Friday, June 30, 2006
An even less desirable seat than the middle one is the dentist's, and more even than that the orthodontist's. A Canadian discovery may at least mean that they can do more good than they currently do: it seems that they can use ultrasound to stimulate regrowth of dental tissue. I'm not really clear on how this works or what it does, but it's probably a good thing.
Even if they can grow you new teeth (which the above study never suggests), you probably don't want to be in that position anyways. And smoking is really bad for your teeth. Smoking 'light' cigarettes is not better. Or even 'less bad.' They are just as likely to cause cancer as regular cigarettes, and people who smoke them seem to be less likely to ever get around to quitting. Many seem to be switching to 'lights' as a stepping stone to quitting, but never get there. So: just quit.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
The roto-rooter guy is supposed to come tomorrow, and the hydrogeologist may or may not follow. Posting may be light.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Why stop at banning indoor smoking? If there is "no safe level," then merely walking past a smoker on the street could kill you! Ban cigarettes altogether, or, since the donor base (and for that matter the actual voter base) won't allow it, please do shut up already. I don't support smoking bans like the ones we have in DC, but if smoking was actually illegal, as opposed to just being under nonsense time-place restrictions, my feelings shift. I don't like the gub'min telling me what to do, but I am less irritated by sensible, unambiguous policies than by arbitrary and loop-holey limits.
Unfortunately, we in the US are much happier banning things that aren't that bad, or are in fact actually good. A fantastic example is a growing trend among US schools of banning various types of games kids like to play at recess (for the lucky kids who get recess at all anymore). This is stupid for countless reasons. For starters, there's the decrease in physical activity - and increase in obesity - that will likely result from the bans. Then, of course, there's the potential damage to kids development of social skills. On top of that, this will just make even more kids hate school even more, and even younger. Just what we need. Fucktards.
Monday, June 26, 2006
I'm looking for a female roommate who will occasionally not wear clothes when I ask in exchange for free rent. No sex whatsoever required.Anyone in New York have a 3-bedroom available in August? Or possibly one bedroom, maybe two? She's great, but not entirely sure if her friends are living with her or not.
Men with more older brothers are more likely to be gay than men with fewer older brothers. This birth-order effect has been known for years, but a Canadian study helps establish it further: the effect remains regardless of how the boys grow up. A seventh son raised by adoptive parents as an only child will still be more likely gay than an only son raised by his own (or adoptive) parents. Interesting.
Is your Starbucks habit draining your bank account and dissolving your stomach lining? Well, according to a Harvard study, having a 45-minute cell phone conversation may have comparable wakeness-inducing effects. Cell phone use seems to increase cortical activity, but this is a pretty basic observation - it may wake you up, it may cause brain tumors, it may have no effect - so at the moment this is just a very funny idea. In other slightly-strange treatments news, it seems that cherry juice may help reduce exercise-related muscle pain. Hmm.
Another study suggests, interestingly, that mice lacking a particular immune system gene, STAT1, do not have the expected severe immune malfunctions and are less susceptible to visceral leishmanaisis. Weird.
Georgia Tech researchers claim to have developed a combustor that will produce way less carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide wastes than traditional ones. Cool!
Also, everyone knows that it is very expensive to live in Moscow and New York. But Abidjan and Lagos?!?!? Funny.
Friday, June 23, 2006
You know how much fun it is to figure something out? Well, it seems that that feeling may be your brain getting an 'opium' kick. It seems that the final event of grokking something results in stimulation of mu-opioid receptors in the brain, which give a pleasurable sensation. If this process was to have evolved in early (proto-)humans, it might explain why we evolved to be so good at learning things. I wonder if the same hold in other animals?
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Before you want babies though, you should always use a condom during sex. Besides protecting against pregnancy, condoms are known to help block HIV, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, and now, HPV. College women whose partners always used a condom had a 70% reduced incidence of new HPV infections. I can't help but wonder if the number isn't higher, and a few of the girls just forgot a few times? Either way, it's probably moot, now that we have the HPV vaccine, but just another good reason to wrap it up!
I wonder if this is true...my mom just forwarded me an email claiming that a white paper plate, containing a bit of Lemon Scent Joy-laced water, will act as an effective mosquito trap. Allegedly, it attracts the 'squiters, they drink the water, and die promptly. Anyone know if this works??
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
And, via Dr. Charles, we learn that, by improving circulation, wearing tights may help you run faster and longer. Everyone can make their own favorite superhero joke here, so I won't.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
Another chemical, melanin, is known to be responsible for our skin color, but it may have other uses as well. Research suggests that black Americans have better hearing than whites, and that the difference may be that their excess melanin protects blacks against age-related hearing loss. More surprisingly, the study found that, despite the rise of Walkmans and iPods and cell phones, people's hearing isn't any worse than it was 35 years ago. (So there, mom!)
Huntington's and Parkinson's are two devastating neurodegenerative diseases, with little hope so far for treatment or prevention. Parkinson's is the bigger mystery, but a Mayo clinic study suggesting that pesticide exposure increases the risk of Parkinson's in men (but not women) may be a very helpful step. Knowing a causative factor allows us not only to directly address it (go organic!), but also guides future research directions. Huntington's is a genetic disease, but treatment remains elusive. In a major breakthrough, researchers claim to have cured a mouse model of the disease. This is really cool!
