Come check out the new season of TGS

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TGS has now come back to wordpress.

https://tgsseason2.wordpress.com/

The Final Post

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I don’t know how many of you guys are still RSSing this blog or how how many people still sub to this blog, but as far as I can say, this blog has moved to thegrassholeshow.tumblr.com which is actually my personal tumblr for inquiries. TGS isn’t gone we just had a shifting of areas since tumblr fits into my schedule nicely so future posts will be over there instead of over here.

 

Cya guys.

 

~Grass

An Hero Day

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So ya, it’s 9/11 again, and we’re ready to An Hero our economy some more, but let’s have Obama have his word on this matter.

 

Marking the Eleventh Anniversary of 9/11

 

Today, President Obama and the First Lady marked the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

They began the day at the White House, observing a moment of silence on the South Lawn just after 8:45 a.m., around the time the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. Afterward, they traveled to the Pentagon, where the President spoke at a memorial service in honor of those who died there, as well as in New York and Pennsylvania.

This anniversary allows us to renew our faith that even the darkest night gives way to a brighter dawn. Today, we can come here to the Pentagon, and touch these names and kneel beside a building where a single stone still bears the scars of that fire. We can visit the field of honor in Pennsylvania and remember the heroes who made it sacred.  We can see water cascading into the footprints of the Twin Towers, and gaze up at a new tower rising above the New York skyline.

And even though we may never be able to fully lift the burden carried by those left behind, we know that somewhere, a son is growing up with his father’s eyes, and a daughter has her mother’s laugh — living reminders that those who died are with us still.

So as painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson that no single event can ever destroy who we are. No act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for. Instead, we recommit ourselves to the values that we believe in, holding firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

That’s the commitment that we reaffirm today. And that’s why, when the history books are written, the true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division. It will be a safer world; a stronger nation; and a people more united than ever before.

Vice President Biden marked the anniversary by traveling to Shanksville, PA, where he delivered remarks at the Flight 93 National Memorial Commemorative Service to honor the passengers and crew who died there 11 years ago today. The Vice President told the families who lost loved ones that day that the heroism of their husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers would never be forgotten.

Today we stand on this hallowed ground, a place made sacred by the heroism and sacrifice of the passengers and the crew of Flight 93. And it’s as if the flowers, as I walked here, as if the flowers were giving testament to how sacred this ground is.

My guess — and obviously it’s only a guess; no two losses are the same. But my guess is you’re living this moment that Yeats only wrote about, when he wrote, pray I will and sing I must, but yet I weep. Pray I will, sing I must, but yet I weep.

My personal prayer for all of you is that in every succeeding year, you’re able to sing more than you weep.  And may God truly bless you and bless the souls of those 40 incredible people who rest in this ground.

 

So after a heartfelt day of honoring thy dead, let’s move onto Japan’s famous an heroes…their citizens.

 

Men Busted for Cheerleader Snaps: “Isn’t That The Point?”

Author: Artefact

 

Police have arrested two men for the crime of photographing a group of cheerleaders on a stage, although some have criticised them for an excess of diligence when all the men were found to have taken photographs of was their thighs.

The incident occurred at a Kanagawa prefecture high school “culture” festival where a group of 27 high school girls were performing a cheerleader dance on stage.

Two men in the audience, a 36-year-old civil servant working for the prefecture and a 43-year-old banker, disgracefully attempted to film the girls as they cavorted, taking close-ups of their bare thighs and clothed bodies.

A vigilant teacher noticed them brazenly using their cameras and decided they were suspicious, and their photographs were checked by teachers at the school’s staff room and they were reported to police as voyeuristic perverts.

The pair admit photographing the girls, saying they did it together as part of a “hobby,” and that they met at another such event and have been photographing other schoolgirls in public as well.

They have both been charged with indecent activities and trespass for attending the show in the first place.

There has been a certain amount of confusion amongst Japanese as to how photographing cheerleaders on a stage constitutes criminal voyeurism:

“What is wrong with photographing cheerleaders?”

“How can you get arrested for this?”

“How is this voyeurism?”

“If you don’t want people taking photographs or watching them why hold a cheerleader show on a stage?”

“But they only took photos of their thighs?”

