Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Chewing Big Red gum actually does fight bad breath. No real surprises here, anyone who pays much attention knows that herbal components (particularly hot ones, like cinnamon) generally have pretty potent antimicrobial properties.
NAIAD has found its experimental SARS vaccine effective in mice. Unbelievably fast turnaround on that one, hopefully it'll work in people too. Then I can stop worrying about my perpetual coughs.
Researchers have found a gene whose removal seems to increase birth defects in mice. It serves to protect from oxidative stress. Which we all know may be bad. But any new hints and tricks are a Good Thing.
There is always a flipside, though...today's first bad news: another Simian virus seems to be causing cancer in humans. And it's linked to vaccines, which means more PR trouble from the anti-vaccination nutjobs (whom I believe should go without vaccines and suffer the bloody consequences!).
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Not having a job is a real problem, though...I was lucky in that while I was unemployed, I spared myself telling people [attractive ones, at least] that I was unemployed: I was and am, technically, a professional photographer. I have been paid to take pictures. I would not refuse being paid to take more.
That's why Scubadoo is perfect for me. A AUD$17,000 ($13, 184.50) underwater scooter. I don't live near water (no, that's not really water in the Potomac anymore...), and am a better swimmer than driver, but just look at the thing!!
Plus the salesman might be a hot Aussie.
(added 5:00 pm)
Also, there's the plane NASA tested this week. My own mach 7 plane would mean I could go to dinner in Paris, see an Opera in Moscow, and still get back to DC for a good night's sleep. Again...I wish.
I remember reading about the German scientists messing with the English back a few months ago, and to hear of it again is lovely. Especially since it's in a fun context, and the guy has gotten what he wanted (i.e., published).
Uhm.....No frikin shiite! The British Medical Journal brings us this startling news.
Nanoparticles cause brain damage in fish. But it's still a cool molecule. I just now have no desire to try those HostessÂ© BuckysnoballsÂ©.
But in good nanotech news, alcohol makes things run more smoothly. Another thing (besides frat boys) that goes down easy after a few shots!
Monday, March 29, 2004
A Sprint building in Kansas was designed to reduce obesity in workers, by forcing them to walk from the garage and making stairs more inviting than elevators. I think this is great. I would so walk up to my office, but my building doesn't even let you on the stairs except to flee fires.
Sunday, March 28, 2004
The thing is, it's not a good sign: it's a sign of how significantly we're changing our environment. Even assuming the Gaia Hypothesis works, there's the question of how much it can do and how long it takes.
The other problem is that persons inclined not to like environmental protections will misinterpret this report as saying that things are OK. "Greener" happens when smaller, fast-growing plants outcompete big, slow ones...this causes habitat devastation, and can lead to mass extinctions.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Friday, March 26, 2004
Clearly, if people set better examples for kids, the world would be a better place. HOWEVER, the thing about these studies is that they (a) don't provide any really useful scientific advances (we already know kids learn by observation), and (b) provide fodder for media hype and bullshit which leads to stupid things like calls to ban everything from books to music to video games to whatever else.
The facts of life being what they are, kids are gonna see violence. And the idea that kids are more violent today than they were 50, 100, or 1000 years ago is utter crap. The story goes that Cain killed Abel, back in the beginning...remember that back then, living 25 years was a good long life: Cain was almost certainly a kid, by today's standards. Alexander the Great took throne and began his conquests of Persia at 20. He died at 33. Less long ago, young people fought in wars, and were bandits: Billy the Kid gained notoriety and was killed before age 21.
Another factor leading to the perception of kids being more violent than in previous eras (or for that matter decades) is population density. More kids = more kids committing crimes. And then there's the media....we see it more than we did even 25 years ago, simply because of increased news coverage and sensationalism.
Worst album covers ever. These are bad. Anyone got further nominees?
Lilly, a four-eared kitten, has found a home. Now, we just got a new kitten, but a four eared one would be awesome!!
Thursday, March 25, 2004
The Scots have invented a new, uhm, *delicacy*.......the deep-fried chocolate sandwich. Now, I love chocolate as much as anybody (possibly more), but that is bloody gross.
According to the article, Scots really like fattening foods, "which is depressing news for nutritionists." Regardless of my opinions about which fatty foods they choose, you have to say anything that causes such a statement to appear in a major newspaper is perhaps worthwhile.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
This is a pretty interesting idea, and it's published in Nature, so it's probably pretty good, but....let's just that whenever I relax *my* jaw, I'm probably doing something stupid. Teeheehee.
