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Category Archives: Immortality Medicine

Learn the longevity secrets of this Chinese city which houses over 1,200 centenarians – The Tribune

Posted: January 18, 2020 at 11:03 am

Nantong, January 13

A towering bronze sculpture of the God of Longevity watches over the city of Rugao in east Chinas Nantong, which is home to an astounding over 1,200 centenarians.

The imposing statue which stands in the garden of longevity is said to artistically depict Chinese deity Shouxing, a bearded old man with a high brow, carrying a crooked staff in one hand, and holding the peach of immortality in his other hand.

The local government prides itself on the large count of people, aged over 100 years, living in Nantong - a port city, attributing it also to healthy habits, fresh air and beauty of nature, blessed by the Yangtze, the mother river of China.

According to senior officials in the Nantong administration, the prefecture-level city, located about 120-kilometer from Shanghai, had 1,205 centenarians till November last year.

Perhaps, the most famous region in east China for being the abode of centenarians is Rugao, a county-level city in Nantong in Jiangsu province.

The number of centenarians in Rugao had reached 524 by January 1, an increase of 84 over the previous year, according to a recent report by the state-run China Daily, quoting the local civil affairs bureau.

The report published on Nantong administrations website also said that there were 16 centenarians aged 105 or above.

Rugao currently has a permanent population of 1.42 million, with 3,91,700 aged 60 and above, 65,200 aged 80 and above, and 9,200 aged 90 and above.

These numbers are much higher than the provincial and national averages, it said.

Yang Deying, 110, is the oldest centenarian in Rugao.

She enjoys her life now with his family and spends time with her great-grand son too. The whole family is having a very wonder life, according to an official at the China Daily.

Yang can still hear, see things, this is an ideal life of someone whose age is more than 100 years. One of her sons, and a daughter-in-law take care of her every day. She has other children too, the official said.

The state-run English daily in partnership with the Jiangsu local government, recently organised a visit to the province for 15 journalists from several countries, who had also visited elderly care centres in Nantong and two other cities.

In a community park in the heart of Nantong in Hongqiao subdistrict, old men can be seen practising Tai Chi (shadow boxing) or reading newspapers, while old women in group perform dance routines inside the elderly-care service centre, neighbouring it.

The subdistrict in Chongchuan district has 35,000 families living with a population of around 100,000, according to officials.

Nearly 18,000 old people live in this area. Through our elderly-care centre, we provide food and other needed services to a section of those people. Medical services are also available at the centre, besides recreational facilities to make them feel engaged. Many volunteers also visit disabled elderly at home to take care of them, a senior official said.

Many of their children are working, so these old people come here and interact with each other, eat food and play games to keep themselves fit and occupied, he said.

Healthy diet and sleeping habits, as well as a convivial environment, are believed to have contributed to longevity in Rugao, earning it the moniker of city of longevity.

We want our Nantong to be a world-class city. Work going on expanding the urban infrastructure and a new bridge being built to connect faster to Shanghai. But, Nantong is also a city having fresh air and the blessing of mother river Yangtze, so many people live for over 100 years, a senior official of Nantong administration said.

The historic city of Nantong is home to several old Chinese gardens, Langshan Mountain National Forest Park, and various architectural heritage.

Located on the confluence of Yangtze River, Yellow Sea and East China Sea, the convergence lends Nantong the sobriquet of Great Pearl from Yangtze River and Sea.

In this salubrious environment, it is not uncommon in Rugao to see several centenarian couples celebrating golden jubilee of their wedding anniversaries, grandparents celebrating birthdays after crossing 100-year mark.

China has witnessed a rise in peoples average life expectancy over the years, from 74.83 years in 2010 to 76.7 years in 2017, according to the National Health Commission.

The average life expectancy for Chinese will go up to 77 years by 2020, one year more than the figure in 2015, the health authorities in Beijing had earlier said.

Chinese view long life as a special blessing and on birthdays and other special occasions for elders, visitors bow before the statue of the God of Longevity, to seek blessings, locals said.

Nantong was named the first longevity capital of the world by the International Society of Natural Medicine and the World Longlife Township Accreditation Committee, according to a 2019 Chinese government publication on the city. PTI

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Learn the longevity secrets of this Chinese city which houses over 1,200 centenarians - The Tribune

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Adrienne Martini Reviews The History of Living Forever by Jake Wolff – Locus Online

Posted: December 13, 2019 at 2:46 pm

The History of Living Forever, Jake Wolff (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 978-0-374-17066-0, $27.00, 384pp, hc) June 2019.

Jake Wolffs The History of Living Forever isnt really science fiction, but it isnt really not science fiction, either. It falls into that interstitial space. (And a hat tip to Ellen Kushner and friends for popularizing that term.)

Most of the story is set in a world we all recognize, especially if weve been to small town Maine and/or New York City. In Maine, 16-year-old Conrads high school chemistry teacher Sam has just died. This hits Conrad particularly hard because he and Sam had been searching for an immortality elixir and theyd been having an affair, which isnt technically illegal but is still just as off-putting as youd think.

