April 20, 2018

Miscellany #95

Did a Typo Help End World War II?  It certainly helped.
The mistake led to a moss specialist being deposited into one of the most intense covert operations of the war.

Perfect Diamonds Can be Made in a Microwave

These artificial diamonds are nothing like those cheap, lab-grown imitation diamonds, such as cubic zirconia - they have the exact same physical structure and chemical composition as a diamond that's been pulled out of the ground.

You had one job

 Hilarious Tile

Scientists Have Accidentally Created a Mutant Enzyme That Eats Plastic Waste

They found the first ones in Japan in 2016. Hidden in the soil at a plastics recycling plant, researchers unearthed a microbe that had evolved to eat the soda bottles dominating its habitat, after you and I throw them away. While examining how the Japanese bug breaks down plastic, scientists accidentally created a mutant enzyme that outperforms the natural bacteria, and further tweaks could offer a vital solution to humanity's colossal plastics problem. 

That problem is highly localized 95% of plastic polluting the world's oceans comes from just TEN rivers

The top 10 rivers - eight of which are in Asia - accounted for so much plastic because of the mismanagement of waste. About five trillion pounds is floating in the sea, and targeting the major sources - such as the Yangtze and the Ganges - could almost halve it, scientists claim....More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. While China is responsible for 2.4 million tons of plastic that makes its way into the ocean, nearly 28 percent of the world total, the United States contributes just 77,000 tons, which is less than one percent, according to the study published in the journal Science. The U.S. and Europe are not mismanaging their collected waste, so the plastic trash coming from those countries is due to litter, researchers said.

The 'Indonesian fish people'

 Indonesian Fish People

The 'Indonesian fish people', who can dive 230ft and hold their breath for 13 minutes underwater, are members of the Bajau tribe who have wandered the seas of southern Asia for more than 1000 years.  Turns out they have a genetic anomaly, PDE10A, that causes their spleens to be 50% larger that their land-dwelling neighbors, the Saluan.  The evidence showed that Bajau spleens were permanently enlarged, and did not get bigger simply as a response to diving.

These Flames Are KFC's Hong Kong ad for "Hot & Spicy Chicken


True story. British Airways Flight 9 and its captain, a master of understatement.

On a scheduled British Airways flight from London's Heathrow to Auckland on June 24, 1982, the 747 aircraft flew into a cloud of volcanic ash thrown up by the eruption of Mount Galunggung (approximately 110 miles south-east of Jakarta, Indonesia), resulting in the failure of all four engines.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress."

The reason for the failure was not immediately apparent to the crew or air traffic control. The aircraft was diverted to Jakarta in the hope that enough engines could be restarted to allow it to land there. The aircraft glided out of the ash cloud, and all engines were restarted (although one failed again soon after), allowing the aircraft to land safely at the Jakarta airport.

Was Queen Victoria a drug addict?

The contents of Queen Victoria’s medicine cabinet are eyebrow raising to put it mildly. There was obviously opium, sold as a painkiller. But then we also find that Victorian favourite, Laudanum. This was a tonic consisting of opium dissolved in alcohol. One swig and one was ready to perform one’s public duties!  To pep herself up, Her Majesty had chewing gum infused with cocaine. She was very fond of this treat. So much so that she even shared some Charlie laced chewies with a young Winston Churchill when he came to stay at Balmoral, her Scottish estate.  Menstrual cramps were eased with marijuana. ...And as for labour pains during her many pregnancies, Victoria reached for the chloroform, which she said was “delightful beyond measure”

Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski  illustrates the absurdity of our everyday lives

-Satirical-Illustrations-Polish-Pawel-Kuczynski-13-5Abb45Db8D50B  700

Drunk Tourist Accidentally Climbs Mountain While Trying To Get Back To His Hotel

An Estonian tourist known as Pavel, had one too many drinks at Cervinia Resort in the Italian Alps when he decided to call it a night and head back to his hotel. Unfortunately, he took a wrong turn and began heading up the mountainside....At some point between 2 and 3 am, Pavel finally realized that he had made a mistake, but through sheer luck he stumbled across Igloo, a restaurant and bar that was closed for the night. He broke in to seek shelter.

