major concern at the manufacturing company I work for. As a manager, I’m constantly preaching caution to the workers I supervise. One day I asked a few of the guys, “Does anyone know what the speed limit is in our parking lot?” A long silence followed, then one of them piped up, “That depends. Do you mean coming to work or leaving?” Source: gcfl.net
THE DOCTOR IS OUT
A few years ago I was helping out at my daughter’s school when a small boy came rushing up in obvious distress. He’d badly grazed his knee but, even after cleaning it up, he continued to wail. “It’ll be OK,” I reassured him. “Your dad’s a doctor. When you get home he’ll make it better.” “No, he won’t,” sobbed the boy. “Why not?” I asked. “Because it’s his day off today,” he replied. SUBMITTED BY ANDREW BERRY
One morning during snack time at break, the students in my preschool class were discussing where they were born. One little boy mentioned that his mother had given birth to him at a hospital called Sacred Heart. The girl sitting next to him piped up: “I was born at Sacred Heart, too!” The boy turned to her, very confused, and said, “Really? I didn’t see you there.”
GETTING INTO THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS
A friend of mine, whose job is to do in-store demonstrations in supermarkets, had developed a rapport with an old lady who came into the shop most days. She was always keen to try his titbits of various food and drink promotions. One week near Christmas, he said to her, “If you come in tomorrow, I’ll have some rather nice wine for you to try.” The following day, the lady appeared at the shop and my friend went to give her a small plastic thimble of wine – at which point she reached into her handbag and produced a full-sized wine glass. SUBMITTED BY FRANK ANNABLE
ILLUSTRATIONS : iSTOCK; CARTOON: STEVE WAY
NOT SO HANDYMAN
Now that I’m in my 80th year, I can no longer carry out any maintenance around the home, so recently I’ve paid a local handyman to do small jobs such as mending leaking taps, changing light bulbs and so on. The other day I found I needed his services again, so I wrote him a note asking him to call over and walked round to his home to put it through his letter box. Stuck on his front door was a scruffy piece of paper with a note written on it that did not inspire confidence: “Please knock, bell not working!”
PRACTISING FOR WORK
My friend’s granddaughter Emily and her pal Joanne were playing pretend cafés, complete with aprons and fake menus. All was well until Joanne’s younger sister tried to join in. Appearing in the kitchen in tears, the little girl explained that they’d told her she was too young and they didn’t want her in the bedroom, where the café had been set up. Reassuring her that it must have been a mistake, my friend took the child upstairs – only to be confronted by a notice on the door saying, ‘STAFF ONLY’. SUBMITTED BY JENNIFER ARMES
SUBMITTED BY BARRY COPPOCK
There’s a new weapon in the war on tobacco-related deaths: the ‘ugliest P colour in the world’ – Pantone 448C 44ANTONE ® 8C FOR DECADES NOW, governments and health agencies around the world have experimented with various ways to discourage tobacco smoking. In general, anti-smoking campaigns are targeted either at existing smokers, encouraging them to quit, or at young people, to prevent them falling prey to the habit in the first place. In many countries, licensing bodies for the food and beverage industries have ensured that smokers have been gradually herded out of public eating and drinking areas and sent to stand out in the cold. Many countries have also placed a ban on cigarette 78
advertising, as well as sponsorship by tobacco companies of sporting, entertainment and other large-scale events. The official position of both the EU and the World Health Organization is that the advertising of tobacco should not be permitted, period. Since the early 2000s, to counteract a century of posters, films, TV shows, billboards and other visual messaging that directly or indirectly linked smoking with cool sophistication, modern advertising and marketing campaigns began to adopt an aggressive approach, using written health warnings and shocking imagery in commercials
PHOTO: (SA PPHIRE) i STOCK
BY GREG BARTON
– and on cigarette packaging itself. What could be more visually arresting, for example, than graphic depictions of the brutal, damaging effects of smoking on a healthy set of lungs? Well, since a series of studies commissioned by the Australian government in 2012, there’s now a brandnew weapon in the war on cigarettes: Pantone 448C. Known by its full title as ‘Pantone 448C opaque couché’, the greenybrown colour was selected by more than 1000 smokers across seven studies as the most unappealing tone for a new range of cigarette packaging, in the hope that the nauseating swatch would negatively impact demand. Equipped with the newly crowned ‘world’s ugliest colour’ and its visual association with what survey respondents described as ‘tar’, ‘dirt’ and ‘death’, the Australian government had Pantone 448C elements added to all cigarette packaging, as well as
the aforementioned written warnings and graphic imagery. Overnight these ‘plain package’ cigarettes became compulsory throughout the Australian marketplace, and now France, Ireland and the UK are following suit. The Pantone Colour Institute itself didn’t take the news lying down, hitting back with a statement in defence of the colour. “We consider all colours equally,” Pantone executive director Leatrice Eiseman told The Guardian last June. “There’s no such thing as the ugliest colour.” Eiseman went on to point out that 448C’s “deep, rich, earth tones” were popular on shoes, couches and other household items. Smokers, on the other hand, appear to have voted with their wallets: the 11 per cent drop in tobacco consumption from 2012 to 2014 reported by the Australian Department of Health suggests that the off-putting Pantone 448C effect might just be working.
AND WHAT’S THE WORLD’S PRETTIEST COLOUR? While no government has commissioned research into discovering g d therefore a possible objectively which is the world’s prettiest colour – and antidote to an overdose of Pantone 448C – a quick online search shows that blue is deﬁnitely winning the race. Both ranker.com and thetoptens. because it is com have blue in the No. 1 spot worldwide, perhaps b es. The appealing to both masculine and feminine sensibilitie of colour of the bright blue sky and the deep blue sea, o sparkling sapphires, lapis lazuli and crumpled Levis, in many cultures blue has come to be associated with harmony, inﬁnity, calm and, yes, occasionally sadnesss. 79
IT DOE S NOT DO TO DWE LL ON DREAM S AN D FORG ET TO LIVE .
J . K . R OW LI N G ,
So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.
Harr y Potter and t h e S o r c e r e r ’s S t o n e
H OW M U C H L OV E I N S I D E A F R I E N D? D E P E N D S H OW M U C H YO U G I V E ’ E M . S H E L S I LV E R S TE I N ,
A Light in the Attic
N O R TO N J U S TE R ,
T h e P h a n t o m To l l b o o t h
If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. R OA L D DA H L , T h e Tw i t s
It is when we are most lost that we sometimes find our truest friends. C Y NTH IA RY L A NT, Wa l t D i s n e y ’s S n o w W h i t e a n d t h e S e v e n D w a r f s
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. DR. SEUSS,
T he Lora x
NOTHING IS SWEETER IN THIS SAD WORLD THAN THE SOUND OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE CALLING YOUR NAME. K AT E D I C A M I L LO,
T h e Ta l e o f D e s p e r e a u x
I like that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It’s probably what I love most about writing – that words can be used in a way that’s like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around. MARKUS ZUSAK, T h e B o ok T hi e f
FROM TOP: WARNER BROTHERS . WA LT DISNEY P ICTURES. UNI VERSAL PICTU RE S. ( AL L FROM E VE RE TT COL L E CTION)
Mentors can be found in many places. Mine was the big cheese at a Pizza Hut
Best Boss BY DANI A L A DKI SON
FR O M T H E NEW YORK TIMES
ALL TYPES OF PEOPLE can make
a difference in your life. Some write on a chalkboard. Some wear a sports uniform. Some prefer a suit and tie. The person who changed my outlook had a tie with a Pizza Hut logo on it.
