Monday, October 31, 2005
- Fafblog: 5,271,009
- Slate: 0,000,000
The eternally brilliant Fafblog easily tears him to bits, and makes brilliant fun of his dumbness. Sometimes I want to have the Medium Lobster's babies.
(via Making Light)
Another of the world's major killers is cancer, and curing/preventing cancer has been something of the holy grails of medical science for many years. In the next year or so, Merck will submit a vaccine for FDA approval, which protects against a number of the cervical cancer-causing strains of the human papilloma virus. Cervical cancer, caused by this virus, is responsible for more than 3500 deaths a year in the U.S. However, so-called social conservatives (actually, christianist fundie wingnuts) are opposing general use of the vaccine, because it 'might encourage sexual behavior' among teens. Because, as usual, their brand of moralism is more important than the lives of thousands of women worldwide. Fucktards. I sincerely hope that these people all contract horrible, painful diseases, and die poor, miserable and alone.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Meanwhile, a high-pitched wail has been heard coming from Mr. Franklin's grave: he seems to be spinning at about 25,000,000 rpm in response to the current US administrations attacks on science, diplomacy, and statesmanship.
Meanwhile, Cory at Boingboing points us to a replica of what may be the earliest Japanese robot. Shockingly, it neither ravages Tokyo nor battles aliens; it serves tea.
Friday, October 28, 2005
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has joined in another battle, this time against the
Thursday, October 27, 2005
C. An impressive display of chutzpah
D. Not to be repeated.
First, a new study indicates that the lipoprotein alleles of a fetus have as much effect on the mother's circulatory lipoprotein levels as do her own genes. This suggests that women who have been warned off of having kids due to her own dangerous alleles could in fact have kids, provided her
Second, a UCLA study asserts that for every dollar spent on substance abuse treatment, society saves $7. It makes good sense that one would see this sort of result. I wonder, however, if there was any estimation of the cost changes related to crimes of fashion? I wonder if the fetus' less-damaged toxin processing genes help the mother? Let's ask an expert:
New research into letter writing behaviors on paper and email suggests that people answer their mail in bursts, prioritize letters to answer quickly and letting low-importance notes linger. Um. No duh? People prioritize all their resource expenditures, and the time it takes to write a letter or type an email (or a blog entry!) is a precious resource. I don't get why this research is worth the letters it's written on.
On the other end of overanalyzing, there is carelessness, for which the US Food and Drug Administration is rapidly becoming famous. The regulating body has decided, contrary to its advisory panels recommendations (sound familiar?), not to require long-term trials of psychiatric drugs before approval. The rational being that it might discourage drug companies from researching new drugs. Or prevent patients from continuing their current routine of a taking a new undertested antidepressant every six months because nothing helps. But of course, there's the chance we might miss a major side effect. But I guess those sorts of things don't bother lobbyists.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Long-standing thought has been that color vision was at least largely about eyes - cones, to be exact - and less about the brain. New research indicates that this may be false. Rochester scientists have found that there is little to no correlation of cone types and distribution to color perception - we all see the same colors in different ways. In a related experiment, they found that people's color perceptions could be altered by wearing tinted lenses, which is really cool in its potential for further making fun of those who wear color contacts.
On the other end of the spectrum, McDonald's is finally planning to print nutrition (term used loosely) information on their food packaging. Because, apparently, the people stuffing their faces with daily BigMacs and fries have no idea that it's making them fat. Seems moot, now that they can no longer sue.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
On the other hand, St. John's Wort can be dangerous. It is popularly taken as an herbal antidepressant, and probably works as such to some extent, as it contains a potent monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). The thing is, MAOI's have some nasty side effects, and can produce harmful reactions when taken with foods as diverse as red meat, cheese, and wine. However. Temple University researchers say they have isolated a novel protein from St. John's Wort, called p27SJ, which inhibits expression and replication of HIV-1 genes. (UPDATE: Link found!)
The researchers stress that they have no idea if this protein in present in St. John's Wort supplements sold in stores, or if it even is effective in vivo, but nonetheless this is a fantastically interesting finding.