In the New Yorker,  Where the Amish Go on Vacation in Florida

Earrings, usually forbidden, can be seen glittering from beneath white bonnets, and houses are outfitted with satellite dishes. Horses and buggies are nowhere to be seen, but adult-sized tricycles abound. Swimming, volleyball, and shuffleboard are encouraged; ice-cream cones are a nightly ritual.

Carrots were purple, yellow and white until the 1600s, when Dutch Farmers crossbred them creating Orange

 Rainbow Carrots

William the Silent, Prince of Orange, was a leader of the Dutch War for Independence against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) led to an independent Dutch state. It become a monarchy in 1815 under the House of Orange.  Orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family and the color orange has come to symbolize the country, and to signify national pride.


The House of Orange has long had the reputation of being one of the wealthier royal houses in the world, largely due to their business investments. They are rumored to have a large stake in Royal Dutch Shell. Other significant shares are supposed to be in the Philips Electronics company (known in the Netherlands as Royal Philips), KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines, and the Holland-America Line (a cruise ship company)

See Yourself As You Truly Are in This Mysterious Metal Mirror

For over 500 years, Indian artisans  in Aranmula, Kerala, have used a mysterious alloy, a secret passed down over generations to create the metal mirrors called "Aranmula kannadi".  The uniqueness of the Aranmula kannadi is that it is front-reflecting, unlike plane glass mirrors where reflection takes place on the back surface of the glass, where the reflective coating is applied. In plane mirrors, light travels through the glass and back, so it gets refracted and changes direction.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:16 PM | Permalink
Categories: Miscellany

April 17, 2018

10 Things Teachers DID NOT Have to Deal With 10 Years Ago

Jeremy S. Adams, a recipient of numerous teaching and writing honors, writes "There is a raw and amorphous anxiety creeping into the psyche of the corps of American teachers."

10 Things Teachers DID NOT Have to Deal With 10 Years Ago 

#1: The Inability to Punish Students... A hodge-podge of policies and euphemisms—restorative justice, social-emotional learning, banning punitive actions for defiant and vulgar students—has resulted in a toxic situation where many teachers feel they are no longer in control of their own classrooms and schools......

#2: Cell Phone Addiction...The correlation between cell phone addiction and youth levels of depression, isolation, anxiety and low academic performance is beyond question.

#3: Online Bullying....One in three children have been threatened online and most distressing of all, half of all children who are bullied fail to tell any adults about it. It is not hyperbole or embellishment to state that young people live much of their lives in a cyberspace unregulated by adults.

#4: Pep Rallies for Standardized Testing

#5:  Constant Student Anxiety ... Instead of seeking counseling, taking a walk, or spending time with friends or family, the modern teen often finds solace in an online world that perpetuates this cycle of anxiety and isolation.

#6: Fear of School Shootings and Lock-Downs

#7:  Heroine, Opioid Epidemics:

#8: Politicized Schools... From transgender bathrooms to guns and second amendment discussions, schools are now at the intersection of division and discord. American education has always been a “political issue,” but that is a qualitatively different status than being the place where schisms about the culture manifest themselves.

#9: Era of “feelings” where students are never wrong .... A student will “feel” like a test is unfair, will “feel” like a fact is not true, will “feel” like a teacher who is simply trying to modify a behavior is being “disrespectful” to them. In an era that no longer views reason and fact as tribunals of truth, it can be difficult to explain to students that they have a right to feel anyway they want but their feelings does not excuse behavior that is disruptive or harmful to themselves or those around them.

#10: Naked Utilitarianism in Education  Policy-makers absolutely never talk about education through any lens except as an exercise in early-job training. While education does prepare one for the workplace, it should also prepare students on a deeper and more human level. Our students will be more than workers in the future—they will be citizens, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, friends and confidants. They must be able to think, communicate, cooperate, and be reflective about the many conundrums of being a human being in the world, figuring out how to live what scholar Leon Kass labels the ability to lead “a worthy life.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:29 PM | Permalink
Categories: Education

Health Roundup - Cancer Edition: Lung, breast, prostate, colorectal and pediatric cancer

Dual attack with two existing drugs destroys lung cancer

Breaking research concludes that the use of two existing drugs could successfully treat certain lung cancers. The study delves deep into the molecular survival kit of lung tumors.  Lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, responsible for almost 160,000 deaths each year.  ......Using their new model, the scientists demonstrated that by suppressing the two adaptor proteins, insulin/IGF-1 signaling is blocked and lung tumors are significantly suppressed.  Senior study author Nada Kalaany, Ph.D, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School said,"Almost all animals in this lung cancer model typically die within 15 weeks of KRAS activation.  But the ones that lost both Irs1 and Irs2 were completely fine — we saw almost no tumors at 10 to 15 weeks." This finding is important because drugs that block insulin/IGF-1 signaling are already in use and freely available.