I started working at Pizza Hut I returned with tubs full of more dirty in December 1989, during my first tableware. At home, doing dishes was the year of high school. To keep us out of trouble, parents in my small chore I hated most. A few years earwestern Colorado town encouraged lier, my mother’s then-boyfriend their teenagers to work in the had instilled a loathing of that task service industry after class and on by making me scrub the Teflon off a weekends. Having a job also kept me baking tray because he believed it was grease, while he sat on the couch and out of the house. I grew up mostly with my mother, smoked cigarettes. That boyfriend was and I never knew my father. My gone, but another with a different set younger siblings and I went through of issues had taken his place. My shift was supposed to end at a series of stepdads. My relationships 9pm, but when I asked with those men were to leave, the manager, fraught, and I was always Jeff, shook his head. “Not looking for reasons to be until the work is done,” away from home. AT WORK, he said. “You leave a This Pizza Hut was THE PATH clean station.” I was old and had three giant SEEMED angry and thought about sinks instead of a dishCLEAR: quitting, but I scrubbed, washer. One basin was WORK HARD rinsed and sanitised for soapy water, one AND DO was for rinsing and the THINGS RIGHT, past ten that night. other one was for saniAND YOU tising. All new employI STAYED ON DISH duty WILL SUCCEED for weeks. I spent my ees started by washing dishes and clear ing shifts being splashed tables. If they proved with greasy water. After their mettle, they learned how to take work, my red-and-white checked shirt orders, make pizzas and cut and serve smelled like onions, olives and oil. them on wooden paddles. I sometimes found green capsicums in On my first night, the dishes piled my socks. I hated every minute I spent up after dinner: plates, silverware, doing the dishes, and I wasn’t afraid to cups and oily, black deep-dish pans, let everyone around me know it. which came clean only with a lot of One slow night, maybe a month or soap and scrubbing in steaming- two after I started, when I managed hot water. Stacks formed all around to catch up and clean out the sinks me. Every time I made a dent, I was early, I asked Jeff when I could do called to help clear out the front, and something different. “Do you know 82
I LLUSTRATI ONS: DAN IEL HERTZ BERG
WORLD’S BEST BOSS
WORLD’S BEST BOSS
why you’re still doing dishes?” he asked. “Because you keep complaining about it.” But, he promised, if I continued to leave a clean station and didn’t protest, next week he would put me on the ‘make table’, where pizzas were put together. A few days later, when I reported for my shift, I saw my name next to ‘make table’, not ‘dishes’. I was ecstatic.
with dinner and movies. We went camping. We had water fights in the parking lot and blasted music on the jukebox after the customers had left. Jeff was the leader of this unlikely family. He was about 15 years older than me and had recently gone through a divorce. I never considered it at the time, because he seemed to be having as much fun as everyone else, but if I was using my job to create the family I wished I’d had, it was possible he was, too.
FROM A CROP OF teenagers, Jeff had assembled a team of employees who cared about their work – and one another. Most of my closest friends THOUGH I LOVED WORKING at from high school also worked at Pizza Pizza Hut, I knew I’d go to college Hut, and some of my best memories after graduation. I was an A student were made under that red roof. in class but probably only about a CThe restaurant became not only a minus in applying to schools. My mum place to escape to but hadn’t gone to college, also, in many ways, an and I didn’t get a lot of alternate home. At my logistical or financial house, life felt unstable support at home. I had WHEN and out of control. At a pile of brochures but JEFF WAS my job, the path seemed didn’t know where to PROMOTED clear: work hard and do start – and, at $40, every AND things right, and you TRANSFERRED, application fee would will succeed. cost me half a day’s pay. THE MAGIC For one of the first A guidance counsellor WAS GONE. times ever, I felt empersuaded me to apply THE FAMILY powered. By my senior to Boston University, HAD DISPERSED which seemed great, year, I had become an assistant manager, reprimarily because of its sponsible for much of distance from Colorado. the inventory, scheduling and book- I couldn’t go there without a big keeping. I was in charge when Jeff scholarship, and the form was due was away. by the end of November. But, maybe Our staff had all-day parties that because of the fee or my cluelessness, started with rafting trips and ended I kept putting off sending it in. 84
The day before it was due, I offhandedly mentioned to Jeff that I still hadn’t mailed the application. He opened a drawer and took out an envelope. He told me to leave work and send it immediately. I protested about the cost of overnight postage, but he said he would cover it. Though I ended up getting into Boston University with a scholarship, I had never been to the city. My mum worked hard, but there was no room in our budget for a college visit. I figured I’d just have to see the school when I got there in August. Jeff surprised me with a graduation present: a trip to Boston. We toured my future campus, visited Fenway Park baseball stadium and did some sightseeing. We ate at a lot of Pizza Huts, and we judged all of them against ours. None of them seemed to be very much fun.
BEFORE I HEADED TO COLLEGE ,
I told Jeff I’d come back to work over the winter break. While I was away, h e w a s p r o m o t e d t o re g i o n a l manager, and a different person was put in charge of our store. I went back anyway, but the magic was gone. The family had dispersed, and I felt free to shift my mindset to college and the future. I’ve kept in touch with Jeff over the years. We meet for lunch when I’m in town. Sometimes we even have pizza. Washing dishes for Jeff was gruelling, greasy work. But driving a truck, baking a cake and countless other jobs aren’t always enjoyable in and of themselves. Of all the lessons I learned from that guy in the Pizza Hut tie, the biggest is that any job can be the best – if you have the right boss.
THE NEW YORK TIMES © 2014 BY DANIAL ADKISON, NYTIMES.COM
WE DO APOLOGISE (BADLY) A local newspaper printed the following notice: “CONGRATULATIONS George Brownridge, for pleasing 15 women for an entire day. We were all exhausted and very satisfied and look forward to next year. We all thank you!” … and were forced to run this the next day: “OUR SINCERE APOLOGY to George Brownridge and staff. Our intentions were to thank him for a generous holiday shopping trip he arranged … Any inappropriate innuendos were unintentional.” HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
Author Lia Grainger goes nose to nose with some street art
Meet Madrid’s irrepressible citizens, routing austerity with laughter, cooperation and pure genius
REBIRTH of a
PHOTO: COURTESY LI A GRAINGER
BY LIA GRAINGER
ROM THE OUTSIDE, the looming brick
building looks deserted. There is no shortage of abandoned buildings in Madrid, thanks to the Spanish housing crash of 2008, but there is something different about this one. Instead of an entrance chained and bolted, its rusty gate – a rainbow of layered spray paint and peeling posters – hangs invitingly open. Novemberđ2016
Inside, people of all ages and colours mill about with cheerful purposefulness. Some stop to examine a high wall of posters listing events and activities, while others know exactly where they are going – to a drawing class, perhaps, or a storytelling meeting or an African dance workshop. Overpowering the buzz of activity is a pulsing sound of drums beating in unison. The rhythm emanates from the building’s cavernous central nave. There a group of Madrileños (inhabitants of Madrid) young and old dance in a circle, bells on their ankles and grins on their faces, the smoke of fragrant incense spiralling above them. I spot a grey-haired man leaning against a pillar, watching. “I thought this place was deserted,” I shout in Spanish over the drums. “It was,” he says. “Welcome to Tabacalera.” MADRID IS ONE of Europe’s great
capitals, a city with a storied history centuries long. The metropolis is now home to just over three million Madrileños and has suffered a devastating civil war, endured decades und e r F ra n c i s c o F ra n c o’s b r u t a l dictatorship and witnessed a chaotic cultural rebirth in the ’70s and ’80s. Just when it appeared that the city might be entering a period of tranquillity, a housing bubble decades in the making burst, throwing the entire country into an economic depression referred to here as ‘La Crisis.’ That 88
was in 2008. During a downturn that affected all of Europe, Spain was one of the countries hardest hit. Youth unemployment soared to above 50 per cent. Foreclosures of mortgages reached the tens of thousands. Those who still had jobs saw their wages slashed. By 2011, unrest reached a boiling point. On May 15, 20,000 Spaniards took to Madrid’s Puerta del Sol plaza and for weeks refused to leave, demanding an end to austerity and economic inequality. The protests would eventually help to inspire the Occupy movement that swept the globe. Now, five years later, the numbers say the city is in a modest but fragile recovery. But has its spirit survived close to a decade of dire economic hardship?
TANDING IN TABACALERA
this May morning, I begin to feel Madrid’s pulse, a steady beat of the rebellious, defiant energy that made the city the deserved capital of Spain, a nation populated by arguably the most hot-blooded people on earth. “It was an old tobacco factory,” says Begoña Torres, deputy director of the Department for the Promotion of Fine Arts. The factory closed in 1999 and was gifted to the Ministry of Culture. Plans were made for a dazzling centre for visual art, but by 2010 there was no money and the plans were halted. “We had a ruin,” says Begoña Torres. “But we decided that we could still do something.”
