December 19, 2014
Health Roundup: Ibuprofen, breakthroughs, depression and more
Surgical Tool Gets Strongest Warning Morcellator Used in Hysterectomies Can Spread Undetected Cancer, FDA Says.
To those with a headache, it already works miracles. But ibuprofen could also hold the key to a long and healthy life. In a series of experiments, the popular painkiller extended the life of yeast, worms and flies by around 15 per cent. What is more, the extra years were healthy ones. In human terms, this would equate to an extra 12 years of good quality life. Put another way, people would be in good health for longer.
It is not clear exactly how the drug slowed down aging, but it appears to be something to do with it stopping cells taking up tryptophan, a compound found in eggs and chocolate and turkey.
Other studies have shown that ibuprofen can make your lungs feel younger and keep skin cancer at bay.
New drug, known as intracellular sigma peptide, or ISP, helps damaged nerve cells regenerate, allowing vital messages to be passed to muscles….
Rats with badly damaged spinal cords given drug daily for seven weeks while their ability to walk, balance and control their bladder muscles were monitored. The vast majority of rats got something back in terms of function. Some went from barely moving to being able to walk like healthy creatures. Overall, 21 of the 26 animals improved on the drug – an unparalleled success rate.
Researchers from Saint Louis University in Missouri managed to block a pain pathway in rodents with chronic neuropathic pain. They did this by turning on a receptor, known as A3, in an animal’s brain and spinal cord to counteract intense feelings of discomfort.The technique could one day be used to alleviate suffering of cancer patients. It would be better than current medication because it doesn't have side effects like addiction and increasing tolerance to drugs
The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, a nonprofit think tank that maintains nearly $2.6 billion is needed to get a new drug from the lab to the launchpad.
Bleaching your teeth more often than is recommended can erode tooth enamel permanently. It can also lead to receding gums, painful hypersensitivity and mushy teeth.
Depression should be re-defined as an infectious disease rather than an emotional disorder, argues one scientist, Dr. Turhan Canli, of Stony Brook University. 'It is time for an entirely different approach," he writes in the journal Biology of Mood and Anxiety Disorders.
The condition could result from a parasitic, bacterial or viral infection and future research into the condition should search for these micro-organisms, he argues If his theory is true, he hopes a vaccination to protect against depression could be developed in future.
There is a link between excessive sun exposure and melanoma, the form of skin cancer that carries a high risk of death. But the link is not clear cut. Melanoma occurs in the mouth, the anus and on the soles of the feet, areas that get little or no sun, as well as on the face, which may get a lot. So the relationship with the sun is not obvious. And despite what dermatologists tell us, the evidence shows that in the UK people are less likely to get melanoma if they spend weekends mostly outdoors, where they inevitably get more sun exposure.
Health Roundup: Food and Diet Edition
Why Exercise. Could you BREATHE away those excess pounds? 80% of fat leaves the body via the lungs, say experts (so the more you exercise the better)
More than 80% of body fat leaves the body through breathing out. Human fat cells store triglyceride, made up of three atoms: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen To shed fat, you have to break down the atoms in triglyceride via oxidation. When 10kg of fat is oxidized, 8.4kg leaves the body as CO2 via the lungs
Overweight A Lack of Bacteria Can Make You Overweight Genetics and Microbes in Your Gastrointestinal Tract Offer Clues to Metabolism and Obesity. Researchers at Cornell University have identified a family of microbes called Christensenellaceae that appear to help people stay lean—and having an abundance of them, or not, is strongly genetic.
Don't bother counting calories… it's the type of food that matters: Items high in fat may actually be good at keeping the weight off High-fat nuts, olive oil, fish and full-fat milk could help keep you slim. And supposedly healthy low-fat foods may be the real diet villains. Expert says focusing on calories may 'mislead and harm public health'
Authority Nutrition 9 Lies About Fat That Destroyed The World's Health
1. Back in 60s and 70s, many prominent scientists believed that saturated fat was the main cause of heart disease, by raising the "bad" cholesterol in the blood. This idea was the cornerstone of the low-fat diet. Because of a few bad studies and misguided political decisions, this diet was recommended to all Americans in the year 1977. However, there wasn't a single study on this diet at the time. The American public became participants in the largest uncontrolled experiment in history.