New immunotherapy drug becomes first ever to DOUBLE survival in lung cancer patients

Merck's Keytruda, offered with chemo, cut lung cancer patients' risk of dying in half compared to just chemotherapy. It is the first time an immunotherapy treatment has had such stark results. The treatment only worked for half the patients, but that is better than chemo's results with this type of cancer.

New cancer drug 93 percent effective with pediatric patients

The results of a clinical trial of the drug larotrectinib, which had a 75 percent success rate in a previous clinical trial with adults, have been called "unprecedented" by researchers. Larotrectinib is the first cancer drug to receive Food and Drug Administration breakthrough therapy designation for patients with a specific fusion of two genes in the cancer cell regardless of the type of cancer.

Dr. Ted Laetsch, an assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study, said,
"In some cancers, a part of the TRK gene has become attached to another gene, which is called a fusion. "When this occurs, it leads to the TRK gene being turned on when it's not supposed to be and that causes the cells to grow uncontrollably. What's unique about the drug is it is very selective; it only blocks TRK receptors."  These TRK fusions occur in a few common adult cancers, but they appear frequently in rare pediatric cancers, including infantile fibrosarcoma, cellular congenital mesoblastic nephroma and papillary thyroid cancer.

Breast cancer removal surgery could cause tumors to SPREAD - but it could be prevented with aspirin, study finds

An MIT study of mice has found a link between the healing process after breast cancer tumor removal and the spread of cancer cells. One in four women who have a lumpectomy or mastectomy will experience a cancer relapse. Anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin were found to stop the spread of cancer cells during recovery

Prostate cancer breakthrough: Patients could be treated with drugs currently used for breast, ovarian and skin cancer, study reveals

A study led by the Institute of Cancer Research in London have discovered 80 proteins which trigger prostate cancer and cause it to spread which could be stopped by a single daily pill....An international team of scientists analyzed the DNA of 930 men with prostate cancer, and examined the tumors of 112 British cancer patients. The proteins discovered are produced by 73 genetic mutations.  ...Genetic mutations create faulty proteins which cause cancer in different ways. These proteins trigger cancer by forcing cells to divide too fast, making mistakes as they are copied which lead to tumors. They can also prevent the body's natural DNA repair which is vital to stop cancer spreading through the body. Currently there are just seven drugs available to block two proteins which cause prostate cancer.
Simon Grieveson, head of research funding at Prostate Cancer UK, said: 'We currently have a one-size-fits-all approach to treating prostate cancer even though every man's cancer is unique. "By better understanding the genetic make-up of an individual's cancer, it may be possible to more accurately predict how it will behave and the best way to treat it, creating a more precise approach to treating that man's prostate cancer."

Viagra as a Preventative Against  Colorectal Cancer

Researchers studying the effects of Viagra (aka sildenafil) on mice have discovered a small, daily dose of the medication in the animals' drinking water significantly reduces their risk of developing colorectal cancer.  That dose halved the formation of polyps in mouse tissue: abnormal clumps of cells that form on intestinal lining, which have a tendency to become tumors.  The next step the team  wants to pursue is  a clinical trial with patients considered at high risk of colorectal cancer or with a family history of the disease.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:13 PM | Permalink
Categories: Health

‘I was a teacher for 17 years, but I couldn’t read or write’

A remarkable story from the BBC  ‘I was a teacher for 17 years, but I couldn’t read or write’