PHOTOS: COURTESY LIA GRA INGER (LEFT); PABLO BLAZQUEZ DOMI NGUEZ/G E TTY IMAG E S ( RIG HT)
REBIRTH OF A CITY
Left: Goyo Villasevil at his Ciudadano Grant bookstore, art gallery and bar Top: A cultural event at Tabacalera
The city used part of the 32,000 square metre space for a city-run gallery and studio space and offered the rest to the neighbourhood’s art and creative collectives to do with the building what they saw fit. The autonomy granted to the neighbours now enlivening Tabacalera seems rare. Why had the government given up control? “It is definitely an experiment here,” says Señora Torres. “And it is a success.” “When the money goes, everything disappears: the grants, the festivals,” the deputy director continues. “But genius emerges from this.” Tabacalera is one example of this genius: a hive of autonomous creative energy that exists with almost no money, thanks to its members and a
bureaucracy that was willing to trust the public to take care of themselves. That afternoon I go walking in the colourful streets of Lavapiés, the neighbourhood where Tabacalera stands, in search of other such examples. I pop into what appears to be a café. Once inside, it becomes clear that Ciudadano (Citizen) Grant, as it is called, is also a bookstore, gallery and bar. In one corner, tall shelves packed with all manner of Spanish and imported art books, graphic novels and independent comics line the walls. In another, a man works hard behind a sleek counter, serving coffees, drinks and treats to patrons who sit around the room engrossed in their laptops, newspapers or books. Downstairs, the launch party of a neighbourhood-wide public art exhibition is taking place. Novemberđ2016
Volunteers at a meeting at the urban community garden ‘Esta es una Plaza’
The man behind the counter is Goyo Villasevil, a friendly fellow with a large beard and a quiet voice. “We were walking our dog and we saw a small piece of paper in the window: for rent,” he says when I ask how the business got started. That was in 2014, and Goyo and his partner Sergio Bang were in the midst of making some big life decisions. Before the crisis, Sergio had worked as the head of public relations for the Motorsports Federation of Spain and Goyo had a small production company. Sergio lost his job when the crisis hit, and all Goyo’s clients began demanding more work for far less money. “Everything changed,” says Goyo. “There was no air. We couldn’t breathe.” 90
The couple had always been interested in art, and Sergio had dreamed of opening a bookstore. They decided to take a chance and open Ciudadano Grant. “The numbers said, This is impossible,” says Goyo. “We thought, We have to try.” Two years later, the money isn’t exactly rolling in, but Ciudadano Grant’s doors are still proudly open and the community has an alternative bookstore, gallery and gathering place. “After the crisis people had to readapt their lives,” said Goyo. “Some people did it with a conscience.” The next day I see what he means. Making my way north, I arrive at Calle Gran Vía, the city’s six-lane main artery, lined with glinting white
P HOTO: GERARD JULIEN/AF P/GETTY I M AGES
buildings in a cacophony of early 20thcentury designs. Well-heeled pedestrians pop in and out of upscale shops and boutiques. At the end of Gran Vía, overlooking the green space of the Plaza de España, stands the desolate 25-floor Edificio España, vacant since 2005. Spanish bank Santander bought the building in 2007, but then in 2010 put its renovation plans on hold indefinitely. In 2014 a Chinese investor purchased the building for two-thirds of what Santander paid, with plans to turn it into luxury apartments and an opulent hotel, testament to the fact that not everyone has responded to the crisis in the same way. It’s getting late and I’m hungry, so I head down to La Latina, the crowded, ancient barrio (neighbourhood) known for its eateries. I’m looking for Taberna Antonio Sanchez, which first opened its heavy wooden doors in 1830. Named after a bullfighter, the bar’s dark-panelled walls are painted with faded portraits of long-dead toreadors. The great black head of a bull that gored the bar’s namesake stares down from where it was mounted. Here Ernest Hemingway would sit at his favourite marble-topped table, writing by candlelight long past midnight. I sit there now, and order a tapa of ‘cocido Madrileño’. It arrives steaming in a brown ceramic dish, a rich medley of chickpeas, potato, chorizo and blood sausage. Sipping wine, I reflect that bars like this have weathered more ups and downs than
anyone alive in the city today, so how had they stood up to La Crisis? “People go out less,” says Oscar Priego, who inherited the bar from his father. “And when they do, they don’t eat as much.” Oscar considers himself lucky – the tavern is well known and tourists come to gaze at its ornate interior. But it wasn’t the tourists that kept the bar going during leaner years. “The regulars always come,” says Oscar.
THE CRISIS HAS NOT ROBBED MADRILEÑOS OF THEIR SPIRIT. “IT’S THE SUN, THE CLIMATE, THE SENSE THAT LIFE IS FOR LIVING” FOR SOME MADRILEÑOS, the idea of
getting along with less is nothing new. In a small cafe near Plaza de España the following afternoon I meet Pepe Froment de las Herasand and Matilde Martin de Sancho, Madrileños through and through. “I was born in 1941, just around the corner!” says Matilde with gusto. I’ve connected with the two seniors through Cicero Madrid, a historical guiding company that gives tours to locals. Matilde and Pepe are history buffs who have actually lived through the history the guides describe. “It was a city of neighbourhoods, Novemberđ2016
REBIRTH OF A CITY
everyone knew how everyone’s neighbours lived,” explains Matilde of her life as a child in the heart of Madrid under Franco. “There was not much money, but still everyone went out.” Franco’s policies of isolationism after the civil war devastated the economy for two decades – the 2008 crash wasn’t the first ‘crisis’ these two had endured. But then, where does one go in the capital with no money? “To stroll,” they both respond, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Parks, plazas and boulevards are as jammed with people ‘out for a walk’ as they have ever been. “Madrid is a city that likes to go out and be in animated places,” explains Matilde. Pepe is eager to elaborate on the enduring Madrileño spirit. “It’s the sun, the climate, the sense that life is for living,” he says, eyes sparkling. Pepe and Matilde’s vigour makes me want to take a stroll of my own, so I walk towards the centre, dissecting the city southwest. My stroll cuts directly through Puerta del Sol. Today the expansive plaza is abuzz with tourists and shoppers, but five years ago hundreds of thousands of Spain’s discontented citizens had ‘taken the square’, camping out in a protest against government austerity measures, corruption and the increasing division between rich and poor. Today the so-called 15-M Movement has long ago left Puerta del Sol, so where have they gone, those youth92
ful leaders who infused the city with rebellion, cooperation and hope? I find one such leader in his office above bustling Calle de Atocha. Jon Aguirre Such is one of five young urban architects who in 2011 decided to found Paisaje Transversal, a firm that works on a wide range of projects that have been turning their industry in Madrid upside-down – for the better. “15-M was an empowering process for people,” says a moustachioed Jon. “For a long time they received very little help from the government, so
CITY-WIDE PROJECTS – INCLUDING URBAN FARMS AND ARTIST COLLECTIVES – SHOW A MADRID THAT IS TEEMING WITH ENERGY they had to start solving problems on their own.” It was definitely an empowering time for him; he found himself acting as one of the spokespeople for the movement. He says the spirit of that protest lives on. “It moved out into the neighbourhoods, developing into local projects. Professionals like me began working with those neighbourhood associations.” Jon and his team realised that in a country with millions of empty
buildings, they needed to use their skills for something other than the creation of new homes and offices. “Over the last five years, Madrid has experienced an explosion of what we call new urban activism. We’re on the cutting edge in the world.” He unfolds a large map of the city covered in 100 scattered polka dots. Each represents a citizen-directed initiative, from urban farms to co-operative squats to community neighbourhood associations and artist collectives. The project is titled ‘Los Madriles’, and an online version of the map can be updated and added to by users. It’s a way to show Madrileños an all but invisible side of their city, a side that is teeming with life – and growing. The team is also using their expertise to transform whole neighbourhoods. The hilly suburban Virgen de Begoña district is a maze of stairs that can be difficult to navigate for the elderly or disabled. Jon and his team are making the entire area fully accessible and they’re doing it with the help and consent of the residents.
L E AV E T H E C I T Y t he nex t
morning, but before making my way to the train station I stop in ‘Esta es una Plaza’, a community garden at the foot of Lavapiés that Jon recommended I visit. The garden occupies what was once a walled-in patch of concrete. Today, those walls are painted with towering murals of animals and the concrete has been replaced by rich earth that sprouts fruits, vegetables and f lowers. There is a librar y in one corner, a playground in another and at the far end an amphitheatre built out of used packing crates. The sun is shining and a group has already gathered in the garden’s kitchen. Members of a local organic food collective, they’re preparing an enormous vegetarian paella that later will feed whoever wants to come and eat. It seems a fitting end to my Madrileño adventure that I find myself among community and laughter and the desire to help one another keep the good times going just a little bit longer.
