Monday, 27 June 2011

No Sign Scans After Testicle Cancer Cause New Tumors

Follow-up scans after treatment for testicular cancer don't appear to put men at higher risk of new tumors, researchers have found.
Men usually get regular computerized tomography (CT) scans to check if their testicular cancer has returned following treatment, but some worry that the associated radiation could be dangerous.
But that did not seem to be the case in the new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Overall, 14 percent of some 2,500 men who received multiple follow-up scans developed new tumors in the scanned area over the decade following their diagnosis. And those who received the most radiation were at no higher risk.
"Even with those incredibly high doses of diagnostic radiation, we did not identify any association between this exposure and an increased risk of cancers," study author Dr. Carl van Walraven at the Ottawa Health Research Institute told Reuters Health.
"To us, it's reassuring," he added, given the fact that more and more people get CT scans, which may increase cancer risks slightly although they are designed to look for disease.
Research has also found that people who get radiation treatment for other cancers are at increased risk for second tumors. For instance, men who receive such therapy for prostate cancer more often develop bladder and rectal cancers.
However, in radiation therapy the dose is typically higher than what people receive during diagnostic scans, explained van Walraven. And previous studies that have looked at the relationship between radiation from diagnostic scans and risk of second cancers have used different methods, making overall conclusions difficult, he added.
"The literature is very unclear whether there is an association between diagnostic radiation exposure and cancer."
Still, half of the men included in van Walraven's study received more radiation than many Japanese atomic bomb survivors, who were at increased cancer risk.
The difference, he suggested, may be how the radiation is delivered. Atomic bomb survivors received a massive dose at one time, while men who get several diagnostic scans stretch out their exposure over several years, which could be less dangerous.
It's possible that these smaller doses, stretched over time, "are small enough that the body can take care of them," said van Walraven. But more research is needed. "We don't know whether or not that's true. But we thought that may be one way to explain our data."
During the study, half of the men received at least 10 CT scans of their abdomen and pelvis within five years of their diagnosis. But only 14 developed tumors in that region during the study period.
One concern with the findings, however, is that the researchers didn't follow the men very long, said Dr. David Brenner, a radiation expert at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, who was not involved in the new work.
On average, the men were only 35 when diagnosed with testicular cancer, and half were tracked for 11 years or less. Yet most radiation-induced cancers in young men "will actually appear 10 to 40 years post-radiation," said Brenner.
So with such a short follow-up, the study will only capture a small fraction of the total cancers that the radiation will induce, he said.
These results "don't really tell us anything about the lifetime cancer risks associated with CT scans," said Brenner.
"I would hope the authors will be continue to study this population over a further 10 to 20 years," he added. "The results should be very informative."

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Ground Crab Spider

Crab Spiders in the genus Xysticus are the Ground Crab Spiders. As their common name suggests they are found crawling around on the ground usually under leaf litter, near rocks, or possibly low on vegetation. They are generally larger than the flower crab spiders and more cryptically colored. They vary from gray to brown usually, but there are decidedly black specimens like the one pictured here. While hiking at Sunbridge Hills with my boss, he noticed this crawling on the path in front of him. I suspected it was a crab spider, but did not know for sure which one as I'd never seen one before. Like all crab spiders, this specimen also has extended front legs giving it a crab-like appearance. They are very difficult to identify to species as most look similar and without close inspection of the palps an accurate ID just cannot be obtained. 

This particular spider was very fast moving and difficult to photograph, all it wanted to do was hide away from our prying eyes. I managed a few shots before letting it go about its business. The bulk of the diet of these ground spiders is moths and butterflies, and the occasional beetle or other small arthropod. They do not build webs to capture prey, instead they rely on stealth and stalking to subdue their dinner.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Dos and Don'ts of Your First Vacation with Him

After chasing the guy and falling in love, what's the next bridge to cross? Taking a trip together! Sure, hiking, scuba diving and rock climbing are adventurous, but the real challenge is spending little time apart. What to wear, what to do, and how to act? If you think your relationship is up to the test, do yourself (and him) the favor of following the dos and don'ts of vacationing as a couple!
Don't Over Pack! This is easier said than done because we women tend to want options when packing for a long weekend. But this time think of your significant other. You don't want to look too high-maintenance because your man might get a little frightened and re-think his decision. Pack the essentials: one dress, one pair of dressy pants, one pair of jeans, and a few shirts that can be dressed up or dressed down. If you stick with the bare minimum, you are going to make your guy a happy camper!
Do Go With the Flow! It's one thing to be organized and excited, but it's another to be controlling and overbearing - Make a list of a few things you MUST see on your trip. Remember that you both may have different interests, so compromise is key. After all, you're there on vacation to relax and be with each other, so sit back and enjoy!
Don't Expect Him to Pay for Everything! There's an economy crunch going on and it's affecting all of us, so you can't expect your guy to pay for everything. Split the bills up or surprise him by paying for a few items ahead of time, so it's all taken care of when you arrive. While chivalry is still important, these days we women make some dough too, so keep that in mind!
Do Be Yourself! It may be your first time on vacation with him, but he likes you for you and that's why he invited you on this getaway. Make sure you are comfortable, and if you're not, do something about it. This way, you're both sure to have a great time and get to know one another even better.

