Thursday, December 29, 2005
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
The thing is, I don't buy it. If this was the whole story, or even, frankly, a large part of it, the US would not be so far ahead of places like France and Germany and Japan (where they like their fried foods with mayonnaise on top) in diabetes incidence. Yes, our ever-expanding national waistline and general unhealthiness help too, but still. This could just be a small factor.
While getting fatter and diabetic, Americans are also managing to get whooping cough. The disease (against which you ought to have been vaccinated) is resurging around the nation. Is this a new strain, unaffected by vaccine, or is it just that there are that many people who can't/dont get it?
Is there no good news? There is! Educational programs encourage girls to stop douching. No word yet on whether education can stop them from dating douchebags.
Seen in the mens room at the Brickskellar*.
*Please note that I do not wish my boss(es) any harm**.
**If I did, Jesus would not be involved. I'm Jewish, after all.
I'm sure there are other uses for this type of drug that I don't know. Also, it is encouraging that more useful things are discovered from various sources, as it may remind people how critical biodiversity remains.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Yes, that's right. My Hanukkah party favor contained a paper crown, and. A. Christmas. Tree. Ornament. Somewhere a bubbie is having a heart attack.
SCD sufferers got a nice Christmas present this year: researchers announced that they have successfully used gene therapy to correct sickle cell disease in cultured cells, suggesting that patients could grow their own transplant materials. The actual treatment is probably years down the road, but a little hope is a good thing.
Monday, December 26, 2005
The previous night for Christmukkah eve, we ate steak and drank:
Terra Andina Carmenère, 2004 (Chile):
A gorgeous, very powerful red full of tobacco, chocolate, and cedar with berry undertones.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Unfortunately for the gene pool, they both survived.
Friday, December 23, 2005
While growing up, kids (of all genders) collect injuries, usually traumatizing their parents more than themselves. This means that parents spend lots of energy trying to minimize the risk of their kids getting hurt. It seems that encouraging them to jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon may achieve just that goal: on HP release weekends, significantly fewer kids were admitted to UK hospitals with traumatic injuries. This is a pretty odd study, full of confounds and assumptions and oddities - the most basic of which is, of course, why Harry Potter is any better than the Teen Titans, besides popularity. Still, it's nice to have yet another excuse to get kids to read.
As women age, injuries become more of a problem: bone density drops, leaving them more vulnerable to broken bones. Osteoporosis is more of a problem in white women, again for unknown reasons, but other women should be careful too. The main way to avoid the serious problems is to get plenty of calcium and vitamin D and exercise, but new research suggests that magnesium may also be critical: for every 100mg/day increase in magnesium, bone density increased 1%.
Many Americans don't get enough magnesium, but that's easily corrected by doing things you ought to do anyways. Eat lots of green veggies!
Now, as cool as that is, there are so many potential confounds here. The biggest one that springs to my mind is how people learn to dance: it's entirely social. Ugly kids (i.e., those with asymmetrical bodies, perhaps) don't tend to get asked to dance, and may not learn to do it as well as the attractive ones. On the other hand, they may also try to compensate by practicing every day and getting really good. I'd love to read the whole article, and probably also to see a larger sample.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Sidney Crosby is sufficiently hot that I may forgive him for playing on the Penguins. If he begs me to, anyways. The thing is, of course, that pretty tends not to last in hockey players - even when they're as talented as Crosby. Oh well.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
More research has found that artemisinin, the extract of another Asian plant, sweet wormwood, seems to selectively kill cancer cells. It works by reacting with iron, which is more concentrated in fast-growing cancer cells, and causing a free-radical cascade that kills them. Amazingly, the substance does not seem to have any side effects - it's been in use for centuries as an anti-malarial agent.
I think that's pretty cool, and I like the name.