“If photographing anyone but your friends is a crime, they might as well ban cameras.”

“Since when is photography banned at these events…”

“It’s creepy but I don’t see any crime.”

“Yet this is legal:”

 

 

“They should arrest that NHK cameraman then.”

“Odd that all the paparazzi photographers never get arrested just because they do it for money.”

“They are doing it for the money rather than to satisfy their lust, so it’s quite different.”

“Doing it for the money frankly seems more creepy than just doing it out of lust…”

“What about NHK and its cameramen taking pictures of wet schoolgirls getting uplifted by typhoons?”

 

“I thought the whole point of cheerleaders was the short skirts and panchira.”

“And yet the mass media happily photographs gymnastics and beach volleyball all the time.”

“It seems excessive that these two get their names dragged through the national press for this when there are murderers and worse who never have their names made public.”

“Why just arrest them like that? You’d think they’d at least warn them to stop photographing. It’s not even clear if the school bothered telling anyone it had banned photography.”

“I reckon they could get away with this if they took normal photographs and then just enlarged the bits they were interested in on their computers later.”

“They took photos of their thighs, they are obviously guilty!”

“It was only a close-up though? And not even of their underwear.”

“The whole point of cheerleaders is to show off the girls though…”

“They obviously weren’t supposed to be at the event either.”

“You lot wouldn’t like it if a bunch of creepy old guys were photographing your thighs whilst you were up on stage either.”

“How can a public performance in a public place possibly constitute ‘voyeurism’ or ‘peeping’?”

“This country is becoming seriously oppressive.”

“If this is a crime, then the cheerleaders themselves must be guilty of public indecency.”

“Nice to see our police and teachers have their priorities straight – kids are being bullied to death in schools, and they focus on the important stuff like this.”

 

I’ll see you guys on the flipside.

Grass out.

 

It’s that time again

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You know, when I get incredibly busy working on shit and then completely forget about a few other things like this blog? Ya well, it’s gonna a major hiatus cause I’m doing other shit, prolly touhoustuck or whatevs…My tumblr and facebook page should keep you up-to-date, on major things, so check there. The pages I linked one is more active than the other cause, I don’t really post much stuff on the TGS page anymore. I may if there are more followers, but there’s very little point for me to do it if I get so few views on it. Still, check in from time to time, there’s usually a news story once in a while, but don’t expect to see much.

 

Here’s a round up post from EqD till I get back.

 

Nightly Roundup #424

 

Junebug is actually quite an awesome looking pony! I can see why you guys voted for her for tonight’s header. Let’s hope this gives her some attention!

Got a short one for you guys tonight, maybe this means I can get some sleep finally! Check for it all after the break and leave a comment on what header I should use for my last Roundup for the week!

 

This blog will kinda deadpool till I’m free again. So see ya on the flipside…

The Pony Show: Weekend Edition – Neil Armstrong Dies

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“Ad Astra Per Aspera”

 

So guys, I know it’s been a while since I did much posting on here, but here’s a good headliner for you. The first man to set foot on the moon, dies…on the moon. Okay he didn’t die on the moon, but it was good banter. The pic and caption up there you see was from the Aperture Science page on Facebook, and before anyone asks, yes that’s Latin for “To the stars and beyond’.

 

Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, dies

 

Armstrong was commander of the Apollo 11 mission that made the first manned lunar landing on July 20, 1969. He had undergone heart surgery Aug. 8, three days after his 82nd birthday. His family said that Armstrong had passed from post-surgery complications.

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures,” the family said in a statement. “Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.”

As he stepped off the lunar module and set foot on the moon’s surface, he said “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” underscoring a centuries-old fantasy among human kind and a high point in the Cold War era space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. An estimated 500 million TV viewers watched the event, engrossed by the surreal, grainy black-and-white footage.

The notoriously publicity shy Armstrong was a reluctant hero. In an era of celebrity adulation, Armstrong refused to sign autographs or grant interviews, giving only infrequent speeches. “I don’t want a living memorial,” he once said. He reluctantly joined fellow Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in anniversary celebrations of the moon landing.