The Search for the Perfect Age to Have Kids

I just turned 38. Am I too old to contemplate one more pregnancy before I hang up my fallopian tubes?
After all of the drama I've endured with my last five pregnancies (and three births), I feel like I've gotten pregnancy down to an art. It seems unfair that I might be considered too old or too risky to bear another child.
So I wondered: Is there a perfect age to have kids? If so, how did I miss it?
First, I learned that I'm not the only one who got started late. According to an August 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age of first-time mothers in the United States jumped from 21.4 in 1970 to 25 in 2006. The number of first births for women 35 and older has increased nearly eight times since 1970.
Clearly I'm part of a fashionable trend, having had my babies at ages 34, 36, and 37. But is 39 a completely reckless proposition? How far am I from the "perfect age" at this point?
I consulted Ron Jaekle, MD, a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, in Ohio.
"If you take maternal physical maturity, educational/financial readiness, medical wellness, and chromosomal risks into consideration, 25 to 30 would be optimal, with the five years on either side being almost as good," Dr. Jaekle says.
But aren't the odds of a chromosomally normal child for an older mother still very good? For example, if my child's risk of Down syndrome is 1 in 100 (the risks are 1:1,400 for women in their 20s), then I still have a 99 percent chance of a healthy pregnancy, right?
Dr. Jaekle reminded me that those odds aren't the only consideration. "Forty-year-olds have an increased risk for diabetes, hypertension, preterm labor, and preterm delivery, in addition to the chromosome risks," he says.
I also learned that pregnancies between puberty and one's mid-20s have surprising health risks, including premature labor, anemia, and high blood pressure. A study published by the University of Texas at Austin revealed that the best health outcomes for mother and child occur when the first pregnancy is in the late 20s or early 30s. According to the study, the ideal age for pregnancy and motherhood is sometime between ages 25 and 34.
So I moped around the house, wondering why I had waited so long. Why can't I be the mom in Cheaper by the Dozen and have as many kids as I want?
Then I thought about who I was from age 25 to 30. I think wistfully of the nights in my 20s - I would stay up half the night dancing and then bounce into work the next morning, perky as ever. But I also had a mountain of debt left over from graduate school. And I didn't meet the man of my dreams (and father of my future children) until I was 30. Then we spent a few years together before embarking on our parenthood adventure.
By age 34, we had a great marriage and well-established careers; plus, my debt was paid off. We bought a car and a house in the suburbs. So, for us, the perfect age to have kids was right at the outer edge of Dr. Jaekle's recommendation. And we were probably smart to wait until we were financially stable. One child can cost more than $221,000, according to report by the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
Although our fertility is certainly not at its peak, this has been the right time to welcome babies into our arms.
Yes, my age was probably the reason we experienced two miscarriages after our first daughter was born, but now we are the best parents we can be, owing not just to our physical readiness, but also to the "educational/financial readiness" that Dr. Jaekle mentioned.
So I have to agree with him. If I'd only had my act together - romantically, financially, emotionally - during my mid-20s, I could have sailed through motherhood more easily. But it took me a few years to find an ideal place to nest and raise my brood. I may get crabby with anything less than eight hours of sleep and hear my knees crack when I play with my girls on the floor, but I also know I'm giving them a more stable environment than I could have in my 20s.
And as I mull my reproductive tardiness, I'm putting my baby's outgrown clothes up in the attic. I'm not quite ready to let them - or my fallopian tubes - go just yet.

9 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Healthy at Any Age

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes decades of time together strewn with a minefield of potential relationship wreckers. It’s a wonder that anyone ends up walking off into the sunset, hand-in-wrinkled-hand, with a silver-haired mate. What do those geriatric lovebirds know that you don’t?

Well, the truth is that even in so-called happy marriages, both partners probably fantasize some of the time—or even much of the time—about throwing in the towel. A new Woman’s Day and AOL Living poll found that a shocking 72 percent of women surveyed have considered leaving their husbands at some point. But despite the occasional rocky patch, 71 percent expected to be with their husbands for the rest of their lives. So how do you make it to the finish line with your relationship intact?

Each decade will have its own drama, be it child-rearing, layoffs, second careers, and middle-aged angst, along with a big helping of the in-sickness-and-in-health stuff. Here’s how to have a healthy relationship every step of the way.

1. Watch your waistline
Now that you’re married, you can finally relax and skip the gym, right? Wrong. Wedded couples tend to have fatter waistlines, which can spell trouble in terms of sexual attraction and general health. A 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that your chances of becoming obese increase by 37 percent if your spouse becomes obese. So unless you want “till death do us part” to include chronic health issues like heart disease and diabetes, it’s important to establish healthy eating habits early on. But warding off weight gain isn’t as simple as whipping up a healthy meal together. Eating with anyone—from your spouse to coworker—can cause you to consume 33 percent more than you would solo.