John Corcoran grew up in New Mexico in the US during the 1940s and 50s. One of six siblings, he graduated from high school, went on to university, and became a teacher in the 1960s - a job he held for 17 years. But, as he explains here, he hid an extraordinary secret...."Why didn't I ask for help? Because I didn't believe there was anybody out there who could teach me to read. This was my secret and I guarded that secret."
I was 47 going on 48 when I saw Barbara Bush - then Second Lady of the US - talking about adult literacy on TV. It was her special cause. I'd never heard anybody talking about adult literacy before, I thought I was the only person in the world that was in the situation I was in.
I was at this desperate spot in my life. I wanted to tell somebody and I wanted to get help and one day in the grocery store I was standing in line and there were two women in front of me talking about their adult brother who was going to the library. He was learning to read and they were just full of joy and I couldn't believe it. So one Friday afternoon in my pinstriped suit I walked into the library and asked to see the director of the literacy program and I sat down with her and I told her I couldn't read. That was the second person in my adult life that I had ever told.

I had a volunteer tutor - she was 65 years old. She wasn't a teacher, she was just somebody who loved to read and didn't think anybody should go through life without knowing how to. 

She got me to about sixth-grade-level reading - I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. But it took me about seven years to feel like I was a literate person. I cried, I cried, and I cried after I started learning to read - there was a lot of pain and a lot of frustration - but it filled a big hole in my soul. Adults who can't read are suspended in their childhoods, emotionally, psychologically, academically, spiritually. We haven't grown up yet.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:13 PM | Permalink
Categories: Education | Categories: Personal Development

Health Roundup - Food Edition: Coffee, bread, low-fat dairy, cheese and pizza, and peanut allergies

Three cups of coffee a day lowers heart attack and stroke risk

A study of more than 340,000 people found evidence that both tea and coffee may  protect against common heart rhythm disturbances.  The new American College of Cardiology review of studies debunks long-held beliefs that the stimulant effects of caffeine are dangerous to heart health.. Caffeine counteracts a key chemical to the most common type of heart arrhythmia.  Healthy antioxidants in caffeine are probably behind the phenomenon, said cardiologist Dr Peter Kistler, who led the new study and is director of the Alfred Hospital and Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. His team showed caffeine protected against both atrial fibrillation (AF) and ventricular arrhythmia (VA).

Frozen Yogurt, Low-Fat Dairy Products Linked To Parkinson’s, Study Finds

Researchers from Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health say that having three or more servings of low-fat dairy products a day boosts Parkinson’s risk more than a daily single serving. Similarly, a person who consumes one serving of low-fat dairy daily is more likely to develop the disease than someone who consumes one serving in a week....The authors reached their conclusion after examining a massive amount of data from a span of about 25 years. Dietary surveys and health information from more than 80,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 48,000 men from the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study were used....

Of course, the authors point out that while frequent consumption of low-fair dairy might boost the odds of Parkinson’s, the overall chances of a person developing the disease were still tremendously low. Just 1 percent of the nearly 6,000 people in the study who consumed at least three servings of low-fat dairy products daily wound up developing Parkinson’s, compared to 0.6 percent of the nearly 78,000 who reported having less than one serving a day.

Cheese, pizza and lasagne protect MEN from brittle bones as they age - but not women

A Harvard study of 2,600 people found men over 50 who consumed the most cheese, milk and yogurt had stronger spines and hips. Cheese had the strongest effect of all dairy products - whether eaten on its own or as part of a dish like pizza or lasagne. Women did not get a boost from dairy, apart from a small benefit if they ate lots of cream.

Whole-Grain Isn’t Better Than White, and More Bread Myths Busted By Science

Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO, food scientist and founder of The Cooking Lab, was so curious about the foodstuff that he co-authored “Modernist Bread,” a five-volume, more than 2,000-page mini-encyclopedia on the craft and science of making bread.  It turns out that we can’t absorb all of the nutrients touted in whole grains. “The primary difference between whole and refined grains is wheat bran, which mostly consists of fiber that largely passes undigested through the intestines,” says Myhrvold. “In particular, a set of compounds in bran called phytates have a strong ability to block nutrients like iron from being absorbed.”

Other findings:

  • Kneading Isn’t Necessary
  • Rye Bread in the U.S. Isn't True Rye Bread -  it's just wheat bread flavored with a little rye
  • Bread Should NEVER Go in the Fridge - low temps in the fridge can actually make bread go stale faster
  • Bread Doesn’t Have to Be Baked - “Almost any kind of dough can be cooked in a steamer [or any device that traps steam around the bread, like a dutch oven or pressure cooker], and the results are surprisingly delicious.”