This experiment didn't turn out very well and we are still suffering the consequences. This graph (at link ) shows how the obesity epidemic started at almost the exact same time the low-fat guidelines came out.
A few years ago, Dr Unwin began to suspect that the advice favoring complex "high–carbohydrate foods" such as wholemeal bread, pasta and rice might have the reverse effect to that intended, by acting to increase the blood sugar level in those with diabetes. Accordingly, he proposed that all the patients in his practice who had been newly identified as having type 2, or "pre–", diabetes should adopt a high–fat diet.
The results, published in the journal Practical Diabetes, are truly astonishing – an average weight loss of 9kg with a reduction in waist circumference from 120cm to 105cm. There was also a striking improvement in both their blood sugar levels, with only two still in the abnormal range. Seven patients were able to come off their medication.Their blood pressure also improved and the average cholesterol reading fell from 5.5 to 4.7 – seeming to disprove the persistent rhetoric of the past 20 years implicating "high–fat" foods as a cause of raised cholesterol.
Harvard Stem Cell Institute at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital have identified two compounds that can turn white or 'bad' fat cells into brown 'good' fat cells in the body. They believe they have made a breakthrough in the battle against the bulge. They said the discovery could be 'the first step towards a pill that can replace the treadmill'.
When a person eats too many calories without burning them off, they are stored as white fat cells by adult stem cells. That is what causes people to pile on the pounds. The new study found two small molecules that convert fat stem cells, which would normally produce white fat, into brown-like fat cells. These brown fat cells burn excess energy and subsequently reduce the size and numbers of white fat cells.
One of the two molecules is already approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis, but scientists warned a pill is some way off. They warned the compounds could damage the immune system.
December 18, 2014
Passwords: the secret life and body parts
In the New York Times Magazine several weeks ago was a fascinating article The Secret Life of Passwords
by Ian Urbina. We despise them – yet we imbue them with our hopes and dreams, our dearest memories, our deepest meanings. They unlock much more than our accounts.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO I began asking my friends and family to tell me their passwords. I had come to believe that these tiny personalized codes get a bum rap. Yes, I understand why passwords are universally despised: the strains they put on our memory, the endless demand to update them, their sheer number. I hate them, too. But there is more to passwords than their annoyance. In our authorship of them, in the fact that we construct them so that we (and only we) will remember them, they take on secret lives. Many of our passwords are suffused with pathos, mischief, sometimes even poetry. Often they have rich back stories. A motivational mantra, a swipe at the boss, a hidden shrine to a lost love, an inside joke with ourselves, a defining emotional scar — these keepsake passwords, as I came to call them, are like tchotchkes of our inner lives. They derive from anything: Scripture, horoscopes, nicknames, lyrics, book passages. Like a tattoo on a private part of the body, they tend to be intimate, compact and expressive.
There was the former prisoner whose password includes what used to be his inmate identification number (“a reminder not to go back”); the fallen-away Catholic whose passwords incorporate the Virgin Mary (“it’s secretly calming”); the childless 45-year-old whose password is the name of the baby boy she lost in utero (“my way of trying to keep him alive, I guess”).
When I described keepsake passwords to Paul Saffo, who teaches engineering at Stanford and writes often about the future of technology, he coined the term “crypto haiku.”
“Keepsake passwords . In our authorship of passwords, in the fact that we construct them so that we (and only we) will remember them, they take on secret lives. Many of our passwords are suffused with pathos, mischief, sometimes even poetry.
On the other hand, we are at the dawn of development in using parts of our bodies as the authenticator for our unique identity instead of passwords.
As usual, Apple leads the way with fingerprint sensors in the newest iPhones and iPads. Now there are companies where the password can be your heartbeat, your iris, the veins on your palm.
Read more at CNN - How your body will be your password.