Being aware of the potential fatty pitfalls of marital bliss may be enough to keep your portion sizes in check. Spend couple time checking out local farmers’ markets on the weekends in an effort to consumer fresher, low-calorie fare. Or schedule an exercise date to work off some of your hearty, homemade dinners.

2. Have a financial plan
Nearly 40 percent of married people admit to lying to their spouse about a purchase, according to a 2004 poll, and money woes can quickly send your marriage south. In fact, money is the number-one reason couples fight, and relationships tend to suffer during poor economies. You should discuss and agree upon some hard financial ground rules, preferably before you tie the knot.

Don’t fret if you’re a spendthrift and your partner pinches pennies. “It’s probably not a good thing to have the exact same philosophy about money, “ says Ken Robbins, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “But financial issues are best to resolve early on. You want to decide who is going to pay the bills, how much discretionary spending is reasonable, and how you’re going to keep track of it all.”

3. Figure out your family rules
Couples spend the first 5 to 10 years of their marriage butting heads over how their family should work, says Dr. Robbins. “People often don’t realize that they come into a marriage with an idea of how a family works based on their own family—whether they liked them or not,” he adds. You can end up fighting over something as trivial as how you should hang your toilet paper, but those little issues can add up to big problems, particularly if children enter the picture. A 2004 study found that how a couple manages parenting responsibilities when the child is an infant is associated with the quality of their marriage two-and-a-half years later.

You and your partner may have vastly different ideas about how a child should be cared for and what constitutes family together time. If one of you is working, should the other partner get up with the baby at night, or should you take turns? Is it important for you to sit down to dinner as a family every night? “You need to figure out how you can live together happily while each maintaining your own sense of self,” says Dr. Robbins.

4. Make sex a priority—but not a chore
While you should make sex a priority, you shouldn’t pencil it in on your planner. If you schedule sex, it becomes a responsibility—just like taking out the trash, says Andrew Goldstein, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in Baltimore, and the coauthor of Reclaiming Desire. The average married couple has sex 58 times per year, or slightly more than once a week. And a recent eight-year study found that 90 percent of couples experienced a decrease in marital satisfaction after the birth of their first child. Yikes!
But it doesn’t matter whether you’re having sex five times a week or five times a year—as long as both of you are happy, says Dr. Goldstein. In fact, a 2008 study found that couples who reported any kind of marital intimacy—everything from holding hands to sex—exhibited lower levels of a hormone produced by stress.

5. Be flexible
Whatever financial and household arrangements you agreed to in your 20s or 30s, chances are they’re going to change at some point in your marriage. Men account for 82 percent of recent job losses during this recession, meaning couples are making some hard choices when it comes to both their careers and their checking accounts.

If the traditional breadwinner is laid off, the stay-at-home parent may need to head back into the workforce. Conversely, if you become a stay-at-home partner—due to choice or circumstance—expect to do more of the shopping, cleaning, and other chores that make a household run smoothly. A recent analysis of government data found that employed women spend significantly more time on child care and housework than employed men—and unemployed men.

Having an open discussion of how household duties need to change can help couples weather some tough transitions. “Everyone has a role within the relationship and as long as there’s a greater good, it’s not a question about whether it’s his money or her money,” says Dr. Goldstein. “It’s their money. Your paycheck and your career are not the value of your worth.”

6. Stay active as you age
If you’re like most American couples, you don’t exercise or you stopped regularly exercising when you had children. Try to find new ways to stay active as a couple, whether it’s hitting the tennis courts or hiking trails. A 1995 study found that couples who work out together are more likely to stick with an exercise program. And some experts suggest that couples who exercise more frequently tend to have better sex lives.

Pick up a life sport that you can enjoy together for decades to come, like golf, tennis, or hiking. You don’t need to be seriously sweating to reap the benefits of regular exercise. Experts say that moderate exercise is enough to help stave off heart disease and other ailments.

7. Gab (a little) to your friend
In the last decade, researchers have noted a rise in “gray divorce,” or couples over 50 who are calling it quits. While it’s tempting—and often prudent—to keep couple conversations behind closed doors, you may actually benefit from blabbing to a close friend.

“It’s often helpful to talk to couple friends when these big issues come up,” says Dr. Robbins. “Many couples live very privately and discuss these issues with the shades down, but relationship issues like this can often benefit from hearing how people that you trust dealt with a similar situation.” Whether it’s hearing how a friend dealt with her husband’s infidelity or other big hurdles, a little empathy can put things in perspective. But keep your gabbing under control.

“Clearly it’s never a good idea to say anything—even to a close friend—that you wouldn’t want repeated back to your spouse in five years,” warns Dr. Goldstein.

8. Rediscover each other as a couple, sans kids
Forget empty nest syndrome—a 2008 study found that marital satisfaction actually improves once children leave home. Female participants reported spending equal amounts of time with their partners both while their children lived at home and after, but they noted that the quality of that together time was better once the kids were out of the picture. “Suddenly the tyranny of the children controlling the household is relieved,” says Dr. Robbins. “You don’t have to have dinner at 6, you don’t have to spend Saturdays at the soccer field, and you don’t have to be so responsible all the time.” Use this newfound freedom to bend the rules a bit and rediscover what you love about each other.