Conrad, however, is less concerned about that secret getting out than he is about the elixir, because he thinks it will help his father. Fortunately, Sams journals show up on Conrads doorstep and he uses them to continue the research and to process his grief. The journey that follows takes some lovely, terrifying, and weird turns as Sams story unfolds alongside Conrads.

Where that story becomes the most SFnal is the strand that picks up with the 40-year old Conrad, whose husbands medical chip beeps one night to tell him that he has brain cancer. Wolffs imagining of how medicine works in the future is definitely not the main point of his work, even if it twists nicely with Sams elixir quest.

On the whole, Wollfs The History of Living Forever is a touching tale about fathers and sons and love that hovers on the divide between literary and genre fiction. He breaks expectations about what literary fiction should be in engaging ways there are recipes, for example and creates fully formed (and frequently difficult) characters. Hell also make you think about the idea of living forever and why youd want to in the first place.

Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.

This review and more like it in the October 2019 issue of Locus.

While you are here, please take a moment to support Locus with a one-time or recurring donation. We rely on reader donations to keep the magazine and site going, and would like to keep the site paywall free, but WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT to continue quality coverage of the science fiction and fantasy field.

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Boy, 9, to move to U.S. university after conflict with TU Eindhoven, father says – NL Times

Posted: at 2:46 pm

Nine-year-old Laurent Simons is almost certainly exchanging Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) for a top university in the United States, his father Alexander Simons said on Pauw on Tuesday. The boy and his parents planned for him to graduate as an Electrical Engineer in December, but clashed with TU/e when the university called this unattainable.

Due to the dispute, Laurent dropped out of TU/e on Monday. His parents wanted him to graduate before his 10th birthday, on December 26th. But the universitydid not consider this feasible, due to the number of exams Laurent still has to pass. TU/e suggested another timetable, in which the boy would graduate his studies in mid-2020. But his parents would not accept this.

"If we had followed the advice of the university, Laurent would have had to study for eight months longer. While he does one subject a week and the entire study in nine months", his mother, said. The boy himself also did not want to shift his plans, his father said. "If a course lasts longer than a week, he will get bored. Laurent needs to be challenged because he is so smart. Moreover, the university's timetable would run counter to his plans. He already had a whole follow-up scenario in mind."

The family is therefore turning to the United States, Alexander said, though he would not say which university is involved. "That is confidential. Agreements have been made about this with specific people. It is already in a quite advanced state, but talking about it is not done." According to the father, this was an opportunity too good to pass. "If you get an offer in your lap to work with the best university in the world, it would not be smart to not use it. You are then among the top of the top."

The U.S. is also better at guiding and helping prodigies, Alexander said. "In America they really do a lot to send such children to university. Even a child who is much less clever than Laurent."

According to his father, Laurent already knows exactly what he wants to do with his life. "Laurent has no particular profession in mind but wants to become a scientist. His dream is that he can make artificial organs. Robotics, cyber-like bodies, almost towards immortality. Then you need some electrical engineering, some medicine. So it is not that he wants to complete this study and then, for example, make televisions at Philips."

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Boy, 9, to move to U.S. university after conflict with TU Eindhoven, father says - NL Times

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The Story Of The Quickening: Mercurial Metal – Hackaday

Posted: at 2:46 pm

Of all known metals, mercury is probably one of the most famous, if only for its lustrous, liquid form at room temperature. Over the centuries, it has been commonly used in a wide variety of applications, including industrial chemical processes, in cosmetics, for telescope mirrors, thermometers, fluorescent lamps, dental fillings, bearings, batteries, switches and most recently in atomic clocks.

Though hardly free from the controversy often surrounding a toxic heavy metal, its hard to argue the myriad ways in which mercury has played a positive role in humanitys technological progress and scientific discoveries. This article will focus both on its historical, current, and possible future uses, as well as the darker side of this fascinating metal.

Mercury has been highly prized for its use in art and decorations. Its historically known to have been used in mercury fountains exactly as it sounds, these were artistic fountains using mercury rather than water with the most recent example being Alexander Calders 1937 Mercury Fountain. Yet for thousands of years, from the Mayans (Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan) to the Egyptians and the Chinese (Emperors Qin tomb), mercury was held in high esteem, with many considering it to hold special properties in addition to its remarkable physical properties.

Unfortunately, this led to it being used in medicine, especially in China and Tibet, where it was thought to prolong life, heal injuries and generally improve ones health. It is rumored that a mixture of mercury and crushed jade given as an immortality mixture was what killed Emperor Qin. Alchemists considered mercury to be a Prima Materia (First Matter) from which other metals are derived.

Clearly more practical was the discovery around 500 BC of amalgams (from medieval Latin amalgama, alloy of mercury), the mixing of mercury with other metals which led to its use for dental fillings in China before 1000 AD and in Europe around 1528 AD. Much like the Chinese amalgams back then, dental amalgams today consist of mercury and a metal alloy of silver, tin, and copper.

