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Thursday, July 3, 2014

What Competitive Eating Does to Your Body

What Competitive Eating Does to Your Body


What Competitive Eating Does to Your Body

Posted: 03 Jul 2014 11:21 AM PDT

Tomorrow will likely mark competitive eater Joey Chestnut's eighth straight year winning the Nathan's Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Chestnut is now 30 years old and weighs 230 pounds—not an especially large man. In fact, many serious competitive eaters appear to be relatively thin and healthy.

So how do they eat that many hot dogs and stay healthy? And is it safe?

Not much research has been done about competitive eating. But several doctors from the University of Pennsylvania did an experiment for a National Geographic special, the results of which were published in the Journal of Roentgenology. They wanted to find out what happened to competitive eaters' stomachs, so they compared two men: one champion eater and one non-competitive-eating man—the control—who simply had a “healthy appetite.”

The men were asked to consume as many hot dogs as they could in 12 minutes. The researchers noted that after eating the hot dogs, the competitive eater's stomach "appeared as a massively distended, food-filled sac occupying most of the upper abdomen." There was also "little or no gastric peristalsis," the squeezing motion that normally helps the stomach break down food.

Marc Levine, one of the study's authors and a gastrointestinal radiologist the University of Pennsylvania, said he was amazed by the amount of food that fit in the speed eater's stomach.

"This was not some inherent skill he had since he was a child," says Levine. "For many months, he would practice by eating larger and larger volumes of food. … He was able to overcome the satiety reflex, and once he did that, the stomach overcame the peristalsis activity so it was able to accept an unlimited amount of food."

The satiety reflex is what people experience when they eat enough food to trigger the neural pathways in the brain that tell the body it is full. It's also what triggers people to vomit.

Major League Eating—the world body that oversees all professional eating contests—places a high priority on safety, according to MLE chair George Shea. Emergency medical technicians are present at all official contests and there’s safety page on its website.

"We discourage anyone doing contests without emergency medical technicians," says George Shea, chair of MLE. "We keep the duration of the contest short. It's in the sweet spot so they're not stuffing their faces too much but not going too long."

While Shea says he doesn't know of anyone who's ever choked during an official eating competition, other competitive eating injuries have been recorded.

And while no one knows exactly how stretching their stomachs will affect competitive eaters years down the line, Levine and his team predicted some scary consequences.

If the stomach stretches enough that it can't get back to its original size, they predict this could potentially cause "intractable nausea and vomiting, necessitating a partial or total gastrectomy to relieve their symptoms and restore their ability to eat."

But at least for now the champions are trained to avoid getting sick. For other people, Shea has this advice: "Don't try this at home."

Fox Says Glee Star Chris Colfer Wasn’t Fired

Posted: 03 Jul 2014 11:18 AM PDT

Fox denied Glee star Chris Colfer was leaving the show just minutes after a tweet from his verified Twitter account said he was “let go” from the cast, saying the actor was a hacking victim.

In a statement to TIME, 20th Century Fox Television said: “We've been alerted that Chris Colfer's Twitter account has been hacked. Rumors of his dismissal from Glee could not be further from the truth. We love Chris and look forward to working with him again this season.”

Colfer’s manager separately told The Hollywood Reporter that Colfer’s account had been hacked and that the actor was on a mid-Atlantic flight without access to Internet.

The initial tweet set off an Internet firestorm–it was shared more than 6,000 times within an hour after it was tweeted–and prompted media outlets to report he was leaving.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 2.18.00 PM

The tweet came ahead of what Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy has said will be the show’s sixth and final season and nearly a year after another show star, Cory Monteith, died.

Millennials Are Proud of #Murica Despite Awareness of Its Flaws, MTV Says

Posted: 03 Jul 2014 11:16 AM PDT

Search #murica on Instagram and you'll get an eclectic mix of overtly patriotic content and photos parodying some less flattering perceptions of the United States. So an image of fingernails painted in red, white, and blue may exist right on top of a snarky note about a gas station where you can buy cigarettes, beer and fireworks all at once.

The contradictory way young people use this hashtag offers insight into the way millennials, a term typically used to describe people born in the 1980s, 90s, and early 2000s, think about America, according to new research conducted by MTV.