FE-LINES “You only live once.” – a pessimistic cat. @MRNICKHARVEY (NICK HARVEY)
My cat sure drinks a lot of water for someone WHO CLAIMS TO BE TERRIFIED OF IT. @JAZMASTA “MY cat is like a dog.” – every cat owner.
Why certain words are funny
Laughing at Lang age BY M ICH AEL H INGSTON FR O M THE WALRUS
PROFESSOR CHRIS WESTBURY
may be a respected psychologist, but his latest research is nonsense. At the University of Alberta, Canada, he has been doing important work, exploring the connections between language difficulties and brain function. Yet his studies have also provided insights into the nature of humour. As part of his inquiry, Westbury presents patients suffering from aphasia – whose comprehension of words and speech is often impaired – with a string of letters and asks whether or not it constitutes a real English word. One day, a graduate student pointed out something curious : certain nonsense words consistently made patients smile and sometimes even laugh out loud. “Particularly,” Westbury says, “‘snunkoople’. ” He started checking with friends and colleagues to see whether they had the same reaction, and the response was nearly unanimous. Snunkoople was funny. But why? In a 2016 paper published in the Journal of Memory and Language, Westbury presents what he believes could be the answer : the inherent funniness of a word, or at least of context-free non-words, can be quantified – and not all nonsense is created equal. According to Westbury, the less statistically likely it is for a certain collection of letters to form a real word in English, the funnier it is. (The playwright Neil Simon seemed to
grasp this implicitly in his 1972 work The Sunshine Boys, in which an old vaudevillian tells his nephew, “If it doesn’t have a ‘k’ in it, it’s not funny!” – ‘k’ being one of the least frequently used letters in the alphabet.) Fluent English speakers, Westbury says, are accustomed to words sounding a particular way. So when they come across unusual clusters of letters or syllables, their expectations are violated. Laughter is the by-product of that violation.
Power to Amuse The theory of humour as a function of incongruity isn’t new. Westbury’s paper traces its influence from Aristotle to Charlie Chaplin. In the 18th century, German philosopher Immanuel Kant defined laughter as “an affection arising from the sudden transformation of a strained expectation into nothing.” But Westbury zeroes in on the work of another German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, who in the 19th century proposed that this response was scalable – that there was a direct correlation between a joke’s ability to subvert our expectations and its power to amuse. Westbury decided to test Schopenhauer’s hypothesis by appealing to probability – specifically, the odds that letters in any non-word would appear in an English word in the same combination. He ran two studies. In the first, he presented participants with a computer-generated list of some 5928 made-up words to see Novemberđ2016
L A U G H I N G AT L A N G U A G E
which ones they found comical. Those that sounded rude shot straight to the top of the scale; four of the six funniest were ‘whong’, ‘dongl’, ‘focky’ and ‘clunt’. Westbury decided that those quasi-vulgarities had to go because they triggered associative biases. He wanted nonsense in its purest form.
Measuring Made-up Words In the second study, the psychologist and his team created a new selection of made-up words, filtered for crass undertones. The researchers made sure that the new non-words were easily pronounced and that they didn’t violate typical English spelling rules. (Whether or not they found it amusing, no-one would mistake, say, ‘xxxxxxx’ for a real word, and most would be hard-pressed to pronounce it.) Participants then ranked the words on a scale of funny to not funny. The outcome was clear: participants consistently judged the same nonwords to be funny, even when they didn’t sound vulgar (among the Grated w inners w ere ‘hablump’, ‘jumemo’ and ‘finglysiv’). And the less plausible the word sounded, the funnier the participants deemed it to be. Westbury and his colleagues believe that the studies represent the first
quantitative test of Schopenhauer’s nearly 200-year-old hypothesis. The results square intuitively with our everyday lives as English speakers. Many of the funniest fake food products from The Simpsons, for example – including Duff Beer and Tubbb! – score low on Westbury’s probability scale. Dr. Seuss elevated the creation of ridiculous words to an art: even children with a loose grasp of English understand that ‘wumbus’ and ‘yuzz-a-ma-tuzz’ are meant to be laughed at. Westbury analysed 65 of Seuss’s made-up words and confirmed that they, too, were reliably lower in probability. While these studies mark a step into the uncertain terrain of quantifying humour, Westbury isn’t sure where the research will go from here. Absurd words are relatively easy to create, but most forms of humour, he says, are more difficult to measure. In the course of his research, Westbury attended open-mic comedy nights at a local bar. He once watched a ten-minute bit about a cyclist getting spiders stuck in his hair. It was hilarious, but, Westbury remembers thinking, How would you ever quantify this kind of thing? Until he figures that out, he’ll always have ‘snunkoople’.
THE WALRUS (MARCH 2016) © 2016 BY MICHAEL HINGSTON. THEWALRUS.CA
WHY DO WE CALL IT... THE ‘LIMELIGHT’? Because theatre spotlights literally used to burn lime to create light. Source: Bathroom Reader’s Institute 96
That’s Outrageous! ANIMAL MAGNETISM MADE FOR that special bovine in your life, Farmer’s Cologne is “beautiful for a man or woman, and also pleasing for cows,” says creator Lisa Brodar. One whiff of this all-natural cologne crafted from essential oils, and Bessie’ll give milk till the … well, you-know-who comes home. A 60 ml bottle costs $115.
I LLUSTRATI ON BY NI CK DAUPH IN
Source: Bangor Daily News
BELLA MIA, a Maltese terrier, enjoys the finer things in life, including filet mignon and having her own boudoir with a double bed. Which is why her owner, a New York accountant, is leaving more than US$1 million in her will to Bella. She wants to ensure that she’s “taken care of in the way that Source: Daily Mail she’s used to.” A NORWEGIAN COUPLE were afraid that their bulldog, Igor, would feel homesick when they dropped him off at a kennel. So they built an exact replica of their living room in the kennel. The walls were painted grey, like the real living room, and the
coffee table was identical to the one at home. As for the couch and rug, they were moved in from the house. Source: Daily Mail
a Pennsylvania man with trespassing and public drunkenness after he was caught drinking beer surrounded by his neighbour’s pigs. The man had a ready explanation for the officers: “I just like pigs.” Oh, and the beer he was drinking? Hamm’s. Source: Associated Press
A DWARF BILLY GOAT gave new meaning to the word ‘scapegoat’ when he busted out his best friend, a huge Clydesdale horse. The horse went on the run in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. The nearly one-tonne horse, who goes by ‘Buddy’, was eventually found and safely wrangled back into his stable after a five-day search. The goat named Lancelot knew how to butt open the stable gate, so letting Buddy head for the hills. Source: Associated Press
Elephants Come to Heal
In the heart of the Thai jungle sits a sanctuary of hope for Thailandâ€™s injured and sick elephants BY CHRIS PRITCHARD
W H E R E E L E P H A N TS CO M E TO H E A L
HREE PATIENTS STAND in
a sunny spot outside a small hospital building. Behind them is impenetrable northern Thai jungle. They’re malnourished drug addicts, gaunt but nonetheless huge, and attached to drips to speed their rehabilitation.
Elephant artworks are available in the centre’s gift shop
offers budget accommodation and the Lampang area has many hotels, most visitors make daytrips from Chiang Mai, which has even more plentiful lodgings in all price brackets. While Lampang, where a new air terminal opened last year, is directly linked to Bangkok, there are far more flights between the capital and Chiang Mai. Thailand is one of Asia’s top tourist destinations – a land of golden
P HOTOS: CHRI S PRI TCHARD
What’s odd about these addicts is that they are elephants. These animals are shocking reminders that the global battle against drug addiction isn’t just about humans. “Animals also become addicts,” explains Dr Sittidech Mahawangsakul, one of seven veterinarians at Lampang Elephant Hospital. The hospital, among four in this Southeast Asian nation, is devoted to the treatment of sick elephants, usually housing about 20 pachyderm patients. It also boasts a pharmacy and a department for fitting artificial limbs. It sits next door to the 121-hectare Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC). Established 23 years ago, the TECC is a major tourist attraction and is government-run. Many of the TECC’s visitors belatedly discover that it is next door to the Lampang Elephant Hospital. They are located around 60 km south of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s number-two city, just off the highway that continues another 32 km to the bustling market town of Lampang. Though the centre itself
The hospital is next door to the Thailand Elephant Conservation Centre, a major tourist attraction
Buddhist temples and an ancient culture encompassing a distinctive musical style, classical dance and a justly famed spicy cuisine. Against a backdrop of striking natural beauty, the country has embraced modernity: luxury hotels (including beach resorts), freeway-linked provincial hubs, glitzy shopping malls backing onto colourful bargain-filled markets, historic palaces and museums, vibrant nightlife and more.
