What to Do (and Not Do) In A Fistfight

I have never really been in a fistfight. I've had some schoolyard scuffles, sure, but never had to launch or dodge a closed-fist punch. I was reminded of this rather abruptly the other day, when I saw a friend of mine nearly get in a fistfight in a parking lot. I was trying to back out of a space, but had been parked in by someone who'd rudely left their car directly behind mine. My friend said he'd "take care of it," which I assumed meant he would go inside the business we were parked in front of and see whose car it was. Instead, the next thing I know I see my friend getting into the offending car, which was apparently unlocked, and searching around for keys -- as if he were going to move it himself. Just as I was about to tell him I didn't think this was such a hot idea, the screaming began. A very large, very angry man was running toward him, yelling all sorts of things I can't type in polite company, so I ran over, thinking my friend was in need of a little backup.

Luckily, he wasn't -- the guy never threw a punch, though he looked like he was about to -- and the huge serrated scar along his neck made me think he had thrown (and received) plenty before. But I began to wonder what I would've done if he had -- and here's what I found out.

Don't get in one

This may seem obvious, but if you can use diplomacy rather than your fists, do it. There are around 16,000 murders in the US every year, and a not-insignificant proportion of those are committed with fists rather than guns. So if you don't want to kill someone or go to jail, do your level best to stay out of fistfights. Of course, we recognize that that's not always possible, especially among people of certain age groups; a survey reported that 8% of high school students get into fights every month that require treatment by a doctor or nurse. So it happens.

Don't use your fists

Unless you happen to have a roll of quarters handy to wrap your fist around, closed-fist punching is a recipe for compound-fracture disaster. Instead, use the heel of your hand or your elbow.

Find an escape route

Real fights are nothing like movie fights -- they're messy, they rarely end in someone being knocked out cold and they're usually over before you know it. The really dangerous fights, though, are the ones that don't end quickly, so increase your chances of a speedy end by making sure you've got a clear shot at the exit and beelining toward it at your first opportunity. Run, and swallow your pride ... not your teeth.

Don't kick 'em while they're down

Homer Simpson's famous advice on how to fight goes something like this: "First you gotta shriek like a woman, then keep sobbing till he turns away in disgust -- and that's when it's time to kick some back!" We'd like to officially discourage this technique, or really the kicking of any backs, spleens, faces etc. Spleens get ruptured, backs get broken, people go to the hospital and to jail. This ain't Mortal Kombat, and no fancy pile-driver or stomach-kick is needed to "finish him!"

Go for the soft spots

In the interest of ending the fight quickly, aim your attack(s) at one of your aggressor's "soft spots" -- the gut, the groin, the throat. The eyes are another soft spot, but we recommend a handful of sand in the face rather than anything pointy. You don't want to blind anyone, just incapacitate them for long enough to get out of there.

Bite!

Take a lesson from Tyson: the bite may be one of the most underestimated tools in the fighter's arsenal. It's effective, it hurts like the devil and if it's done through the clothes, it doesn't leave much of a mark. (The same can't be said for a punch in the face; giving someone a black eye will land you in jail much faster.)

The ol' steak-on-the-black-eye trick

If you wind taking a punch to the face, get something cold on it right away to stop the swelling. In the old days, Real Men used to lay a tenderized steak over their bruised ocular cavity with a bag of frozen vegetables on the other side -- and as it turns out, this isn't such a bad idea. (Just make sure you rinse off the meat to reduce the risk of some bacterial infection spreading to your tender new wound.) The meat form-fits to your eye/check perfectly, it distributes the cold of the frozen peas/ice pack very evenly over your face, and a nice piece of tri-tip draped over your face tends to make you feel like a badass. All good things.

Learn the Moves

Esquire has some great tips on how to move your body:

How to take down a bigger dude:
1. Knock his hands to one side.
2. When his body turns, put your head outside his front knee and your shoulders into his hips. Wrap your arms just above the back of his knees.
3. Pull in and to the side.

How to Escape a Headlock: Turn your head into the crook of his elbow and push it up over your head.

How You Should Stand: Crouch low, knees bent and with your hands up, like you're defending someone in basketball.

Decide if you're willing to throw a sucker punch

You're in a fistfight -- the rules of gentlemanly conduct are more or less out the window already. Some people might be too proud for this move, but I saw a friend pull it once, and it was surprisingly effective: his pretended to stop the fight and reconcile, went to shake hands with his opponent, and then -- bam, straight to the chin. Then he ran away like a little girl. Pathetic, yes, but effective.

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Medicine
Charles Dickens Museum Highlights the Author's Contributions to Science and Medicine

Charles Dickens is celebrated for his verbose prose and memorable opening lines, but lesser known are his contributions to science—particularly the field of medicine.