While polymer resins are being used more commonly instead of amalgam in dentistry, amalgam remains superior in terms of longevity and durability, except for situations where the restored area would be directly visible (polymer resins being white), or the hole in the tooth is fairly small. Here polymer resins are the preferred material.

Despite the scares about mercury poisoning from the elemental mercury in amalgam dental fillings, studies have shown that the amounts of mercury released is low enough that it should pose no health risks. Regardless, dental offices in the EU are required to treat amalgam waste as hazardous waste. US dental offices are facing similar measures, but flushing the amalgam waste down the drain is still common practice.

Even outside of dental amalgam, mercury manages to provoke fierce debates about its uses and perceived dangers. One of these involves the many organic compounds that contain mercury, the so-called organomercury compounds. This group includes methylmercury (commonly found in fish like tuna and salmon), ethylmercury , dimethylmercury, diethylmercury, and merbromin.

Commonly used as a preservative agent due to its antiseptic and antifungal properties, thiomersal is regularly used in everything from vaccines to ophthalmic (e.g. eyedrops) and nasal products as well as things like tattoo inks and mascara, where long-time sterility is essential. In the body, thiomersal is broken down into ethylmercury, which is significantly less dangerous to the body than methylmercury. While refrigeration is an alternative to thiomersal, it requires an uninterrupted cooling chain, which can be problematic in some areas, leading to the use of contaminated vaccines.

In the US, fears about the mercury in vaccines (related to conspiracy theories involving autism caused by vaccines) led to thiomersal being removed from most vaccines despite a lack of scientific evidence for doing so. Due to a lack of data on ethylmercurys effect on the body in the 1990s, the data for methylmercury was used instead. Later research showed this to be a wrong equivalence, instead showing just how much more harmful methylmercury is.

Incidentally, the same conspiracy theories that led to the removal of thiomersal from most vaccines is linked into a more grand conspiracy theory about autism being caused by environmental toxins, including lead, mercury and other heavy metals. Chelation therapy is supposed to remove these toxins. This is however strongly recommended against as it is not an effective treatment and can lead to kidney and other potentially fatal damage.

Methylmercury is the most common form of organomercury, as its formed from inorganic mercury by microbes that live in aquatic systems. The resulting methylmercury is readily consumed by algae, which in turn are consumed by ever larger fish and other aquatic organisms in a process called biomagnification. As a result, the consumption of fish is the largest source of methylmercury and mercury in general for the population.

Mercury poisoning became well known due to the sudden outbreak of the then new Minamata disease in Japan, which turned out to be caused by the release of methylmercury into the environment from chemical factories, ending up in aquatic organisms that the local population would then catch and consume. In Japan this disease would cost 1,784 lives of 2,265 officially identified victims. Other nations experienced their own outbreaks of this disease.

Even without deliberate spills of methylmercury or its precursors, the amount of mercury in the environment is such that for fish species like swordfish, tuna, cod and pike one should not eat more than 170 grams of it per week, to avoid an unhealthy bioaccumulation of mercury in ones body. Some places like Floridas Everglades end up acting like scrubbers for mercury that is released in the air, severely raising local mercury levels there, with the advice being to never eat fish caught in those areas.

It is hard to think of a world without mercury. Whether its in dentistry, industry, laboratories or in astronomy, an essential role is played by mercury in some fashion. In astronomy especially, mercury essentially enables liquid mirror telescopes, which provide a highly effective and low-cost alternative to expensive and fragile glass mirrors. Mercury sees common use as an electrode in chemistry and in X-ray crystallography studies of proteins in structural biology with the multiple isomorphous replacement (MIR) approach, even as its use in more mundane tasks such as diffusion vacuum pumps has diminished over time, it still remains relevant there, as recently covered on Hackaday.

One of the most exciting new applications for mercury in the near future is that Jet Propulsion Labs Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC). The exciting thing about the DSAC is that it essentially takes the accuracy of a rubidium-based atomic clock (AC) and stuffs it into a package many times smaller. This is all courtesy of the properties of mercury ions which allowed for such a level of miniaturization, allowing it to be used in weight-sensitive applications, such as space probes and satellites.

The obvious advantage of the DSAC project is that the high clock stability improves the on-board time-tracking and thus navigation and communication abilities, which would be ideal for deep space missions. This is further detailed in a 2012 JPL paper on the project. It describes the crucial role the onboard timing source has on deep space navigation when it comes to forming multi-way coherent Doppler and range measurements. The essential benefit is that a spacecraft can do more by itself, with higher accuracy and higher useful data rates across the network.

Mercury is similar to rubidium in that it has a hyperfine transition that emits a very precise electromagnetic signal. Much of the miniaturization is enabled by the fact that in a microwave-driven atomic clock (like in current rubidium ACs and the DSAC) the frequency that is required to drive the clock also determines the dimensions of the oscillator which drives the clock. Whereas a rubidium clock uses a paltry ~6.834 GHz, mercury-199 uses 40.5 GHz.