But if marital problems have already been bubbling, an empty nest can reveal serious tension. “All of a sudden the noise is gone,” says Dr. Robbins. “If you didn’t have much to talk about, it suddenly becomes more apparent once the kids are gone.”

9. Be a conscious caregiver
In the event of a serious illness, spouses who assume the role of caregiver often develop a sense of “caregiver burden” and may become ill themselves. So it’s vital that both spouses ask for help when they need it. Getting out to see friends and socialize is particularly important for caregivers. And realize that you both have limitations.

“The spouse who needs help typically feels guilty and frustrated. The spouse who has to help feels controlled by it,” says Dr. Robbins. “While you can’t fix those issues, you at least need to be open about them.”

The first (and last) MeeGo phone

One of the first new devices Nokia has released since the its partnership with Microsoft was announced got rolled out for public viewing yesterday at the Nokia Connection event in Singapore yesterday, giving us all a first look at Nokia's first Wind--wait a minute...
Is that a MeeGo device I see? Why yes, yes it is.
The Nokia N9, scheduled to ship "sometime in 2011," was rolled out with MeeGo 1.2 on board, making it the first (and likely last) MeeGo phone to hit the market. (Previous MeeGo devices were Internet-only.) The N9, which is the successor to the N900 device, also features 1 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 of 64 GB of storage. There's a 720p camera on board, as well as GPS, Bluetooth, and near-field communications (NFC) capabilities.
A lot of industry analysts were scratching their heads about the choice of MeeGo, but it's clear that the N9 must have been well along in the pipeline before all the Microsoft hullabaloo and the subsequent layoffs of 7,000 employees and outsourcing of Symbian activities to Accenture.
There were clues this device was coming. During an earnings call October 21, 2010, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced they would release its first MeeGo-based device in 2011, and way back in June it was widely reported that Symbian would be replaced by MeeGo on its N-series smartphones. (Of course, at that time, we all though MeeGo would be the future of Nokia smartphones, not Windows Phone 7.)
Still, given the upheaval in the Nokia operation, I think we could all be forgiven for still being a bit surprised the company actually followed through on the MeeGo release.
So here we are, a working MeeGo phone.
And, predictably, no one cares.
It's not that reviewers don't like the MeeGo interface. Indeed, very early reviews seem to favor the interface. The N9 will use Nokia's Ovi app store (instead of Intel's AppUp store), and the quick look I took at Ovi this morning showed me a decent supply of available apps (though nowhere near the number of iOS and Android apps out there). The phone's hardware specs are decent, too, and there's more than a little buzz being generated about the NFC feature that will enable the N9 to act as a credit card/mobile wallet device.
But the overall consensus, which I happen to share, is: this is nice, is this what Nokia has planned for Windows Phone 7?
I think so. The irony of using the Linux-based MeeGo interface as a faux mockup of what a Nokia Window 7 smartphone might look like and feature is not lost on me, but there you are. The N9 is most likely a stop-gap to keep Nokia's skin in the smartphone game as they work with Microsoft to get Windows devices ready for market. The new added features the N9 does sport are previews for those upcoming devices.
Barring any miracles, this may well be the last Nokia MeeGo phone we ever see. And I have to wonder: will this be the last MeeGo device of any kind we'll ever see, period?
The MeeGo site says MeeGo is designed for "netbooks/entry-level desktops, handheld computing and communications devices, in-vehicle infotainment devices, connected TVs, and media phones." So that's a lot of platforms on which MeeGo can live.
While Nokia's opting out of MeeGo deployments moving forward may mean there won't be any MeeGo phones anytime soon, that does not mean MeeGo won't be popping up here and there. On netbooks, for example, there's the Asus EeePC X101 and Lenovo Ideapad S100 in the works.
But there's a lot of pessimism in the marketplace since Nokia's abrupt departure. Despite the Linux Foundation's stewardship, all of the funding and marketing for MeeGo comes Intel, and there's a real sense on the market that Intel is pretty much the only thing keeping MeeGo alive.
There's probably some truth to that. So where will Intel take the platform? "Media phones" are all but cut off without Nokia, and unless MeeGo makes a killer offering in tablet-space very soon, there's little to no chance they will make a dent in that sector either. (I think that moment's come and gone, actually.)
Handheld devices are DOA because everyone wants a unified phone/Internet device now. If I want an Internet-only device, I'd rather spend the extra money to get a bigger tablet screen.
That leaves in-vehicle infotainment devices and connected TVs from MeeGo's list. A new Smart TV working group was announced by the Linux Foundation in March, so maybe MeeGo's backers see that as the one last shot for MeeGo market penetration. (Curiously, one of the participants in this new working group is Nokia.)
So, while things don't look great for MeeGo now, there are opportunities out there. Will they be enough to keep MeeGo alive?