Of the 2,000 young people (ages 16-24) that MTV reached out to, 86% said they feel "proud to be American,” a fact that the “Millenials & #Merica” study notes contradicts Pew’s “Millennials in Adulthood” study earlier this year, which reported self-proclaimed patriotism to be at 49%. At the same time, MTV found that millennials are conscious of and concerned about the country’s problems.

This dichotomy can in part be attributed to the availability of differing perspectives in the media and online, Vice President of MTV Insights Alison Hillhouse told TIME.

For older generations, “any information was filtered through the nightly news, filtered through newspapers,” she said. “Millennials are so much more exposed to how other people think about the country on a daily basis.”

Nearly 90% of millennials ascribed equality and fairness as values they considered to be “American.” However, 80% said that sometimes the government acts in a way that makes it difficult to feel patriotic, and more than 50% said that the country has let them down personally.

Hillhouse said that the research, which collected data through focus groups, conversation, and other online methods, will help guide MTV programming as well as many of the company’s social initiatives.

This is based on a press release with key findings; the full study has not been released by MTV.

The Full House Crew Reunited For Dave Coulier’s Wedding

Posted: 03 Jul 2014 11:08 AM PDT

Actor Dave Coulier’s Wednesday wedding doubled as a reunion for the classic ABC sitcom Full House.

Show creator Jeff Franklin and cast members John Stamos, Candace Cameron Bure, Andrea Barber and Bob Saget all traveled to Paradise Valley, Montana to see “Uncle Joey” tie the knot with photographer and producer Melissa Bring on Wednesday. Bure, who played DJ Tanner in the 80′s and 90′s sitcom, and Barber, who played Kimmy Gibbler, previously told Us Weekly they would be each other’s dates at the wedding—both their husbands stayed at home to watch the kids.

Full House, which aired on ABC from 1987 until 1995, followed the life of Danny Tanner (Saget), a widowed father who asks his best friend Joey Gladstone (Coulier) and brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis (Stamos) to help him raise his three daughters after his wife’s death. Only the oldest Tanner daughter, Bure, attended the “reunion,” as Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen—who played the younger daughters—were not at the wedding.

The cast members who did attend, though, made sure to chronicle their adventures on social media. Franklin tweeted his feelings after he gathered the show’s leading men for a photo:

Barber and Bure—”partners in crime” as Bure calls them in this Instagram snap, which she posted today in honor of Barber’s birthday—clearly had fun in Montana.

So did Stamos, captured here by Saget while walking with a bench.

You Would Rather Endure Electric Shocks Than Sit Alone With Your Thoughts, Study Finds

Posted: 03 Jul 2014 11:00 AM PDT

If you’re crazy busy like most of us and crave some time—just a few minutes, please!—to stop and just think, be careful what you wish for. That’s the upshot of a new study just published in the journal Science. The summary is written in such plain English (very unusual!) that you might as well read it for yourself:

In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.

Yes, people would rather stick their finger in an electric socket than sit quietly and think. Or rather, men would: 67% of male participants in one study “gave themselves at least one shock during the thinking period,” write University of Virginia psychologist Timothy Wilson and his co-authors. On average, the study participants who elected to self-zap gave themselves 1.47 shocks in a 15-minute interval—”not including one outlier,” the paper says, in an impressively straightforward way, “who administered 190 shocks to himself.” (OK, they didn’t involve actual electric sockets, but it’s still kind of surprising). Women were far less likely to shock themselves, with only a 25% participation rate.

Why is just sitting and thinking so difficult and unpleasant, you probably wonder. So do the authors, in just those words. Perhaps, they say, “when left alone with their thoughts, participants focused on their own shortcomings and got caught in ruminative thought cycles.”

Another possibility, the authors suggest, is that thinking is just too complicated. In order to do it, you have to choose a topic to think about—a trip to the beach, or example—then mentally experience the trip. Exhausting!

But no. Questioning participants after the experiments revealed that neither explanation held much water. The reason we hate sitting and thinking, despite our fond hopes to the contrary, remain a mystery.

And yet, write the authors, stating the painfully obvious: “There is no doubt that people are sometimes absorbed by interesting ideas, exciting fantasies and pleasant daydreams,” and they do have an answer of sorts.

Research has shown that minds are difficult to control, however, and it may be particularly hard to steer our thoughts in pleasant directions and keep them there. This may be why many people seek to gain better control of their thoughts with meditation and other techniques, with clear benefits. Without such training, people prefer doing to thinking, even if what they are doing is so unpleasant that they would normally pay to avoid it.The untutored mind does not like to be alone with itself

Which may not be good news—but it’s at least good to know.