I would like to think that this decision would stem the tide of ID idiocy, but it probably will just lead to dubya looking to appoint only total nutjobs in the future. Also on dubya's agenda is, of course, the free use of all natural resources, which is why I'm glad the Army is beginning to prepare for the Arrakis of our future. They've developed a cooling vest for desert humvee drivers, not unlike an early prototype of the Fremen stillsuit. It'll take some more work to be that good, but it's still a neat-o idea.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
It is, as usual, all about nuance and spin. The data show that the proportion of 'unwanted' births is highest among African-American women and younger women - presumtively at the same time. There are many more laws now limiting access to abortions in the under-18 crowd than there were 10 years ago. But, African-Americans and Hispanics do tend to be less likely to have abortions, both for cultural and economic (again, access) reasons. So, the shift towards "more pro-life" may just be a shift in demographics. And, as the gap between haves and have-nots grows ever wider, the poor stop being able to afford contraception too.
At the end of the day, I'm a lot less concerned about the whys than I am about how these 'unwanted' kids get cared for after they get born.
And what goes best with strawberries? That's right - champagne! However, the killjoys at el WaPo warn us to drink less this Holiday SeasonTM for fear of consuming too many extra calories and gaining weight. Now, I don't know about you, but for me the stress of packing on a couple pounds is significantly less than the stress of dealing with my family without the protective barrier of a drink or sixteen. For each of us.
Monday, December 19, 2005
1. First song you put on in the morning:
"Broder Kung" by Bertrand Burgalat
2. Last song you listen to before going to sleep:
"Lebanese Blonde" by Thievery Corp.
3. Song you can sing tolerably well:
"London Calling" by the Clash
4. Song you can't sing to save your life:
Anything that requires actual singing. Like, say, "Fever" by Peggy Lee
5. Song you'd sing if you could sing really well:
"Under Pressure" by Bowie and Queen
6. Best breakup song:
"Le coeur hypothéqué by April March
7. Best make up song:
"What a Fool Believes" by Self
8. Best song someone has ever put on a mixed tape for you:
"Papa Was a Rodeo" by the Magnetic Fields
9. Song you've always wanted someone to put on a mixed tape for you:
<> A song I've never heard before.
10. Best slow dance song:
"Come On" by Moloko
11. Best jump-up-and-down song:
"Maggie Mae" by the Pietasters
12. Best protest song:
"Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down" by the Toasters
13. Best hangover song:
"Daybreaker" by Beth Orton
14. Song that makes you homesick:
"Sympathique" by Pink Martini
15. Favorite Christmas song:
"Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" by Less Than Jake.
The Senslip (possibly NSFW) is designed to, um, do whatever it is you feel you needed it for. Bear in mind that using this device may or may not reverse the reduction in STI risk circumcision grants.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Saturday, December 17, 2005
You're into the geeky guys. a.k.a~ the sweet,
sensitive, quiet and smart ones. This type can
be broken down further: he's either perfect, or a serial killer...*
What's Your Type?
*That pretty well sums up most everyone I've ever dated. Hmph.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
The n of four is so small as to be nearly meaningless, but it offers a small hope and will hopefully inspire a larger, longer-term trial, leading to good results.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
The release does not note that the antiporter blockage must also alter (raise, I presume) intracellular glutamate levels - which must have some effect. I wonder what?
Glutamate is the most common neurotransmitter in the brain, and is implicated not only in drug addiction and withdrawal, but also in alcoholism, schizophrenia, and depression. These findings could have major implications on all of those conditions.
Another study has found that URB597, which blocks degradation of endocannabinoids, may be a safe and effective depression and pain treatment. I'm a bit confused about the side effect profiles, though. I mean, wouldn't people taking it for depression get the painkiller effects too, and be a bit numb?