Police: Mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger Arrested in California

ANTA MONICA, Calif. -- James "Whitey" Bulger, a notorious Boston gangster on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list for his alleged role in 19 murders, was captured Wednesday near Los Angeles after living on the run for 16 years, authorities said.
Bulger, 81, was arrested along with his longtime girlfriend, 60-year-old Catherine Greig, in the early evening at a residence in Santa Monica, said a law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. The arrest was based on a tip from the recent publicity campaign that federal authorities had regenerated, according to the official.

The two were arrested without incident, the FBI said. The FBI had been conducting a surveillance operation in the area where the arrest was made, Santa Monica police Sgt. Rudy Flores said.
FBI agents still swarmed around Bulger's building late Wednesday, hours after the arrests in a neighborhood of two and three-story apartment buildings. Bulger lived on the third floor of The Princess Eugenia, a three-story, 28-unit building of one and two-bedroom apartments three blocks from a bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
Bulger was the leader of the Winter Hill Gang when he fled in January 1995 after being tipped by a former Boston FBI agent that he was about to be indicted. Bulger was a top-echelon FBI informant.
Over the years, the FBI battled a public perception that it had not tried very hard to find Bulger, who became a huge source of embarrassment for the agency after the extent of his crimes and the FBI's role in overlooking them became public.
Prosecutors said he went on the run after being warned by John Connolly Jr., an FBI agent who had made Bulger an FBI informant 20 years earlier. Connolly was convicted of racketeering in May 2002 for protecting Bulger and his cohort, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, also an FBI informant.
Bulger provided the Boston FBI with information on his gang's main rival, the New England Mob, in an era when bringing down the Mafia was one of the FBI's top national priorities.
But the Boston FBI office was sharply criticized when the extent of Bulger's alleged crimes and his cozy relationship with the FBI became public in the late 1990s.
He has been the subject of several books and was an inspiration for the 2006 Martin Scorsese film "The Departed."
During his years on the run, the FBI received reported sightings of Bulger and Greig from all over the United States and parts of Europe. In many of those sightings, investigators could not confirm whether it was actually Bulger who was spotted or simply a lookalike.
But in September 2002, the FBI received the most reliable tip in three years when a British businessman who had met Bulger eight years earlier said he spotted Bulger on a London street.
After the sighting, the FBI's multiagency violent fugitive task force in Boston and inspectors from New Scotland Yard scoured London hotels, Internet cafes and gyms in search of Bulger. The FBI also released an updated sketch, using the businessman's description of Bulger as tan, white-haired and sporting a gray goatee.
On Monday the FBI on announced a new publicity campaign and accompanying public service ad that asked people, particularly women, to be on the lookout for Greig. The 30-second ad started running Tuesday in 14 television markets to which Bulger may have ties and will air during programs popular with women roughly Greig's age.
The new campaign pointed out that Greig had several plastic surgeries before going on the lam and was known to frequent beauty salons. The FBI also was offering a $2 million dollar reward for information leading to Bulger's arrest.
The pair was scheduled to make an appearance in Los Angeles federal court Thursday. Bulger faces a series of federal charges including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, narcotics distribution, extortion and money laundering. Greig is charged with harboring a fugitive.
Bulger, nicknamed "Whitey" for his shock of bright platinum hair, grew up in a gritty South Boston housing project, and went on to become Boston's most notorious gangster. He led the violent Winter Hill Gang, a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in the Boston area.
After he fled, he became one of the nation's most-hunted fugitives, charged in a number of murders that included the slayings of businessmen in Florida and Oklahoma. With a place next to Osama bin Laden on the "Ten Most Wanted" list, he had a $1 million reward on his head.
Bulger's younger brother, William, was one of the most powerful politicians in the state, leading the Massachusetts Senate for 17 years and later serving as president of the University of Massachusetts for seven years.
For many years, William Bulger was able to avoid any tarnish from his brother's alleged crimes. But in August 2003, William Bulger resigned his post as president of UMass amid pressure from Gov. Mitt Romney and Attorney General Thomas Reilly.
His resignation came two months after he testified about his brother before a congressional committee. William Bulger said he spoke to his brother shortly after he went on the run in 1995, but said he had not heard from him since and did not know where he was hiding out.
The committee, in a draft report issued in 2003, blasted the FBI for its use of Bulger and other criminals as informants, calling it "one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement."

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Easy Summer Looks With Prices to Match

JACQUELYN ORTIZ scours her favorite cheap-and-chic fashion outposts once or twice a week to stock up on a season’s worth of flowing dresses, tank tops, sandals and tees. “In the summertime I do a lot more shopping,” said Ms. Ortiz, who works at an advertising agency in New York.