December 16, 2014
The Total Depravity of the Radical Islamists
A week of radical Islam striking the West began on Monday when a 'known wolf' Islamist terrorist and self-appointed 'Sheik Haron Monis took hostage ordinary citizens going out for coffee in the Lindt cafe in Sydney. After 17 hours, he was killed when the Sydney police stormed the cafe. So were the hostages cafe manager Tori Johnson and barrister Katrina Dawson and both were killed as they tried to protect others: Katrina was killed trying to defend her pregnant colleague and Tori, after seizing the terrorist's shotgun, it went off killing him, triggering the police to storm the cafe before the terrorist set off his suicide bomb thus allowing others to escape.
Monday's Sydney cafe attack is a reminder, as if we needed one, that radical Islam continues its lethal war on Western civilization. It remains critical for the West to get rid of this plague…..The flag of radical Islam enables lone-wolf lunatics like Haron to justify their attacks — and thus fuels them. And the attacks are growing more common.
Contrary to what you might hear, this isn't about a lone madman acting on insane impulse. It's about how Islamic radicalism continues to find new ways to attack the vulnerable West.
Then Tuesday Children forced to watch their teacher being burnt alive in Taliban massacre at Pakistani school in which up to 130 children were slaughtered .Wearing security uniforms, nine militants entered the school and massacred at least 126 people, mainly children
The International Business Times reports that the Peshawar school attack was the Taliban's 'revenge' for Malala Yousafzai's Nobel Peace Prize
Malala, the youngest ever Nobel Prize winner, was shot by the Pakistani Taliban in 2012 for advocating education for women in Pakistan. She was attacked on a school bus in the Swat valley, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital.
A few days before the Peshawar attack, the Taliban warned that Malala had forged a pact with "Western satanic forces" and the Nobel committee gave their award to her to "promote Western culture and not education".
We also learned this week that ISIS using bombs containing live SCORPIONS in effort to spread panic, in tactic used 2,000 years ago against Romans Canisters packed with poisonous varieties of scorpion are being blasted into towns and villages, which explode on impact - scattering the scorpions and causing panic among the innocent local population.
And they published a book on how to rape slave girls. ISIS publishes shocking guidebook telling fighters how to buy, sell and abuse captured women
Islamic State (IS) has published a shocking guidebook for its fighters on how to rape slave girls – even if they have not reached puberty. The Arabic manual, titled Questions And Answers On Taking Captives And Slaves, instructs IS fighters on how to buy and sell women and girls who have been captured in war as booty. The document, published by the Research and Fatwa Department of IS, gives its fighters the green light to turn captured women into slaves and concubines, and even give them as gifts to one another.
It was circulated on the Twitter accounts of senior IS leaders and on Friday was distributed by masked IS fighters outside a large mosque in Iraq’s second city Mosul, which is controlled by the group.
The document has been obtained by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute and translated into English. British terrorism experts, who have studied the document, have concluded it is genuine.
Remember back in 2011 when a Muslim cleric said that saying 'Merry Christmas' is 'worse than fornication, drinking alcohol and killing someone'? Here he is an the video that's going around again.
And still some people deny the existence of evil.
Why did so many people fall for Rolling Stone's UVA campus rape story?
Glenn Reynolds in USA Today. The great campus rape hoax
Americans have been living through an enormously sensationalized college rape hoax, but as the evidence accumulates it's becoming clear that the entire thing was just a bunch of media hype and political opportunism.
the truth is that there's no epidemic outbreak of college rape. In fact, rape on college campuses is — like rape everywhere else in America — plummeting in frequency. And that 1-in-5 college rape number you keep hearing in the press? It's thoroughly bogus, too. (Even the authors of that study say that "We don't think one in five is a nationally representative statistic," because it sampled only two schools.)
The truth is exactly the opposite. According to the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of rape and sexual assault is lower for college students (at 6.1 per 1,000) than for non-students (7.6 per 1,000). (Note: not 1 in 5). What's more, between 1997 and 2013, rape against women dropped by about 50%, in keeping with a more general drop in violent crime nationally.