Also, Harvard researchers have discovered that the norwhal's signature tusk is actually more like an antenna - a finely tunes sensory organ, unlike anything they had expected or ever seen anywhere else. Which I think is pretty cool.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
I presume that what he's done is take that obvious conclusion and look at the endocrine and immunological reasons behind it - like how prolactin and adrenaline, for instance, can modulate immune response - but the article only hints at this. It mainly proclaims stress-induced doom for those prone to anxiety and/or without strong social support systems, and suggests meditation and "taking stock of things" in passing as ways to help deal. If I was interviewing a prominent expert in the field, I would ask him to suggest a few specifics on how to deal while I was at it. Just saying 'meditation helps' is not useful, since most people don't likely have any idea what that actually means.
Also, it could explain (in a retrospective, illogical and completely sarcastic way) why the slutty boys at Cobalt are all so damn skinny: they're trying to avoid Chlamydia!
Monday, December 12, 2005
Miss Manners surrenders.
The latest 'superfood' - Low! In! Fat! - High! In! Antioxidants! - is probably not bad for you, but also isn't going to make you healthier than if you just ate a normal diet; it's all marketing.
My synagogue, Washington Hebrew Congregation, puts on a periodic concert series. Last night, in celebration of the congregation Sisterhood's 100th anniversary, they had Itzhak Perlman perform, so of course I had to go. I was busy listening, so I didn't take many notes, but here were my impressions.
Note: there was no program - he just announced what he was going to play as he went along - so I'm not entirely sure the names I heard were actually what he played.
He began with a sonata in four movements, composed by Gabriel Fauré. The first and fourth movements were pretty, but I must admit they didn't grab me. The second movement, andante, is gorgeous, with lingering notes and all kinds of detail. The third, allegro, is playful and sweet, with played with real flourish. Perlman seemed to enjoy these two most, which may be why I did too.
Next, he played "3 American Pieces," by Lukas Foss, a fun series laced with Americana and folk sounds.
He then played one of his signature pieces, the theme from Schindler's List. Now, this is a beautiful piece to begin with, and Perlman played with a such passion that it shined immensely.
For his encore, Perlman played three pieces by Fritz Kreisler - Liebesfreud, Glouck(?), and Tambuichi-wa(?), each of which was warm and delicious.
Perlman is a fantastic performer. Aside from his gorgeous playing, he is clearly having fun, and his little jokes between pieces added immensely to the show.
Friday, December 09, 2005
(via Making Light)
She was wearing a pouffy dress that looked like something Kelly Osborne might wear to a Halloween party as an Elvyra clone, with an amazing hefty fur shawl over it, which she kept flaunting and making sure everyone kept on noticing*. This is what I get for forgetting to bring my camera.
Anywhom. Technology now has an answer to your fugly-shawl woes: an electronic scarf that senses your outfit and changes colour to match! What could possibly go wrong?
* Not that I would do differently, if I was wearing a dead polyester weasel on my shoulders, but still.
After not dying as an infant, kids are bombarded with advertisements enticing them to eat junk food. The Kellogg Company has announced that it will begin making its food 'healthier' by replacing trans-fats with low linolenic soybean oil. This is, of course, just more marketing to parents. Parents, that is, who think that they are health-conscious, but really have no idea what they're talking about. Less trans fat is nice, but if you're really that concerned, give them an apple instead.
The thing is, while apples are fine, they don't have Tony the Tiger pimping them to kids every day during SpongeBob, and kids are still gonna want Frosted Flakes. And Pop-tarts. Et cetera. So, they need to burn those extra calories, so they don't get fat. The thing is, that doesn't seem to be the motivator that it is for teenagers and adults: a new study indicates that kids exercise for fun, plain and simple. Me too...if only the gym was as much fun as freeze-tag!
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Boxers, Chihuahuas and Malamutes are very different characters, but they are the same species. You could, theoretically (or by artificial insemination) interbreed them to get ... a horror. Genome analysis can help us understand how they can be so different without speciating. That's pretty cool.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I have nothing interesting to say today, so here.
This is Winston. He was heard to bark for the first time last night (we've had him since July). He likes to eat leaves and newspapers, but is mostly unimpressed by actual food. He is very cute.