Yet she finds that she is spending less. She can afford to indulge in an occasional mini-splurge, since she rarely parts with more than $30 on a single clothing purchase, and even less on accessories: feathers for her hair, headbands or the $10 fedora that crowns her summer wardrobe. In keeping with the season’s carefree spirit, she snaps up eye-catching pieces that she may wear the next day, then simply forget.
“In the summer,” she reasoned, “you’re in the office one minute, and on the jitney to the Hamptons the next. If you’re feeling spontaneous, you might jump into a pool in your silly clothes. So you need to be buying something easy, adaptable — and maybe disposable.”
A halting economy, steamy pavements and long hours at the office have done little to dampen her enthusiasm, or for that matter that of her peers. She typifies a breed of budget- and style-wise New Yorkers who haunt fashion chains like H & M and Mango to engage in a bit of ritual hunting and gathering.
Their frequent store visits and swift response to trends suggest that they have returned to the kind of recreational shopping that has been rare of late, but which, in its pre-recession heyday, was as popular a pastime as a jaunt to the beach. They shop because it’s easy (fewer layers to impede their progress or obscure their bright new clothes) and, as some will tell you, just because they can.
Sure, apparel sales have slowed, at least outside the luxury sector. “The fashion consumer is being more cautious than ever,” said Howard Davidowitz, a retail consultant in New York. At a time, he said, when 80 percent of the population is still struggling to make ends meet, “they really are watching their dollars.” But even a lethargic recovery has done little to curb an acquisitive streak that is ingrained in the consumer psyche.
Trend-watchers point out that a succession of sun-drenched days only intensifies the impulse to buy, to cast off cool-weather layers for looks that are lighter, simpler and more vibrant. “People shop and dress differently in the summer,” said Catherine Moellering, the executive vice president of the Tobe Report, a trend forecasting firm. Summer, she added, “is the sorbet of seasons — the palate cleanser, if you will. Dressing is simpler, not as tricky. We all give ourselves a bit of a break.”
And conserve our energies, she might have added, for the challenge of chasing a deal.
“The availability of inexpensive, high-turnover, trend-driven fashion encourages people to shop more often,” Mr. Davidowitz said, “because they know that each time they’re going to see something different, and that’s what they’re looking for.”
Catering to an appetite for novelty is a proliferation of wallet- and trend-friendly stores: standbys like J. Crew and Topshop, and a string of recent arrivals like AllSaints and Aritzia, a Canadian brand with an cavernous new outpost in lower Manhattan. Many offer temptations priced at well below $100, a retail sweet spot for aspiring frugalistas.
“Fashion chains like Zara and Forever 21 are very well positioned for the shopper who wants something new,” said Candace Corlett, the president of WSL Strategic Retail, a consultancy in New York. They serve those consumers who are “determined or simply not able to get back into the vicious cycle of credit and debt.”
Replenishing inventories daily or weekly with items inspired by the runways, such fashion chains draw people on the prowl for peasant blouses, street-grazing skirts, tunics and tribal prints, and the kinds of flat sandals meant to complement a raft of maxi-dresses. In summer, fabrics are lighter and less expensive in every segment of the marketplace, Ms. Moellering noted. “That kind of levels out the playing field,” she said, making it easier “to browse the high street stores and pull off a high-end look.”
That’s certainly no secret to Ashley Basius, who shops “at least twice a week,” she said. “I buy more in summer because I’m outdoors more and I can show off what I’m wearing.” Ms. Basius, a fashion intern in New York, collects pieces like the yellow J. Crew sundress she wore in Midtown last week, bought for $90, and which she wore with $40 taupe-tone sandals she found at T. J. Maxx. “Dresses are cheaper, and they’re practical,” she said. “They give you an entire outfit that you can accessorize.”
Or outfits, as the case may be.
“In the summer there’s a lot more to choose from, so I buy more things,” said Lindsey Ibarra, managing editor at BurdaStyle, a magazine for sewing enthusiasts. Like many of her contemporaries, she buys inexpensive things to mix with a handful of luxury purchases. “It’s more interesting when you pick and choose from different sources at different price points,” she said. “It’s more creative than just going to a department store and buying a runway look right off the mannequin.
“Besides, you never know when you’ll find a diamond in the rough, a piece that you spend $20 or $30 on and end up wearing for years.”

5 Things You Won't Believe Aren't In the Bible

As a predominantly Christian people, Westerners think they know the Bible pretty well. But not everybody realizes that many of the most iconic features of Christianity were never mentioned by the holy book or the church, but were actually pulled from the ass of some poet or artist years after God turned in his final draft of the Bible.

The image of an angel is so recognizable that you can immediately spot one if somebody makes its shape in some snow. They're sparkly people with two white wings and occasionally swords, who sit on clouds ripping out awesome harp solos while protecting humans from harm. So basically, the protagonists of the next Stephenie Meyer novel.

The sex scene will be as unsettling as it is improbable.
The Only Problem Is ...
Now, there are angels in the Bible. But if you encountered some of the angels it describes, you'd probably need a shotgun under your bed to sleep soundly for the rest of your life.*
*NOTE: that is a joke. If angels turn out to be real, and you encounter one, do not shoot it with a shotgun.
There are several kinds of angels in the Bible and you've probably heard about some of them, like archangels, cherubim and seraphim. They all look different, and very few actually have wings. Those who do, like the seraphim, actually have six wings and need all of them to cover their body, lest they blind/incinerate whoever is unlucky enough to bump into one.

