"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Love in the Brain 

This is a really cool study. Researchers used fMRI to examine the brain activation of newly in-love couples, and found that love seems to have more to do with motivation and reward than with sex*. There's a lot of very interesting and cool stuff in there about the brain and emotion and autism (hey baby, you're so sexy you make me feel not autistic!), but I have no time, so this is just one for the memory banks.


* They do not, however, make clear what about sex fails to be motivation and reward.

Adios, Atkins? 

Lots of previous research has shown that calorie restriction increases the lifespan of fruitflies, nematodes, and mice. A new study examined this effect further in Drosophila, and found that calorie restriction per se only accounted for a fraction of the effect - the real changes were due to decreased fat and protein consumption.

What does this mean for the health-conscious cook? For starters, it may be time to rethink that "Low-Carb Lifestyle" you've been crowing about. Of course, this study needs to be replicated both in more flies and in mammals too, but the result is not an especially surprising one: digesting proteins and fats is much harder on your body, in terms of free radicals and such, than is digesting sugars, so it follows that eating less of them would reduce wear and tear on the body.

Friday, May 27, 2005


I was skeptical when I downloaded it, at a co-worker's suggestion. It clutters my system tray and slows down my computer noticeably at times. However, in that my job currently consists of keeping track of literally hundreds of email messages every day, I don't think I could live without it. Yes, this post is brought to you by Yahoo! Desktop Search, the first Yahoo! product I can actually say I'm glad exists (email accounts are a dime a dozen, many with better spam control and archiving stuff, and their messenger is crap). I am giddy at the prospect of this tool moving beyond beta.

Stupid Doctor Tricks 

An editorial in today's British Medical Journal might be the most idiotic thing I've seen in quite a while. They want to ban kitchen knives, because they're such a convenient and lethal weapon. This is beyond completely stupid, but follows from what's commonly known about British cuisine*.

The logic seems to be that there is no reason to have a pointed kitchen knife except to kill your spouse. I of course quibble that there are plenty of things I do that require a pointed knife (even beyond coring apples), but besides that, has any kind of 'it might be used for a crime so let's ban it' legislation ever accomplished anything besides a black market and increased police expenditures to enforce said ban? Gun control laws are an entirely different matter, as there is no real reason for most types of gun except to shoot a person, and the likelihood of said guns being an effective method of self-defense is approximately zero.

* I'm using the word cuisine loosely.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Jackass of the Week 

Via Fark, we learn that North Carolina Republican congressman Walter Jones, credited withresponsible for the renaming of French Fries to "Freedom Fries," regrets both that and the war that spawned it. He says we had no justification for going to war, something that most of us, especially the French, knew bloody well a long time ago.

I wouldn't be shocked if the US press was ignoring this, for fear of being barred from Prezitential press gatherings, but if it were from source even less reputable than The Guardian (i.e., said US press), I would ignore it. But it looks legit: Jones doesn't apologize, or really even express remorse.


Is generally a bad thing, as is paragandoia (I actually just made up that word, 'paranoia' + 'propaganda' = paragandoia; see also "Fox News"). There are times, however, that a good shock and scare can do some real good.

Take the current flu situation, for example: we had a big overhyped scare over flu vaccines here in the US last year, and the Avian flu is running rampant in Asia. It's spreading too. There is no vaccine, no cure, and it's a nasty little bugger. The editors of the prestigious journal, Nature believe more drastic action needs to be taken, and has created a hypothetical (prospective?) blog about the flu pandemic breaking out later this year.

I don't know what efforts are underway in this area, but it is my instinct to guess that "Ms. O'Reilly" probably knows of what she speaks. This kind of event would make the "war on terror" look like a toddler's teeball scrimmage, so I guess I'd like to see more action on it from NIH, WHO, et al.

Perfect Excuse For A Lunch Break 

New research suggests that going out in the mid-day sun, for rather short periods, is good for your health. The recommended times are short enough that even just walking to your favorite deli could be enough, at least for women who don't have to be as fully covered at most offices as men do (funny how things have reversed themselves isn't it?).