This kind of hysteria may be ugly, but for campus activists and bureaucrats it's a source of power: If there's a "campus rape crisis," that means that we need new rules, bigger budgets, and expanded power and self-importance for all involved, with the added advantage of letting you call your political opponents (or anyone who threatens funding) "pro rape." If we focus on the truth, however — rapidly declining rape rates already, without any particular "crisis" programs in place — then voters, taxpayers, and university trustees will probably decide to invest resources elsewhere. So for politicians and activists, a phony crisis beats no crisis.
Even one rape is too many, of course, on or off of campus. But when activists and politicians try to gin up a phony crisis, public trust is likely to be a major casualty. It's almost as if helping actual rape victims is the last thing on these people's minds.
Christina Hoff Sommers, the factual feminist, has a new video Here's Why Rolling Stone's UVA Story Went Viral. NPR implicated.. Public perception about 'rape culture' began to change in 2010 when NPR teamed up with the left-wing Center for Public Integrity to produce a report which described a hidden wave of rape on campus. Sommers calls the report as the 'worst kind of advocacy research' full of anecdotes and misleading statistics' such as the claim that 1 in 5 woman could be expected to be raped on campus. These investigative journalists never thought to investigate what serious researchers and criminologists have exposed as a specious statistic. People who were skeptical of the story were denounced as 'rape apologists'. Sommers said the story was not factual but a male-demonizing gothic fantasy nurtured by several decades of hard-line feminist theory. Rolling Stone is to blame for publishing the story, but It was NPR, the Center for Public Integrity and the U.S. Office of Civil Rights that made it all seem so plausible
Turning the tables
From Gay Patriot Turning the Tables on Wedding Cake Fascists
A Christian group went to thirteen gay-owned bakeries and requested each of them to bake a cake promoting traditional marriage; and of course, recognizing that they were obligated to serve any customer regardless of ideological differences, they happily obliged.
Nope, just kidding. All thirteen not only refused, but some were very nasty about it.
Christian bakeries that refuse to make pro-homosexual marriage cakes are getting sued left, right, and center. They get fined, they get death threats, and they lose their businesses. ….
So Shoebat.com decided to call some 13 prominent pro-gay bakers in a row. Each one denied us service, and even used deviant insults and obscenities against us. One baker even said that she would make me a cookie with a large phallus on it just to insult us because we are Christian. We recorded all of this in a video that will stun the American people as to how militant and intolerant the homosexual bakers were. Even after we completed our experiment we got a ton of hate messages saying that we were “hateful” for simply giving them a taste of their own medicine by asking for a cake with the slogan “Gay Marriage Is Wrong” to be written on the cake.
Video at link
Detroit today UPDATED
The photos taken by pilot and aerial photographer Alex MacLean, and first published in the New York Times, show the empty parking lots in the city bordering rows where only one or two houses are left.
Following the recession in 2008, the metropolitan area was covered in rubble left from demolished homes as the the foundations in between the remaining properties.
Detroit, once the industrial capital of the nation, was voted the most dangerous city in the country in 2012, for the fourth year in a row.
The city ravaged by dwindling blue-collar jobs, the decline of the auto industry and rising unemployment. It has lost more than 200,000 residents in the last decade - and 1.3million since the 1950s - as citizens have fled the blighted city for better-off suburbs with lower crime and better education.
It's now a tiny urban island surrounded by empty lots.
It's also been governed by Democrats for the past 51 years. Arnold Ahlert describes How the Democrats Destroyed Detroit.
In March 2013, the Governor appointed an emergency manager for Detroit, but it was not enough to forestall bankruptcy which Detroit declared in July, 2013. In November of this year, Federal Judge Rhodes approved the city's bankruptcy plan. On December 11, all finances were handed back to the city.
Christmas in an Iraqi refugee camp
It's a level-three emergency - the UN's highest classification of a humanitarian crisis. Over three million Christians have been "displaced", two million of them Iraqis. When ISIS came, they fled their homes without any possessions, even winter clothes, and most of them to Kurdistan.
