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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Listen to Robin Williams Talk About His Struggles on a 2010 Podcast

Listen to Robin Williams Talk About His Struggles on a 2010 Podcast


Listen to Robin Williams Talk About His Struggles on a 2010 Podcast

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 11:27 AM PDT

Robin Williams, who died Monday at age 63, opened up about his struggles with addiction and depression on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast in April of 2010. Following the news of Williams’ passing, Maron once again shared his interview with the comic legend — an interview he said “changed many people’s perception of Robin Williams.”

“What was amazing about Robin Williams is that he has this sort of electric, shining piece of humanity, whose entire life on stage was to entertain thoroughly and with a type of presence that nobody has ever seen before,” Maron said in an emotional new introduction to the interview. “There’s nobody who wasn’t touched by it.”

During the conversation, Williams spoke about his alcoholism and his relapse in the mid-2000s.

"I think it's trying to fill the hole,” Williams said. “It's fear, and you're kind of going, what am I doing in my career? And you start thinking, you know what would be great at this point? Rehab! But it's the idea of, you bottom out … Where do you go next? What am I doing? Rather than go, okay, this will pass, you go, this'll pass quicker.”

But Williams offered some hope for battling that fear: “Going on stage is the one salvation."

You can listen to and download the podcast here.

Why We Aren’t Better At Preventing Suicide

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Robin Williams’ death has served as a stark reminder that we have a long way to go in helping people at serious risk for self-harm. Part of the challenge, say experts, is that despite their stigma, suicidal thoughts are quite common, particularly among people who are depressed. "Suicidal thinking is common and widespread, especially among people with mental illnesses," says Dr. Dost Ongur, chief of psychotic disorders at McLean Hospital and a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. "Yet we don't have good ways of deciding who is at genuine risk, and who is suffering but who won't go through with hurting themselves. The reality is that there is no established way of saying this person is at higher risk than that person."

It's not that anyone is expecting that a simple blood test or brain scan will provide the answer; the machinations of the body and mind are too complex for that. But as researchers learn more about the brain processes that lay the foundation for things like depression or addiction, they are moving toward developing a suite of tools that could help to at least triage people who are most vulnerable to harming themselves. "It's something that comes over people; it can last hours or days, but not forever. If you can keep somebody safe during that period, it would pass,” Ongur adds. “The depression would remain, and the substance abuse would remain, but the intense feeling of not being able to go on would pass."

MORE: Suicide in America: The People who Answer the Phone

Identifying people who might be especially vulnerable to those episodes could be a first step in preventing suicide attempts. In July, scientists reported finding that a gene involved in tamping down a stress response is different among those who have tried to end their lives compared to those who had not. The gene is integral to activity in the brain's prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for things such as impulse control and reining in negative thoughts. It was in short supply in patients who reported suicidal thoughts.

Another group, led by John Mann at Columbia University, is focusing on the brain chemical serotonin, known for its role in mood disorders, and at Harvard, researchers are exploring the use of a bedside test that can probe the brain of patients with mental illnesses for clues to suicidality. All of these strategies, says Ongur, could help to shed more light on the black box that lies at the intersection of thought and action. "We don't have a good framework for explaining what happens in the moments when a person is preparing to commit suicide." That provides a window of opportunity for potentially life-saving interventions.

MORE: Robin Williams: The Comic Who Was Hamlet

Mental illness and substance abuse—both of which are correlated with suicide—are treatable, and could be the first step toward shifting patients away from self harm. Strengthening relationships can be another important factor. "The sponsor in AA is an example, a psychotherapist is another example and family relationships are other examples. We live in a relational world and people consider the impact their actions have on people important to you," Ongur says.

But strengthening such relationships also requires a shift of a different kind, a societal change in how we perceive mental illness and react to those affected. "One of the big issues remains the stigma of mental illness, especially suicide," says Ongur. "We are still dealing in a very real way with suicide not being something that is talked about openly and commonly. I saw a comment that the best tribute to Robin Williams would be talking more openly about suicide and making it part of a national conversation so that more research can be done and more people can be helped."

Sheriff Official: Robin Williams Hanged Himself

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 11:19 AM PDT

(SAN RAFAEL, Calif.) — Robin Williams committed suicide by hanging himself with a belt at his San Francisco Bay Area home, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

Marin County Sheriff’s Lt. Keith Boyd said Williams was found in a bedroom by his personal assistant on Monday at his Tiburon home.

Boyd said toxicology tests will be performed and the investigation is ongoing.

Sheriff’s officials said Monday a preliminary investigation determined the cause of death was suicide due to asphyxia. Williams was 63 and had suffered for years from periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression.

Williams’ press representative Mara Buxbaum said the actor had been battling severe depression recently. Just last month, Williams announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program.