Monday, October 24, 2005
You can increase your daily exercise and lose weight by indulging your inner six-year-old: buy a puppy, and take it for a walk or two every day. Walking is well established to help you lose weight and keep it off, and it doesn't require much in the way of expensive equipment (just a decent pair of shoes and, unless you're really hot, clothes) or gym memberships. Plus, having a puppy is a great way to meet attractive members of whichever sex you fancy.
Not really a propos of puppy walking, new research indicates that ancient Mesopotamians practiced a fairly advanced system of medicine more than 4000 years ago. Many of their treatments were analogous to ones used today, and much more advanced and effective than many Greek, Roman, or post-revolutionary American techniques. Cool!
Friday, October 21, 2005
Some of the preliminary findings are interesting too. Successful dieters - those who keep off the weight they've lost, long term - tend to:
- Exercise 60-90 minutes a day, but not necessarily all at once
- Keep track of their weight
- Eat a low-fat, high carb diet (not Atkins)
- Eat breakfast every day.
A few years down the road, it won't be a German shepherd puppy sniffing your bags in the customs line, but a swarm of nasty stingy bugs. I ca hardly wait.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Tragicomedically, future generations of astronauts could be in danger of not existing to eat their cars. Aside from steroid abuse, which is well known to reduce fertility, new research suggests that many common sexual lubricants, including Astroglide and K-Y, damage sperm. I find this fascinating and extremely funny.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
So, we get the short version:
Women who consume high amounts of n-6 fatty acids relative to n-3 ones seem to be at higher risk of Dry Eye Syndrome whereas overall higher consumption of n-3 fatty acids seems to reduce risks. Eat your fish and veggies, ladies.
UW researchers have found that one isomer of conjugated linoleic acid, a protein found in cows milk, inhibits COX-2. This could have significant benefits for inflammatory diseases and cancer. Cool. "Check out my moustache."
Don't go chomping burgers all willy-nilly though...there's still all the bad stuff fats can do to you! And none of these hypotheses have really been tested, either.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Thank you, Duke University, for doing this critical research which will prove so much more useful than, say, a cure for cancer.
The Air Force has been testing a new transparent ceramic armor, which has the potential to be a more efficient - and more effective - replacement for today's bullet-proofed glass. It also has good potential for space craft windows. Cool.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Your next cell phone may learn to identify you by observing your gait. Many of the problems with this sort of system are mostly obvious: if you change your shoes, sprain your ankle, get drunk, or are in a hurry, it will think you aren't you. But there is another thing that the article doesn't mention: it's fucking creepy! I don't like things that monitor me in any way during everyday life...thanks for your interest, but no, Big Brother Verizon, you may not watch over me at all times.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Friday, October 14, 2005
High-risk US patients are not getting flu vaccines, due to supply troubles. Not that anyone saw this coming.
AND...The National Academies have released a report saying that the US is losing its competitive edge in science. The report highlights decreasing numbers of American science and engineering graduates, and cheaper experts available in other countries, but ignores a critical detail: our students may soon be too busy learning "alternative theories" instead of the real science they need to get by. The Academies' set of recommendations, while all good ideas, does what far too many government programs do: throws money without addressing these underlying factors. Mmmmm...pork...
But I really must admit that it would make me very happy indeed to have the old myth that pot kills brain cells dispelled by establishing the opposite; you gotta love science by litotes.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
On a totally unrelated note, researchers have taken a flea gene and used it to produce a super-elastic substance, called resilin. Which they may use to repair arteries in humans. Yum.
Please excuse the incoherence of this post. I am very hungry. Happy Yom Kippur!
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
The one question I have is: if the material is molded by heat, are the dishes only for cold foods? How embarrassing if your coffee cups melted as your poured!
I won't disagree that getting more kids immunized might be a good idea, and that kids with the flu probably shouldn't go visit granny in the nursing home. The thing is, the study's data only seem to suggest that kids present earlier - the comments on spreading disease seem to be editorial. As usual, the fantastic and sensational takes lead in health reportage.