The autonomous region in Northern Iraq is being pushed to breaking point by sheer number of new settlers
Families are safe, for now, from any immediate danger but dropping temperatures pose another serious threat.
They take refuge in their faith and in the preparations for Christmas.
December 11, 2014
"The press….just doesn't get religion."
In the Federalist, David Marcus writes Seven Things Atheists Get Wrong
In a spectacular and telling failure of journalism MSNBC reported recently that Pope Francis “broke with Catholic tradition” by asserting that the Big Bang theory is real. Instantly, the Internet responded with the name Georges Lemaitre, one of the creators of the Theory of Universal Expansion who also happened to be a Jesuit priest. He is also the first entry on a Google search of “Catholic Big Bang.”
That the MSNBC author did not bother to do one search before making a pronouncement about the faith of a billion people displays abysmal incompetence. But it also reflects very skewed and dangerous ideas about the nature of religion widely held in the media and creative class. As atheist Sam Harris put it in his article “Science Must Destroy Religion”: “the conflict between religion and science is inherent and (very nearly) zero sum.” This confrontational attitude, which is unnecessary and harmful, springs from a slew of misconceptions about religion as a human phenomenon.
1. Religion Is About Morality, Not Creation Myths
2. Religion Is the Foundation of All Morality, Not Merely an Expression of It
3. Religion Was the Foundation of Society, Not an Addition to It
4. Atheists Do Believe
5. Science Can’t Teach Us Right from Wrong
6. Religion Complements Science, It Doesn’t Oppose It
7. Ignorance of Religion Is Ignorance of History, For Atheists and Everyone
This brought to mind GetReligion.org which has as its tagline a quote from an old friend of mine, Bill Schneider, "The press….just doesn't get religion."
Terry Mattingly, the editor of the site, is a journalist who covers religion news. He and other like journalists write about "the holy ghosts" in many mainstream stories which are the "facts and stories and faces linked to the power of religious faith. Now you see them. Now you don’t. In fact, a whole lot of the time you don’t get to see them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there." They are just not explored because regular journalists can't see them or fail to see their importance. He gives examples of such ghosts in What we do, why we do it.
Joseph Epstein wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal called Human Nature and the Fruits of Faith in which he tells atheists and agnostics, "Forget dogma—living a richer, fuller life is the true goal of religion."
He focused on William James, the Harvard professor and brother of Henry James and what he said about the nature of religion.
In his Gifford Lectures, James decided to exclude religious institutions or religion in its institutional settings. He chose not to argue, or even discuss, theology. He set aside the question of immortality, which he wrote about elsewhere in an essay called "Human Immortality" (1897), where he concluded that it would be "blindness" to rule it out as a possibility. He concentrated instead on the effect of religion on the individual, of its stirrings in the human heart….
James remarks that "it makes a tremendous emotional and practical difference to one whether one accept the universe in the drab discolored way of stoic resignation, or with the passionate happiness of Christian saints." Religious sentiment, he asserts, "makes our highest happiness. Wonderful is its power to charm and to command. It is a mountain air…It makes the sky and hills sublime, and the silent song of the stars is it."
The love of life, at any and every level of development, is the religious impulse."
There was a time when things got done
FROM THE COMMENTS OVER AT ACE’S some Pearl Harbor Day thoughts.
During the 3-½ years of World War 2 that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and ended with the Surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, “We the People of the U.S.A.” produced the following:
22 aircraft carriers,
420 destroyer escorts,
34 million tons of merchant ships,
100,000 fighter aircraft,
24,000 transport aircraft,
58,000 training aircraft,
257,000 artillery pieces,
3,000,000 machine guns, and
2,500,000 military trucks.
We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb, and ultimately conquered Japan and Germany.
It’s worth noting, that during the almost exact amount of time, the Obama Administration couldn’t even build a web site that worked.
I was really glad to read What if I Told You That Vehicles Don’t Have Blind Spots? via Lifehacker
I was taught a simple way to set my mirrors correctly and I’ll pass it on to everyone here. Sit inside your vehicle on level ground, while keeping your head level and looking forward. Now, lean to your left until your shoulder touches the inside of your door and then keep leaning until your head touches your window.