In short: I need to find a way for my boss to have this study cauterized into his brain.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hat Tip 

From Scott, whom I cannot but plagarize (it's really second-hand plagarism, but whatever) here. Molly Ivens gives us a small reason to hope:

Here in the National Laboratory for Bad Government, it's Duck and Cover time -- the Legislature is in session. The Can't-Shake-Your-Booty bill passed the House, saving us all from the scourge of sexy cheerleaders. But nothing else is getting done. The state is being run by people who do not know how to govern. Keep in mind that based on past form, whatever lunacy is going on in Texas will eventually sweep the country.

Rarely are the words of one state legislator worth national attention, but when Senfronia Thompson, a black representative from Houston, stalks to the back mike with a certain "get-out-of-my-way" look in her eye, it's Katie, bar the door. Here is Thompson speaking against the Legislature's recent folly of putting a superfluous anti-gay marriage measure into the state constitution:

"I have been a member of this august body for three decades, and today is one of the all-time low points. We are going in the wrong direction, in the direction of hate and fear and discrimination. Members, we all know what this is about; this is the politics of divisiveness at its worst, a wedge issue that is meant to divide.

"Members, this is a distraction from the real things we need to be working on. At the end of this session, this Legislature, this leadership will not be able to deliver the people of Texas fundamental and fair answers to the pressing issues of our day.

"Let's look at what this amendment does not do: It does not give one Texas citizen meaningful tax relief. It does not reform or fully fund our education system. It does not restore one child to CHIP [Children's Health Insurance Program] who was cut from health insurance last session. It does not put one dime into raising Texas' Third World access to health care. It does not do one thing to care for or protect one elderly person or one child in this state. In fact, it does not even do anything to protect one marriage.

"Members, this bill is about hate and fear and discrimination... When I was a small girl, white folks used to talk about 'protecting the institution of marriage' as well. What they meant was if people of my color tried to marry people of Mr. Chisum's color, you'd often find the people of my color hanging from a tree... Fifty years ago, white folks thought interracial marriages were 'a threat to the institution of marriage.'

"Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian. I read the good book and do my best to live by it. I have never read the verse where it says, 'Gay people can't marry.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Thou shalt discriminate against those not like me.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Let's base our public policy on hate and fear and discrimination.' Christianity to me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness -- not hate and discrimination.

"I have served in this body a lot of years, and I have seen a lot of
promises broken... So... now that blacks and women have equal rights, you turn your hatred to homosexuals, and you still use your misguided reading of the Bible to justify your hatred. You want to pass this ridiculous amendment so you can go home and brag -- brag about what? Declare that you saved the people of Texas from what?

"Persons of the same sex cannot get married in this state now. Texas law does not now recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, religious unions, domestic partnerships, contractual arrangements or Christian blessings entered into in this state -- or anywhere else on this planet Earth.

"If you want to make your hateful political statements then that is one thing -- but the Chisum amendment does real harm. It repeals the contracts that many single people have paid thousands of dollars to purchase to obtain medical powers of attorney, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, joint ownership and support agreements. You have lost your way. This is obscene...

"I thought we would be debating economic development, property tax relief, protecting seniors' pensions and stem cell research to save lives of Texans who are waiting for a more abundant life. Instead we are wasting this body's time with this political stunt that is nothing more than constitutionalizing discrimination. The prejudices exhibited by members of this body disgust me.

"Last week, Republicans used a political wedge issue to pull kids -- sweet little vulnerable kids -- out of the homes of loving parents and put them back in a state orphanage just because those parents are gay. That's disgusting.

"I have listened to the arguments. I have listened to all of the crap... I want you to know that this amendment [is] blowing smoke to fuel the hell-fire flames of bigotry."

Then they passed the amendment.

Molly Ivins writes about politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.

New View 

NIAID researchers have found a way to fluorescently label prions, and observe them infecting brain cells. Prions, strangely altered proteins that defy (i.e., redefine) many of the traditional rules of biology, cause diseases such as Mad Cow and Creutzfeldt-Jacob, and are rather amazing. Advances is seeing them will hopefully lead to better treatments and understanding of how they work.

Dancing About Photons? 