 

 

 

 

World Cup Cheat Sheet: No Tim Howard, But Some Great Games Ahead

Posted: 03 Jul 2014 10:49 AM PDT

Bummer about the U.S., isn't it? Tim Howard deserved another game just on his performance alone. But let's be honest, you can't suddenly start attacking after you're down 2-0 and expect to win. Lack of attack is what often happens as underdog teams get deeper into the World Cup. But the quarterfinals promise a lot more attacking, and are well worth watching, even if you're just a casual fan.

France vs. Germany (Friday, 12 noon ET): No European team ever lacks motivation to play against Germany. The grudge list of history is too long. But for France, it's more about redeeming the reputation of Les Bleus, which the team trashed in the 2010 World Cup, following a player revolt against Raymond Domenech, the coach from another planet. Relatively speaking, the current French squad is playing blissfully. Coach Didier Deschamps has a lot of buttons to push, from precocious Paul Pogba and the vibrant Mathieu Valbuena in the midfield, Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud up front and the world-class Hugo Lloris in goal. Germany has looked less impressive every game so far, gasping for air against the suffocating Algerian pressure until Andre Schuerrle rescued die Mannschaft in extra time. Germany coach Joachim Loew is probably busy tinkering with the parts of his Bayern Munich-centered team —Thomas Mueller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm— as well as the lethargic Mesut Özil, to get them to produce more power. Right now Loew has a Mercedes sedan and he needs an F-1 model. The Germans, as you know, are very good mechanics. This game is going to be about French style vs. German muscle, and style is looking good.

Brazil vs. Colombia (Friday 4 p.m.): Which team would you rather be coaching? The glamorous home side, the famous Seleção of Brazil, or the guys from the country nearby? Brazil coach Big Phil Scolari's team was on the verge of collectively wetting its pants against Chile. The pressure to win is so great that Scolari had to bring in a psychologist to consult some emotion-wracked players after the narrow penalty-kick shootout win over the Chileans. But if you are Colombia's coach José Pekerman, you can just tell your team, "Take it to'em, boys." Colombia is a team playing without its leading scorer but, more importantly, playing without fear. And it has the wondrous James Rodriguez in the middle—the Monaco man's price has skyrocketed during this tournament— creating highlight reel goals. Colombia will feel free to go at Brazil's vulnerable defense, which features wingbacks like Marcelo who just hate hanging around their own end of the field. Brazil will also be missing Luis Gustavo, who has held its midfield together. Brazil's offense, run by the endlessly inventive Neymar, lacks any cohesive imagination in its attack. There's no beauty in Brazil's beautiful game at moment. The Seleção had better find some, or the party could well end this weekend.

Argentina vs. Belgium (Saturday 12 p.m.): Game after game, Argentina has faced opponents trying to frustrate its attack at all costs. The Swiss erected massed ranks of defenders in front of its goal like so many Alps, and waited to counterattack. It's a strategy that almost worked but for another burst of genius from Lionel Messi to set up Angel di Maria's winning goal. Belgium, like Switzerland, is a small country, but unlike the Swiss, the Belgians are loaded with talent. They are here to play, not defend. Against the U.S., midfielder Kevin de Bruyne spent 68% of the game in the American end of the field, leading endless attacks. So did Eden Hazard, whose penchant for getting behind defenses should worry Argentina. Then again, if Messi is on your team, you can relax a little bit, knowing that he's capable of miracles. Not that Argentina should need them. In a wide-open game, with players like di Maria and Sergio Aguero surging forward, this match could restore the high scoring that marked the group stage, and should restore Argentina as a favorite to win it all.

Netherlands vs. Costa Rica (Saturday 4 p.m.): The Ticos are one of the last teams that anyone would figure to reach the quarters, but its qualifying and World Cup run has been impressive. Costa Rica beat Uruguay, Italy and Greece, and drew with England. Led by Bryan Ruiz, who only recently had a hard time getting a game with Fulham, the Ticos have also handled Mexico, a team that gave the Oranje fits in the round of 16. Still, any team featuring Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder is going to be a handful, as Spain learned. Each player has the ability to change a game in an instant, although Robben's conspicuous diving—it ought to be a red card offense— is hardly recommended viewing. Don't expect the Ticos to be awed by this much talent; do expect them to be done in by it.