This may seem awkward, but stick with me. In this leaned over position to your left, now look into your mirror and adjust it to the normal picture you’re used to, picking up a small amount of your door. When you return to center you shouldn’t see the side of your car at all in the mirror. Now, lean your body and head over to your right, just above the center console and set the right side mirror to display what you saw in your left mirror while you were leaned over.
December 9, 2014
In Praise of Melancholy
From last week's Brain Pickings, Maria Popova examines the importance of melancholy
[T]e modern happiness industrial complex seems bent on eradicating this dark, uncomfortable, but creatively vitalizing state — something Eric G. Wilson explores with great subtlety and wisdom in Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy .
I can now add another threat, perhaps as dangerous as the most apocalyptic of concerns. We are possibly not far away from eradicating a major cultural force, a serious inspiration to invention, the muse behind much art and poetry and music. We are wantonly hankering to rid the world of numerous ideas and visions, multitudinous innovations and meditations. We are right at this moment annihilating melancholia.
Considering what lies behind our desire to eradicate sadness from our lives, Wilson admonishes that our obsession with happiness – something he considers a decidedly American export – "could well lead to a sudden extinction of the creative impulse."
To be clear, I myself am deeply opposed to the Tortured Genius myth of creativity. But I am also of the firm conviction that access to the full spectrum of human experience and the whole psycho-emotional range of our inner lives – high and low, light and darkness – is what makes us complete individuals and enables us to create rich, dimensional, meaningful work.
It is important, then, not to mistake Wilson's point for romanticizing melancholy and glorifying malaise for its own sake – rather, he cautions against the artificial and rather oppressive distortion of our inner lives as we forcibly excise sadness and inflate happiness. He writes:
I for one am afraid that our American culture’s overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am wary in the face of this possibility: to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations. I am finally fearful over our society’s efforts to expunge melancholia from the system. Without the agitations of the soul, would all of our magnificently yearning towers topple? Would our heart-torn symphonies cease?
He is especially careful to delineate between the creatively productive state of melancholy and the soul-wrecking pathology of clinical depression:
There is a fine line between what I’m calling melancholia and what society calls depression. In my mind, what separates the two is degree of activity. Both forms are more or less chronic sadness that leads to ongoing unease with how things are – persistent feelings that the world as it is is not quite right, that it is a place of suffering, stupidity, and evil. Depression (as I see it, at least) causes apathy in the face of this unease, lethargy approaching total paralysis, an inability to feel much of anything one way or another. In contrast, melancholia (in my eyes) generates a deep feeling in regard to this same anxiety, a turbulence of heart that results in an active questioning of the status quo, a perpetual longing to create new ways of being and seeing.
Our culture seems to confuse these two and thus treat melancholia as an aberrant state, a vile threat to our pervasive notions of happiness – happiness as immediate gratification, happiness as superficial comfort, happiness as static contentment.
December 5, 2014
Word soon got out and detectives from all over the country flooded the office with requests. Before long, the Vidocq Society upped its meeting schedule from four times a year to nine. Today, the 82 chartered members hail from all areas of the crime-solving trade. There are DNA specialists, experts on cults, psychoanalysts, Naval Intelligence men, polygraphers, and long-retired FBI special agents. They convene every month, except July, August, and December—even veteran sleuths need a vacation—in the upper reaches of the Union League, a stately old building in the heart of Philadelphia. And at each meeting, over a lavish multi-course meal, they hear the details of a single unsolved case.
From DeMilked, 23 Breathtaking Ice and Snow Formations like these Baikal Ice Emeralds
An amazing video if you want to know What Sound Looks Like
An Hungarian art historian was watching a Christmas movie with his daughter when what did he see but a long lost Hungarian masterpiece in the background in a scene of the movie Stuart Little. Researcher spots Sleeping Lady with Black Vase by Robert Bereny being used as a prop in Hollywood children’s movie
Artist Sacha Goldberg delights with Portraits of Superheroes in Flemish Style