Woven deeply into Thailand’s social fabric is a revered monarchy. Indeed, King Bhumibol, who turns 89 in December, is the world’s longestserving, currently reigning monarch. He was crowned in 1946. And, like the monarchy, elephants occupy a special place in Thai life. Among the 50 elephants housed at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre – where 53-year-old Motala, who has a prosthetic leg after losing Novemberđ2016
W H E R E E L E P H A N TS CO M E TO H E A L
the limb to a land mine across the Myanmar border, is most famous – are four white elephants that belong to the king. White elephants aren’t white at all. Nor are they albinos. These rarities are, however, paler-skinned than other elephants. In Thailand they’re widely regarded as sacred, with their owners considering it an honour to give them to the king. However, after inspections, only the best are accepted. According to Dr Preecha Puangkam, the now-retired director of the hospital, “not all hospitalised elephants are
sometimes have to give them tranquillisers to calm them. Otherwise, it’s a matter of multivitamins and healthy diets to build them up – plus antibiotics to kill infections. We see them getting better in front of our eyes.” More common are broken bones. But Dr Sittidech says this is sometimes a result of drug addiction. Heartless owners discovered that ‘speed’ pills drive elephants to work harder at log-stacking. “They work furiously under the influence of drugs. So frenzied are they that they fall into holes or try to move logs
Thailand has an estimated 3000 wild elephants and another 4000 domesticated drug-addicted – usually only about three at a time. We also see some with symptoms of stress manifested by disobedience. These are usually from cities. We blame car fumes and industrial pollution. “We keep them in the jungle behind the hospital, put them on good diets with vitamin supplements – and within a few weeks they’re better. We recommend their owners don’t return them to the city.” In the case of the drug-addicted elephants, it’s usually amphetamines. “We don’t give them ever-reducing doses of addictive drugs to wean them off,” Dr Preecha explains. “Instead, we stop these drugs altogether. Then we 102
that are too heavy. They fall, breaking bones. Fortunately, broken bones mend, as they do in humans.” One quirk identified by Dr Sittidech: “We have to calculate medication dosages particularly carefully. A typical human is around 75 kg, while an Asian elephant is about 5000 kg.” Asian elephants are slightly smaller than African elephants, the world’s largest land mammals. Unlike African elephants, many Asian elephants are domesticated. “With medications, we supply them orally – sometimes an entire handful of vitamin pills – or through drips. Badtasting medicines are hidden in food.” As Thailand develops, elephants
are increasingly hit by vehicles. Thailand has an estimated 3000 elephants wild in the jungle and another 4000 domesticated – either working in logging or in the tourism industry. After treatment, elephants are returned to owners, unless they were brought in by people who found them abandoned, in which case they are released to the conservation centre. I WANDER FROM THE HOSPITAL, where patients are housed in large open-sided sheds, towards the sound of music. An elephant orchestra – with elephants playing a range of instruments including drums, gongs and trumpets – is entertaining tourists in a small grandstand. It’s an amusing cacophony! The animals generally play whenever the hapless conductor – a centre employee – points at them. Sometimes their trunks blow harmonicas into their own ears. Down at a little stream, I watch tourists swimming with elephants who are enjoying daily baths. Baby elephants playfully spurt water at each other. Other elephants disappear into the jungle, taking tourists for short rides.
Back at the grandstand I watch a demonstration of log-rolling and other activities before easels are set up. Four elephants holding paintbrushes with their trunks produce not just abstracts but pictures of vases of brightly coloured flowers. The elephants paint for about ten minutes, each with a mahout (trainer or keeper) at its side. An elephant and its mahout form life-long partnerships. After the show I stroll across a clearing to inspect brightly hued squares drying in the tropical sun. It turns out these squares are paper made of elephant dung mixed with paint to give them distinctive pigmentations. In an adjoining workshop, these sheets are cut into different sizes and packaged as writing paper, or gummed together into notebooks. A souvenir shop near the entrance features displays of elephant dung paper for sale, as well as examples of elephant art. After buying paper and paintings, a visiting German couple tell me that their most treasured souvenir is neither of these. Instead, it’s the memory of seeing how the hospital weans these delightful creatures off dangerous and addictive drugs.
THE AGE-OLD PROBLEM When I turned two I was really anxious, because I’d doubled my age in a year. I thought, If this keeps up, by the time I’m six, I’ll be 90. COMEDIAN STEVEN WRIGHT Novemberđ2016
The Space Equation
American scientists pose for Life magazine on October 10, 1957, alongside satellite orbit equations drawn up by astronomer Samuel Herrick. The photo was taken just six days after the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik 1 – the world’s ﬁrst human-made satellite and a win in the earliest round of the space race. NASA was created the following October, and within months the United States was also in orbit: on January 31, 1958, NASA launched the Explorer 1 satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida. PHOTOGRAPH BY J. R. EYERMAN
P HOTO: THE LIFE PI CTURE COLLEC TION/GETTY IM AGES
OF LASTING INTEREST
saved my life BY CHRISTIE WILCOX FROM MOSAIC SCIENCE
Ellie Lobel was ready to die. Then she was attacked by killer bees
P HOTOS: COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR; iSTOCK
Once struck down by Lyme disease, Ellie Lobelâ€™s recovery came from a truly unexpected source
H O W A B E E S T I N G S AV E D M Y L I F E
ELLIE LOBEL WAS 27 when she was bitten by a tick and contracted
But in the spring of 1996, Ellie didn’t know to look for the characteristic bull’s-eye rash when she was bitten – she thought it was a spider bite. Then came three months of flulike symptoms and horrible pains that moved around her body. Ellie was a fit, active woman with three kids, but her body did not know how to handle this new invader. She was
Hard-bodied ticks infected with Borrelia transmit the bacterium via bites 108
incapacitated. “It was all I could do to get my head up off the pillow,” Ellie remembers. Her first doctor told her it was a virus that would run its course. So did the next. Doctor after doctor gave her a different diagnosis. Multiple sclerosis. Lupus. Rheumatoid arthritis. Fibromyalgia. None of them realised she was infected with Borrelia until more than a year after she contracted the disease – and by then, it was too late. Lyme bacteria are exceptionally good at adapting, possibly capable of dodging both the immune system and antibiotics. And even with antibiotic treatment, ten to 20 per cent of patients don’t get better right away. “I just kept doing this treatment and that treatment,” says Ellie. Her condition was worsening. She was stuck in bed or a wheelchair and couldn’t think clearly. Ellie kept fighting, with every antibiotic, every phar maceutical, ever y holistic
P HOTOS: iSTOCK
Lyme disease. And she was not yet 45 when she decided to give up fighting for survival. Caused by corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which enter the body through the bite of a tick, each year Lyme disease is diagnosed in around 329,000 people across 80 countries. It kills almost none of these people. If doctors correctly identify the cause of the illness early on, antibiotics can wipe out the bacteria quickly before they spread through the heart, joints and nervous system.
treatment she could find. “With some things I would get better for a little while, and then I would just relapse into this horrible Lyme nightmare. And with every relapse it got worse.” After 15 years, she gave up. “Doctors couldn’t help me,” she says. “When I got my last test results and all my counts were horrible, I knew then that this was the end. I didn’t care if I was going to see my next birthday.” So she packed up and moved to California to die. And she almost did. Less than a week after moving, Ellie was attacked by a swarm of Africanised bees.