A new exhibition at London’s Charles Dickens Museum—titled "Charles Dickens: Man of Science"—is showcasing the English author’s scientific side. In several instances, the writer's detailed descriptions of medical conditions predated and sometimes even inspired the discovery of several diseases, The Guardian reports.

In his novel Dombey and Son, the character of Mrs. Skewton was paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. Dickens was the first person to document this inexplicable condition, and a scientist later discovered that one side of the brain was largely responsible for speech production. "Fat boy" Joe, a character in The Pickwick Papers who snored loudly while sleeping, later lent his namesake to Pickwickian Syndrome, otherwise known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

A figurine of Fat Boy Joe
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Dickens also wrote eloquently about the symptoms of tuberculosis and dyslexia, and some of his passages were used to teach diagnosis to students of medicine.

“Dickens is an unbelievably acute observer of human behaviors,” museum curator Frankie Kubicki told The Guardian. “He captures these behaviors so perfectly that his descriptions can be used to build relationships between symptoms and disease.”

Dickens was also chummy with some of the leading scientists of his day, including Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and chemist Jane Marcet, and the exhibition showcases some of the writer's correspondence with these notable figures. Beyond medicine, Dickens also contributed to the fields of chemistry, geology, and environmental science.

Less scientifically sound was the author’s affinity for mesmerism, a form of hypnotism introduced in the 1770s as a method of controlling “animal magnetism,” a magnetic fluid which proponents of the practice believed flowed through all people. Dickens studied the methods of mesmerism and was so convinced by his powers that he later wrote, “I have the perfect conviction that I could magnetize a frying-pan.” A playbill of Animal Magnetism, an 1857 production that Dickens starred in, is also part of the exhibit.

A play script from Animal Magnetism
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Located at 48-49 Doughty Street in London, the exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2018.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Words
Beyond Wanderlust: 30 Words Every Traveler Should Know
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For those who travel, wanderlust is a familiar feeling. It’s that nagging voice in your head that says, “Yes, you do need to book that flight,” even if your bank account says otherwise. Regardless of how many passport covers this word may adorn, it doesn’t begin to cover the spectrum of emotions and experiences that can be revealed through the act of travel. Here are 30 travel words from around the world to keep in your back pocket as you're exploring this summer.

1. VAGARY

From the Latin vagari, meaning “to wander,” this 16th-century word originally meant a wandering journey. Nowadays, "vagaries" refer to unpredictable or erratic situations, but that doesn’t mean the old sense of the word can’t be invoked from time to time.

2. SELCOUTH

An Old English word that refers to something that’s both strange and marvelous. It's a great way to sum up those seemingly indescribable moments spent in an unfamiliar land.

3. FERNWEH

Who hasn’t felt a strong desire to be somewhere—anywhere—other than where you currently are? That’s fernweh, or “farsickness," and this German word has been described as a cousin of wanderlust, another German loan word.

4. DÉPAYSEMENT

A busy street in Hong Kong
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Anyone who has traveled abroad will recognize this feeling. The French word refers to the sense of disorientation that often sets in when you step outside your comfort zone, such as when you leave your home country.

5. DÉRIVE

Another gift from the French, this word literally translates to “drift,” but thanks to some mid-20th century French philosophers, it can also refer to a spontaneous trip, completely free of plans, in which you let your surroundings guide you.

6. PEREGRINATE

To peregrinate is to travel from place to place, especially on foot. Its Latin root, peregrinus (meaning “foreign”), is also where the peregrine falcon (literally “pilgrim falcon”) gets its name.

7. PERAMBULATE

Similar to peregrinate, this word essentially means to travel over or through an area by foot. So instead of saying that you’ll be walking around London, you can say you’ll be perambulating the city’s streets—much more sophisticated.

8. NUMINOUS

The Grand Canyon
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This English word could appropriately be used to describe the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights. Something numinous is awe-inspiring and mysterious. It's difficult to understand from a rational perspective, which gives it a spiritual or unearthly quality.

9. PERIPATETIC

The young and the restless will want to incorporate this word into their lexicon. The adjective refers to those who are constantly moving from place to place—in other words, a nomadic existence. It stems from the Greek word peripatein (“to walk up and down”), which was originally associated with Aristotle and the shaded walkways near his school (or, according to legend, his habit of pacing back and forth during lectures).

10. WALDEINSAMKEIT

You’re alone in a forest. It’s peaceful. The sun is filtering through the trees and there’s a light breeze. That’s waldeinsamkeit. (Literally "forest solitude." And yes, Germans have all the best travel words.)

11. SHINRIN-YOKU

In a similar vein, this Japanese word means “forest bathing,” and it's considered a form of natural medicine and stress reliever. There are now forest bathing clubs around the world, but you can try it out for yourself on your next camping trip. Take deep breaths, close your eyes, and take in the smells and sounds of the forest. Simple.

