a vagary of links

A “vagary”, according to The Source, is the collective noun for ‘impediments’. More pages that collect collective nouns are here and here. I am amused that a group of submarines is called a wolfpack, and that a group of sheldrakes is a doading (shoutout to my friend Duckie!).

Henceforth a group of links to things almost, but not quite entirely like tea relevant to The Thesis shall be known as a Vagary.

First, the Guardian reports on what most menstruating women know: that your hot water bottle really does relieve internal pain. A couple months back I read about a study that demonstrated that heat was as effective as ibuprofen in relieving menstrual pain. This is good news for our livers, no doubt, but carrying around a hot water bottle is impractical for about 99% of women. Those stick-on heat things with the iron filings in them seem to do a good job though!

Chocolate, it seems, is really not anti-depressant: “any mood benefits of chocolate consumption are ephemeral.” It’s just cos you’re stuffing your gob, not the magical woo-woo power of cacao.

Some gems from Medical Hypotheses, which I might unfairly characterise as a place where MDs who still yearn for the third-year undergraduate speculative essays they never got to write because they were too busy memorising the major craniofacial nerves get to, um, write those essays. Hey, it’s called Hypotheses for a reason. I kinda love this. I wish *I* had left-field theory to write up. Hours of fun.

Ecstacy makes you feel good and want to touch people and rub up against them and slide your–sorry. Ecstacy makes you feel saucy ‘cos of vasopressin and oxytocin. Man, that oxytocin stuff is awesome. It makes women forget the trauma and pain of childbirth, stimulates breastfeeding, makes you trust people more, increases your pain tolerance… why can’t I buy *that* from those guys at Camden Market instead of the magic mushrooms?

This one argues that there might be adaptive reasons behind our pervasive use of alcohol and caffeine. That is, caffeine makes us SMRT in an environment where competition is social/intellectual rather than physical, and alcohol dampens down the stress response in environments that lack social networks and cause a greater fear response. Oh, and apparently, if you’re drunk and in some sort of traumatic injury situation you heal better or something. This article is so unnecessarily convoluted in its prose I could only skim it, and it seems to be the kind of evolutionary psychology armchair handwaving that could be problematised pretty quickly; they don’t seem to have a grasp on their timelines (like, WHEN are these environments) or their cross-cultural caff/booze frequencies. But, you know, some testable hypotheses.

Cultural evolution causing baldness. I dunno in what sense cultural evolution is being used here, but possibly the loosest type, i.e. cultural change. Anyhow, apparently wearing headdresses and having close-cropped hair means sebum builds up on the hair shaft, and that’s bad and causes baldness. This is my favourite bit:

“Many people affected by common baldness have noted that they started to suffer from it during military service. This theory could explain this fact. The difference in hair length is the key. Military people, skinheads and others wear their hair short and therefore they can induce problems with the sebum flow. On the contrary, hippies, Hindus, etc. wear long hair.”

Dude. Good luck with that one.

Finally, the piece de resistance: defecating at night-time (only) may help you lose weight. Because you’re carrying your shit around with you all day, and that takes energy.

This gets the special face: o.O

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