And, in case you thought government invasions of your privacy were limited to, you know, when you were in public, think again. The LAPD has started using a small surveillance drone. Police claim that it will only be used to track crooks and scout for missing persons, etc., but that doesn't change the fact that it will, in the process, record many people's private activities, in their yards and perhaps in their homes as well.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Thursday, June 15, 2006
The LA Times has come out to support the Red Cross and anyone with any common sense to ask the FDA to revoke the ban on gay men giving blood. Yay.
Along with the rest of our national health care crisis, the IOM has now proclaimed that our emergency system is in dire straits. This is what happens when you have provider shortages and no insurance.
And in the scaranoia department, USA Today is claiming that lawnmowers kill babies. Probably, but the article is a tad melodramatic to be credible.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Too brain-dead today to really think about anything but soccer...and this (via Chrisafer), which may be the funniest thing I've seen in months.
Also, it seems that your gut bacteria populations could contribute to obesity, and the AMA has made what seems like a well-intentioned but poorly thought-out proclamation that health insurance should be mandatory. They don't talk about how people should be able to pay for it, but that's not their job I guess.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Also famously not good for us (except from a distance) is ozone, an unstable gas not only found (less and less?) in the upper atmosphere but also produced by cars and photocopiers, is a major component of smog. And, it seems, it may be even more harmful to our health: researchers have found that ozone reacts with cholesterol in the blood to increase atherosclerosis, leading to heart disease.
Unlike ozone and trans-fats, folic acid is good for you; women should be especially sure to get plenty of it, as a deficiency early in pregnancy can lead to spina biffida and other birth defects. For the rest of us, it now seems that folic acid may in fact help prevent against throat cancer. Too much, however, may speed its progression.
Finally, the fight against Alzheimer's Disease may be getting a big boost from an unexpected source: some forms of the sugar, inositol, have been found effective in both preventing and clearing beta-amyloid plaque formations in mouse models of the disease, improving outcomes and survival significantly. Phase I human trials are now underway, and hopefully will lead to an effective (and cheap!) way to combat this disease.
Monday, June 12, 2006
UPDATE: I need to find a way to watch each match while (a) working out, and (b) being outside in the beautiful weather. Suggestions?
Friday, June 09, 2006
This is great news for many patients, but also for the
* Yes, Mr. Chertoff, that really is my photo!.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
And Ketek is in more trouble: an FDA official has called for a halt in a trial of the antibiotic for ear infections in children, since these infections usually are not severe, and the drug is linked to so many serious side effects. The FDA will consider this idea, which seems like a total no-brainer. Ketek was approved in 2004 under very dubious circumstances, and one can only suspect that there is a very strong political influence pushing its continued use.
Drinking a glass of orange or grapefruit juice every morning may help prevent osteoporosis, according to a Texas study. The study was small, including only 36 rats, but seems to have been well executed, and follow-ups are in the works. I'll be very interested to see how this comes out.
Another fruit getting a boost today is gardenia, used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat the symptoms of diabetes. Genipin, a component of gardenia extract, stimulates insulin secretion from pancreatic cells, via uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2), lighting the way for many potential new treatments for the disease. Cool! Another line of research suggests the protein GCN5 as another potential target against diabetes.
In further good disease-fighting news, US researchers may be near to finding a new and potentially more effective HIV treatment. The compound, PA-457, seems to interfere with the virus' capsid protein formation, leaving its RNA exposed to immune system attacks. Which could be really fantastic, if it works.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Also, it appears that parents who drive a truck or minivan are much more likely to run over their kids.
Figs are tasty. So tasty, it seems, that they may have inspired the agricultural revolution: archeobotanists have found evidence that figs were cultivated by humans some 1000 years before other crops - some 11,400 years ago. That's really pretty cool.
On the other side of things, it seems that the hopefully-soon-to-be-FDA-approved HPV vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer-causing strains, seems also to protect against vaginal and vulvar cancers. Aside from being really cool and good news in general, this will also hopefully make it harder for the FDA to justify bowing to political pressure to reject the vaccine.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Wisconsin chemists have identified a new species of iron VI, which binds nitrogen, and is different from ferrate (iron VI plus oxygen). This is pretty cool. Also in cool chemistry news, researchers have found that Han purple, a 2000-year-old dye pigment - chemically BaCuSi206, undergoes some really cool transformations at low temperatures. It shifts from three dimensions to two. Weird.
Saying "not for kids" is, of course, the surest way you can guarantee kids wanting it. A Swiss scientist has published a review article indicating that anti-smoking laws for minors are almost totally ineffective. Surprise surprise, kids find ways around them, just as they do parents' curfews and gun-hiding techniques. The review doesn't really offer anything that shouldn't be obvious to anyone who thinks about it, but I suppose it'd be nice to think that some science could inspire some more sensible approaches to be developed.
US and Japanese researchers have found that compulsive addiction behaviors seem to stem more from aversion to withdrawal than from pleasure-seeking motives. This is, of course, obvious to anyone who's ever had a