Melt-Resistant Ice Cream Is Here

Using Banana Extract, Scientists Concoct Breakthrough Recipe.  Not only are researchers saying their new concoction will last longer, but it’s creamier and potentially even healthier than your typical frozen treat.  “Our findings suggest that cellulose nanofibers extracted from banana waste could help improve ice cream in several ways,” explains Gallego in an American Chemical Society media release. “In particular, the fibers could lead to the development of a thicker and more palatable dessert, which would take longer to melt. As a result, this would allow for a more relaxing and enjoyable experience with the food, especially in warm weather.”

Well-done meat may be bad for your blood pressure

People who like their steak well-done instead of rare might face a slightly increased risk of high blood pressure, a preliminary study suggests. The study, of more than 100,000 U.S. adults, found the odds of high blood pressure were a bit higher among people who liked their meat grilled, broiled or roasted, versus those who favored more temperate cooking methods. The same was true of people who were partial to well-done meat. Compared with fans of rarer meat, they were 15 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure over 12 to 16 years.  Research suggests that cooking to the point of "charring" is the main issue, said Linda Van Horn, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association who was not involved in the study. The process produces chemicals that are not normally present in the body.  The findings do not prove cause and effect, researchers said.

Baby wet wipes 'cause food allergy', new study warns

They suggest that an increasing failure by parents to rinse away soap after washing their babies is contributing to the rise in childhood food allergies. The top layer of skin is made of lipids, types of fat, which can be disrupted by soap and soapy chemicals in wipes, the team at Northwestern University found. If a child already carries genes which predisposes them to altered skin absorbency, contact with these chemicals can then heighten risk that comes with exposure to food allergens.

A cure for peanut allergies?

New powder capsules protected 67% of children from reactions - paving the way to FDA approval. New research suggests daily doses of peanut powder could prevent the allergy. Aimmune Therapeutics' treatment could soon hit the market. They collected data from nearly 500 children with severe allergic reactions. They found 67 percent of kids who consumed the peanut powder were able to tolerate roughly 2 peanuts after a year.

In the pipeline. Scientists create a vaccine that can protect against peanut allergies

Trials on mice have proven that it works - as researchers found the rodents given it were protected from an allergic reaction.  The experiment, led by researchers at the University of Michigan, could lead to investigations conducted on humans with peanut allergies.  Dr O'Konek, from the university's Food Allergy Center, said: 'We're changing the way the immune cells respond upon exposure to allergens. Importantly, we can do this after allergy is established, which provides for potential therapy of allergies in humans.

Peanut allergies have surged by 445 per cent in the last 10 years, according to an analysis of private health insurance claims by FAIRHealth.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:55 AM | Permalink
Categories: Health

April 10, 2018

Health Roundup - Alzheimer's Edition

US doctors to be given new definition of Alzheimer's based on biology - not symptoms - which could help spot the disease years earlier

The new framework was released today by the National Institute on Aging that focuses on measurable changes in the brain that set Alzheimer's apart from dementia. Under the proposed research framework, Alzheimer's would be characterized by three factors: evidence of two abnormal proteins associated with Alzheimer's - beta amyloid and tau - and evidence of neurodegeneration or nerve cell death, all of which can be seen through brain imaging or tests of cerebral spinal fluid. It also incorporates measures of severity using biomarkers and a grading system for cognitive impairment. The move will allow doctors to test drugs on people before symptoms show.

Alzheimer's gene has been neutralized in human brain cells for the first time, paving the way for a new treatment

Scientists 'turned off' protein associated with the dementia apoE4 gene. That gene damages nerve cells, with one copy doubling a person's Alzheimer's risk and having two apoE4 copies raises an individual's risk of the disease by 12 times. Researchers warn therapies that are successful in the lab may fail in patients.

This comes after award-winning scientists predicted Alzheimer's will be as manageable as HIV within 10 years. Future dementia treatments will be taken before the condition develops to prevent symptoms rather than attempting to reverse them, according to Professor Michel Goedert, who was involved in discovering the importance of protein plaques in Alzheimer's onset. Professor Goedert, from the University of Cambridge, added: 'Alzheimer's will become something like HIV. 'It's still there but it has been contained or whittled down by drug treatments. It will disappear as a major problem from society.'