At those higher frequencies, the required circuitry and other components can be made much smaller, resulting in an atomic clock (current version) thats a mere 29 by 26 by 23 cm at 17.5 kg, yet show no more drift than about 1 microsecond in 10 years of operation.

A DSAC prototype was launched on June 25th 2019 from Kennedy Space Center on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, as part of the Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite, which hosts four additional payloads in addition to the DSAC. NASA activated the DSAC prototype on August 23rd, with the entire mission expected to take about a year.

Throughout history, mercury has been a bit of a celebrity metal. In addition to its highly unusual liquid state at room temperature, it has enabled many areas of science to progress in ways that would have been difficult without mercury. Whether one looks at diffusion pumps and mercury thermometers, its myriad roles in chemistry and industry, the preservation of vaccines and similar substances, its hard to think of a material which has impacted human civilization more in ways that are subtle but ever-present.

Now it appears that mercury will be with us on our journey to the final frontier as well, keeping our space probes and possibly crewed space ships safe as they travel to Mars, Venus, and beyond. Heres to a long, healthy relationship with a really special metal.

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The Story Of The Quickening: Mercurial Metal - Hackaday

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Breakthrough discovery in plants’ DNA may lead to slowing aging process in humans – CNN

Posted: November 23, 2019 at 11:51 am

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Breakthrough discovery in plants' DNA may lead to slowing aging process in humans - CNN

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Missing Link To Longevity Discovered In The Plant Kingdom – Texas A&M University

Posted: at 11:51 am

lead researcher Dorothy Shippen, Ph.D., (left), graduate student Jiarui Song, first author (center) and postdoctoral fellow Claudia Castillo-Gonzlez, second author (right).

Texas A&M AgriLife

A breakthrough discovery by Texas A&M University and Arizona State University professors could provide a key component in understanding the human aging process and even aid in the battle against cancer.

Dorothy Shippen, Ph.D., is a University Distinguished Professor and Regents Fellow in Texas A&MsDepartment of Biochemistry and Biophysicsand withTexas A&M AgriLife Research, College Station.

Shippen co-led a study with Julian Chen, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry, Arizona State Universitys School of Molecular Sciences. First author, Jiarui Song, is a graduate student with Shippen.

Their study, The conserved structure of plant telomerase RNA provides the missing link for an evolutionary pathway from ciliates to humans, is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Our discovery of this key component of the telomerase enzyme in the plant kingdom provides an evolutionary bridge, and a novel path forward, for understanding how humans keep their DNA safe and enable cells to divide indefinitely, Shippen said.

Moreover, since plants often evolve interesting solutions to fundamental biological problems, some of the lessons we learn from plant telomerases may provide new ways for addressing stem cell disease and cancer.

We found a core component of the telomerase enzyme that had been missing all these years, Shippen said. And by finding this component in plants, we not only learn new lessons about how telomerase evolved, but we also open the door to learn new things about the human enzyme.

Back in 2001, Shippen published a paper outlining the discovery of the catalytic subunit of the telomerase enzyme from plants. The catalytic component is one of two absolutely critical parts of the enzyme, and it is now very well understood.

However, the second component, the RNA subunit, that provides the enzyme with information about what to do with chromosome ends, was missing.

Our new discovery is the RNA subunit of telomerase from the plant kingdom. In the plant telomerase RNA, we can now see the signatures for the human telomerase and telomerase from simple organisms like bakers yeast and the microbes in pond scum.

The missing piece always was this subunit. Now that we have found the correct one, its opened up a lot of interesting insights.

Plants have different, innovative solutions to so many biological challenges, and insight into these may provide important clues on how human telomerase is regulated, she said.

We can study the telomerase enzyme more deeply and see so much more now, and it can help us understand how the human enzyme is going to work. It really is this missing middle ground.

In the 1930s, Barbara McClintockwas studying the behavior of chromosomes in maize and was one of the first scientists to appreciate the importance of telomeres.The Shippen Labin the 1990s followed up on the pioneering work of McClintock in model plant systems and discovered the telomerase enzyme, which is required for maintaining these structures on the ends of chromosomes.

Shippens longtime studies on telomerase, which play an essential role in chromosome stability and cell proliferation capacity, has led her to be considered the worlds expert in plant telomere research.

The telomere is like a biological clock. There is a certain amount of telomeric DNA at the end of chromosomes. As cells divide, they lose part of this DNA.

She has likened telomeres to the plastic tip on the end of a shoelace they form a protective seal on the ends of chromosomes in plants and animals. Like the plastic tip that wears out, allowing the shoelace to fray and become hard to use, so does the telomere break down in most cells in the human body over time.

The telomerase enzyme is capable of replenishing the lost DNA at chromosome ends and it is available in cells that are immortal, Shippen said. Its active in the stem cells, but not active in other places of the body normally.

Theres a whole connection between immortality and telomerase that needs to be studied.