Armstrong flew Navy fighter jets during the Korean War, flying nearly 80 missions and later became a test pilot before joining the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as part of its second group of astronauts. Armstrong commanded Gemini 8 in 1966, which suffered near disaster until he used a back-up system to stop an uncontrolled capsule spin and made an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean.

Armstrong’s prowess was again demonstrated following the moon landing, when it was later revealed that lunar module had just 20 seconds of fuel left when he steered to avoid large boulders before touching down in the Sea of Tranquility.

The self-described nerd downplayed hero status.

“I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer,” he said a February 2000 appearance. “And I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession.”

Born in tiny Wapakoneta, Ohio, Armstrong took his first flight as a six year old, fueling a lifetime passion for aviation. He attended Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering before the Korean War, later earning a master’s degree at the University of Southern California.

The lunar landing made him more popular than his hero, aviator Charles Lindberg, but Armstrong shunned the spotlight. After walking on the moon, he lived a mostly private life, buying a farm and teaching aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati until 1979.

When he appeared in Dayton in 2003 to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of powered flight, he bounded onto a stage before 10,000 people packed into a baseball stadium. But he spoke for only a few seconds, did not mention the moon, and quickly ducked out of the spotlight.

“Neil Armstrong was a pioneer of flight and that is how he would want to be remembered,” says space historian John Logsdon, author of JFK and the Race to the Moon. “In his mind he flew all kinds of vehicles that set record firsts, and one of them happened to be the first one on the moon.”

Armstrong basically saw himself as an aviator first and foremost, part of the long tradition of American pilots going back to the Wright Brothers, Logsdon says.

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request,” his family said in a Saturday statement. “Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

“He will be part of history forever,” Logsdon said.

So there you have it guys, the man was a Hero, not An Hero.

This is Grass signing out, peace.

 

Astronaut Neil Armstrong, who uttered one of history’s most famous proclamations when he became the first man to walk on the moon in 1969, died Saturday.

Oops, seesm I completely forgot about this blog

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I come back to WordPress a week later and find out they’ve updated their site again…only to be 50 times more laggy on my computer. Gee, thanks, just what I need, a way to burn even more processing power than I previously had to. And I apologize for this blog being so out of whack-recently. I actually completely forgot I had a blog on wordpress, and now you know why. It’s like wrestling a croc every time I get on here, and I’m on a fucking Win7. So there you have it, site’s update so users can’t use them, I suppose it’s to be expected of a declining world. Anyway, I’m not gonna chew the fat or even make a page long news post on anything major so you guys can enjoy this instead.

 

http://prejudiceismagic.tumblr.com/post/29900676777/love-and-tolerance

 

This is a tumblr blog I subscribe to that showcases ignorance inside the brony community. The same idiots who preach love and tolerance, but refuse to accept that which they preach. In other words, hypocrites. This specific post is about the whole love and tolerance issue as a whole. Should be a good read for you guys.

And since I never post Japan shit anymore…

 

 

Skype Schoolgirl Cyber-Rape Teacher Busted

Author: Artefact

 

A man has been arrested for “forcing” schoolgirls to undress for him using only Skype and his hentai teacher powers, in a case which has incited more than a little curiosity as to his exact modus operandi.

The 27-year-old man taught at a Kyoto high school, but unusually chose to eschew the relatively safe option of whoring or molesting amongst his own students for the less than anonymous vistas of the Internet.

He discovered he could use Skype to threaten and coerce schoolgirls from all over the nation into performing lewd acts for him, but an 17-year-old Okayama prefecture schoolgirl was the undoing of his virtual harem of the unwilling and the authorities closed in.

Police evidently took a dim view of him trying his luck outside his school, and he eventually found himself charged with both with criminal coercion and manufacturing child pornography.

Police also found evidence of him victimising a number of other girls on his computer, but have so far not been able to identify any of them.

In the hopes of persuading victims to come forward (assuming they are indeed all such), they have released his handle (“Saotomeriku”) – although given the record of Japanese police in these matters, other victims could be forgiven for not wanting to come forward lest they end up being arrested on child pornography charges themselves, or worse.

The creepy denizens of 2ch are more interested in just how he managed to “coerce” random schoolgirls into undressing for him:

“Another teacher!”