A choreographer and a theoretical physicist have teamed up to create a dance about Einstein's work. I'm generally boggled by physics and not particularly fond of modern dance, but this is one I would totally go see, just for the supreme nerdiness of it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A computer makes it possible to do, in half an hour, tasks which were completely unnecessary to do before.

An Ounce of Prevention 

One of the many problems in medicine is how to reach patients soon enough: early detection and intervention is a critical second to the ideal of prevention. Many of those at risk of disease are not aware that they are at risk, or even if they are they may be inadequately educated on how to reduce risks, or even that it is possible to do so.

All this is a long way of saying how important I think things like this are, and how I wish there were more of them (like this one) that focused on things besides HIV/AIDS: The Terrence Higgins Trust will be putting on a major gay men's health outreach at venues during Southwark's Bear Pride Weekend.

Oh, and now there's an even better reason to drink your milk.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Drinking for Life 

We know that copper pots help fight contamination in stored water, but what about when you just need a quick drink? The LifeStraw is a straw with built-in dual 100 micron textile filters, an iodine-disinfectant chamber, bead-de-iodizer and activated charcoal filter, so that water comes through but harmful organisms don't. This might help Zaf and Amg in their wanderings, but it probably won't protect me from DC-WASA. oh well.

Bizarre Science Day 

1. A mathematician thinks that in less than 50 years, we'll be able to 'download' our brains onto computer, rendering death null. While this would certainly be the culmination of all human civilization - all this is, after all, about denying death, one way or another - I don't think it's a good idea, even assuming we've also started colonizing other worlds and have room for everyone. The resulting class warfare if this is only available to the very rich might also be cataclysmic.

2. Would you rather have sons than daughters? New research indicates that if you and your mate have traditionally "masculine" jobs, like in engineering or mathematics, you'll more likely have boys than girls; if you two are a nurse and a therapist, you'll more likely have girls. This research could be a shoo-in for the IgNobel this year, or it could be entirely valid and very cool. I'm guessing both.

Chav Scum 

From the ever-wonderful Craigslist, we get a good summary of a very disturbing trend.

Yes, CPMC, I am talking to you.

What Would Jesus Eat? 

Concurrent to the obesity epidemic sweeping the nation, we also have an epidemic of pseudo-religiousity, so why not combine the two? Some are now advocating The Jesus Diet, which is essentially the same thing actual nutritionists have been saying for years: whole grain bread, fish, red wine, and fruit. The Jesus diet passingly mentions eating less, in vague homage to the not-especially-popular fact that Jesus was, like most of the world at the time, probably half-starving most of his life.

I think that going hungry for a good long while, walking around in the hot sun without air conditioning, and contemplating the universe would do untold amounts of good for the self-appointed moralists of modern America.

Also, members of the religious right reading this and getting all offended should probably work on their more complex brain functions.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Speed of Life 

You know how sometimes the completely obvious strikes you in a funny way, and things can seem rather odd? Today I was struck by the speed of our lives, and have got to thinking about it, and how we all relate. At work, part of what we do is to help people keep up with ever-more-swiftly-advancing technology and standards; a major reason I started this blog was to help myself keep up with the tide of scientific research.

Ferris Bueller said, "Life Moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while...you could miss it," and today I did just that. I woke up late and as I emerged from my apartment to go to the gym, I saw that it was absolutely gorgeous out, not raining as I’d expected. Armed with this information, I went back inside, changed out of my gym clothes and into civvies and walking shoes; I’m not about to waste this day in the fluorescent light and climate control of a gym! I walked for a couple hours, heading mostly south because that’s the direction that got the most sun on my face, and came upon a Potbelly, where I stopped for lunch. An unimpressive sandwich and completely worthless pickle* (*for which they charge extra!) later, I resolved not to go there again and walked on. A while later I found myself sitting on the patio in front of Cyberstop with a (plastic) glass of iced tea. I sat in the sun, reading and sometimes looking up to watch the freakshow of 17th street walk by, until the sun angled away from my seat.