Why is telomerase only active in stem cells, turned off in other cells and why does it get reactivated in cancer cells? Shippen said. Weve learned a lot about the human telomerase from pond scum, but plants can provide still more clues because their growth and development is so plastic. If you cut a flower from a plant growing in the garden, it will grow another flower. But if you cut off the tip of your finger, you wont be growing a new one.

Its a big mystery.

But Shippen said the plant telomerase is still very similar to the human telomerase.

It is remarkable that even in plants, telomerase is active only in cells that need to divide many times.

She expects that what is learned in the plant system will ultimately be translatable and have significant impact in human medicine.

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Missing Link To Longevity Discovered In The Plant Kingdom - Texas A&M University

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Study Finds Over 55 Million Deaths Could Be Prevented Annually By Some Sort Of Immortality Serum – The Onion

Posted: October 12, 2019 at 12:46 pm

MADISON, WIConcluding that such a breakthrough would greatly improve the prognoses of patients with terminal conditions, a new study released Wednesday by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine found that more than 55 million deaths could be prevented each year with an immortality serum of some kind. We would likely see a dramatic drop in death rates worldwide if an elixir that confers everlasting life could be successfully developed and then administered to every person on the planet, said epidemiologist and study co-author Matthew Potter, who suggested the public health benefits of such a serum could hardly be overstated, considering it could prevent deaths caused by heart disease, cancer, tuberculosis, car accidents, wars, and many other things. Given the positive outcomes it could deliver, this is clearly an area of medicine that merits further research. Once we have the serum, then its just a matter of adding it to the water supply, releasing it into the atmosphere via drones, or maybe coming up with some other universal-delivery system we havent even conceived of yet. Its really that simple. The study concedes an immortality serum would also come with its share of adverse effects, including rampant overpopulation, critical resource depletion, and crippling existential crises for anyone who takes it.

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Study Finds Over 55 Million Deaths Could Be Prevented Annually By Some Sort Of Immortality Serum - The Onion

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Whats the mark of a real friend? – Aleteia EN

Posted: at 12:46 pm

Friendship has been praised throughout the centuries. The biblical Book of Ecclesiastes (or Sirach), written in the second century before Christ, includes these beautiful words: Nothing is comparable to a faithful friend, and no weight of silver or gold is worth more than the goodness of his fidelity. A faithful friend is a medicine for life and immortality.

Generally speaking, we make friends in the ordinary course of life. As we enter different environmentsbeginning when we are young, in our neighborhood and our extended family, and as we grow up, in our city, at school, at workwe discover people who become our friends. Weve all experienced the joy of getting together with them, talking, sharing experiences, giving each other advice, and so forth.

Our life experiences include many moments of happiness when we are accompanied by friends, who are often the ones who made those moments possible. Things such as trips, sporting events, graduation from school, or birthday parties are among the countless good experiences weve had with our friends.

How can we tell if someone is a real friend, and not just someone whos passing through our life in a pleasant and enjoyable way, but with no further meaning or consequences? And how can we make those friendly and fun people whose company we enjoy into authentic friends?

Friendship has one basic aspect: friends want whats good for each other. Friends are not really friends if theyre only useful for reaching professional success or for connecting with other people, or for satisfying our ego and vanity because we want to be surrounded by influential people.

True friends dont take advantage of each other.

Theres another distinctive aspect of friendship we should include: authentic friends share their interior life with each other. Friendship goes both ways, so its not about one giving and the other receiving.

This means that in great friendships people share their experiences of suffering, concern, and their interior battles, and they help each other in times of difficulty. They also share their deepest joys and most personal discoveries. Friends know each others hearts through and through.

Its not necessarily about sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings on social networks, or about being able to drink wine with each other every Friday night. The way it happens is something thats different in every friendship.

With whom do I share my confidences, and the depths of my heart? Does that person share theirs with me? Thats the way true friends are, and it lasts throughout the wide variety of circumstances we may experience throughout our lives, even if we cant always be physically present with each other.

If you have a friend like that, you truly have a priceless treasure.

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Whats the mark of a real friend? - Aleteia EN

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Raising the Dead: Ketch Secor Talks Old Crow Medicine Show’s Live at The Ryman, Ken Burns’ ‘Country Music’ and Playing with Bob Weir – jambands.com

Posted: October 7, 2019 at 7:50 pm

This Friday, Oct. 4, Old Crow Medicine Show will release their new album, Live at The Ryman, which captures various cuts from the country-folk stalwarts many performances at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville over the past half-decade. Ever the torchbearers of down-home, old-timey, harmony-filled music, Old Crow have ridden the wave of the 21st-century folk-revival to awards and accolades over the years, but the groups founders havent forgotten the musical and geographical roots that spawned their success.