12. SOLIVAGANT

In those moments when you just want to run away from your responsibilities, you may consider becoming a solivagant: a solo wanderer.

13. YOKO MESHI

This Japanese phrase literally translates to “a meal eaten sideways,” which is an apt way to describe the awkwardness of speaking in a foreign language that you haven’t quite mastered, especially over dinner.

14. RESFEBER

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You just booked your flight. Your heart starts racing. You’re a little nervous about your journey, but mostly you just can’t wait to get going. The anticipation, anxiety, and excitement you get before a big trip is all rolled into one word—resfeber—and you can thank the Swedes for it.

15. FLÂNEUR

Taken from the French flâner, meaning to stroll or saunter, this word describes someone who has no particular plans or place they need to be. They merely stroll around the city at a leisurely pace, taking in the sights and enjoying the day as it unfolds.

16. GADABOUT

This could be construed as the traditional English equivalent of flâneur. Likely stemming from the Middle English verb gadden, meaning “to wander without a specific aim or purpose,” a gadabout is one who frequently travels from place to place for the sheer fun of it. In other words: a modern-day backpacker.

17. HIRAETH

Sometimes, no matter how amazing your vacation may be, you just want to come home to your bed and cats. This Welsh word sums up the deep yearning for home that can strike without warning. As Gillian Thomas put it in an interview with the BBC, “Home sickness is too weak. You feel hiraeth, which is a longing of the soul to come home to be safe.”

18. YŪGEN

The karst peaks of Guilin, China
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This Japanese word can be taken to mean “graceful elegance” or “subtle mystery,” but it’s much more than that. It's when the beauty of the universe is felt most profoundly, awakening an emotional response that goes beyond words.

19. SCHWELLENANGST

Translating to “threshold anxiety,” this German word sums up the fears that are present before you enter somewhere new—like a theater or an intimidating cafe—and by extension going anywhere unfamiliar. The fear of crossing a threshold is normal, even among the most adventurous of travelers—but it often leads to the most unforgettable experiences.

20. COMMUOVERE

Have you ever seen something so beautiful it made you cry? That’s commuovere in action. The Italian word describes the feeling of being moved, touched, or stirred by something you witness or experience.

21. HYGGE

This Danish word refers to a warm feeling of contentedness and coziness, as well as the acknowledgement of that feeling. Although not explicitly related to this term, author Kurt Vonnegut summed up the idea behind this concept quite nicely when he said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"

22. HANYAUKU

Here's one for those who have a beach trip coming up. Taken from Kwangali, a language spoken in Namibia, hanyauku is the act of tiptoeing across hot sand.

23. SMULTRONSTÄLLE

A patch of wild strawberries
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This Swedish word translates to something along the lines of “place of wild strawberries,” but its metaphorical meaning is something along the lines of a "happy place." Whether it’s a hidden overlook of the city or your favorite vacation spot that hasn’t been “discovered” yet, smultronställe refers to those semi-secret places you return to time and time again because they’re special and personal to you.

24. DUSTSCEAWUNG

This Old English word describes what might happen when you visit a place like Pompeii or a ghost town. While reflecting on past civilizations, you realize that everything will eventually turn to dust. A cheery thought.

25. VACILANDO

In some Spanish dialects, the word vacilando describes someone who travels with a vague destination in mind but has no real incentive to get there. In other words, the journey is more important than the destination. As John Steinbeck described it in his travelogue Travels With Charley: “It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction. My friend Jack Wagner has often, in Mexico, assumed this state of being. Let us say we wanted to walk in the streets of Mexico city but not at random. We would choose some article almost certain not to exist there and then diligently try to find it.”

26. LEHITKALEV

Backpackers and budget travelers, this one is for you: The Hebrew word lehitkalev translates to “dog it” and means to deal with uncomfortable living or travel arrangements.

27. KOMOREBI

Sun shining in the woods
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This beautiful Japanese word is a good one to save for a sunny day spent in the woods. Komorebi translates to “sunshine filtering through the leaves.” Does it get any lovelier than that?

28. RAMÉ

This Balinese word refers to something that is simultaneously chaotic and joyful. It isn’t specifically a travel word, but it does seem to fit the feelings that are often awakened by travel.

29. TROUVAILLE

Translating to a “lucky find,” this French word can be applied to that cool cafe, flower-lined street, or quirky craft store that you stumbled upon by chance. Indeed, these are the moments that make travel worthwhile.

30. ULLASSA

Just in case you needed another reason to plan that trip to Yosemite, here's one last word for nature lovers. The Sanskrit word ullassa refers to the feelings of pleasantness that come from observing natural beauty in all its glory.

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