run – she couldn’t even walk. “ They were in my hair, all I heard was this crazy buzzing in my ears. I thought: I’m just going to die right here.” Ellie, like one to seven per cent of the world’s population, is severely allergic to bees. When she was two, a sting sent her into anaphylaxis, a severe reaction of the body’s immune system. She nearly died. Her mother drilled a fear of bees into her to ensure she never ended up in the same dire situation again. So when the bees descended, Ellie was sure
“I knew that this was the end. I didn’t care if I was going to see my next birthday” ELLIE WAS IN CALIFORNIA for three days before the attack. “I wanted to get some fresh air and feel the sun on my face and hear the birds sing,” she recalls. “I knew that I was going to die in the next three or four months.” At this point, Ellie was struggling to stand on her own. She had a caregiver to help her shuffle along the rural roads by her home in southern California, where she had chosen to die. She was just standing near a tree when the first bee appeared, she remembers, “just hitting me in the head. All of a sudden – boom! – bees everywhere.” Her caregiver ran. But Ellie couldn’t
that this was the end, a few months earlier than expected. Bee venom is a mixture of compounds, the most important being a tiny 26-amino-acid peptide called melittin. It is responsible for the burning pain associated with bee stings. “I could feel the first five or ten or 15 but after that I just went limp,” says Ellie. “I put my hands up and covered my face because I didn’t want them stinging me in the eyes.” When the bees finally dissipated, her caregiver tried to take her to the hospital, but Ellie refused. “This is God’s way of putting me out of my misery Novemberđ2016
H O W A B E E S T I N G S AV E D M Y L I F E
THE IDEA THAT VENOM toxins that cause harm may also be used to heal is not new. Bee venom has been used as a treatment in East Asia since at least the second century BCE. “Over millions of years, these little chemical engineers have developed a diversity of molecules that target different parts of our nervous system,” says Dr Ken Winkel, former director o the Australian Venom Research Unit at the University of Melbourne. “This idea of applying these potent nerve toxins to somehow interrupt a nervous disease has been there for a long time. But we haven’t known enough to safely do that.” The practical application of venoms in modern therapeutics has been minimal. That is until the past ten years or so, according to Professor Glenn King at the University of Queensland. In 1997, when Ellie was bouncing around from doctor to doctor, King was studying the venom of the deadly
Ellie now runs a business selli ng bee-derived beauty product s
ustra ian unne -we spider. He’s now at the forefront of venom drug discovery. Over the course of the 20th century, suggested venom treatments for a range of diseases have appeared in scientific and medical literature. Venoms have been shown to fight cancer, kill bacteria and even serve as potent painkillers – though many have only gone as far as animal tests. The more we learn about venoms that cause such awful damage, the more we realise, medically speaking, how useful they can be. Like melittin in bee venom.
THIS IS AN ABRIDGED VERSION OF THE ARTICLE FIRST PUBLISHED ON MOSAICSCIENCE.COM ON MARCH 24, 2015
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even sooner,” she told him. “I locke myself in my room and told him t come collect the body tomorrow.” But Ellie didn’t die. Not that day and not three to four months later. That was four years ago. “I had all my blood work done. We tested everything. I’m so healthy.” She believes the bees, and their venom, saved her life.
Melittin does not only cause pain. In the right doses, it punches holes in the protective membranes of cells, causing them to explode. But at higher concentrations, melittin molecules can group together into rings creating large pores in membranes, weakening a cell’s protective barrier and causing the entire cell to swell and pop like a balloon. Because of this, melittin is a potent antimicrobial, fighting off a variety of bacteria and fungi with ease. And scientists are hoping to capitalise on this action to fight diseases such as HIV, cancer, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction – her body was being flooded with toxins from dying bacteria. For three days, she was in pain. Then, she wasn’t. “I had been living in this… I call it a ‘brown-out’ because it’s like you’re walking around in a half-coma all the time with the inflammation of your brain from the Lyme,” she explains. “My brain just came right out of that fog. I thought: I can actually think clearly for the first time in years.” With a now-clear head, Ellie started wondering what had happened. So she did what anyone else would do: Google it. Disappointingly, her searches
Ellie started on a regimen of ten stings a day, three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday ELLIE IS THE FIRST TO ADMIT that her tale sounds a little tall. “If someone were to have come to me and said, ‘Hey, I’ll sting you with some bees, and you’ll get better,’ I would have said, ‘You’re crazy!’” But she has no doubts now. After the attack, Ellie waited for anaphylaxis to set in, but it didn’t. Instead, three hours l at e r, h e r b o d y wa s racked with pain. A trained scientist, Ellie thinks this wasn’t part of an allergic response, but instead indicated a
turned up very little. But she did find one small 1997 study by scientists at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana, who’d found that melittin killed Borrelia. Exposing cell cultures to purified melittin, they reported that the compound completely inhibited Borrelia growth. When the scientists looked more closely, they saw that shortly after melittin was added, the bacteria were paralysed. Soon after, those membranes began to fall apart, killing the bacteria. Novemberđ2016
Convinced by her experience and the research she found, Ellie decided to try apitherapy, the therapeutic use of materials derived from bees. Her bees live in a ‘bee condo’ in her apartment. She doesn’t raise them herself ; instead, she mail orders, receiving a package once a week. To perform the apitherapy, she uses tweezers to grab a bee and press it gently where she wants to be stung. She started on a regimen of ten stings a day, three days a week : Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Four years and several thousand stings later, Ellie seems to have recovered. Slowly she reduced the number of stings and their frequency – just three stings over an eight-month period. She keeps the bees around just in case. MODERN SCIENCE HAS GRADUALLY
begun to take apart venoms piece by piece to understand how they do the things they do, both terrible and tremendous. Most venoms are complex cocktails of compounds, containing dozens to hundreds of different proteins, peptides and other molecules. Each compound has a different task that allows the venom to work with maximum efficiency – m a n y p a r t s mov i n g together to immobilise, induce pain, or do whatever it is that the animal needs its venom for. Venoms are mixtures of specifically targeted 112
toxins rather than single toxins and this makes them rich sources of potential drugs – that’s all a drug is, a compound that has a desired effect on our bodies. The more specific the drug’s action the better, as that means fewer side effects. “It was in the 2000s that people started saying [venoms] are complex molecular libraries, and we should start screening them against specific therapeutic targets as a source of drugs,” says King. Of the seven venom-derived pharmaceuticals on the international market, the most successful, captopril, was derived from a peptide found in the venom of the Brazilian viper (Bothrops jararaca). This venom has been known for centuries for its potent blood-thinning ability – one tribe is said to have coated their arrow tips in it to inflict maximum damage – and the drug has made its parent company more than a billion dollars and become a common treatment for hypertension. Dr Bryan Fry, a colleague of King’s at the University of Queensland and one of the world’s most prolific venom researchers, says the captopril family and its derivatives still command a market worth billions of dollars a year. Not bad for something developed in the 1970s. “It’s not only been one of the top 20 drugs of all time,” he says,
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H O W A B E E S T I N G S AV E D M Y L I F E
“it’s been one of the most persistent outside of maybe aspirin.” Rare cases like Ellie’s are a reminder of the potent potential of venoms. But turning folk knowledge into pharmaceuticals can be a long and arduous process. “It could take as long as ten years from the time you find it and patent it,” says King. “And for every one that you get through, ten fail.” Since the 1997 study, no-one had looked into bee venom as a potential cure for Lyme disease, until Ellie.
See page 122
14. The sequence on the bottom row is made by multiplying each number in the top row by two, then arranging those products in reverse order from right to left.
A. Cough mixture B. See eye to eye C. Forever and ever D. Beat around the bush
Ellie’s mission: teaching the benefits of bee venom therapy to fellow sufferers
THERE’S A LONG WAY TO GO for bee venom and melittin. And it takes a lot of work – and money – to turn a discovery into a safe, working medicine. King believes that scientists are entering a new era of drug discovery. No-one knows exactly how many venomous species exist. There are venomous jellyfish, snails, insects – even venomous primates. With that, however, comes a race against time of our own making. Species are going extinct every year, and up to a third may go extinct from climate change alone. “When people ask me what’s the best way to convince people to preserve nature, your weakest argument is to talk about how beautiful it is,” says Fry. Instead, he says, we need to emphasise the untapped potential that these species represent. “It’s a resource, it’s money. So conservation through commercialisation is really the only sane approach.” Ellie couldn’t agree more. “We need to do a lot more research on these venoms, and really take a look at what’s in nature that’s going to help us.” Novemberđ2016
Unbelievable TRUE TALES TOLD TALL
More Proof That Irony Rules I THINK ALL journalists
should end every report with IDK THO LOL (“I don’t know though, laugh out loud”) so people can’t sue them in case all their facts are wrong. Clever, no? Legal matters are on my mind thanks to news reports sent in by readers. First up, police officers in Mumbai were thrilled to have tracked 114
down and jailed the Forgery Kings, a sneaky duo reputed to be able to fabricate any document. The forgers then produced a document instructing the police to immediately let them go – and they did. The penny didn’t drop until almost a month later. This recent case reminded me of a case in Japan in which a guy nicknamed the God of Lockpickers was caught breaking into a building.