Old Crow co-founder Ketch Secor recently helped with the creation of Ken Burns newest documentary, Country Music, which chronicles the myriad storiesboth well-known and nearly forgottenthat have shaped the history of the genre for over a century. Here, Secor talks about keeping the memory of country, folk and bluegrass music alive through the documentary and in his own music and actions, plus his recent experience with playing alongside Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir at LOCKN Festival in Old Crows home state of Virginia (where they collaborated on Mexicali Blues, Cumberland Blues and Will the Circle Be Unbroken?) and why Old Crow Medicine Show might have a bit more jamband in them than they previously thought.

Letsstart with this years LOCKNFestival, specifically your set and the Bob Weir sit inhow did that cometogether?

Bobspeople reached out a few days ahead of our tour and let it be known that he wasinterested in sitting in with us, asking what we would play. So we sent himback a list of tunes, and he picked the ones that we played from that list.Then we warmed up in the trailer and we hit the stage together. There are justa few moments like that in the life of a musician, where it seems that somesort of spiritual butterfly will land on the headstock of your guitar and justflap its wings. It reminds you of where you came from, where the music camefrom, and lets you know youre not alone and that your dreams are coming true,all at the very moment of your singing.

Didyou grow up with the Dead? How would a younger version of Ketch have viewedthat experience, being onstage with Bob Weir?

Well,it would have been unfathomable to me as a younger personthat the person I waslooking at, with eyes strained through an LSD hit, was going to be, like, afriend on the stage, years later. I saw the Grateful Dead at Giants Stadium thesummer that Jerry died. It was mid-June, in the burning-hot Meadowlands of NewJersey. I think that, if I wasnt 16 in 1994, I probably would have been to alot more Dead showsbut I just got to go to the one. I loved the music, and Ivealways felt that our band was part of the same familywe were just a littlefurther down the line. Also, so much of our influence tended toward the earlierside of the Grateful Dead, so it sort of felt like, well, maybe its more of ahorseshoe shape?

Hadyou played with any of the members of the Dead before?

Well,we worked some shows with Phil [Lesh] this summer, but in the capacity ofWillie Nelson [on the Outlaw Music Festival Tour], so I dont think Phil knewus, but he did watch our sets most nightsjust awesome to have him there. Andthen there was some correspondence a long time ago with Billy Kreutzmann thatnothing ever came of.

Butthe thing is, when someone is your hero, they take on a life in your life thatis not their life, but something related to your own imagination anddreamscape. And then theres this positively charged sonic landscape in whichJerry lives forever, and Pigpen never died, and theyre taking their firstbanjo lessons, and theyre learning to sing folk songs in the early 1960s, allin the same breath as singing Cats Under The Stars, and death and beyond. Thatsthe kinship that I think the Grateful Dead embodies better than any other musicmaker. The immortality piece.

Andthe relationship of the music to a spiritual plane doesnt need to be aparticular spirit; you can put any deity you want in that picture. That partsnot very important to me. Chuck Berry did the same thinghe lives foreverbuthe didnt talk about living forever, and he didnt dance about livingforever. If he did, he did it in subtle ways. The Dead invited you into a worldthat very much was stated as a spiritual plane. The music undulates andmoves like the soul.

Doyou aim at something like that with your own music?

No,man, Im a revivalist. Im just trying to raise the deadIm not trying to coexistwith them.

Howdid you pick what songs you wanted to play with Bobby?

Well,I hope to check the list again sometime and get to pick again, because theresa lot on that list. Our band has always played Grateful Dead music; we grew upon Grateful Dead music. I polled the band, because were all such big fans, soit was so easy to get a list of twenty tunes together. Most of them we had notplayed before, but we had a few regular songs in our rotation, and certainly alot of common ground. Whats interesting, I think, for our collaboration isthat were really from the roots-music world, like the Dead, but were not atall from the jamband world, so our crossroads happens in a veryless-than-obvious place, in a really deep and soulful place. I think that, whenwe started singing together with Bobby, it instantly felt locked in.

Theresso many people [at festivals] you might want to meet, but these [onstage]encounters, I think, go so much deeper than someones email address. I mean,they certainly require that, and Bob gets to play with all kinds of peopleandyoud have to ask Bob what he feltbut, for us, the man has loomed so large inmythology, in our arts, and in our music, that I still see Steal Your Faceseverywhere. I can close my eyes and still see the Dancing Bears dancing to Cumberland Blues. So it was just a real homecoming to get to play with him.

Haveyou ever had that kind of experience with any other sit ins?

Youknow, it was like meeting Pete Seeger backstage. In the case of Pete Seeger,the part that was the most like making music with Bob Weir was sitting withPete while he talked. Story craft is just at the heart of Pete. He told thisreally long story that I just wanted to drink in. Weve had such a specialprivilege in our lives as musicians to be able to be there with a lot of peoplewho arent on this earth anymore. Plus making music with Cowboy Jack Clement,or Merle Haggard. These kinds of things are what the newspaper men of thefutureGod willing, if I live to be oldenoughwill be asking me. What was it like to play music with Bob Weir?What did Merle Haggard whisper into your ear?

Didhe whisper something into your ear?

Yeah.