Coroner’s officials say he was last seen alive at home around 10 p.m. Sunday.

Shortly before noon Monday, the Sheriff’s Department received an emergency call from the home, where the star of “Good Will Hunting,” ”Mrs. Doubtfire,” ”Good Morning, Vietnam” and dozens of other films was pronounced dead.

Williams made reference to his substance abuse and depression in his comedy routines, including when he sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse that followed 20 years of sobriety.

Williams joked about that fall off the wagon during a comedy tour, saying: “I went to rehab in wine country to keep my options open.”

Likewise, when word spread about his struggles with drugs in the early 1980s, Williams responded with a joke that for a time became a catchphrase for his generation’s recreational drug use: “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you are making too much money.”

Word that he had killed himself left neighbors in Tiburon equally stunned and grief-stricken. Williams had lived in the quiet, waterfront neighborhood for eight years, according to neighbors.

Noreen Nieder said Williams was a friendly neighbor who always said hello and engaged in small talk. Nieder said she wasn’t close to Williams and his family, but she still felt comfortable enough to approach him and ask him about his latest stint in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

“He was very open about it,” Nieder said. “He told me he was doing well.”

Fans and friends placed bouquets, candles and personal notes in front of the locked gates of Williams’ house.

The Antonio family visited Williams’ home Tuesday morning, driving from San Rafael about 10 miles away to drop off flowers.

“He was my favorite actor,” said a weeping Brandon Antonio, 13. “He was so funny.”

Antonio said Williams’ 1995 movie “Jumanji” was his favorite film.

Sony Says 10 Million PlayStation 4 Game Consoles Have Been Sold Worldwide

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 11:15 AM PDT

At Gamescom 2014, Sony announced that it’s sold more than 10 million PlayStation game consoles worldwide since the system launched in November 2013. And that would be 10 million plucked off shelves by consumers, not just shipped to stores.

The last time the console majors rolled out unit sales specifics (around the end of March), Sony said it had sold through some 7 million PS4s, Nintendo that it had sold through just over 6 million Wii Us, with Microsoft bringing up the rear at around 5 million Xbox Ones shipped to stores. Microsoft said in July that with the Xbox One's price drop from $499 to $399 and removal of Kinect in early June, Xbox One sales had more than doubled, but it was unclear then (as now) what the actual figures were.

For Better or Worse, Rise of the Tomb Raider Is for Xbox One Only

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 11:02 AM PDT

The sequel to the unexpectedly acclaimed 2013 Tomb Raider series reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider, is going to be exclusively on Xbox One when it launches next holiday 2015. The game was announced in June at E3, but the assumption then was that it would be multi-platform. It was a safe assumption: The original as well as its remastered version were available for Xbox and PlayStation platforms (as well as PC and Mac).

Crystal Dynamics’ head of product development Darrell Gallagher made the announcement at Gamescom 2014 today, and lest you wonder if “coming holiday 2015, exclusively to Xbox” means a timed-exclusive, with the game eventually rounding the bend for rival platforms, it sounds like that’s not the case (and that it is indeed Xbox-only forever).

Here’s Gallagher clarifying things on Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider Tumblr:

Dear Tomb Raider Community,

As you may have seen, we've just announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider, coming Holiday 2015, is exclusively on Xbox. We consider all of you to be the lifeblood of Tomb Raider and the work we do at Crystal. I'd like to give you some insight into this decision, and why we feel this is the very best thing for the Tomb Raider sequel we're creating at the studio.

Tomb Raider in 2013 was a success due in large part to your continued support. Our goal has always been to deliver something truly special with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Today's announcement with Microsoft is one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming. Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011. We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past – we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft.

This doesn't mean that we're walking away from our fans who only play on PlayStation or on PC. Those are great systems, with great partners, and amazing communities. We have Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris coming to those platforms this December, and Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition is available on PS4.

We know that there are probably many more questions and concerns. Please do send them to us, and we'll answer to the best of our ability. Meanwhile we're going all out to try and make something truly special – the most ambitious Tomb Raider game ever built.

Thanks,

Darrell Gallagher
Crystal Dynamics Head of Studios

Hand Sanitizers Don’t Lower School Absences

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 11:00 AM PDT

Putting hand sanitizers in schools and encouraging kids to use them doesn’t lower the rate of school absences, according to new research published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine.

“These findings suggest that in high-income countries, where clean water for hand washing is readily available, putting resources into extra hand hygiene by providing hand sanitizer in classrooms may not be an effective way to break the child-to-child transmission of infectious diseases,” the study authors conclude.

