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In some cases, the sufferer’s cheeks, ears, or neck grow red. Other people’s entire faces burn, or the heat washes over their head like a wave. A person who blushes feels stripped bare, even when fully clothed. A blush can be triggered by shame, guilt, joy, excitement, or irritation, and can strike when we are alone or in the company of others. But it is never under our control. It can happen when we are praised, criticized, or caught off guard. A blush can be a sign of attraction or of “hot” thoughts. Or a person may blush because she realizes she is unprepared for an important discussion or presentation – or at least feels that way. Sometimes it’s enough to drive you crazy, but blushing also has a positive side.

Blushing is just one possible reaction to feelings of shame, which in turn arise under very different circumstances in different people. Some people never blush in embarrassing situations: instead, they may grin, laugh, or involuntarily alter the timbre of their voices. “Social” blushing is also distinct from hot flashes, stage fright, skin diseases, or the reddening of the skin as a result of physical effort, happiness, or alcohol consumption.
More… “Better Red”

Bernd Brunner writes books and essays. His latest book (in German) is When Winters Were Still Winters: The History of a Season. His book Birdmania: Remarkable Lives with Birds will be published by Greystone Books in 2017. He is a fellow and nonfiction resident of the Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville, New York. His writing has appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, The Paris Review Daily, AEON, TLS, Wall Street Journal Speakeasy, Cabinet, Huffington Post, Best American Travel Writing, and various German-language newspapers. Follow him on twitter at @BrunnerBernd.
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You might have heard the story about the three Swiss. They were sitting around at an Inn together. They were: Arnold Böcklin (the painter), his son Carlo, and the writer Gottfried Keller. Nobody said anything for a long time. Then, Carlo said, “It’s hot.” More time passed. Finally, the elder Böcklin replied, “and there’s no wind.” Silence. Then, Gottfried Keller got up and left. As he was leaving, he said, “I won’t drink with these chatterboxes.”

Morgan Meis has a PhD in Philosophy and is a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York. He has written for n+1, The Believer, Harper’s Magazine, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. He won the Whiting Award in 2013. Morgan is also an editor at 3 Quarks Daily, and a winner of a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers grant. A book of… More…

Your heart is racing and your breath feels constricted. You’ve started to sweat around your hairline. You’re not sure if you should call 911, lay down, open a window, or…put down the book.

Have you ever read a book and found yourself at a loss as to what to think and feel?

Yeah. Me neither. But for those who have, consider Sensory Fiction, a wearable device and augmented book now in prototype at MIT. It straps on, and most of its brains ride right between the shoulder blades; it mostly looks like a techno-savvy baby carrier.

As the protagonist’s emotional or physical state changes, so does the reader’s, via ambient light, slight vibrations, and, get this: localized temperature fluctuations and constricting airbags that actually change the reader’s heart rate. The emotional response I’m getting right now, without wearing the device, is: fear. The device has airbags?

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Daily relaxation is now a doctor’s order. It comes from one of the most influential names in medicine, former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. At a recent meeting of doctors and health policy makers, Satcher presented an amended version of his long-touted “prescription for health”. The prescription advises Americans to practice regular physical activity, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, avoid toxins like tobacco and illicit drugs, and be responsible in sexual behavior.

Recently, Satcher added a fifth item to the list: Participate in relaxing and stress-reducing activities daily. The benefits of relaxation, he said, are invaluable for good health, especially good mental health.

When I went to check the scientific basis of this welcome proclamation, I discovered that one of the most reliable methods of relaxation — meditation — had become a serious subject of scientific investigation in… More…

Legislation has recently been proposed in Spain to give monkeys the full legal rights of human beings. The bill calls specifically for, “the immediate inclusion of (simians) in the category of persons, and that they be given the moral and legal protection that currently are only enjoyed by human beings.” Somewhere the ghost of William Jennings Bryan is smiling or crying or both. (H.L. Mencken, a steely atheist to the end, doesn’t get to have a ghost.)

I’m fully in favor of the bill, although I admit that it stimulates that tingly feeling in the brain and belly that only comes about when one’s basic assumptions are being tested. The fact is, animals are a problem for us and always have been. We don’t know quite where to put them, how to treat them, or where our ideas apply to them and where they don’t. Perhaps this is because we… More…