 

New Orleans Says City Is Safe for Essence Festival

Posted: 03 Jul 2014 10:45 AM PDT

Deputy Mayor of New Orleans Judy Reese Morse says attendees of the 20th annual Essence Festival can rest assured that the city will keep them safe in the wake of last weekend's shooting in the French Quarter.

"For this weekend, we've got what we need to make sure that the city is safe and that the city is secure," Morse tells TIME. "[The shooting] was a very, very unfortunate incident. It's something that we focus on every day, not only in the French Quarter, but in neighborhoods across the city."

Morse said the city has increased security as a result of last weekend's shooting, which left one dead and nine injured after two gunmen opened fire on the ever-packed Bourbon Street in the Crescent City's famed French Quarter. The shooting was the third in the past three years on the famous street, the Associated Press reports, but it couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time—just days ahead of the 20th annual Essence Music Festival, where headliners like Prince and Lionel Richie are expected to bring thousands to the city.

As a precaution, 30 state troopers have reportedly been deployed in the city and Morse says the city is working to reassure festival-goers and New Orleans residents that they will be safe.

"We've got the security in place. We've informed all of our hotels," Morse says. "This is a great place, it is safe and they'll have a great experience this weekend."

Though the focus of the Essence Music Festival is family fun and empowerment, there will be moments throughout the weekend that address the violence that plagues New Orleans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has overseen a reduction in the number of murders from 193 in 2012 to 155 in 2013, thanks in large part to the city's community outreach through the NOLA for Life initiative. But Morse says there's still a lot of work to be done, and that the Essence Festival is the perfect time to address the issue.

"New Orleans is going to be 300-years-old in 2018, but we've got a situation right now that we've got to get our arms around and that is bringing down the rate of murder, particularly among African American men," Morse says. "There's no better time or place than Essence to take that issue head on."

Why I’m Thankful for America’s Immigrants and Religion this Fourth of July

Posted: 03 Jul 2014 10:41 AM PDT

The Fourth of July is nearly upon us. As always, we Americans will barbeque in our backyards, watch fireworks, and celebrate America. And there is much to celebrate.

We love this country, and with good reason.

Americans are informal and down-to-earth. We introduce ourselves by our first names to practically everyone. We say "hi" on elevators to people that we have never laid eyes on. We don't like folks who put on airs. We are unfailingly helpful and friendly. And if you think everyone is like that, spend a few weeks in Europe.

We talk a lot about freedom in America, and we mostly mean it. Rich, poor, or in between, we are assertive about our rights and stubborn about our liberty.

We are also a patriotic bunch, and reasonably united, despite our diversity. In a world where tribal loyalties are reasserting themselves, we have no ties of blood to bind us together. But we have the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and the essential idealism and optimism of the American people.

There are two things about which I feel special pride.

The first is the way that America continually remakes herself. Great countries require periodic injections of new thinking and energy, and America is now rearranging herself before our very eyes, like a scrambled kaleidoscope.

The arrival of new immigrants is primarily responsible. Most come out of desperation, but they learn our ways with startling speed, and then, like others before them, they reshape America.

Last year a pipe burst in my home on a weekend and the shut-off valve did not work. With water pouring onto the kitchen floor, I called the two plumbers that I have used for 30 years; both informed me that they no longer provide emergency service. I grabbed the phone book and started calling plumbers; on the third try, I reached someone who said they would be there in 10 minutes. Two Hispanic men with heavy accents arrived, stopped the flow of water, did the repair, cleaned up the area, and charged a reasonable fee for their service. These immigrants saved my home.

And then there is the family of Asian immigrants that runs a fruit and vegetable store in my neighborhood. The produce is better quality than in the supermarket, the prices are lower, and the store is open every day, from early morning to late at night. And of course there are the immigrant nannies that care for so many children in my area.

It distresses me when I hear the strident sounds of ugly nativism from our politicians, directed against both legal and illegal immigrants, children and adults. Yes, the issues are complicated, but much of what they are saying is simply old-fashioned mean-spiritedness. And in trying to reserve America only for those already here, they will only strangle her spirit. Most Americans, I am convinced, want a more inclusive America. They know that there is room here for immigrants; and they know too that the invitation extended on the Statue of Liberty to all those "who yearn to breathe free" is an expression of who we really are.