“I don’t understand how you can ‘threaten’ people using only Skype?”

“Those girls must have been a bit dim to succumb to him demanding they undress over Skype…”

“He must be pretty persuasive to get all those girls to undress using only Skype.”

“You can imagine him telling them he was a super-hacker and would leak all their personal info online if they didn’t obey. Just looking up their IP or whatever and telling them what prefecture they are in might work if they didn7t have a clue how these things work.”

“You can guess what the cops have in mind for anyone who comes forward.”

“What happened to the pics!”

“Why are all these perverts always teachers?”

“More of these hentai teachers! The cancer of Japan.”

“I managed to get a girl I met in an MMO to stream her onanism for me so it’s certainly possible.”

“I can’t see what could possibly motivate those other girls to come forward under the circumstances.”

“If his other victims come forward it will turn out they were all in their thirties…”

 

I’ll see you guys on the flipside.

Japan’s Emo problems and more

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Apologies for yesterday’s fucked up post, I was trying to post from an out of date computer and gave up eventually, so today I’ll make up for it. I ended up going shopping with my brother in some mall yesterday so whatever, it wasn’t terribly bad, we just ended up doing nothing for a whole day in a town by the beach. Anyway, let’s get moving.

Radioactive fallout from Fukushima nuclear meltdowns caused abnormalities in Japan’s butterflies

 

Radioactive fallout from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture created abnormalities among the nation’s butterflies, according to a team of researchers.

“We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima (No. 1) nuclear power plant caused physiological and genetic damage” to pale grass blue butterflies, a common species in Japan, a recent article in Scientific Reports, one of on-line journals of the Nature Publishing Group, said.

Radiation exposure harmed butterflies’ genes, and the damage could well be passed on to future generations, the article stated.

“Sensitivity (to irradiation) varies between species, so research should be conducted on other animals,” said Joji Otaki, a team member and associate professor at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa.

“Humans are totally different from butterflies and they should be far more resistant” to the health effects of radiation, Otaki noted.

The researchers collected 121 adult pale grass blue butterflies in and outside Fukushima Prefecture in May 2011, two months after the nuclear crisis started.

Abnormalities such as unusually small wings were found in 12 percent of the total. But the rate rose to 18 percent in a second generation produced through mating among the butterflies collected and some even died before reaching adulthood.

When second generation butterflies with abnormal traits mated with healthy ones, the rate of abnormalities rose to 34 percent in the third generation, according to the article.

The team collected another 238 butterflies last September and determined that the abnormality rate stood at 28 percent. However, it nearly doubled to 52 percent among a second generation born to the original butterflies caught.

The researchers said the butterflies collected in May were heavily exposed to radiation as larvae. The impact was apparently more severe on the second generation, as well as on the butterflies collected in September, because they suffered heavy exposure at a far earlier stage while they were still fertilized eggs or just reproduction cells, according to the team.

The impact of artificial radiation exposure on the species was also investigated using larvae collected in Okinawa, one of the prefectures least affected by fallout from the nuclear disaster.

After the larvae were exposed to radiation and fed with leaves contaminated with radioactive materials, similar rates of abnormalities and premature deaths were observed, the article said.

 

So as the population returns to normalcy, the life on the island struggles to maintain itself. And then there’s this jimmy-rustler.

Korean soccer player kept off medal stand for political antics

Associated Press

 

 

I’m a massive faggot and don’t deserve to have my medal.

 

LONDON — A South Korean soccer player who held up a sign with a political message after the team’s victory over Japan did not get a bronze Sunday when the Olympic medals were handed out in a ceremony to the rest of his team.

Midfielder Park Jong Woo is under investigation by the IOC and soccer’s governing body, FIFA, for displaying the sign Friday with a slogan supporting South Korean sovereignty over Korean-controlled islets that are claimed by both his country and Japan. The largely uninhabited islets are called Dokdo by South Korea and Takeshima by the Japanese.

The IOC and FIFA have statutes that prohibit political statements by athletes and players. Olympic officials had asked the South Korean Olympic Committee to take action against Park and that he not be present at the ceremony.

When the men’s soccer medals were presented at Wembley Stadium following Mexico’s 2-1 win over Brazil in the gold-medal match, only 17 of the 18 South Korean players were on the field for the ceremony. Park was not among them.