Thoroughly relaxed, I wandered home to cook a comfort-food dinner – spaghetti and meatballs. I cooked slowly, letting the sauce simmer longer than usual and sipping an aperitif, keeping with the flow of the day. I even set a proper place for myself on my table in front of the TV; living alone, I find I almost always eat with the TV on; it’s a pale distant substitute for conversation, but better than eating in silence. The only thing on TV of interest (I use the term loosely here) was Queer Eye, so I settled in for makeover, uhm, magic. Have you ever noticed that the “fab five” runs everywhere? None of the gay guys I know rush around like that – if they did they might not be so perpetually tardy! Queer Eye crashed through my languid evening, running and screaming (that part is at least in keeping with many boys I know) about, rushing through everything. I shudder to think about the quality and durability of any home décor done so quickly.

They cook too fast too – great food not only takes time, but that’s part of the joy of it. I made my spaghetti with pasta from a box and Ragu (heavily altered, of course), but it still took well over an hour to prepare. I could have moved faster – used higher heat, timed the pasta-boiling more precisely, etc., but why? Simmering the sauce slowly over a low flame, tasting and contemplating after each shake or drop of seasoning added, makes cooking a contemplative, relaxing and highly satisfying process. I started with an oversweet, flavorless and poorly textured marinara and transformed it into a rich, complex and if I do say so myself superb tomato sauce. And the dawdling pace added another dimension to the experience.

But the rest of the world rushed to interrupt my calm, dragging me (kicking and screaming, of course) back to reality. We spend our lives running, stressed out and off balance, like we’re just seeing how long we can keep it up. I often don’t get on well at work because I work slowly: I take three hours to accomplish a task my boss thinks should take one, but the thing he doesn’t focus on is he’s thinking in terms of having to go back and revise it four times, I don’t want to have to do that more than once. “Haste makes waste,” they say. It’s funny how we can hear a cliché like that a hundred times a day, and even say it ourselves, but then forget it anyway. I wonder how much more we could all accomplish if we worried less about handing in the draft on time and more about getting it right the first time?


"The world makes you into a bitch, no matter how quietly you go,
so you may as well go kicking and screaming."

I'm actually in a fantastically good mood today - Guerrilla last night was great, and it's sunny and warm now, but that quote just popped into my head so I blogged it.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Dear Ethicists: 

If you really think that cloned pets might be a crime against nature, please consider this. I wonder if it is built on the Tamaguchi engine?

Send in the Clones 

Korean scientists announced yesterday that they have made a huge breakthrough in cloning and stem-cell technology. The research is really unbelievably cool - for starters, they've made leaps and bounds in improving the nuclear-transfer technique they described just last year.

The usual suspects will I'm sure decry this research as unethical and scream about killing blastocysts (the vast majority of which are, if my memory serves, lost long before a woman even knows she's pregnant), but then they will of course still happily benefit from the improved health and quality of life such research brings.

That is why this work was done in Korea, not the US, and why the US is beginning to really fall behind the rest of the world in bioscience. While the Preznit blathers on about "culture of life" (insert awful pun about cellular research here), tying up scientific endeavors with pseudo-religious nonsense, others move ahead. We'll benefit from the technology Korea develops - they're always happy to sell us their goods - but that's just it, we'll have to buy it. Knowledge and expertise is the only thing the US has left to export.

I'm not at all suggesting that ethical concerns should not be raised, but these days the real noise about ethics only comes from politicians, which is the last place it should be.

But the US is not without its own innovations. Cornell researchers continue to refine their instruments, and now have developed a way to measure the mass of a single DNA molecule - 995,000 Daltons. That's just over 1 attogram, which is 10-18 grams, or approximately 2.2x10-21 pounds. I do not want to know how many attograms I weigh.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Google Whore 

Because I'm bored, and had some inspiration, here are some of my favorite search strings that have recently brought people here:

deafness blindness alzheimer's treatment by gene therapy ok

I have no idea what you think you were looking for, but I've covered most of those topics, so I hope it helps.

platypus' mot recent population

You probably meant "most," and were not helped by anything here.
haemophillia pictures

There are good fetishes, and there are some fetishes that really should stay at home, locked in a dark room with no one around.

albanian professionals doctor

If I knew an Albanian doctor, I'd give you his number. Unless he was hot, in which case I'd keep it to myself!
cool facts psychobiology

You can find some of those here.

laxatives lose weight ana

Oh, dear.

suzie stroke hoax

Bitch set me up.

duchene smile, mikhail barishnakoff, and botox vaginismus.