This is a seraph, trying with all its might not to burn you alive.
Then there are the thrones, which are described in the Bible as "wheels within wheels," the rims of which are covered in eyes.

Whatever it is, we're pretty sure it can see.
Then we have the cutest order of angels, the cherubim. As we all know, a cherub is a baby angel, usually with a little bow and arrow and a leaf protecting his modesty. Except that Ezekiel 10:14describes them as frightening four-headed monstrosities that included the faces of a man, an eagle and a lion.
Actually Came From:
Painters took liberties when portraying angels, and just like putting capes on superheroes, giving them wings was a visually interesting way to identify who was the angel in a painting full of regular dudes (wings were also used in the early church to denote that these creatures lived in the sky). Archangels like Michael and Gabriel were given contemporary military garb.

Which apparently included "hair like a lady."
Cherubs in particular didn't get their extreme makeover until Renaissance sculptors revived the ancient practice of putti, which depicted cute babies dancing and playing around on infant tombs. The rediscovery and reimplementation of these little cuties brought Cupid-esque cherubs into vogue, as demonstrated by Tomba di Ilaria del Carretto:

Whaddya know? Those dancing naked babies do make this tomb less unsettling.
Lastly, the thing about the harps was actually invented by John Milton who wrote about angels "plucking harps" in Paradise Lost, basically just because it was the cutest thing he could pull out of his ass.
The Devil Is Red and Has Horns, a Pitchfork and Goat Legs
The devil, also known as Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, Mr. Scratch, Old Nick and Al Pacino, is the cloven-hoofed, pitchfork-wielding, red-skinned, horned king of hell and founder of the metal genre of music. He's also a gambler and a businessman, willing to make bets or contracts with you and grant you wishes/musical abilities in exchange for your immortal soul. He looks like this:
The Only Problem Is ...
Not one inch of that is in the Bible. Anywhere. Not even the goatee (and this is a book where every other character has a goatee. Or at least we picture it that way).
So what does Satan look like in the Bible? We don't know -- he's never physically described except when he visits Eve as a snake, and some think that the snake in the Garden of Eden wasn't actually Satan anyway. Other than that, he's just a disembodied ghost-voice, kind of like a really evil Obi-Wan Kenobi.

"You should totally try crystal meth."
Actually Came From:
Medieval artists who wanted to portray the devil visually had to take a bit of artistic license, generally drawing whatever seemed evil at the time. No single source is responsible for the common depiction of Old Nick, but he picked up bits and pieces of his traditional costume as time went on, like a hipster trawling dozens of op shops over the course of a month.
Speaking of hipsters, what about that pitchfork? It's really a trident, a popular accessory of the Greek and Roman gods. The horns? Possibly a hand-me-down from animal-worshipping religions that Christianity didn't like. Scholars believe that Satan got his goat-legs as recently as the 19th century during the Romantic period, when neo-paganism came into vogue and a lot of writers, poets and artists started talking up the Greek goat-god Pan as a source of their inspiration, a claim about which numerous panties became quite tightly knotted.

Imagine this guy with a pitchfork.
As for the devil's famous habit of gambling with people's souls, that's not canonical either. Though his job is to tempt people to sin, he never grants anybody miraculous powers. We have an old German legend to thank for that. The legend of Faust, made popular later when it was dramatized by Christopher Marlowe, tells the story of a doctor who gets bored and decides to strike a deal with Lucifer in return for knowledge, converting the devil from the Prince of Darkness into a shady snake-oil salesman.

Alas, the devil got more emo with time.
The Holy Grail
The cup that Jesus drank out of during the Last Supper is the ultimate lost treasure, having become a slang term for anything long sought-after or world-changing. And while the Indiana Jones franchise seems to think drinking from the legendary cup will grant you eternal life and heal gunshot wounds, the exact kind of magic powers we can expect to obtain when we find it is a matter of dispute.
Also, there's the question of whether it's a cup, a bowl or, as Dan Brown speculated, a holy vagina.

We'd tap that.
The Only Problem Is ...
If you try to find the story of the magical cup in the Bible, you'll wind up flipping around confused, thinking you've got an abridged version or something. While the Bible does mention Jesus using a cupduring the Last Supper, the cup itself is not treated any more importantly than anything else in the scene. It'd make just as much sense to say the table itself is holy, or the chairs, or the menu, or the leftovers, or the tip.

"I only see 11 dollars. Someone's holding out ... Judas, I'm looking in your direction ..."
Actually Came From:
The Holy Grail was first invoked just as a plot-driving device in the legend of King Arthur. Even then, the item that Arthur's army sought was not Jesus' cup at all -- it was a magic cauldron. Since cauldrons were used quite often at parties and Celtic sleepovers, having a magic cauldron would come off today like a plate of nachos that never ended or a bottomless beer keg.