The IOC has opened an investigation into Park’s actions, and FIFA said it has opened a separate investigation to discipline the athlete.

The Korean Olympic Committee said Park’s act was a mistake that occurred in the heat of the moment as players celebrated their victory over Japan in Cardiff.

“We understand this wasn’t an intentional act on the player’s part,” the committee said in a statement cited by Yonhap news agency. “We are trying the best we can to resolve this issue.”

Yonhap also quoted an unnamed official at the Korea Football Association as saying that Park picked up the sign, which was thrown from the stands, and officials immediately moved to stop him from holding it aloft.

Calls to the Korean Olympic Committee in Seoul and a Korean official in London were not returned.

South Korea beat Japan 2-0 Friday, hours after President Lee Myung Bak raised diplomatic tensions by traveling to the islets. The presidential visit prompted Japan to recall its ambassador from Seoul.

Photos of the player holding a sign were passed along to FIFA to determine if any further disciplinary action will be taken, the governing body said.

South Korea maintains a small contingent of police officers on the islets in a show of control, but Japan maintains the rocks are its territory. Tokyo renewed the claim last month in an annual defense report.

During his visit Friday, Lee reportedly told police officers there that the islets are “worth sacrificing lives for,” according to the presidential office.

 

That’s some hardcore trolling, man. Man’s got balls, serious balls.It’s like Japan’s already been fucked pretty badly and then Asian trolls come in and start screaming obscenities.

And finally…

 

DPJ vow for next poll: a nuclear phaseout

Role for Kan urged to draft pre-election energy goals

Kyodo

 

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s party is arranging to make a nuclear phaseout a key policy pledge in the next general election, sources in the Democratic Party of Japan said.

The DPJ’s plan comes amid widespread opposition to the continued use of nuclear energy. Noda has drawn strong public protests over his recent decision to approve the restart of two reactors at the Oi power plant in Fukui Prefecture, the first reactivations since all of the country’s reactors went offline amid the Fukushima nuclear disaster that started last year.

Many DPJ lawmakers fear the ruling party, via the restarts, signalled to the public that it is keen on using nuclear power when this is not the case, a senior party member said Sunday.

DPJ members said earlier this month that the DPJ will set up a panel to discuss the potential pledge for the House of Representatives election, which Noda said last week will take place “soon.”

The panel will probably be headed by DPJ policy chief Seiji Maehara. Some DPJ lawmakers say former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who has taken an increasingly antinuclear stance since the crisis started at the Fukushima No. 1 plant during his watch, should become an adviser to the new body.

To government is weighing three options for a new energy mix by 2030, including having nuclear power provide zero percent of Japan’s total energy, or 15 percent, or between 20 and 25 percent. The state has also held hearings to gauge public opinion, which has strongly come out in favor of the first option.

60% against nuke power

jiji

Over 60 percent of the Japanese public thinks the country should give up nuclear power, a recent Jiji Press survey said.

About half of the respondents opposed restarting the dozens of idled nuclear reactors.

The survey covered 1,211 men and women 20 or older across the country between July 6 and 16.

In face-to-face interviews, respondents rated their attitudes toward various issues related to nuclear energy on a scale of zero to 10, with 5 meaning “neither agree or disagree.”

Of the respondents, 62.6 percent opposed the use of nuclear energy, giving scores between zero and 4, with 17.8 percent saying they think Japan should idle all nuclear plants immediately.

By contrast, 9.7 percent assigned scores between 6 and 10 suggesting that Japan should continue using nuclear.

The results of the survey, the ninth by the news agency on national nuclear power use since May 2011, showed parallels with the previous surveys.

The poll was the fourth of its kind since March on sentiment toward restarting reactors halted chiefly for routine checks.

In the survey, 50.5 percent opposed resumption, with scores below 5. The figure dropped 8 percentage points from the March survey. About a fifth, or 21.4 percent, gave zero support for restarts.

Well that’s about all from the east coast, oh wait, there’s one more.

 

Total Eclipse Totally Sexy

Author: Leon

 

 

Fortunately alien invasions are no impediment to yet another gratuitous beach outing, as Muv-Luv Total Eclipse amply demonstrates in its latest and rather sexy service outing.