You're athletic, charming, and probably a good dancer.
Unfortunately, you don't really mind chopping down the rain forest, and you probably
consider homeless people expendable in certain circumstances. Of course, your
personality is so diverse that it's hard to track down exactly what you're like. You
definitely like Pele, the World Cup, and shouting "gooooal" at the
top of your lungs.
theCountry Quiz at the Blue Pyramid
Ok, I do get a bit pushy, and try to be as eclectic as I can, but......
You're Love in the Time of Cholera!
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Like Odysseus in a work of Homer, you demonstrate undying loyalty by
sleeping with as many people as you possibly can. But in your heart you never give
consent! This creates a strange quandary of what love really means to you. On the
one hand, you've loved the same person your whole life, but on the other, your actions
barely speak to this fact. Whatever you do, stick to bottled water. The other stuff
could get you killed.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
You are Lucy!
Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Yeah, it fits. Sad but true.
And Duke University scientists are working on developing "neuroprosthetic" devices: artificial limbs, etc., controlled directly by brain power. I just want a telepathically-controlled chair like Professor Xavier's!
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
And as with not nearly enough things, it's first being used to sell beer. Which is as good a thing as any to see in 3D, I say. But when will it come with taste-o-vision, or drunk-o-vision??
Only related by way of governmental-ness: the Supreme Court will rule on whether or not persons not under arrest must give their name to police. This is a scary one to me: if the answer is yes, it's another step in the [probably inevitable] direction of a truly Orwellian society. The right to remain silent is so important, and should be even more closely protected when the police don't even have a warrant or probable cause.
The good news, however, is that PolyHeme, an artificial blood, is being tested in critical trauma patients. The problem, of course, is that the Washington Post is using its scariest reporting voice to describe these trials. Which of course gets good ratings, and sells products of advertisers, but is so totally irresponsible. This is a critical test of potentially life-saving technology....don't cause a public furor over it, fuckheads.
We know smoking is bad for us, and we all also know that too much sun can cause skin cancer. Previously, it was thought that the cancer-culprit here was UVB rays. The National Academies of Sciences has published a paper contradicts that view, and indicates that UVA also causes DNA damage, and thus cancer.
So, take your vitamin D. Another recent study indicates that vitamin D may have potent anti-cancer activities....but don't think this means you can just go sunbathing!
Monday, March 22, 2004
New discovery into how tumor cells avoid immune detection. I don't have access to the full text, but this could be cool. My first thought is that this seems odd: tumors often (at least from what I know) arise from mutations in a given cell or set of cells' genes. How can it be that so frequently, such a specific mutation would occur?
More bad news for smokers: smoking seems to increase incidence of age-related macular degeneration. No details given as to whether this effect is linked to nicotine (very likely, given nicotinimide's association with visual processes), inhaled toxins, or topical smoke exposure through the cornea (bad news for non-smokers).
Bad news for non-smokers: donated organ shortages have caused UK doctors to begin transplanting 'imperfect' organs into patients with dire need. Including smokers' lungs. Ew.
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Towards this end, a Mr. Frank Rich has posted a list of forty things a good drunk should do before (s)he dies. Some of them are amusing, some not so much.
I've accomplished 21, and with maybe three exceptions, I'm not going for (and generally trying to avoid) the rest.
Friday, March 19, 2004
Coca-Cola is also having water troubles, and has recalled about 500,000 bottles of its Dasani water in Britain, due to excessive bromate levels. I've always refused to buy Dasani, simply on the principle that for $1.25 a bottle, I can get spring water as opposed to "filtered" water. But those marketing geniuses at Coke keep on selling it, and probably will even after this.
That's what you get for eating monkeys, but it's probably also contagious. Oy, again.
I agree in part with the premise, which is that all this backlash is kinda stupid, but do think we should be much less cavalier about unleashing GMO's into the world. But largely that's because what gets released tends to be Monsanto's one-generational seeds, which cross contaminate other fields and destroy crops.
But it would be nice if the public could stop being so shortsighted and see the benefits of all these things.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Death. Lots and lots of death. According to a pair of papers published in Science, which is the only reason I take them seriously, Earth may be headed for its sixth mass extinction cycle. The data seem to be only from the British Isles, however, which are both isolated and probably super hard hit by humans' muckings about, but if they generalize...uh-oh.....
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Add your own (for rules, see above link)!!!
