Leave it to a Japanese multinational conglomerate to create “a happiness meter” that sounds soul-crushingly awful. It’s just one of several recent news stories that’s worth looking into.
1. A Fatigue By Any Other Name: The amorphous and confusing condition commonly called chronic fatigue syndrome is being re-classified as “systemic exertion intolerance disease” or SEID. Even though as many as 2.5 million Americans have SEID, many health care professionals don’t believe the condition is a real physical illness and ascribe the symptoms – which include debilitating fatigue and weakness – as purely psychological. Qualifying SEID as an actual disease rather than just a bullshitty “syndrome”will theoretically help legitimize it as a diagnosable condition and lead to improvements in treatment. Only 26 years after the condition was dramatized on The Golden Girls, Dorothy Zborniak has finally been vindicated.
2. Are You Happy In Your Work?: That’s no longer just a rhetorical musical question from the “classic” film I Accuse My Parents. Now, it’s a quantifiable thing your employer can judge you about. Japanese super-fun-time technology ultra-conglomerate Hitachi has developed a “happiness monitor” the size of an ID card that can record and analyze a person’s physical movements, which supposedly gauge their level of happiness. Wearing an electronic device that requires you to be happy or else is sure to make many employees as happy as a pointy twig in the eye.
3. My Three (Or More) Suns: Tatooine — the planet with two suns — may no longer be just a setting in Star Wars. For the first time in history, astronomers have discovered a multiple-star system in the universe that this is the first to be observed while still it’s still being created. The system exists about 800 light years away from Earth in the constellation Perseus, and it currently has four sun-like stars at its center, although like most popular cliques, one may eventually be ejected for not wearing pink on the right day. It’s going to take about 40,000 years for the system to fully develop, so don’t start planning your interstellar tanning vacation just yet.
4. Do These Genes Make Me Look Fat?: New research into obesity suggests that DNA may indeed play an important role in determining how predisposed a person is to a particular body shape or size. Over 140 different places in a subject’s DNA contribute to how much bass (or treble) we carry around. Hopefully, a little more research will help develop a pill that can combat obesity and get sold at a premium through infomercials with C-grade celebrities. SCIENCE!
5. The High That Time Forgot: A piece of ergot fungus found in amber has lead scientists to hypothesize that dinosaurs may have once eaten such fungus to get higher than pterodactyls. The preserved ergot is from about 100 million years ago and would have been around for dinosaurs to graze on. Ergot is a precursor to LSD, and humans who ingest ergot-tainted grains often experience convulsions and hallucinations among other far less pleasant symptoms. While there’s no telling how exactly it affected your standard brontosaurus, there’s hope that this will be explored in the film The Land Before Time 2015: Up In Smoke.
If you feel like tripping out a little, take a little trip to Japan — the home of virtual pop idols and dating simulation games — where they’ve created a 300-device strong Android choir programmed to play “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”
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Johnny M Gayzmonic is a writer/geek/snarker/Fanboy of the Universe currently based in the frozen wastes of Minneapolis. He lives with his cats, his PS2, and his longtime companion, Sarcasm. You can follow him on Twitter, Tumblr or his SoundCloud.