Whatwas it?

Illtell you in 35 years. [Laughs.]

Beforethe festival, I was talking to the talent buyer for LOCKN for the LOCKN Times,and he was saying hed been trying to get Old Crow on the lineup for years, butthe timing never worked out. So Im curious what your thoughts of the festivalwere after your first time.

Ima Virginian, so Im always going to want to play in the Old Dominion. But, asfar as playing in Virginia goes, this was a really new experience, because Ivenever done a big festival here before, with music going on [that late]. What Imused to with playing in Virginia is more like a rock festival or a bluegrassfestival, or its a country thing or an Americana thing. But this was none ofthose, so it was exciting to be in the space of what felt like new, in thelandscape of what felt so old.

Youmentioned Old Crow not being too much in the jambands world, but Ive heardthat youre a pretty big Phish fan. Can you talk about that connection andappreciation?

Ihavent seen Phish quite a few years. I kind of stopped going in my earlytwentiesthats something I really did a lot of in high school, though. A lot ofI mean, there was a minute there when Id seen Phish as much as Id seenBob Dylan. But Joe Andrews and Corey Younts in our band are still very muchPhish concertgoers, along with all the variations of Phish. Theyre reallytuned in to whats happening right now. Im sort of tuned into Junta and Lawn Boy. But Im really tuned into them. [Laughs.]

Anyspecific highlights from your Phish-going days that pop out in your memory?

Oneof my favorites was going to a show in Amherst, Mass., and not having a ticketand figuring we were just going to go hang out in the parking lotbeing 16,having some mushrooms in my pocket and being so excited about just going tohang out in the parking lot. Stopping off on the turnpike on the way there, wego into the glass house [regional name for highway rest stops/service areas]and there was someone handing out Phish tickets to the show we were headed to.Those are the kind of miracles that occur in the lives in 16-year-olds on wildweekends in boarding school. [Laughs.]

Ithink, if we had our chops, Old Crow would be a jamband. But we were just neverthat virtuosic. We were a three-chord band that was really song-driven, and thebest that we could do was with soulnot really the way we played, but thepassion with which we played. But its all very self-taught and rudimentarychord structures. Our biggest influences are probably like the Memphis Jug Bandand Workingmans Dead. You can see, in the Dead, that theres thispathway into the wilderness, from the sound of the Warlocks, or the musicbefore that, the undergirding of the Dead.

OldCrow is really rooted in the folk revival, which I think is one of the mostsignificant times in American music, when the first waves reappeared of aprimal sound that had made American popular music so powerful. That wave was sostrong that there were echoes of it resounding even 30 or 40 years later in theShenandoah Valley, when Critter [Fuqua] and I, in the late 1980s, startedplaying folk music. It was that colossal. What really inspired us was to betrue to it. The ideology of the band was still in its infancy and richlyaffixed to this concept of, Gotta keep the old music strong, or else itll die. And, you know, thats the way a 20-year-old thinks. WhatI would tell that 20-year-old is just to rephrase it a little bityouve gottamake the old time music strong so that you can give it away, again and again,so that itll be worth giving away and wont make a memory, but rathersomething present and fun.

Doyou ever have that fear anymore?

No,I think its in great shape. I think probably more harmonicas, banjos andfiddles have been sold in the past 15 years than at any other time. So yeah, Ithink were doing great, in terms of the cultural preservation of the music ofthe state of Virginia and other places. But, as the band is growing into the21st year of its career, we have been able to change that loyalty considerablyand stretch out into lots of new directions.

HavingBob up there affirmed the feeling and emotion in the band that we couldactually play for a long time if we want. We could jam. And so, we startedplaying a couple of Phish tunes in our setmost of that is because we wereplaying in Vermont, and we always have the tendency to play [regionallyappropriate covers]. When we play in Detroit, we sing The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald; in Seattle, we might do Nirvanas [version of] Mollys Lips or something like that. So, going upto Burlington, were likely to play some Phish. And our audiences down Southarent as appreciative of us doing Phishand weve learned that the hard way. [Laughs.]With the blessing of Bobin all his Bob-nessI feel like we could probably goforth and sew a new roots-music/jam rowand grow some pretty unruly crops.

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FMA: The Top 10 Symbols and Logos, Explained | CBR – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Posted: at 7:50 pm

Hiromu Arakawa's action fantasy seriesFullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhoodis a tale of adventure, the follies of mankind, ambition, conspiracy, and the innate goodness of humanity. Along the way, the main characters learn all kinds of lessons about themselves and each other, and the world of Amestris is richly fleshed out during the Elric brother's journey.

RELATED: FMA Brotherhood: Top 10 Friendships and Alliances

This series is also brimming with important symbology and real-life references to religion, mythology, alchemy, and more, and all this research has certainly paid off. Fullmetal Alchemist is a treat for anyone who enjoys these things, and there's plenty to learn. Find out what are the secrets of this show's arcane symbols and logos.

