This story gets more gruesome as it goes on. A little girl is born without the ability to feel pain. Sounds “cool” eh? Right, Mr. 2,000 piercings, Jim-Rose-Sideshow person? Howabout the fact that she scratched out her eyeball, quite unawares? Brrrr.

The Girl Who Feels No Pain
Gabby Gingras has a disease so rare she’s the only person her parents and doctors can find in the U.S. suffering from it. Like any other three-year-old, Gabby takes her share of slips and falls. Her reaction to each is predictable — at least for her family.
For no matter how hard Gabby hits the ground, she will not shed a single tear. Hard as it is to fathom Gabby Gingras feels no pain. There is no cure, nor will she outgrow it.
“She fell down the stairs the other day in the garage,” her dad says. “She just picked herself up and started climbing up the stairs again like nothing had happened.”
“She never cried,” her mother adds.

By way of Metafilter.

Most vegetables are not vegetables

Steve Cook, who does somethingorother in the Biology department at the Imperial College of London wants you to know exactly what vegetable-looking-things are vegetables and what are not…I guess. I find these things fascinating.

Most of the time, actually. I was recently horrified when my flatmate was surprised to find out that aubergine (eggplant) is actually a fruit, and not a ‘vegetable’, whatever that means. Here, for the greater good and knowledge of humankind, is an exhaustive (well, it exhausted me) list of all the things made from plants you’re ever likely to meet and eat, and what they actually are.
The first thing I’ll clear up is that ‘vegetable’ is pretty much meaningless: it’s not the opposite of fruit (as the aubergine thing clearly demonstrates), and it’s not the opposite of plants you eat for pudding (carrot cake, courgette cake, rocket and raspberry salad, etc.), and it’s not savoury plant products either (sweetcorn, anybody?). Vegetable doesn’t really seem to mean anything, so unfortunately, we will have to leave the cosy world of fruit and vegetables, and get our heads round some nasty botanical concepts, like the difference between a leaf and a flower, and some even nastier words. Nevermind, on we plough regardless…

Book Club Confidential: Free books! The only cost is word of mouth

Things are heating up over here in Book Club Confidential land, in their own particular way. Why, I’ve got people with books in their hands beating down my door!

Author Robert P. Johnson has written me a nice long letter telling me that he owes his success in writing to our local book clubs. Last year, he says, 14 clubs took his recent book “Thirteen Moons: A Year in the Wilderness” as assigned reading, and those are the clubs he knows about. If not for the clubs, his book would have disappeared when his publisher Capra Press went out of business.

In fact, Mr. Johnson’s book was the last off the press of the 52-year-old company before it closed its doors. And that meant no promotion, not even enough money to send galley proofs to reviewers, he says.

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