Tied for first place, in ascending order of how appalled I am about it.

Full-Time Nanny Shoes 

Are you tired of chasing after your kids to be active instead of watching TV? Are so entirely devoid of self-control and motivation that you can't remember to get off the couch by yourself? Never fear!!! A British student has developed a pair of shoes, called Square Eyes, that turn on or off the TV based on how many steps the wearer has taken that day.

Not that watching less TV and exercising more are bad things, but this is a slightly stupid approach. The shoes measure 'exercise' by what seems to be an advanced pedometer. What's to stop people from sitting in front of the telly and tapping their feet? Will my Restless Leg Syndrome artificially elevate my step count?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hotness of the Year! 

Hayden and Ewan say 'hullo'. I may or may not have just spent twenty minutes staring at that.

I honestly hope that it does not become a big trend (some sort of metrosexual thing) for hot straight men to kiss each other hello like that. I would never get any work done, and would probably run into far too many innocent telephone poles while attempting to walk to work.

South Beach Helper 

Along with grapefruit, it seems that Hydroxycitric acid, extracted from Brindle Berry or Malabar tamarind, delays the post-meal insulin response. This is similar to the idea behind the South Beach Diet. Hmm.

Big Bad Pharma, Continued 

"Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies."

That's the headline of an editorial in the May 17 issue of PLoS: Medicine, an open-source medical journal, whose editors have themselves stated that they will not become “part of the cycle of dependency…between journals and the pharmaceutical industry.” It has been clear to outside observers for some time that the current publication system was failing, just how is only slowly coming into focus. How can we, as readers, know when a drug trial, published in the vaunted JAMA, is really as valid as it seems? I've certainly gotten excited and posted about a few such articles on this blog. Should I retract?

Smith's ending point, his solution to this mess, leaves me disappointed. He suggests that journals should stop publishing trials altogether, and "concentrate on critically describing them." I'm not sure what this means, really, or how it could work (would we rather have trials just posted on the drug company's web site, trusting that it's valid?), or even why this it would be a solution. Unfortunately, I don't have a better suggestion.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Doomed to Forgetfulness? 

New research indicates that high tonic levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, seem to cause memory problems (i.e., loss), and are associated with hippocampal atrophy. Considering that I, along with almost everyone I know, am pretty much permanently stressed out, and have been for some time, this is a very worrying prognosis.

As if we need more to worry about!!

UPDATE: Maybe if I move to a farm and talk on my cell phone I'll grow a replacement hippocampus!

Feeling Safer Already 

Isn't it nice to know that the Congressional bodies most directly responsible for our safety and freedom - the Homeland Security and Judiciary committees - are the most objectively partisan and biased. This observation comes not from the obvious method of looking around and reading the news, but from pure mathematics. And as we all know, numbers don't lie.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Rock Star of the Week. 

Can I just say I love my friends?

When she IM'ed me to tell me this, I read it and told her that it was as completely Nora as I can imagine anything being, and since the guy had the good sense to say yes, I feel like I can approve without actually having met him, and that I do rather wholly!

She's the third friend who's gotten engaged since college to someone I've never met, and I ought to have some witty comment about that, but I don't. Way to 'Do That,' guys!

Green Tea Goodness Revealed! 

Researchers announced recently that they have found part of how green tea protects against cancers. It regulates HSP90, which is a 'promiscuous' protein (and you thought only underaged girls were supposed to be promiscuous!), rather specifically.

Anyone paying attention has long known that green tea is good for you, but this research promises a more reliable, though much less tasty, way to get those benefits: isolation of the active compounds could lead to pills. Me, I'll just have another cup.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Musical Rumination 

Along with the WaPo's article, which almost-but-not-quite announces the demise of corporate radio, John says “good riddance.” Even kids are ditching the diversity-free radio lineups for iPods and CD mixes. Corporate radio sold us all on homogeneity, but after a while it got to be too much, and now the time is up.