Professor Goedert believes drugs under investigation for Alzheimer's often fail due to them being taken too late into the disease's progression. His colleague Professor Bart De Strooper of University College London, with whom he shares the four-million euro Brain Prize money, added: 'The mistakes we have made is the trials is that treatment has been given too late. It's like popping a statin to stop a heart attack."

Absence of a key chemical in the brain, responsible for feeding memory, could be used as an early test for Alzheimer's

The absence of a certain chemical in the brain could be used as an early Alzheimer's test, new research suggests. Dopamine, which regulates movement, 'feeds' a region of the brain responsible for storing memories, known as the hippocampus. When the number of cells producing dopamine reduce, people's memories and abilities to learn new information suffers, which may put them at risk of dementia, according to researchers.  Critics argue further research is required to determine such a test's potential.

Scientists successfully remove Alzheimer's from mice

Certain antibodies may be able to remove Alzheimer’s plaques from the brain, according to new research carried about in mice. As much as 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s set in, people with the disease begin to develop amyloid beta plaques that build up in the brain and, scientists believe, interfere with neural signals to cause cognitive and memory losses. But researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have developed an antibody that can remove the proteins these plaques are made of altogether, according to their new research. ...The new study experimented with an antibody that matches not the amyloid beta proteins themselves, but a smaller protein contained within them, called APOE. Certain variations of the gene for APOE are the single greatest genetic predictor for Alzheimer as well
We now know some of the key genetics behind the disease, as well as the key biological marker of it in the brain: the amyloid beta protein plaques. These plaques are composed of pieces of protein that come from the fatty membranes that coat neuron cells. Normally, if these fragments break off, naturally occurring enzymes can break them so that they do not have a chance to turn into a clump. For whatever reason, this natural waste removal does not seem to happen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Scientists suspect that as these proteins build up and stick together – either wrapped around neurons or roaming freely through the brain – they block the electrical signals fired across the synapses different parts of the brain try to communicate with one another.

Poor sleep habits create a risk for Alzheimer's disease.'

Poor rest raises the levels of toxic proteins in the brain that can cause memory-robbing disease. A small study, only 20 people,  found a night without sleep increased levels of beta-amyloid in the brain. People with mild memory loss have 21% more beta-amyloid than healthy people while those with Alzheimer's disease have 43% more beta-amyloid. Sleep is vital in clearing away beta-amyloid, which can form clumps in the brain.

The study's lead author, Dr Ehsan Shokri-Kojori, from the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, said: 'Often brain changes seen in animals are not replicated in humans, so this is interesting.'The increase in beta-amyloid we saw in the brains of people who were sleep-deprived is likely to be a harmful process. 'A reasonable prediction based on these results would be that poorer sleep habits create a risk for Alzheimer's disease.'

Prosthetics to Help Memory Loss in Alzheimer's

Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the University of Southern California (USC) have managed to create and implant a prosthetic system that uses a person’s own memory patterns to facilitate the brain’s ability to create and recall memories. In the pilot study, published in today’s Journal of Neural Engineering, participants’ short-term memory performance showed a 35 to 37 percent improvement over baseline measurements. The research was funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:30 AM | Permalink
Categories: Health

April 9, 2018

Miscellany #94

'Homer can help you': War veterans use ancient epics to cope

The trials of Odysseus are really not that different from the struggles of those learning to readjust after wars of today, modern veterans are finding....For many in the UVM class, Homer's 2,800-year-old verses seem all too familiar: the siege of Troy, the difficult quest of Odysseus to return home after 10 years at war, his anguish at watching friends die, and his problems readjusting to civilian life....."Using Homer, because of the distance involved and also its great storytelling, is a way to break into those experiences."..."It opens that avenue so that they can speak to issues that they are having."  Homer-for-veterans is the brainchild of Dartmouth College classics professor Roberta Stewart, who is now hoping for a grant that will allow her to expand the idea nationwide.

Julian Peter's A Visual Interpretation of "Birches", the poem by Robert Frost  is just charming.

Delingpole: NOAA 2.5 Degrees F Data Tampering – ‘Science Doesn’t Get Any Worse Than This’
In other words, pretty much the entirety of the 20th century warming in the U.S. “measured” by the world’s primary temperature record gatekeeper may be fake.