 

As usual the gallery is within your grasps. Also I wanted to bring about something to y’all’s attention. White people can’t be discriminated against. For more info, read this. I was a little surprised at first too, but whatever, this world is fucked up enough w/o saying that I can’t be racist against white people because they’ve never been oppressed. And next up…this is news?

 

A Nice Lady From Florida Got A Tattoo On Her Butthole Over The Weekend

 

Overheard in the dressing room of a sad Florida strip club last night…

“Hey Mercedes…what did you do over the weekend?”

“Oh nothing much, Lexus…got a tattoo on my butthole. That’s about it.”

“OMG what was that like?”

“It felt SO F*CKING GOOD…SO GOOD!”

Butthole tattoos are the tramp stamps are the new anal bleaching, y’all. You heard it here first. Deuce-deuces. (This should go without saying but the video above is slightly NSFW.)

And last but not least.

 

The following article is adapted from David K. Randall’s Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, out now from W.W. Norton.

This is the tale of how an Australian man with a vacuum cleaner fixed a mistake in evolution.

It begins in the late 1970s. Colin Sullivan is a physician in the respiratory unit at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. There, he treats patients who have problems breathing. The most common complaint, by far, is snoring. Sullivan knows better than most doctors in his field that snoring is often a sign of a serious disorder known as sleep apnea. The disorder had been identified only about a decade earlier.

Patients with sleep apnea experience a strange nightly sensation that brings the body disturbingly close to death. First, the throat closes randomly throughout the night, choking off the body’s air supply. This puts in motion a cascade of increasingly bad side effects. As if on a seesaw, the lack of air causes the oxygen levels in the blood to plummet and the blood pressure to jump. The lips and skin start to turn blue. Air may not come into the lungs for up to a minute. And for some patients, the heart stops beating for almost 10 seconds at a time.

Eventually, the brain gets the urgent message that the body is choking. The brain jolts awake, and the body instinctively gasps for air. Yet as soon as the airway is clear, the brain immediately falls back to sleep. That’s when the cycle starts again. It is all so quick that it can happen more than 20 times an hour, all night long, without the sleeper remembering it the next day. Someone lying next to him or her, however, can hear this process at work: When the rhythmic sawing of a snorer’s breath pauses and then becomes a hard ghhack-ghhack-ghhack, it’s most likely the body frantically clearing its airway.

Sleep apnea was discovered when a group of American physicians noticed that some obese patients complained of overwhelming fatigue and would drift asleep unintentionally. With a literary flourish, they named the condition Pickwickian syndrome after a character who falls asleep standing up in Charles Dickens’s first novel, The Pickwick Papers. Doctors incorrectly attributed the sleepiness to a combination of excess weight and abnormally high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. It was only later that science understood sleep apnea to be a common breathing disorder caused by the position of the tongue and tissues of the throat. It was then given the name apnea, from the Greek word for breathless.

Sleep apnea was on the frontier of sleep medicine in the late 1970s. Sullivan had recently returned from a fellowship in Toronto, where he spent three years studying the breathing patterns of dogs while they slept. English bulldogs, pugs, and other breeds with pushed-in faces are the only animals besides humans that experience sleep apnea. The years spent working with dogs gave Sullivan an idea. Once back in Sydney, he devised a mask that fit over a dog’s snout. The mask continuously pumped in air from the surrounding room, increasing the air pressure in the throat and preventing it from closing up. Experiments with dogs suggested that the steady flow of air dramatically improved sleep. All Sullivan needed was a human to try it out on.

In June of 1980, he found one. A man walked into the hospital with such a severe case of sleep apnea that Sullivan recommended an immediate tracheotomy. This procedure, which consisted of making a hole in the throat to allow a person to breathe without using the nose or mouth, was one of the few approved treatments for sleep apnea at the time. It required a permanent, quarter-size opening in the neck, however, and was quite painful.