"Good riddance" is my first instinct too. I fully believe that all the ‘mainstreaming’ of everything, from music to political discourse, is responsible for oh so many of our modern ills. A lack of innovation, or consideration is now the norm. Appallingly, a perfect example of this comes from an episode of MTV's The Jessica Simpson Show“Nick + Jessica:” her record company made her re-record a song that she loved, because her singing was ‘too good’ – too hard for people to sing along – and therefore unacceptable. Excellence has become a liability. On the other side of the universe, we have talk radio: yes versus no; red versus blue; right versus left; black versus white. Each show is dedicated to one side or the other screaming about the other, with only the tiniest bits of reflection or real consideration. No wonder the country is so polarized, they never hear all sides of anything at the same time, let alone from one person! The god-awful Crossfire was almost an attempt to show both sides, but all it did was show both sides to be loud pompous assholes. Anyone who talks about both sides is a “waffler.” Thoughtfulness is a liability. On ‘Reality TV,’ only the loudest, most obnoxious, most manipulative and self-serving contestants win. Politeness and kindness are losing tactics. This is a whole other topic, and I’m only really talking about music today.

The focus-grouped, uninnovative, no-variety play lists of mainstream radio (which seems to be all that’s left) are being rejected even by those “denizens who hang out at The Gap in the mall,” as the esteemed Harlan Ellison once called them.

Anything truly controversial, anything really different, never sees the light of radio or MTV day…it might offend someone, or it might be actively disliked or actively loved, as opposed to the fleeting ‘love’ that pop stars now achieve. 15 years after her last successful album, Britney’s courtroom dramas will not be front-page news, the way MJ’s are.

I’m not saying I think this isn’t appropriate - I loathe little more than the joke our justice system often seems to have become - but I am saying that people still get worked up about Jackson, not simply because he’s famous, but because he’s properly so. He worked for his fame, he did something truly revolutionary, he wrote some amazing songs and danced like few others. Britney has had some nice, simple, predictably likeable songs mostly written for her, and she has shaken her personally-trained ass and dubiously-organic tits on stage.

I don’t actually begrudge Britney her success…I doubt she has as much to do with it as her handlers, and wish she’d be less of a chav(ette?), but she does have better T+A than I. The point is that her popularity is so scripted, so crafted, and unlike MJ (or Janet, or Madonna, or Eartha Kitt), she is designed to fade ungracefully. I almost feel sorry for her, but maybe she knows and accepts this already.

The thing is, I can't bring myself to get up that much "care" energy - it's not like I've listened to the radio or watched more than a 10-second stretch of MTV since the early 90's - I will only academically remark on Britney’s passing, and will hardly notice corporate radio's. I would, potentially, notice its replacement: if it was worth my attention, if we got radio like the BBC6 I stream at work, or better yet something different and new and innovative (I know I'm dreaming here), then I would listen.

The lack of good radio bothers me philosophically, but not so much realistically. This has been the case since I got my first dual-cassette recorder and discovered mix tapes; iPods and MP3s and CD-burners just make it faster and easier to be my own DJ.

The big change for me, the past few years, has been how I discover new music. In the past, I would hear something at a show (which is why I almost always show up for the opening bands, even though they most often suck), or hear something at a friend’s house or at a party, ask what it is, and borrow or buy a copy. All that still happens, but now the networking effect happens with bands as well: I read the Bertrand Burgalat web site, and he mentions a side-project, or what’s really inspiring him at the moment, and I probably check it out; NM blogs about a new band she’s digging, with a link to samples; I emailed Clarika (who has possibly the worst website EVER) to see if I could get her CDs stateside, and she responded that while I couldn’t, I should check out Candie Prune and Autour de Lucie.

And then there’s satellite radio. My mom has XM in her car, and I’ve tried it a few times, but still find it so limited. Yes, there are a million channels, but each one only plays one “market” – you don’t hear Neil Young followed by Brian Eno followed by LCD Soundsystem, which is what’s been on BBC6 today; this particular ‘future of radio’ is an awful lot like the past, and not likely to earn my $15 a month.

I have no illusions about the fact that if I were a DJ, very few people would want to listen: my list might include all the music I’ve mentioned so far (yes, even Britney) plus maybe some Count Basie and some Hildegarde of Bingen and perhaps some NY Dolls or Megadeath. This is why I make my mix CDs, reload my Nomad every couple of days, and ignore what may or may not be on the radio.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Mr. Diagnostic 

What do you know - I've got a patient fetish!