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What can we mere mortals do in the face of it?
Police locked him up, high-fived each comics, where this sort of thing other and went off to celebrate. He let happens practically every issue. himself out and switched off the light. It happens in the West, too. These cases I put into my Heavily In 2007 in France, notorious killer Ironic True Crime Reports file. But ‘Kalashnikov Pat’ was doing time for, neither of them takes the top spot among other things, escaping prison from possibly the most ironic case in 2001 by climbing a rope ladder ever, one I followed closely in Hong lowered from a hijacked helicopter. Kong some years ago. A scary In 2003, he’d returned to the same businessman was prison in a helicopter to accused of intimidating break out a few mates witnesses, causing them but was arrested a few The Slipperiest months later. Come 2007, to have sudden memory Man in the losses and withdraw from and armed men landed court cases. The case had World asked a on the roof of Grasse barely started when the prison guard to Prison in a hijacked judge was told that all the helicopter and whisked bring him his Pat away to freedom. witnesses had sudden skin cream and He was arrested in Spain memory losses and withdrawn from the case. two months later. slipped out In one stroke, the But a US correspondent accused man secured had the best tale. In 1947, an acquittal and provided strong Willie Sutton, Master of Disguise, was evidence that he was guilty. What imprisoned for life. He disguised more proof is needed that irony is the himself as a prison warder and guiding principle of the universe? climbed a ladder to get over the wall. A colleague told me about Choi When the spotlight operator shone a Gap-Bok, known as the Slipperiest light on him, the Master of Disguise Man in the World. After a lengthy coolly called out, “It’s OK!” and the chase, police in South Korea caught watchman let him go. Don’t blame him and threw him in the slammer. the guard. He was being guided by He asked a prison guard to bring him the Universal Law of Irony. his ‘skin cream’. He slapped it on and I think I will hereby inaugurate slipped through the tiny food slot in International Irony Day, which I will the jail door, just 15 cm high. It mark with an animal rights barbecue. sounds impossible, but I totally IDK THO LOL. believe it for two reasons: first, there are videos of him on the internet, and Nury Vittachi is a Hong Kong-based author. Read his blog at Mrjam.org second, I read a lot of superhero Novemberđ2016
TROLLS Animation From the creators of Shrek comes Trolls, DreamWorks Animation’s colourful, clever and irreverent comedy about the search for happiness. The Bergens are the enemy of the Trolls and only happy when they’ve “got Trolls in their stomach”. When they attack the Trolls’ village, Troll leader Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and her companion Branch (Justin Timberlake) set off on a quest to rescue their friends. Not surprisingly, the overly optimistic Trolls ﬁnd adventure, mishap and lots of music as their journey takes them far beyond the only world they’ve ever known. This upbeat movie, with voice actors Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani and Kunal Nayyar, will have you tapping your feet to familiar and new tunes and leave you with a smile.
“Happiness resides in everyone. Sometimes you can find it yourself and sometimes you need … help.” JEFFREY KATZENBERG, CEO of DreamWorks
ovemberrđ2016 ove ov 2016
RULES DON’T APPLY Romance, comedy, drama
FORCES OF NATURE Professor Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen
William Collins (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) Television brings the world around us right into our living rooms in ﬂeeting, quickly forgotten bursts, while a book ensures that it stays there, the information and images always at the ready to inform, inspire or thrill. Forces of Nature is such a book. Based on the BBC television series hosted by Professor Brian Cox, it challenges and expands our understanding of our beautiful and mysterious planet. Divided into intriguing sections – Symmetry, Motion, Elements, Colour – it asks us to contemplate e some of the bigger questions of life in an eve er-evolving Universe. The most complex of issues are addressed and the limits of our current knowledge and understanding explained d in an accessible way. The well-curated selectio on of photographs is a pleasure and an education in itself.
Set in 1958, this romantic comedy centres on aspiring actress Marla Mabrey and ambitious young businessman Frank Forbes. Marla (Lily Collins, below), a devout Baptist from Virginia, arrives in Hollywood to follow her dream, chaperoned by her mother (Annette Bening). Under contract with billionaire ﬁlmmaker Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty), Marla must follow his strict rules, one of which prohibits romantic interaction between his employees. This proves difficult as she and her driver, Frank (Alden Ehrenreich), a devout Methodist, are instantly attracted to one another. Just as the couple’s religious beliefs are tested, so too are their values as th are drawn d i t the th they into bizarre world of Howard Hughes.
“This book is all a about asking ‘Why?’ Sometimess, the answer is ‘because it is’. ”
OUT & ABOUT
HACKSAW RIDGE Biopic Directed by Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true story of WWII American Army medic Desmond Doss (Andrew Garﬁeld). Religious beliefs prevent Doss from carrying weapons and, although he believes in the war, he refuses to kill any enemy as he believes taking a life can Doss: in the bloody Battle of Okinawa without a weapon never be justiﬁed. During training Doss is labelled is sent to ﬁght in the enemy lines and braving a coward by his fellow Battle of Okinawa – Doss ﬁre while tending to soldiers and endures without a weapon. During soldiers. Awarded the beatings and taunts Medal of Honor for from his unit, in particular the battle, one of the bloodiest of the Paciﬁc bravery by President bl bloodthirsty Smitty Truman, he was the ﬁrst W Doss saved 75 (Luke Bracey). Eventually War, omrades; evacuating the conscientious objector to co their unit, the 77th be awarded this medal. wounded from behind Sustainment Brigade,
In August this t year, police in Rome were called to investigate a domestic c disturbance after neighbours reported hearing crying. Butt when four officers arrived at the home of 89-year-old Jole and her 94-year-old husband Michele, what hey ound were two very lonely people despairing at the state of t world. With no visitors for months and their only company a TV bringing them the distressing news of the world, the police knew jusst what to do: “They asked for permission to accesss the pantry and improvise a little dinner,” stated the police p incident report. “A bowl of pasta with butter and cheese. Nothing special. But with a precious ingre edient: inside it is all their humanity… There are two lonely souls to reassure.”
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In Case of Emergency, Cook Pasta
Hail to the Grandmas
ARRIVAL Sci-Fi When 12 alien spacecraft land on Earth, an elite team is called upon to investigate. The group includes mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) and expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams, above) who must try to communicate with the aliens. Humankind teeters on the verge of an intergalatic war as the team attempts to understand whether the visitors come in peace or pose a threat. To get answers, Banks, Donnelly y and Weber take a chance that not only threatens s their lives but possibly all of humanity. Arrival is based b on Ted Chiang’s short story Story of Your Liffe. The alien spacecraft is only one of many spe ecial effects that make this ﬁlm eerily probable.
We humans possibly take our grandparents for granted. Many animal species don’t live long enough to produce three generations. However, there are exceptions: long-lived species such as whales and elephants have grandparents with important roles to play. A research project led by UK professor Phyllis Lee that collected data on 834 elephants in e ya o e a 4 -year yea Kenya over span has revealed that a supportive grandmother has a huge impact on the survival and prosperity of the herd.
DOIN’ TIME Everyone deserves a second chance Rachel Porter
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Rockpool Publishing The personal stories of nine Australian men whose early lives were marred by abuse, an absence of joy or encouragement and a lack of stability make compelling reading. But, despite the odds, these men did get a second chance, and, through their own tenacity and with the help of others, their lives have taken on a brightness and purpose. With commentary from the young men themselves, this book is a chronicle of hope. All royalties from the book go to Whitelion, a charity for disadvantaged youth across Australia.