The patient refused the tracheotomy. But he was happy to volunteer as a test patient for Sullivan’s air-pressure machine. Sullivan built a test model that afternoon. He grabbed the engine out of a vacuum cleaner and attached it to a handful of plastic tubes. He then took a diving mask and coated the edges with a silicone sealant that prevented air from leaking out of it. Soon, he had a system that allowed him to pump air through the mask at a controlled pressure. Sullivan found an empty room in the hospital and set up equipment to monitor the patient’s breathing and brain waves, which would tell him what stage of sleep the man was in. The patient was hooked up to the monitors, put on the mask, and fell asleep almost instantly.

He began experiencing sleep apnea within a few minutes. Sullivan then slowly started to increase the pressure in the air flowing through the mask and into the patient’s airway. Suddenly, the apnea stopped. The patient began breathing normally. As Sullivan watched in amazement, the patient instantly went into deep REM sleep—a rare phenomenon suggesting that his brain had been starved of restorative sleep. Sullivan then slowly decreased the pressure of the air flowing through the mask. The apnea returned. Sullivan rapidly went through several cycles of increasing and decreasing the pressure. He found that with the machine’s controls alone, he could effectively turn the patient’s sleep apnea on and off.

The machine worked. The next question was whether its benefits would last all night. Sullivan left the settings on the machine at a level where the patient was free of sleep apnea. Then he waited. For about seven straight hours, the patient was in abnormally intense, deep sleep. When he woke up the next day, he told Sullivan that he felt awake and alert for the first time in years.

A study in 1994 found that about 10 percent of women and 25 percent of men have difficulties breathing in their sleep. These numbers climb as a person gets older, so that as many as 1 out of 3 elderly men have at least a mild case of sleep apnea. All told, about 20 million Americans have the disorder.

Its cause could simply be the trade-off that the human body makes for having the ability to speak in a complex language. A short tour of fossils illustrates this point. If you were to look at a Neanderthal’s mouth, you might think that its descendants would have been the ones to survive over the long run, considering their jawbones were larger and stronger than our own. Plus, with extra room in their mouths, Neanderthals never experienced the pain of impacted wisdom teeth. Homo sapiens differed from Neanderthals by developing a flatter face, a smaller jawbone, and a tongue that descends deeper into the throat than in any other mammal. With this new hardware, humans were able to move beyond making simple grunts. Those first, complicated sounds uttered by Homo sapiens soon developed into language.

But the positioning of the tongue in the Homo sapiens mouth complicates the acts of eating, drinking, and breathing. Food could literally go down the wrong pipe, a biological problem unique to modern humans. Darwin noted “the strange fact that every particle of food and drink we swallow has to pass over the orifice of the trachea with some risk of falling into the lungs.” The longer tissues of the soft palate at the back of the throat made it possible for the airway to become blocked after a routine exhalation, which could start the cycle of sleep apnea. In the mid-1990s, researchers in Japan found that slight changes in the size and position of the pharynx at the back of the throat drastically increased the likelihood that someone would develop a breathing disorder during sleep. The shape of a person’s neck and jaw can also be a factor. A large neck, tongue, or tonsils, or a narrow airway often signal that a person will develop sleep apnea because of the increased chance that breathing will become blocked during the night.

And yet the physicians who first recognized sleep apnea were half right when they assumed that the disorder was a side effect of obesity. Sleep apnea is a flaw that is part of the blueprint of the human body, and excess fat often teases it out. The chances of developing sleep apnea go up with weight because the tissues in the throat become enlarged, making it more likely that they will obstruct the airway during sleep. For some patients, losing weight alone can solve the problem. Other changes in behavior—like drinking less alcohol, cutting back on smoking, sleeping on one’s side instead of on the back, or doing exercises or playing musical instruments that build up the muscles in the throat—can also help.

Breathing masks like those manufactured by ResMed, the company Sullivan co-founded in 1989 after developing simpler prototypes of his machine, are the most common medical treatment for sleep apnea, but they aren’t for everyone. Some patients never get used to the awkward sensation of sleeping with a mask on their face or never become comfortable with breathing in the cold air that is continuously pumped into their mouth throughout the night. In the long term, patients with mild sleep apnea wear the masks between 40 and 80 percent of the time, according to various studies. There is also a social stigma that complicates treatment. Some patients with sleep apnea decide not to use a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine because they are worried that it will make them less attractive to the person they are sharing a bed with. In an online support group for patients with sleep apnea, a man wrote that he was “feeling like I am going to be Darth Vader if I have to wear one.” A woman wrote that her husband “fought it, cried, said he is defective, said he would prefer to put a gun to his head then wear one of those things.” Another wrote that “I’ve yelled that I feel like a freak to my husband way too many times this fall.”

