Matthias Casse

Matthias Casse became the first Belgian man to ever win a gold medal at the World Judo Championships Wednesday in Budapest, Hungary. Casse had to go into "golden score" time, judo's version of sudden death overtime, against Georgian Tato Grigalashvili after a scoreless regulation period in the 81 kg finals. But when Grigalashvili moved in to attack, Casse countered him with a changing hip throw lifting his opponent off the ground and taking him over for the point and the championship.

On the women's side France's Clarisse Agbegnenou cruised to a fifth world title with an outstanding mix of standing throws and groundwork. In the 63 kg finals she moved from an attempted leg reap into a version of an arm wraparound throw to take down Slovenia's Andreja Leski and then control her on the mat for a hold down to secure the win.

That a director of my city's opera company would call me seemed a little odd. There are probably some monkeys who know more about opera than I do. But the director was inviting me to lunch, so of course I went.

It turned out the company was producing a performance of Madame Butterfly, the Puccini opera that tells the story of a doomed love between a French military officer and a geisha in early 19th-century Japan. The opera has come under fire for its stereotyped, utterly fanciful depictions of Japanese culture. The local company was trying to anticipate such criticism, and the director asked me, since I serve on the board of some organizations related to Japanese culture, what I thought.
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The placebo effect is a psychological phenomenon which happens when we believe in the beneficial effect of things and objects that, realistically, do not have it. The influence of the placebo and the placebo effect is usually connected with medicine, but it can be found everywhere around us in our daily lives, e.g. if placebo didn't exist, neither would marketing.

A couple of these interesting facts will reveal the omnipresence of this intriguing phenomenon.

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