If only this moment could be eternal...
It was the French poet Chretien de Troyes who reinterpreted the Arthurian legend as a quest for the Holy Grail. And even then, the Grail was not a cup, but rather something resembling a really nice serving dish.
No, it was another poet, Robert de Boron, who planted the Jesus-cup story in the world's consciousness. According to his (quite fictional) masterwork Joseph d'Arimathe, the cup was used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect Jesus' blood and sweat after his crucifixion.

Just look at the man's dorag -- you know he was into some freaky shit.
It was his possession of the Grail that granted him the Jesus-powers to survive his own death and burial, and then for some reason he delivered it to Britain. This provided not only the first description of the Grail as Jesus' cup, but also an explanation as to why the hell we're looking for a piece of Israeli tableware in goddamn England.

The Antichrist
Type "Is Obama" into Google and one of the top three suggested searches will always be "the Antichrist?" If the Web had existed in Ronald Reagan's day, you'd have gotten the same result for him and (likewise for Mikhail Gorbachev).

Hot Antichrist-on-Antichrist action.
So clearly there is a huge chunk of the world waiting for someone to come along and fulfill the old biblical prophecy: A charismatic leader will fool the whole world, rise to power, institute a worldwide dictatorial regime and (finally) bring about the Apocalypse. There exist entire religious sects who keep a sharp eye out for the smooth talking sign of the End Times who will trigger the destruction of everything we know and love.
You skeptics can laugh, but know that many Americans who vote in 2012 will be doing it based on which of the two candidates is least likely to be the Antichrist.

This man is not basing his vote on sound fiscal policy.
The Only Problem Is ...
The Antichrist is mentioned only four times in the Bible, and each time he's described the same way:
"Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the Antichrist." (2 John 1:7)
Yep: The Antichrist is anyone who doesn't believe in Christ. The "anti" is basically being used the same way it's used when we say someone is "anti-war." So anyone who wants to accuse Richard Dawkins of being the Antichrist is actually entirely correct, and what's more, he'll agree with you.

Man, antichrists get all the fine bitches.
Actually Came From:
There are characters in the Book of Revelation who will help usher in the End of Days: for instance, there is a False Prophet, who looks like a lamb and talks like a dragon (figuratively, we're assuming). And then we have "The Beast" from Revelation 13, which is described as "coming out of the sea" with 10 horns, seven heads, 10 crowns and other body parts that do not even resemble a human body accidentally.

The Beast we're talking about is the beast on the right.
The beast is who is associated with the number 666, by the way. It wasn't until the second century that some dude named Saint Irenaeus started calling it the Antichrist, borrowing the term from another part of the Bible that wasn't referring to it. But even that did very little to change the fact that The Beast would have a hell of a time getting elected to public office since it looked like ... well, a motherfucking beast.

If Napoleon Dynamite wrote a fan-version of Narnia.
It wasn't until the Middle Ages that the Antichrist was portrayed as a guy rather than a huge multiheaded monster. Thus the Antichrist, as a figure in pop culture and cheap-shot accusation was born. Countless novels (like the worldwide bestselling Left Behind series) and movies have helped push the concept to where it is today.
So to summarize, millions are awaiting what they believe is the fulfillment of an ancient biblical prophecy that is in reality cobbled together from at least three different characters from the Bible, with a little bit of Rosemary's Baby for good measure.
Hell: Everything Other Than the Fire
Hell is a place of eternal torment, a realm of unrelenting suffering for all sinners, heretics and unbelievers. It is a land of fire and brimstone arranged into nine circles and filled with imps and demons who deal out cruelly ironic punishments for all of eternity. Ruling over all of it is Satan, who probably sits on a throne made of skulls or something.

We'd be more impressed by an armchair of femurs.
The Only Problem Is ...
Of all that, the only part you'll find in the Bible is the fact that Hell sucks and that there is fire (from passages like Matthew 13:42: "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.")
And ... that's as specific as it gets.
Actually Came From:
As usual, artists and writers took those vague descriptions and ran with them. The understanding of hell as a fiery subterranean cavern full of lava and demons shoving flutes up your ass for eternity owes its popularity largely to the medieval double-team of Dante and Hieronymus Bosch.
Dante's Inferno popularized the idea of hell as a nine-level first-person-shooter. He pioneered the concept of contrapasso, the idea that prisoners of hell are subject to ironic tortures related to the sins that brought them there. Like the "flatterers," who spent their lives bullshitting, and were forced in hell to "wallow in shit" for eternity.
Then the Dutch artist, Bosch, came along and painted it.

Image #558 in our "pictures to stare at while on acid" series.
As for Satan being the ruler of hell, that's a misconception we can probably blame on John Milton. InParadise Lost, Satan famously bitched: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." But there's a reason why God cast Satan and his minions into hell instead of Wisconsin: Hell sucks for everyoneincluding imps and demons. According to 2 Peter 2:4: "God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into chains of darkness to be held for judgment."
That's right, chains and prisons ... for them. No iron fortresses, no fiery thrones, no mention of Satan ruling the cell block ... all of that is from the Bible's extended universe and fan fiction.