Dental devices are typically the next choice. These aren’t as effective as CPAP machines for severe sleep apnea, but they may be easier for some patients to use, especially those who have to travel frequently. One of the most popular looks like a sports mouthguard. It forces the lower jaw forward and slightly down to keep the airway open. Another device holds the tongue in place to prevent it from getting in the way. Surgery is the last option. One procedure, called an uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, consists of removing excess soft tissue from the back of the throat. Its long-term success rate is only about 50 percent, and it can lead to side effects such as difficulties swallowing, an impaired sense of smell, and infection. It is also extremely painful. Few medications have been shown to help sleep apnea and may in fact make the problem worse. Sleeping pills and tranquilizers, for instance, can make the soft tissues in the throat sag and obstruct the airway more than they would otherwise.

In 2000, four separate studies found conclusive evidence that sleep apnea was associated with increased rates of hypertension. Left untreated, patients with sleep apnea are at a greater risk of developing kidney disease or vision problems, or having a heart attack or stroke. Those studies helped convince government insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the British National Health Service to pay for a portion of the cost of each ResMed device, which can be several-thousand dollars if a patient were to buy it out of pocket. Sleep labs across the country now conduct overnight tests in which patients who are suspected to have sleep apnea are hooked up to equipment that monitors their hearts, breathing patterns, and brain activity, as well as the number of times they wake up throughout the night and how often they move their limbs.

As scientists began to understand sleep apnea in more depth, they started to see it as the foundation for serious illnesses affecting the mind. In one study, researchers at UCLA conducted brain scans of patients with long histories of sleep apnea and compared them with the scans of control subjects who had normal sleep patterns. The investigations focused their inquiry on the mammillary bodies, two structures on the underside of the brain so named because they resemble small breasts. Mammillary bodies are thought to be an important part of the memory and have long been associated with cases of amnesia. This memory center of the brain was 20 percent smaller in patients with sleep apnea. Had a doctor looked at a patient’s brain scan alone, it would have suggested severe cognitive impairment: A similar shrinkage in the size of the mammillary bodies is found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease or those who experienced memory loss as a result of alcoholism. It was the first indication that sleep apnea leaves a permanent scar beyond the daily difficulties of focus and attention that come with sleepiness.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association supported this conclusion. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Francisco, led a study that recruited nearly 300 elderly women who were mentally and physically fit. The average age of the subjects in the study was 82. Each woman spent a night in a sleep lab, and Yaffe found that about 1 in every 3 met the standard for sleep apnea. Yaffe re-examined each woman five years later. The effects of age on the mind seemed to depend on the quality of sleep. Nearly half of the women with sleep apnea showed signs of mild cognitive impairment or dementia, compared with only a third of the women who slept normally. After controlling for factors such as age, race, and the use of medicines, Yaffe found that the women with sleep apnea were 85 percent more likely to show the first signs of memory loss. The frequent interruptions in sleep and the reduced oxygen in the brain may reduce the brain’s ability to form and protect long-term memories.

Sleep apnea and weight are not problems limited to the United States, a fact that hasn’t been lost on companies like ResMed. The spread of Western fast-food companies like McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut to emerging countries such as China and India may be the greatest growth engine for ResMed. Simply put, more fat in the bodies of the world’s population equals a larger number of sleep apnea cases, creating a larger customer base for ResMed’s products. “Genetically you’re still engineered for a low-calorie, low-fat diet,” Kieran Gallahue, CEO of ResMed at the time I visited the company’s headquarters in 2010, told me. “That’s what your body has been optimized for over centuries. Boom, you introduce burgers, and your body is not going to handle it. One of the outcomes is going to be a skyrocketing in the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing.”

 

And that’s our show for tonight, tune in next time as something else happens in the world and I have to be a dick about it, Goodnight Everybody.

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