The team of New Zealand researchers randomly assigned 68 primary schools to either have alcohol-based hand sanitizers in the classroom or not. All of the students in the participating schools underwent a 30 minute session on hand hygiene. The kids were also told that they should use the hand sanitizer after they coughed or sneezed, as well as when they left the classroom.

Despite the high level of encouraged use of the dispensers, the researchers found that there was no difference in the rates of school absences between the schools with dispensers and the schools without. Still, the study had some limitations. During the study period, there was an flu going around in the region—which means that the population was likely hearing public health messages about flu prevention in other places, making the effectiveness of their specific intervention difficult to parse.

For now, a good bar or soap and water, for those lucky enough to use them liberally, should do the trick.

 

WATCH: Hollywood Reacts to Death of Robin Williams

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 10:59 AM PDT

Like the rest of the nation, actors, comedians and entertainers were shocked by the sudden death of superstar talent Robin Williams. Celebrity reactions to his apparent suicide have flooded media both social and traditional, with many paying tribute to their own personal relationships with the late star.

Steve Martin referred to him as a great talent and a genuine soul. Kathy Griffin tweeted of how every moment shared with Williams was a pivotal one, and that it was a comic’s dream to be in his presence. Judd Apatow wrote about the lengths he went to simply be near the legendary comic, saying that he took an internship at Comic Relief at the age of 18 in order to work with Williams.

Billy Crystal wrote poignantly, “No words.”

Other comedians such as Jimmy Kimmel and Chelsea Handler marked the tragedy by attempting to raise awareness of depression, telling those in need of support to not be afraid to reach out for help, and to remain strong.

VIDEO: Kermit and Pepe on How to Promote a Muppets Movie

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 10:57 AM PDT

It’s no secret that when celebrities tell journalists they’d love to drop by a magazine’s office to be interviewed, they’ve usually got something to promote. Which is great, except when that something is a DVD/Blu-ray release, which usually means we already know all about the project from when it came out in theaters. What’s left to talk about?

When those celebrities are Kermit the Frog and Pepe the King Prawn, lots. The two Muppets were in town to gab about the Aug. 12 DVD release of Muppets Most Wanted, so we took the opportunity to get some of those pressing questions answered. How, we wondered, does a Muppet promote a DVD release? How grueling is the promotional schedule? Does it bring up fun memories from filming, or is it a slog?

We did manage to draw some answers out of them—but, as you’ll see in the video above, an interview with Kermit and Pepe doesn’t always lead where you thought it would.

Origami-like Robot Folds Itself Into Shape and Walks Away

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 10:49 AM PDT

As a writer, the path of least resistance would be to frame this piece along the lines of small robots assembling themselves, then building bigger robots, then taking over the world. The old robot-overlord routine.

But these MIT- and Harvard-developed self-folding robots — cool as they are — don’t look all that menacing quite yet. For starters, one of the key ingredients is polystyrene, which is the same stuff used in Shrinky Dinks. That’s adorable. Second, it takes around four minutes for the things to assemble and start walking away. And third, the assembly has to be pre-programmed, so there’s still some human intervention.

Thirty years from now? That might be a different story. I’ll be retired (or homeless) on a beach somewhere, though, so I’ll just head for the water if these things start getting uppity. They can’t swim, can they? Can they?!!

In the interim, the researchers envision self-assembling structures that could be used in dangerous places like space or battlefields.

[ExtremeTech]

Small French Town Resistant To Change Name From ‘Death to Jews’

Posted: 12 Aug 2014 10:42 AM PDT

A Jewish organization is petitioning French officials that a small hamlet outside of Paris change its name from what translates in English to “Death to Jews.”

“[The fact that the name] was unnoticed during seventy years since the liberation of France from the Nazis and Vichy is most shocking,” Shimon Samuels, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s international affairs, wrote to France’s interior minister.

Here’s the town on Yahoo! Maps:

But the deputy mayor of Courtemaux, the 289-population village that oversees the contested hamlet, is resistant to a name change, arguing that the tradition should be respected.

“It’s ridiculous. This name has always existed,” Marie-Elizabeth Secretand told AFP. “No one has anything against the Jews, of course. It doesn’t surprise me that this is coming up again. Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names.”

Secretand also noted that the municipal council was petitioned to change the name of the town, which consists of two houses and a farm, 20 years ago, but that request was denied.

Still, Samuels urges a name change due to “the current surge in public and violent expressions of anti-Semitism” — Europe has seen a dramatic uptick of anti-Semitism ranging from protests to acts of violence in the last month — and for the town’s own monetary gains. Samuels noted that home values in La-Mort-Aux-Juifs is 14.1% less than the Courtemaux average.

In May, a Spanish town called “Little Hill Fort of Jew Killers” (Castrillo Matajudios) changed its name to “Hill of the Jews” (Mota de Judios.)

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