The second thing of which I am especially proud is America's exuberant religiosity. The talk of religious decline is mostly nonsense. American religion is constantly reinventing itself, but our country remains a place of deep spiritual energy. Four out of five Americans identify with a religious denomination; and of the 20% who don't, more than half believe in God. In the industrialized West, no other country comes close to this level of religious engagement.

Religion thrives for many reasons. The Founding Fathers knew that separating church from state would promote religious commitment. And Americans are wise enough not to banish religion entirely from the public sphere; America pays for military chaplains, gives tax exemptions to places of worship, and allows occasional ceremonial prayer. Most important, Americans understand that religion provides an anchor of stability in uncertain times, and that when a people lose faith in God, it often means they have lost faith in their country and in themselves.

Sure, there is plenty to worry about. Our infrastructure is falling apart, and inequality is much greater than it was. And in dealing with all of this, our politics seem both petty and paralyzed.

But it would be a mistake to romanticize earlier eras. Those was no time in America's past when harmony reigned. And the reason is that our raucous democracy invites contentiousness. Our task, then, is to accept controversy and do what Americans have always done: Battle for our values, and fight to fill the moral void in our land. But, at the same time, reach out to our fellow citizens, strive for mutual respect, and try to articulate political concerns that will draw us together as Americans at least some of the time.

Happy July 4th.

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, a writer and lecturer, was President of the Union for Reform Judaism from 1996 to 2012. His writings are collected at ericyoffie.com.

VIDEO: Watch a Jaguar Take Down a Crocodile

Posted: 03 Jul 2014 10:39 AM PDT

What's that brownish lump floating on the surface of the river? A turtle? Some kind of plant matter? Oh no wait, it's a jaguar, and it's jumping out of the water and sneaking up behind that crocodile! OMG and clamping its mouth around the crocodile's neck and dragging it back through the water like a proud house cat with a captured mouse.

Well, guess we know who wins this battle of the animals.

 

Israeli Military Asks Hamas to Calm Things Down in Gaza

Posted: 03 Jul 2014 10:35 AM PDT

The Israeli military said Thursday that it hoped to cool tensions in Palestinian territories, not long after it had boasted about the number of times it struck the Gaza Strip and amid growing unrest over the killing of a Palestinian teenager.

“I think the main motto that the IDF is trying to pursue right now is a status of de-escalation,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, said in a conference call with reporters. “Indeed, we are conveying to Hamas in various channels—open and back room messages to Hamas—to de-escalate, to restore a sense of security, to bring down the level of violence.”

The appeal for calm came after Hamas began launching rockets from Gaza, following months of Israeli efforts to stymie rocket launches toward populated areas from the isolated Palestinian coastal enclave. The Islamist militant group was apparently reacting to the slaying of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, 16, in a possible revenge attack on Wednesday after the burial of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers the day earlier. Israel blames the militants for their deaths and has been pounding the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip for the last two weeks, including 15 air strikes overnight that left at least 11 people injured.

Israel has also been shifting troops to the Gaza border as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mulls how to respond to the deaths of the Israeli teens. But that response may well be muted by outrage over Abu Khdeir’s death, following his reported abduction hours after a nighttime march by Jewish extremists chanting “Death to the Arabs.”

Lerner emphasized that the only reservists called up were headed for headquarters and that infantry were summoned primarily to “reinforce” Israeli communities near Gaza. The largest of those communities, Sderot, had two close calls in the last 24 hours: A direct hit on a house and another missile that penetrated a home where children had assembled for a summer camp. The missile did not explode and no injuries were reported.

Some 20 rockets were launched on Wednesday, many by Hamas, whose ballistic missiles are identifiable by their longer range and larger warheads. “More precise, more powerful,” Lerner said.

Lerner said Israel was hoping to similarly ease tensions on the West Bank, where thousands of security forces were dispatched to crush Hamas’ infrastructure and arrest hundreds of activists under the operational umbrella of a search for the Israeli teens. Soldiers had been cautioned on the rules of engagement and were alert for a spillover of the protests that erupted in East Jerusalem after Abu Khdeir’s death. Fridays are always a potential flash point, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began this week.

The main concern, however, appeared to be Gaza. “We do not want to have more exchanges with Hamas,” Lerner said. “But we do need to be prepared. …. It’s a challenge, and we hope Hamas will respond.”

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