Plié Plié Plié
Has danced the seven veils
In his fishnets
His audience stood up
Ran from the theater
Money for debts
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Helps me procrastinate
Some days at work
Ominous deadlines do
Before me lurk
Cut me off at the light
But a fool would commute
Let traffic pass me by
Be less crabby
They also say that of those surveyed (10,000 allegedly), only 16% share my tastes. Not likely, but again, they want to stay in business (and want *my* business)! I'm supposedly in to "boy next door" and "pretty boy" types, which isn't totally wrong, misses the guys I usually am most attracted to: tall and mysterious, with a psycho killer streak (yeah, I know I need to stop dating those guys!).
Someone then stopped smoking pot for ten minutes and noticed that the chemical in question was, uhm, dihydrogen monoxide: H2O.
Someone read about this dangerous substance on a web site. I'm sure someone is also going to try and sue the webmaster of said website for something. IDIOT TAX!!!!
It's a very, very interesting read. There's lots of good info in there, much conforming to what I would have expected, some contrary. As always, however, I want more information. I want to see the responses broken down by ethnicity. I want to see them broken down by region. I want to know what the actual numbers were: the source is pretty good (BBC), but I'd be much happier if I knew I was looking at a survey of 10,000 as opposed to 2,000. Or, a survey of 2,000 in a smaller area. All this information is key to drawing useful conclusions from the survey data. Percentages are nice, but you have to know much, much more.
As if it wasn't bad enough, UCSF researchers have found that HIV patients seem to have higher heart disease risk, due to increased atherosclerosis, or fatty buildup in the arteries.
And in other HIV/AIDS news, the Zambian government has adopted the amazingly stupid position that condom distribution encourages sex. And so they've discontinued their AIDS-prevention program involving condoms. Seems American Puritans aren't the only ones with really, really dumb ideas about sex.
And Le Monde opines about terrorism and democracy, through the thinly veiled anti-Muslim prejudice of contemporary French society.
I never had a hot professor, but I'm sure if I had, I'd never have missed a class (not that I was prone to skipping anyway)
Monday, March 15, 2004
The stuff is apparently already on the market, at Marks and Spencer no less, so it can't taste too awful, but I gotta wonder about other stuff. Biological systems are so complex that messing with things, even "naturally" like this, is bound to have unexpected consequences. Also, it may taste close to the same as butter or milk, but will it work for my really delicate recipes?
If this is legit (and it's in Nature so it probably is) and proves functional, it is a HUGE deal. This kind of technology has kajillions (actual number) of uses already planned, just waiting for feasibility.
U Penn neuroscientists have done some interesting work on memory too. They've also gotten transplanted cells to grow hair, as a possible future baldness treatment. I still think research dollars should be spent on other things.
It may also be that that's all they had. This is interesting, I guess, but I really feel there are better ways to spend research funds.
Je me rappelle d'un roman, "Le Sourire de Brahim," l'histoire de Brahim, un gamin Beur qui s'aggrandait et réussi de vivre.
Back to the drawing board, as they say.
In better robotics news, Toyota has developed a humanoid robot, which is to be sold as a personal assistant, particularly to elderly and disabled persons. "Asimo" can dance, recognize familiar faces (which is unbelievably cool and if anyone has access to a description of how this feat is accomplished, please send it to me), and answer simple questions.
This guy is, I assume, named after Asimov, the writer. I wonder if it follows his Three Laws??
Saturday, March 13, 2004
This is Very Good News.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
First of all, biologists at Mass General have found that female mice continue to produce eggs in adulthood, contrary to conventional dogma: we always thought females were born with a number of eggs, released them beginning at puberty, and ran out to cause menopause. Maybe not. Good for infertility treatments!
Penn State researchers have developed a microbial fuel cell, which burns human waste for energy: power your home with your shit! Talk about renewable energy: just put one under Congress!
Those crazy Germans are at it again, this time getting ready to test a robot which will 'squirt out' buildings, using concrete or adobe or something else, like toothpaste from a tube. Remember how they built houses on "The Jetsons?" Nothing like that at all, but still pretty cool.
NYU scientists have found a new growth-regulating protein, APC, which may prove very useful not just in general understanding but also against cancers. *Cool!*
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
When do we get a "Gay History Month?" We could share it with Breast Cancer Awareness or something, I'm sure.
We all know that being fat (and by this I mean actually fat, not Beverly Hills teenage girl ohmygodIhaveboobs fat) is bad for us. We all know smoking is bad for us. However, this doesn't make it easier for people to lose weight or quit smoking.