I hope he's OK and doesn't have to keep that wireless ECG on *all* the time!

Thursday, May 12, 2005


My favorite photographer of all time is, without hesitation, Diane Arbus. There's an exhibit of her work at the Met, which I would love to go see but for this whole "job" thing I have. Luckily, I won the book and today's Post has a pretty cool piece on the pictures. Maybe someday I'll get around to photoblogging a few of my more 'Arbus-y' pictures.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Thinking on Your Back 

That's right. A new study (with a distressingly small n, but whatever) indicates that people are more creative and smarter lying on their backs than standing up. The interesting bit is that you apparently produce less noradrenaline - which may or may not impair cognition - when lying down. Very cool!

First, I want a daybed in my office.

Second, I want to know if my secretary's creativity will be additionally enhanced with his legs in the air.

Highly Dubious Investment Advice 

Now that you've collected your million dollars from your dear Nigerian friend's secure bank account, you need help to invest it wisely. Arena Pharmaceuticals is kind enough to subtly provide such advice in the first sentence of a press release today, announcing what it claims to be very positive results from a Phase II trial of its new obesity drug, ADP356.

ADP356 is a selective 5HT-2C receptor agonist, which is thought to have effects on food intake. Though it is not supposed to be effective on 5HT-2A or -2B, or on other 5HT receptors, I can't wait for the psychological and physiological side effects to start popping up. If they don't, or at least fail to do so before the drug hits the market, we're all gonna be really sorry we didn't buy Nasdaq: ARNA this morning.

Of course, when said side effects do surface, we'll be really glad to have sold our shares the week before!

Hung Like A Horse 

A seahorse, that is. Some people claim size doesn't matter, some say it's all that matters. Female mosquitofish like big males, but the big males are in rather, uhm, short supply, given that their size makes it harder to flee from predators.

Is it wrong that this made me laugh out loud when I read it?

Monday, May 09, 2005

What Could Possibly Go Wrong 

...With having robo-nannies? A company (Japanese, of course!) is developing a machine that will 'read' babies' emotions before they can even speak. It also bothers me that the device is being heralded as a "godsend in a country where a growing number of young people find child-rearing too burdensome." Yeah...riiiiiiight...

Good News? 

Quick things to think about today:

1. Alzheimer's vaccine shows promise. Very Good News!

2. You need new fat to burn the old. Whaaa?

3. Men with HIV confide in their moms.

Flower Power 

Researchers have developed a new strain of flower which, in addition to coming in different colors than its ancestors, lasts much longer when cut. Elegance Silver is the product of old-fashioned genetic engineering - the kind fruitcake 'activists' and the media don't think about: controlled crossbreeding. Cool, but a few days late for mothers day.

Friday, May 06, 2005

When It Rains... 

...It pours. My heart rate has been above 80 since I arrived this morning (my normal base is about 55) and I can literally feel the stress hormones moving from my hypothalamus to my pituitary to my adrenal and back every time my email notification pops up.

My life right now:


Thursday, May 05, 2005

El Plug 

Hoy es el Cinco de Mayo! Viene a Cheif Ike's en la calle Columbia esta noche despues de 7pm para escuchar Bluestate y tomar con mi!*

*Nomas hablaré Espanol.

The (Pocket) Burninator 

Recently, a third-graded brought his mom's insulin needle to class and pricked a bunch of his classmates, one of whom may be HIV-positive. Obviously, the mother is partly to blame, but to be fair - kids have a habit of getting into things they aren't supposed to, and needles have to be disposed of (storing them in the first place - there's no indication the kid was sharing an already-used needle - is yet another issue).

So: needle disposal. While medical facilities have all kinds of special storage and disposal devices, at-home users (diabetics, allergy sufferers, socially conscious smackheads, etc.) have fewer options and more limited means. A new product, the delightfully named "Disintegrator Plus," is an 8x9-inch device that somehow squeezes 2500°F (1371-ish°C) out of a rechargable battery, which melts (i.e., disintegrates) needles in a few seconds.