'Worst ever' sex gang case cop claims his bosses thought stopping Telford child abusers was 'too much trouble'
A police source says he was 'horrified' after court orders against more than 20 suspects were abandoned

Man Tattoos Entire Face Grey, Dyes Beard White, Ends Up Looking Like a Negative Version of Himself


Adam Curlykale, a 32-year-old tattoo enthusiast, claims tattoos helped him get over a really difficult period of his life. When he was 22, he was diagnosed with cancer of the large intestine, and although he managed to beat the disease, the aggressive medical treatment he had to endure took a heavy toll on his body. ...Months of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, molecular therapy and stem cell therapy caused several skin conditions and a partial disappearance of the pigment in the skin, otherwise known as albinism. People in his native Poland did not accept him, and Adam admits that he had problems accepting himself.  Eventually, he became depressed, suffered from eating disorders and even contemplated suicide. Luckily, tattoos saved him.

“Have children” - wrote Bruna Estrela

“If I could only give my friends advice, it would be this: have children. At least one. But if possible, have 2, 3, 4 … Brothers are our bridge with the past and the safe harbor for the future. But have children.  Children make us better human beings.  What a child does for you no other experience does. Traveling the world transforms you, a successful career is rewarding, independence is delightful. Still, nothing will change you as permanently as a child....

Have children so you can receive that a and a tight hug when you get home, and feel that you are the most important person in the whole world for that little being. Have children to see them smile like you and walk like your father, and understand the beauty of having a part of you going around the world. Have children to re-learn the delight of a bubble bath, a bowl of water in the heat, playing with a dog, and eating mango without any concern about not getting your hands (and clothes) dirty while doing it....

Have children just because you have so much to learn. Have children because the world needs us to be better.

Cascade of Lava Extraordinary photographs taken by Michael Shainblum at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

 Lava Cascade

The Internet Can’t Stop Laughing At The Worst Hotel Guest Ever Who Got Banned From Hotel For Lifetime

If you haven't read this story yet, you must.  It will have you laughing out loud.

The Curse of the Bradford Pear
All those white blooming trees you see everywhere... are an environmental disaster happening right before your very eyes.

Feather Stars.  Watch the Rare Moment when a Feather Star is Swimming.

 Feather Star Comasteridae - Oxycomanthus Bennetti-001

Feather stars are usually found curled up during the day, but at night they extend their feathery arms to catch plankton in the currents.
They float, crawl, roll, walk or even swim through the current to different locations. Some small animals like clingfish and crustaceans can be found in the arms of feathers stars....Very much like sea stars if their arms are damaged they can regenerate at will.  They are marine animals called Crinoids  that make up the class Crinoidea of the echinoderms. Those crinoids which in their adult form are attached to the sea bottom by a stalk are commonly called sea lilies. The unstalked forms are called feather stars.  They live in both shallow water and in depths as great as 30,000 ft.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 PM | Permalink
Categories: Miscellany

April 6, 2018

Good news about Aging

The Good News - Older Americans are experiencing ‘delayed aging’ — and better health

Americans may be aging more slowly than they were two decades ago. Using health and nutrition data from more than 21,500 Americans,  researchers from the schools of gerontology at University of Southern California and Yale University found that  Biological aging slowing, but not for all.  Older adults experienced the greatest decreases in biological age, and men experienced greater declines in biological age than females. The study confirms that modifying health behaviors and using prescription medications significantly impact the health of the population. Researchers believe that decelerating the biological aging process would push the timing of aging-related disease and disability incidence closer to the end of life, so that people can live more of their years in good health.

Elderly adults grow just as many new brain cells as 20-year-olds, study claims

Researchers at Columbia University have shown for the first time that healthy men and women as old as 79 can generate just as many new brain cells as someone aged 14 can. Lead author Dr Maura Boldrini, associate professor of neurobiology at Columbia University says the findings may suggest that many senior citizens remain more cognitively and emotionally intact than commonly believed.
Nevertheless, older individuals had less vascularization and maybe less ability of new neurons to make connections,' Dr Boldrini explained.  Dr Boldrini surmised that reduced cognitive-emotional resilience in old age may be caused by this smaller pool of neural stem cells, the decline in vascularisation, and reduced cell-to-cell connectivity within the hippocampus.

