The Times (of London) Raves About Encyclopedia Paranoiaca

TimesOfLondonBooksLogoIain Finlayson, writing in The Sunday Times, has offered a toast to the Encyclopedia Paranoiaca that makes all of us at the Cassandra Institute about as happy as the members of a think tank devoted to depressing information can possibly be.

Here’s his review:

“The indispensable guide to everyone and everything you should be afraid of or worried about” is remarkably balanced in its risk assessments. There is good news for anyone who doesn’t think of salad as a food group: it is highly contaminated with pathogens, therefore bad for you. Ditto brown rice: the outer grain is rich in arsenic. And sprouting stuff is full of salmonella. Gyms? Don’t go there. No, really. Stay away. Not good news either for rubber duckies floating in the bacterial soup that is a warm bath: they are killers. On the other hand … well, there is no other hand. Everything you thought you knew about virtuous living is wrong. But the vice-ridden opposite is also wrong. Living is a bio-hazard. Luckily, there are no entries for alcohol or reading, so drink to a book that could either cause you to die of a panic attack or laughter.

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WBZ’s Jordan Rich Will Interview Chris Cerf at Midnight Tonight

WBZ Radio Boston's Jordan RichWBZ Radio Boston‘s popular Jordan Rich is doing a feature on the Encyclopedia Paranoiaca tonight (Saturday night, March 16) at midnight, including an interview with co-author Christopher Cerf. All of us here at the Cassandra Institute are hoping night owls in the Boston area (or who can pick up WBZ’s clear channel signal in other places) will listen in.

Here, in Jordan’s own words, is his announcement of tonight’s festivities: “Coming up on the show tonight at midnight, a chat with Chris Cerf with his hilarious book, Encyclopedia Paranoiaca: The Indispensable Guide to Everyone and Everything You Should Be Afraid of or Worried About, then David from Eureka Puzzles will challenge your mind, Robert from PA will join me to discuss the Star Wars Legacy and we’ll test your knowledge of the Force. All that and much more on the JR show tonight on WBZ!”

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Daylight Saving Time? The Key Word Isn’t “Clock.” It’s “Alarm!”

daylight_time_clock_setter.jpgDid you remember to set your clock forward this morning? Well, if you’d read your Encyclopedia Paranoiaca first, you’d have realized that the the key word you should have remembered wasn’t “clock” – it was “alarm!”

Why? Well, according to Dr. Till Roenneberg, a leading chronobiologist and Professor at the Institute for Medicinal Psychology at Ludwig-­Maximilians-­University in Munich, Germany, our bodies’ natural circadian time orientation, which is set by light and darkness to a basic 24-­‐hour cycle, never properly adjusts to gaining an “extra” hour of sunlight at the end of the day. Dr. Roenneberg warns that “the consequences of that (failure to adjust) is that the majority of the population has drastically decreased productivity, decreased quality of life, increased susceptibility to illness, and is just plain tired.” This “social jet lag,” as Dr. Roenneberg describes it, is caused by the fact that “light doesn’t do the same things to the body in the morning and evening. More light in the morning would advance the body clock, and that would be good. But more light in the evening would even further delay the body clock.”

An even more urgent wake-­up call comes from Sweden, where Imre Janszky of the Karolinska Institute’s Department of Public Health Sciences in Stockholm and Dr. Rickard Ljung of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare and report evidence that, at least in Sweden, heart attack rates spike in the days just after the spring time change. The two researchers concluded that “the most likely explanation to (sic) our findings are disturbed sleep and disruption of biological rhythm.”

All of which raises the unsettling question of whether, when you twiddled with the reset button on our happily glowing bedside snoozebuster, you were in fact hitting the trigger of a ticking time bomb, and instead of springing forward, you were setting yourself up to suddenly pitch forward, face down.

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What, Exactly, Will Happen If and When the Asteroid Apophis Slams Into Us in 2036?

NeilDegrasseTysonAs a public service, the Cassandra Institute and the editors of Encylopedia Paranoiaca are proud to provide a link to Neil Degrasse Tyson‘s compelling description of exactly what will occur if and when the asteroid Apophis slams into the Earth on Friday, April 13, 2036. (Hint: Among the things he says will happen is the pulverizing of mansions in Malibu, the dust from which will then sandblast the West Coast of the U.S. during the second of two killer tsunamis.) To watch, click here.

And, to count down the days till Apophis arrives, we recommend you consult Encyclopedia Paranoiaca‘s handy “Apophis Impact Clock.” Do it early and often!

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The “Red Carpet” Poses a Mortal Threat to Every Oscar Nominee Unfortunate Enough to Have Been Chosen to Gather on It!

Stars gathering on the Red Carpet for tonight’s Academy Awards should be worrying about a lot more than whether they’re going to take home an Oscar. What should have them trembling in fear (as the always informative website Silent points out) is the danger of being debilitated — or even killed — by the noxious stew of chemicals, allergens, and toxic dust hiding in the russet-RedCarpetOscarEntrancecolored rug they’re standing on.

The biggest threat posed by any new carpeting, according to Silent, is the fact that it releases “volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), such as toluene, benzene, formaldehyde, ethyl benzene, styrene, and acetone.” Inhaled in sufficient quantities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advises, VOC’s can cause “conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, and dizziness. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.”

“If you’ve ever felt queasy or lightheaded in a room recently floored with new carpeting,” notes, “this is most likely why.” And, the website adds, VOC’s are hardly the only problem: “Other compounds in new carpeting that affect our health are adhesives, stain protectors, moth proofing and flame retardants. Moth proofing chemicals contain naphthalene, which is known to produce toxicreactions, especially in newborns. Fire retardants often contain polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE). Recent reports have indicated that exposure to even low concentrations of these chemicals may result in irreparable damage to the nervous and reproductive systems.”

Indeed, if tonight’s award festivities serve no purpose other than to warn you about the menace of new carpeting, they will not have been held in vain!

For more useful, if depressing, information like this, consult the Encyclopedia Paranoiaca, the definitive compendium of things you absolutely, positively must not eat, drink, wear, take, grow, make, buy, use, do, permit, believe, of let yourself be exposed to.

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Be Afraid! Chris Cerf Will Be on NY1 Sunday Morning, February 24, at 10 AM!

Paranoiaca.CBConNY1.photoThose in the New York area are not too late to catch Sam Roberts’ interview with Christopher Cerf about Encyclopedia Paranoiaca. Tune into THE NEW YORK TIMES CLOSE-UP at 10 AM Sunday morning, February 24, on NY1 to catch Cerf’s terrifying revelations.

(If you’re not too nervous afterward, you might also enjoy Sam’s fascinating piece about Life of Pi, and how the amazing animal effects for it were created, immediately following Chris’s star turn.)

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NASA Not Doing Enough to Warn Us About Impending Asteroid Calamities?

asteroid_warning_systemUh oh! Former astronauts are warning that NASA’s efforts to detect impending (and potentially calamitous) asteroid impacts are simply not robust enough.

One of our favorite websites, Armageddon Online, has all the grisly details. Read about them here!

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