In humans, however, big headed babies seem to be at increased risk for brain cancer. No word on how they will fill out their jockstraps later on. Also on the human side, the IOM has stated, to the shock of no one who has any brains at all, that the food industry is using TV ads to convince kids to overeat, and that TV watching is associated with obesity. Duuuuhhh.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Happy (merry?) Chrismahanukwanzakah!
(lifted from Ryan + Marisa)
Yesterday night I decided to be uncharacteristically organized, and prepare my lunch salad fixings ahead of time, so I could sleep a bit longer this week. Washing spinach and chopping broccoli, carrots, and celery went as usual, but then came time to chop the big pretty red onion. Chopping onions is not usually a problem for me...until now. By the time I'd cut it in eighths, my eyes were watering and my nose burning. I began chopping.
When it was nicely diced, I put it in a glass tub and sealed the lid on top, crying like an infant. I washed my hands, knife, and cutting board with hot soapy water, but noticed as I returned to my desk that I still reeked of onion, and my entire respiratory tract was still burning.
This morning, I opened the tub, and the aroma it released was overwhelming. I added just a few bits to my salad - maybe a half cup's worth - and went on my way.
I finished my salad 5 minutes or so ago, and can still feel the onion burning in my throat. I love onions. Good thing I don't have a date tonight!
Also of note, yet another bit of research indicates that industrial additive bisphenol A (BPA) is bad for you. The compound seems to disrupt estrogen's activities and harm brain development. Does this explain why kids keep getting stupider?
Monday, December 05, 2005
The author doesn't seem to have taken the time to actually talk to anyone - he just has these 'self-deprecating' one-liners from people, and they come off as fatalistic and dreary. Which I doubt they really are. I mean, there's no real reason for retirees who've just sold their houses at massive profit to care if Baltimore is the 'greatest city in America.' It's home, they like it, and hey, now there's some extra cash involved.
I think it's interesting to me how everything is a marketing campaign, to such a degree that anyone not immediately drawn in is looked upon as quaint or cynical. Because that's what you're calling them when you title an article "The City of Self-Deprecation." And really, did anyone else notice that the article has no conclusion at all*?
* Your metal's all black,
said the pot to the kettle,
with polish we'll shine.
Another thing that's good for your liver is not being obese, and new research suggests that drinking one or two drinks per day can reduce the risk of that too! This study is just correlational, but it's a correlation I like, so there you go.
Now, maybe these articles will convince my boss to lift the ban on putting rum in my morning coffee at the office?
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
Just like everyone else, I say: I have many paperclips, and even some paper. Give me a new computer.
Any heterosexual English speaking men might be doomed upon reading this sign, which seems to suggest that there is an empress in need of rescue at the bottom of the sea.
It was pointed out at the time that Joe + Wig = Kurt + Courtney, and that light fixtures make fun toys.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
So, you figure, that's one family dinner down, if you can just get through Christmukkah, you're in the clear. You may have even plotted a safe conversation starter, and what could be safer than economics? Well, be warned: Cyprus has started using condoms and Viagra sales to measure inflation. If you feel comfortable explaining that to your grandmother, particularly when she is at close range and holding poultry shears, you come from a very different family than mine.
Things are looking up, however, thanks to my B.F.F., coffee. Apparently, and despite the contrary evidence of every scientist I know, science was not aware that coffee wakes you up. A new study's preliminary results suggest that the drink may in fact help wake you up and jump-start short-term memory. I may need more jump-starting before I think this is particularly exciting, but it's still kinda cool.
Yesterday, we were warned about the bad effects of too much acetaminophen. Today, a study indicates that regular doses of the pain killer may help dementia patients be more active. In that the effect seems due to the drug's pain killing effect - many elderly patients suffer from chronic, low-grade pain, which makes them avoid activity - I suspect that, say, ibuprophen or aspirin might have the same effects (doctors can pick which drug's side effects are most acceptable, etc.).