Wisdom and care of the young: elephant grandmas play a crucial role
OUT & ABOUT
WOOF A book of happiness for dog lovers Edited by Anouska Jones Exisle Publishing If you aren’t a dog lover already, you may well become one as you turn the pages of this book. Happiness emanates from every photograph and the accompanying quotes from famous folk such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Charles Dickens and Marilyn Monroe speak of lasting friendships and the fun and mayhem our doggie pals bring to our lives. Yes, they may chew your favourite shoes or shed fur all over your furniture, but canine companionship and loyalty in good times and bad, in childhood and old age are second to none.
“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.” Mark Twain
Slamming the Slammer Doors
The Netherlands has a population of roughly 17 million people, yet only 11,600 of them are behind bars – a tiny proportion compared with most other countries. Prison numbers L have been falling since 2004 and, as a result, the E T HO country’s prisons have been closing: eight in 2009, another 19 in 2014, and now another ﬁve are set to follow. According to Dutch Minister of Security and Justice Ard van der Steur, the reasons behind the decline in numbers are twofold: shorter sentences and a decline in serious crimes. But what L E T HO to do with the empty prisons? The Netherlands has begun ‘leasing’ them as prisons to other countries, such as Belgium and Norway – and one former prison in the Dutch town of Roermond has even been turned into a luxury hotel.
0 IN 0 W 10 S$ U
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This is your chance to win US$1000 or one of two runners-up prizes of US$250 each and see your work published by Readerâ€™s Digest. All you have to do is write an outstanding work of fiction in just 100 words. Stories should be original, unpublished and exactly 100 words long (99-worders will be disqualified, hyphenated words count as one). Email entries to: firstname.lastname@example.org (Asia); email@example.com (Australia) or editor@ readersdigest.co.nz (NZ) by December 31, 2016. For more on how to enter, and full terms and conditions, visit www.rdasia.com/ terms-and-conditions (Asia); www.rdasia.com.my/terms-and-conditions (Malaysia); www.readersdigest.com.au/terms-and-conditions (Australia) orÂ www.readersdigest.co.nz/terms-and-conditions (NZ)
BRAIN POWER TEST YOUR MENTAL PROWESS
Puzzles Challenge yourself by solving these puzzles and mind stretchers, then check your answers on page 113. BY MARCEL DANESI GEOMAZE (Easy) Without going over a line, trace a path from the arrow to the ﬂag.
MYSTERY NUMBER (Moderately difficult) The numbers in this table follow a rule. What’s the missing number?
7 2 122
HIDDEN MEANING Identify the common words or phrases below.
c i ii
BE BUSH AT C
MAKE-A-SHAPE (Difficult) Could these pieces be rearranged, like a jigsaw puzzle, to make the pentagon below?
BRAIN POWER TEST YOUR GENERAL KNOWLEDGE
Trivia 1. What is the name of the waterfront
8. What is the name of the medical
district of Shanghai that was once home to the international settlement and where banks were built? 2 points
2. Which WWII leader was born
in the village of Gori in the thengovernorate of Georgia? 2 points 3. Which country produces the most mangoes in the world? 1 point 4. True or false: Modern
humans (Homo sapiens) and Neanderthals overlapped in time and territory? 1 point 5. In popular usage,
the Mason–Dixon line symbolises what? 2 points
9. What is the ingredient in chillies that makes them spicy-hot? 1 point 10. What name is shared by an actor on Friends and the man credited with opening Japan to the West? 2 points 11. To ‘hibernate’ means to spend
the winter in a dormant state. What is the term for doing so in summer? 2 points 12. What vehicle would you need to win the UK’s Icarus Cup? 2 points 13. What is it about Mark
responsible for a ‘mania’ in The Netherlands in the 17th century, fetching astronomically high prices? 1 point 7. How was Pu Yi known
in the title of a biographical movie that won nine Oscars? 1 point 11-15 Silver medal
Zuckerberg that led to the decision to make Facebook’s logo blue? 1 point 14. What is interesting about a Newfoundland dog’s feet? 1 point
6-10 Bronze medal
0-5 Wooden spoon
ANSWERS: 1. The Bund (embankment) or Waitan (outer beach). 2. Joseph Stalin. 3. India. 4. True. 5. Division between the Northern and Southern states of the US. 6. Tulips. 7. The Last Emperor. 8. Jaundice. 9. Capsaicin. 10. Matthew Perry. 11. To aestivate. 12. Human-powered aircraft. 13. He’s colour-blind and perceives blue best. 14. They’re webbed.
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6. What object was
16-20 Gold medal
condition that turns the skin yellow?
IT PAYS TO INCREASE YOUR
Word Power What a Load of Gobbledegook! At long last, a quiz dedicated to plain ol’ fun! Inspired by The 100 Funniest Words in English, by Robert Beard, these picks are all a mouthful, and some even sport serious definitions (others … well, not so much). Enjoy weaving them into your dinner-table conversation tonight. Answers on the next page. BY E M ILY COX & H E NRY RATH VON
1. flummox v. – A: laugh out loud.
B: confuse. C: ridicule.
bad. B: incomprehensible song. C: double feature.
2. pettifog v. – A: to quibble over
9. discombobulate v. – A: take
petty details. B: to obscure. C: to predict bad weather.
apart. B: fail. C: upset or frustrate. 10. hobbledehoy n. – A: person with
3. cockalorum n. – A: person who
a limp. B: rocking horse. C: clumsy boy.
lacks decorum. B: rooster’s comb. C: self-important person.
11. yahoo n. – A: overzealous fan. B: pratfall. C: uncouth person.
4. mollycoddle v. – A: treat with an
12. kerfuffle n. – A: failure to
absurd degree of attention. B: mix unwisely. C: moo or imitate a cow. 5. donnybrook n. – A: rapid stream. B: wild brawl. C: stroke of luck.
ignite. B: down pillow or blanket. C: disturbance. 13. absquatulate v. – A: abscond
6. cantankerous adj – A: very sore.
or flee. B: stay low to the ground. C: utterly flatten.
B: quarrelsome. C: obnoxiously loud.
14. skullduggery n. – A: prank.
7. codswallop n – A: sound produced
B: underhanded behaviour. C: graveyard.
by a hiccup. B: rare rainbow fish. C: nonsense. 8. doozy n. – A: extraordinary
example of its kind, either good or
15. flibbertigibbet n. – A: silly and
flighty person. B: snap of the fingers. C: hex or curse. Novemberđ2016
Answers 1. flummox – [B] confuse. Sarah is easily flummoxed by any changes to the schedule. 2. pettifog – [A] to quibble over petty details. “The meeting would have gone more smoothly except for all the pettifogging.”
9. discombobulate – [C] upset or frustrate. The goal of the simulator: discombobulate even the sharpest of pilots. 10. hobbledehoy – [C] clumsy boy. “I can’t believe our waiter is such a hobbledehoy!”
person. “Nobody wanted to vote for such a cockalorum.”
11. yahoo – [C] uncouth person. “Please try not to embarrass me at Sally’s party, you big yahoo.”
4. mollycoddle – [A] treat with an
12. kerfuffle – [C] disturbance.
absurd degree of attention. “Lillie’s my only grandchild – I’ll mollycoddle her all I want!”
A kerfuffle broke out in the office after the two sales managers clashed.
3. cockalorum – [C] self-important
5. donnybrook – [B] wild brawl.
It took four umpires to quell the donnybrook at the game. 6. cantankerous – [B] quarrelsome.
The comic was greeted by a cantankerous crowd at his debut. 7. codswallop –
[C] nonsense. “Oh, codswallop! I never went near the ice-cream,” Dad barked. 8. doozy – [A]
extraordinary example of its kind, either good or bad. That was a doozy of a storm – luckily, we dodged the two downed trees. 126
13. absquatulate – [A] abscond or flee. Upon opening the door, Clare watched the new puppy absquatulate with her sneaker. 14. skullduggery – [B] underhanded behaviour. The chairman was infamous for resorting to skullduggery during contract negotiations.
PIRATES IN THE HOUSE
Robert Beard’s list of funny words also includes ﬁlibuster, which you probably know as a long political speech. But did you know it’s also related to pirates? The Spanish ﬁlibustero means ‘freebooter’, a pirate or plunderer. So you might say a ﬁlibuster in parliament is a way of stealing time – legislative piracy!
– [A] silly and flighty person. “Do I have to spend the entire journey with that flibbertigibbet next to me?!” VOCABULARY RATINGS
9 & below: Amusing 10–12: Hysterical 13–15: Word Power Wizard
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