Quit your wining -- or don't, and live longer

For years we've known about a curious dietary anomaly that the French enjoy: their foods are soaked in butter, cheese and other high-cholesterol substances, they drink wine like it's going out of style, and yet they're healthier than Americans. The key, scientists have guessed, is somewhere in the wine. Well, they're not guessing anymore. An international team has isolated a chemical in red wine called resveratrol, which when given to lab mice in conjunction with a high-calorie diet allows those mice to live longer, with healthier hearts and livers than fat mice who weren't given the chemical. In fact, the study concludes, the resveratrol mice's health indicators were almost on par with those of mice who had been given a low-fat diet.

Bully for the mice, you're saying. What does this mean for humans? Well, potentially, it spells guilt-free gluttony: type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer -- all conditions that can stem from high-calorie diets -- could be greatly reduced. Of course, as with every study, it comes with a caveat: "only time and more research" will be able to verify it. Oh, and one more thing: the safety of high-level doses of resveratrol in humans is unknown, and the amount you get from a glass of red wine is only about 0.3% of that given to the lab mice. So just cool it for awhile, big boy; send back that cheeseburger and finish your veggies.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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