Reframing Aging

Aging advocacy groups aim to change the public's image of getting older.  It’s a scary and depressing image of aging: If you are sick or poor and over 65, it’s your own fault because you didn’t do the right things when you were younger. This is a commonly held view of old age in the United States, and the nation’s leading aging organizations are now on a fierce mission to change it through a project known as Reframing Aging.  Most older people are healthy and independent, but this reality often is “under-appreciated and unrecognized by the vast majority of the public,” said James Appleby, executive director and chief executive officer of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). FrameWorks found many Americans started by talking about an “ideal” image of aging but reverted to their “real” image of deterioration and helplessness.

If you want to counter the physical costs of getting old, regular exercise might be your best option.  That and just getting out of the house.

Exercise best option to ward off costs of getting old

Unlike a "control group" of adults who did not get regular exercise, the cyclists did not have loss of muscle mass or strength, did not have age-related increases in body fat or cholesterol levels, and their immune systems were as robust as much younger people....
Researcher Niharika Arora Duggal, also from the University of Birmingham, said, "We hope these findings prevent the danger that, as a society, we accept that old age and disease are normal bedfellows, and that the third age of man is something to be endured and not enjoyed."

Study finds 30 minutes of daily chores prolongs life expectancy

Older women who did 30 minutes 'light' activities daily had 12% reduced chance, Washing up,  folding laundry, sweeping the floor cuts the risk of an early death for women by 12%. Those who did 30 minutes of 'moderate to vigorous' activity saw a 39% drop. These included brisk walking or bicycling at a leisurely pace, say researchers 'Doing something is better than nothing' even below recommended levels.

Leaving the house linked to longevity in older adults

For older people, getting out of the house regularly may contribute to a longer life - and the effect is independent of medical problems or mobility issues, according to new research from Israel. For study participants in their 70s, 80s and 90s, the frequency with which they left the house predicted how likely they were to make it to the next age milestone, researchers report in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. “The simple act of getting out of the house every day propels people into engagement with the world,”  “We saw similar benefits that you’d expect from treating blood pressure or cholesterol with medicine,” said lead author Dr. Jeremy Jacobs of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Social connectedness and meaningful activities are crucial for well-being. The more varied your social network, the happier and healthier you will be.
Socializing key to 'successful aging'.  Seniors who frequently socialized reported better health

"Social engagement — involvement in meaningful activities and maintaining close relationships — is a component of successful aging," wrote Heather Gilmour of Statistics Canada's health analysis division.  "The results of this analysis highlight the importance of frequent social participation to maintaining quality of life...."The greater the number of frequent social activities, the higher the odds of positive self-perceived health, and the lower the odds of loneliness and life dissatisfaction," Gilmour said.

Japan’s Prisons Are a Haven for Elderly Women   Lonely seniors are shoplifting in search of the community and stability of jail.

Almost 1 in 5 women in Japanese prisons is a senior. Their crimes are usually minor—9 in 10 senior women who’ve been convicted were found guilty of shoplifting.  Why have so many otherwise law-abiding elderly women resorted to petty theft? Caring for Japanese seniors once fell to families and communities, but that’s changing. From 1980 to 2015, the number of seniors living alone increased more than sixfold, to almost 6 million. And a 2017 survey by Tokyo’s government found that more than half of seniors caught shoplifting live alone; 40 percent either don’t have family or rarely speak with relatives. These people often say they have no one to turn to when they need help.

Medical research: Reversing Aging: Scientists Make Old Human Cells Look and Act Younger

A groundbreaking discovery in cellular biology could help humans age without as much deterioration in their bodies. A research team experimenting on a class of genes called "splicing factors" was able to take older human cells and physically rejuvenate them, turning back the clock to make them appear and behave young again....Splicing factors help your genes operate smoothly, making sure that instructions like when to grow new blood vessels get to where they need to go. Over the course of the aging process, they become less efficient, and eventually break down entirely, leaving our bodies with less and less ability to regenerate. ..."When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn't believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic," said Eva Latorre, the research associate at the University of Exeter who conducted the experiments.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:16 PM | Permalink
Categories: Aging with Grace and Grit | Categories: Health
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