Sounds cool. What other household items could one put in there???


I cannot even begin to say how appalled I am about this. Testing drugs on foster kids. "Culture of life" my ass. It'd better be a hoax.

Concentration Without Jitters! 

The jitters, long a plague of the sleep-deprived and ADHD classes, who need caffeine or Ritalin or Concerta or whatever to stay alert and focused, may soon be a thing of the past. CX717, a novel member of the ampakine (AMPA agonist) family, seems to act quickly to increase alertness and focus with few side effects. Sounds good to me!!

Coming Around 

The story of fireman who recently recovered from a long period of catatonia (he was NOT in a coma or vegetative state like Terri Schiavo - which the BBC points out but CNN tellingly ignores) really resonates with me, and even moreso the Beeb's fascinating piece on others who've recovered from brain injury, as I have.

The key line, for me, was one woman saying that post injury, it was "like an alien landing on a planet without a map to show your way around. Or seeing the deep sea for the first time." That's almost exactly how I feel. I used to think that I had, in fact, totally gotten over it, and or at least that I would, but reading these it really hits home that there's a certain ease with oneself that you (or at least I) can't properly regain.

It's part of why I am so into neuroscience and psychology, and health in general. How our bodies manage to work at all, let alone recover from such things after so long, or hold on to them.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

See What Happens 

As anyone who knows me is aware, I am the anti-vegetarian. I love plants, and fruits and veggies do make up the majority of my diet, but I have to have my meat. Beef, chicken, fish, cephalopod, emu or horse, I love it. While I appreciate that some people have legitimate (read: dietary, taste) reasons to go veggie, everyone should know about the risks. Not only do you need to watch your nutrient intake (especially protein and calcium), but you also risk developing a paunch and dying in a mass grave.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Diet 'Duh' 

A new study indicates that a naturally low-fat diet, consisting largely of fresh fruits and veggies and natural foods, was better at lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol than was a diet of low-fat packaged foods. This is not particularly shocking, as we all know that less processed foods is almost always better for you, but it's really very nice to see some research (not to mention media coverage!) emphasizing this point.

Safe Sex Bait 

Last month an inventor created a device designed to make condoms easier to apply. Now, a British company is introducing a condom that may be easier to get men to wear: "The Viagra Condom," it's being called. A condom with an erection-extending lubricant, so that guys who claim to have trouble 'keeping the mood' while using a condom will no longer have the excuse. Sounds like a brilliant idea - except it probably has many of the same side-effects as Viagra itself.

Monday, May 02, 2005


A more proper quote, now that I've had coffee and breakfast and more coffee and lunch and more coffee and am finally a bit calm. To celebrate the centennial of E=mc^2, Spiked magazine surveyed 250 prominent scientists and academics, asking what they would teach the world about science and why, if they could pick just one thing. The results all are truly fascinating, but of course I must pick out an epigram: Arkansas psychology professor Jesse Bering suggests that we found a new religion for the coming decades,
"[O]ne that does not take itself so seriously this time, based upon our shared acknowledgement of the remarkable preposterousness of human consciousness."
I think this is a brilliant idea whose time has come.

Ticksy Virus 

HIV is an exceedingly tricky virus, which has thusfar evaded all medical* attempts to curb its spread and progress after infection. New research from Duke Medical Center indicates that we may have been chasing our own tails in vaccine attempts: antibodies produced by putative vaccines seem to be activating a type of immune response inhibited in normal people, but malfunctioned in autoimmune diseases. The good news here casts a wide net: not only might this lead to better HIV treatments and possibly a vaccine, but it may in turn play a role in better treating autoimmune disorders. Yay synergy.

* Nonmedical prevention attempts such as contraception and avoidance programs, on the other hand, have been stymied by humans such as The Preznit and The Pope.


Because I did not get enogh sleep last night, and I think I pulled something in my arm this morning at the gym (where I continue to go despite my continuing lack of buffed-up-ness):
like Star Jones wearing anything from H&M: it just wouldn't fit right.


Sunday, May 01, 2005


That really covers all that needs to be said about this airport and, for that matter, Detroit in general.

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