A French biotech company, however, has a possible solution. Rimonabant is a new drug that they hope will be out on the market next year, which acts on the endocannabinoid system to ease cravings for food and cigarettes. It works on the same receptors, CB1, as the THC in marijuana, but has the opposite effect.
I wrote my neuropharmacology paper on the endocannabiniod system, so it has a special place in my heart. It actually has much, much more far-reaching effects than just the munchies and spacey-ness you get from smoking pot. It's crucial for memory, and learning, and appetite, and also fertility, embryo implantation/development, and digestion. Amongst other things we don't know about yet.
I also really wonder if all those nutjobs who want to 'punish' the French for not going along with W's war will continue their boycott if it means staying fat. Heh.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Even though the actual parts, once properly developed, will be very cheap to produce, I'm sure it'll be a long time before I can afford a new liquid lens camera. I'm not really sure why I'd want one, other than the ain't-it-cool factor, but hey.
The main benefit here is likely to be compactness: a telephoto lens without having to lug that huge, conspicuous 500mm around!
No details given as to why Mr. Kasokong hadn't bathed in ten years, but it really doesn't matter, does it?
If only this sort of thing had happened to a few very smelly hippies at Oberlin, who thought they were making some kind of deep political statement by stinking up our classes. I'm all for free expression, and didn't even mind the unattractive naked people, but really, not bathing is gross.
Monday, March 08, 2004
No earth-shattering revelations here, but I'll be interested to see the longer-term psychological effects and things that could come from this sort of research. I'm glad somebody's doing it.
However, many doctors still fear this problem: The Times reports on a really stupid way of trying to avoid it. This strikes me as something for doctors who are, uhm, prone to suits. Meaning probably of dubious quality.
Don't get me wrong....I know there are people out there who try to abuse the system. But this sort of B.S. is just ridiculous....what if someone's on the list and needs care? Hippocratic oath, anyone?
Then there's the content. Discovery of the enzyme on which Vif acts to defeat the innate immune system, and the basics of how it's done.
I remember when we studied HIV in my Genes and Genetic Engineering class at Oberlin (one of the best classes ever!)...it was the coolest topic: this virus, breaking all the rules and with each new discovery, rewriting the Book on virology. Using only nine genes, HIV cripples and destroys humans (with millions of genes) with seeming facility.
I wish I was good enough at calculus to have gone into virology.
Saturday, March 06, 2004
They have yet to figure out how it does this, as viruses have not previously been shown to compete much at all, and never so directly.
Volvo has decided to make a 'womens' concept car, which has all sorts of ridiculous frilly things, like a palette of colored seat covers, "to match a woman's outfit," etc. And the hood doesn't open and the car tells you when it needs service, and calls you in an appointment by itself. The latter bit sounds kinda cool, but then I have my own mechanic, and don't want to have to go to the dealer (who always overcharges). Plus, what if you need a jumpstart?
Not a car for women, a car for ditzes.
Friday, March 05, 2004
Now, this is a bloody miracle, no question. What's really amazing to me is that we live in an age where a woman who speaks barely any English, living in Pennsylvania, thinks about getting a DNA sample from a little girl at a party. In this case, it's amazing and incredible and had awesome results, but in the long run...isn't it a bit creepy?
Movieoke is exactly what it sounds like, and I'm looking forward to it. Butchering movie lines might be ridiculous, but it won't hurt my ears the way all those drunk-ass queens who think just because they're gay they can sing like Whitney Houston. At full volume. (don't get me wrong....it would be really nice if all gay people were naturally talented singers and dancers and interior decorators, etc...I'd be rich, dammit!...but really these boys need to learn to back off)
RAND did a study recently (that I saw though work) indicating that African-American kids, while just as likely to try smoking, are less likely to become 'smokers' than white and latino kids. Interesting. More specific demographic might shed some light.
Sounds fun, but has much more interesting potential in conjunction with the new bio-robot and brain-controlled robotics technologies for treatment of paralysis and other things, like MD.
It's good to have friends, and especially ones who are all academic and qualified-expert-sounding.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
One more reason he's gotta go.
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Patrick Nielsen Hayden blogged it, and covered the bases rather thoroughly. But I couldn't resist chiming in.
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
A new study has been published claiming that the dinosaurs lived on about 300,000 years after that, and were finally done in by the volcanic aftermath of an asteroid colliding with western India.
Needless to say, this is controversial, and therefore entertaining for those of us with a vague, I'd-like-to-know-but-am-not-holding-my-breath interest in paleobiology.
Now I know how I'm gonna have everything decided, from now on. As long as I get to do the calling.
It's not exactly cheating.....