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Not a lot is explained about the national flag of Amestris, but some educated guesses can be made. It depicts a dragon on a green field, and most likely, the dragon represents the aggressive ways of this nation. Amestris is a military autocratic state, where the army and big government are intertwined. Often, white is a color representing purity, but it can also represent death, such as human bones. The "death" Horseman of the Apocalypse rides on a white horse, after all. And this dragon's tails forms a loop, possibly alluding to how important transmutation circles are inFullmetal Alchemist.

Only the homunculi bear this symbol, and it gives away their homunculus status. Greed's, as pictured, is on the back of his left hand, and Gluttony has one on his tongue and Wrath's is on his left eye. This creature, according to real-life symbology, represents immortality and eternity, since it is eating its own tail and thus creating an infinite loop. The homunculi are not truly immortal, but they can outlive humans, and they are tools of Father's ambition to become an immortal god for all time.

RELATED: Fullmetal Alchemist: 10 Facts You Didn't Know About Olivier Armstrong

Next up is the Flamel, the symbol that appears on the back of Edward Elric's distinctive red coat. Just what is it? This cross has a snake draped on it, along with detached wings and a crown, and it represents the real-life Nicholas Flamel's relationship to alchemy. This symbol also has a superficial resemblance to the Greek Rod of Asclepius, associated with medicine in ancient Greece. It's also somewhat similar to the Greek Caduceus, the symbol of the Greek god Hermes (who controls alchemy). Izumi Curtis, the Elric brothers' teacher, has this symbol tattooed on her breast.

Now for an active alchemy transmutation circle. Colonel Roy Mustang is an extraordinary alchemist, being able to snap his fingers to generate heat and flames in any shape or pattern. To do this, Roy has a unique transmutation circle on his glove that shows a triangle, a stylized flame, and a salamander. In medieval Europe, salamanders were associated with fire, and this motif appears often in fiction both old and new. Take Charmander in Pokemon, for example, a fire lizard. "Charred" and "salamander" gives us "Charmander."

The transmutation circles of several alchemists appear on this list, and now it is Solf J. Kimblee's turn. Kimblee has to clap his hands to use alchemy, and his circle is split in half on each palm. What do they mean? The sun symbol on his right hand represents gold, and the moon symbol on the left hand stands for silver. The triangles are important, too: the upwards triangle is symbolic of fire, and the downward-facing triangle represents water. Put together, they form a hexagram, and Kimblee's explosive alchemy is ready to rock!

RELATED: Fullmetal Alchemist: 10 Differences Between the Anime and the Manga

Alphonse Elric is very careful to protect this transmutation circle. In a moment of desperation, a young Edward used his own blood to write it, and this bound Al's soul to armor with advanced alchemy. This seal may represent the real-life philosophy that a human life is two distinct parts: the body, and the mind. Some argue that killing the body does not kill the mind, and to be sure, Alphonse is a fine metaphor for that. Hang in there, kid.

Edward comes face to face with Truth whenever he performs human alchemy: once as a child, and once to escape Gluttony's stomach realm. Each time, he finds himself in a white void that features this door. And that door is oozing with symbolic meaning. In particular, it refers to the mystical branch of Judaism known as the Kabbalah. The whole thing is based on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, and in Ed's case, the tree has a crown, or a "keter." This tree's roots represent the most mundane and earthly aspect of trying to reach godhood, and the top represents the divine. The circles also describe aspects of Ed's being and God, in Hebrew and in Latin, such as Filius ("son"), and El Pater ("God)".

RELATED: Fullmetal Alchemist: 10 Most Powerful Alchemy, Ranked

Shown is an experimental combination of alchemy and alkahestry, from the notes of Scar's deceased brother. Alkahestry, which originates from Xing, is based on pentagrams rather than hexagrams, and a star is often symbolic of the human body in real life. Take, for example, Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Scar's brother realized that neither alchemy nor alkahestry represented the sum of the world's power, and attempted to reconcile them. Scar's arm tattoos, which enable alchemy, also have alkahestry symbology in them.

The ancient Xerxes people of the great desert had some symbology to offer, too. Ed finds these ruins both in Xerxes itself and inside Gluttony's stomach, and he soon divines their meaning. According to him, the sun represents the human soul, while the moon stands for the mind. The stone itself, meanwhile, is the human body. What does this add up to? A human transmutation circle, and Ed is not happy to see that. Ed also notes that the lion is eating the sun, representing the attainment of the Philosopher's Stone and thus immortality.

The list concludes with another alchemist's own transmutation circle. In this case, Major Alex Armstrong has two copies of it, one on each armored gauntlet, and he strikes the gauntlets together to activate his own brand of alchemy. Inside a triangle is the word for "God," as seen on the Xerxes human transmutation circle. There appears to be German text circling the symbols, which is easier to see in the manga. The text changes at some point, but it's not clear if that's from an artistic oversight or if Armstrong really did change the writing.

NEXT: The 5 Best (& 5 worst) Fullmetal Alchemist Relationships

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