Not that kids don't make you sick. I feel ill after about 5 minutes with one.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer result: trauma leads to amyloid plaque formation, and plaques are associated with dementias; everyone knows getting hit in the head a lot makes you dumber. The thing is, nothing's ever that simple. These data, while convincing, are retrospective and - more challengingly - recall-based. The results are dependent on reliable memory from people with dementia. So a replication is in order.
Monday, October 10, 2005
But! While the article talks about how there's no science behind the old guideline, it doesn't focus on the lack of evidence in general. Also, there's a brilliant non-sequitur mid-way down the page: talking about her feeding habits, a Lebanese-American mother says "children in India eat like that," indicating hummus and baba ghanoush. Neither of which are, to my current knowledge, staples of the Indian diet. Just sayin'.
Tangentially, while I often wish I could sleep less to get more done, I don't think I'd really want to live in a truly 24-hour waking world. I mean, I can barely stand most people 16-18 hours a day!
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Now, I can only guess what you wanted to know, but here's some info you may find helpful:
- If the person peeing in your mouth passes a kidney stone, and you swallow it, it will not become a stone in your own kidney.
- If the person peeing in your mouth passes a kidney stone, he will be in too much pain to care whether or not you swallowed it. Unless he's really in to those things.
- Pee drinking
does notis unlikely to affect your chances of getting kidney stones.
Friday, October 07, 2005
This is a pretty cool concept, and not just because now I can maybe think about buying fish from the Soviet Safeway, since I still won't. Who'd have though my next culinary experiment would be inspired by a science article? Cranberry and oregano sounds intriguing!
On the other side of brilliant, the winners of this year's IgNobel Prizes were announced last night. I wish I could have gone...where else do you get to hear about exploding trousers, Nigerian email scammers, and penguin poop. Hell, swimming in syrup could be (briefly) a lot of fun.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Too many solutions I see on a daily basis (working mainly in health IT as I do) try to be the Killer App, but end up just being bloated and confusing and useless. Instead, I wish developers would work within the already existing standards, and create small, flexible, interoperable programs, which could be put together in various combinations to constitute the appropriate Electronic Health Record for a given practice or institution.
Take an example (albeit not a great one): I run Windows as my OS, Photoshop as my image editor, Firefox as my browser (with Java no less), StarOffice for productivity, and JetAudio for sound. All made by different companies, all specializing in their own thing, all interoperable with each other. Shouldn't health applications be the same??
If you can't afford vaccines, you probably also can't afford to eat as healthily as you may like. The result is often obesity. Another new study may confirm this as truism: kids' BMI is correlated to fruit and vegetable prices. If KFC is cheaper, that's what you get.
In a demonstration of how critical it is to have scientists working in different subject areas working in the same building, an interdisciplinary group of Vanderbilt researchers have found that a number of frog peptides are powerful weapons against HIV. Many of the frogs in question are highly endangered; imagine if clear-cutting or other environmental destruction had destroyed the cure to AIDS!
Chromium picolinate seems to help reduce carb cravings in depressed patients. I'd like to see the actual data before I go buying vats of chromium, but this is potentially an extremely interesting finding not only for depression, but for diabetes and nutrition in general.
Another study claims that beta-glucan from oats, used as a moisturizer, reduces the depth and roughness of facial wrinkles. I tend not to trust any cosmotological research at all, ever, but this is intriguing. I'd love to see the data.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Yet again the Republicans can't just introduce legislation to codify their skewed sense of morals, they have to include a tax which will only really serve to make life harder on poor people (The intended parents shall pay the fees and other costs of the criminal history check).
In a result which apparently surprised people, a new study has shown that DC's red light cameras do not reduce accidents. But, of course, Chief Ramsey remains somehow convinced that they are doing something worthwhile - he just can't say exactly what. The bad news? That these cameras, and their likely privacy-shattering descendants, will continue to proliferate while accomplishing little aside from lining a few contractor's coffers.
And if you think you can escape harm by biking to work, beware: many types of bicycle seats seem to cause impotence. Ouch.
Monday, October 03, 2005