February 24, 2017
Health Roundup: Alzheimer's, MS, Parkinsons, cooling caps and holding hearts
Too much sugar causes Alzheimer's: Study reveals 'tipping point' link between blood glucose and brain disease.
The study by the University of Bath and King's College London builds on previous research showing diabetes appears to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. They found a 'tipping point' when glucose levels start to inhibit a protein that fights the early stages of Alzheimer's. Once levels pass the threshold, they restrict the performance of a vital protein, which normally fights the brain inflammation associated with dementia. This is the first evidence showing link between sugar and the brain disease.
Imperial College London experts used chemotherapy to kill faulty immune cells. They then replaced them with stem cells in a bid to 'reset' the body's defenses. They found that Nearly half of patients saw the disease stop progressing for 5 years. Some patients went for as long as ten years with no worsening in their condition. Experts say the findings offer hope of the first lasting treatment for MS patients.
Doctors, however, stressed the treatment is more likely to 'stabilize' rather than 'reverse' the disease - and has better outcomes for patients whose disabilities are not severe. The Imperial study is the largest trial to date of autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation - or AHSCT - widely considered the most promising treatment for MS.
Is this the 'master switch' that prevents Parkinson's disease? Scientists discover key gene that stops brain cells from dying
Researchers from the University of Leicester found that a gene known as ATF4 plays a key role in the onset of Parkinson's in fruit flies. Acting as a switch, ATF4 helps to control the energy stations of cells - known as mitochondria - including neurons. The discovered gene boosts the energy of neurons, preventing their destruction. This groundbreaking discovery could help to prevent or delay Parkinson symptoms. Dr Martins said: 'Studying the roles of genes such as ATF4 in human neurons could lead to tailored interventions that could one day prevent or delay the neuronal loss seen in Parkinson's.'
This comes after groundbreaking research in December found that Parkinson's disease may start in the stomach. Scientists from California Institute of Technology found the first ever conclusive link between gut microbes and the development of Parkinson's-like movement disorders in mice.
Studies: Cooling Caps Help Chemo Patients Keep Hair Up to two-thirds of breast cancer patients kept more than half their hair.
Cooling caps are affixed to patients' heads before, during, and after chemo; a machine cycles cooling liquid through the caps. While researchers aren't exactly sure how the caps prevent hair loss, one theory is they restrict blood vessels in the scalp, reducing the amount of chemo that reaches the hair follicles. About half of breast cancer patients say hair loss is the most daunting part of chemo, and 8% say they would turn down chemo in order to keep their hair. One breast cancer survivor who used a cooling cap says it has psychological benefits. She tells the Times that losing their hair makes people "think they're sicker than they actually are.
Would YOU want to hold your heart? Texas hospital lets transplant patients clutch their removed organs after surgery
Normally, hospitals dispose of surgically-removed organs after testing them and taking records. However, Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, has launched an unusual scheme called the 'Heart-to-Heart' program. It has offered more than 70 people the virtually unheard-of opportunity to see their ailing body part, and to hold it, before it is stored for further study. It all started with Dr William C Roberts, a cardiac pathologist at Baylor, who has been storing every removed heart to study for further study since he joined the institution in 1993. The patients are overcome with emotion when they hold their own hearts in their hands.
Drunk Canadian Men Arrested for Riding Couch Towed Behind ATV Through McDonalds Drive-Thru.
but, as Stephen Green points out, "They were wearing helmets." OH, CANADA!
The Mesmerizing 'Glory Hole' Spillway (drone video at the link)
Earth has a new continent
Scientists say the 5 million square kilometre landmass east of Australia should be formally known as ZEALANDIA. 11 geologists argue that Zealandia has all four attributes necessary to be considered a continent....'It was not a sudden discovery but a gradual realization,' the scientists wrote....The new continent would be the 'youngest, thinnest, and most submerged' of the continents, with 94 percent of the landmass submerged in water.
Long-Term Projects, First Prize—Black Days Of Ukraine by Valery Melnikov / Rossia Segodnya
Spot News, Second Prize, Stories—Rescued From the Rubble (Syria) by Ameer Alhalbi / AFP
French diner overwhelmed with customers after it is accidentally awarded a Michelin star. They confused Bouche à Oreille, Bourges with Bouche à Oreille, Boutervilliers, 100 miles away.
The Coffee Shaman Meet the man responsible for third-wave coffee—and the Frappuccino.
George Howell “pushed light roasts and single-origin beans” while the rest of us were still drinking Nescafé. He invented the Frappucino, sold out to Starbucks, then travelled the world for decades meeting growers. Now he is back with a new method for grading coffee beans — and it seems to work: “The third cup tastes unbelievable, so good that each hit from the cupping spoon exerts a magnetic effect on my tongue as powerful as the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of Doritos”
You can try it for yourself at his new cafe, George Howell Coffee in Newton, Mass.
How a Mexican Janitor Invented Flamin' Hot Cheetos The Frito-Lay janitor is now an executive vice president at PepsiCo, all because of a spicy snack.
The Last Howard Johnson’s in the Universe. America’s first great restaurant chain comes to the end of the road.
February 23, 2017
"With enough butter, anything is good," Julia Child
"The difference between a good cook and a great cook is a quarter pound of butter," said my mother who cooked and baked
simple and utterly delicious meals for her seven children. The vegetables served with every meal with plenty of butter were so tasty, we gobbled them up. When recalling to one another any of a number of dishes she made, our mouths water. I never even heard of margarine until I went to college and when I tasted it, I knew it was an abomination. My mother never said, “As for butter or margarine, I trust cows more than chemists,” but it sounds like her. Despite decades of people saying it was bad for you, I never gave up on butter.
I feel vindicated now the pendulum has swung the other way.
Data from a 1970s survey of mental hospital patients had never been analyzed until researchers from the University of North Carolina published published their findings in the British Medical Journal. The findings come from subjects who had a carefully regimented and documented diet, if not altogether of their own will. The research team analyzed unpublished nutritional data gathered between 1968 and 1973 in a controlled study of more than 9,400 men and women in one nursing home and six state mental hospitals in Minnesota that concluded that there was 22 percent greater risk of death for those on the vegetable oil diet.
Authority Nutrition: Why Grass-Fed Butter is Good For You
1. The saturated fat in butter can actually improve the blood lipid profile by raising the levels in HDL (the good) cholesterol which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and changing the LDL rom small, dense (bad) to Large LDL – which is benign and not associated with heart disease.
2. Grass-Fed Butter is Loaded With Vitamin-K2, The Missing Nutrient That De-Calcifies Your Arteries. High-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows are among the best sources of Vitamin K2 in the diet. Studies consistently show that Vitamin K2 dramatically reduces the risk of both osteoporosis and heart disease.
3. Butter is Loaded With an Anti-Inflammatory Fatty Acid Called Butyrate.
4. In Countries Where Cows Are Grass-Fed, Butter Consumption is Associated With a Dramatic Reduction in Heart Disease Risk. ...According to one study from Australia, where cows are grass-fed, individuals who ate the most high-fat dairy products had a 69% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who ate the least.
I swear by Kerrygold grass-fed butter, made in Ireland where as its website says:
The winds, rain and warming influence of the Gulf Stream all contribute to the lush grass our cows feed on year-round. They produce the sweetest, richest milk in the world, which makes our grass-fed cow’s milk Irish butter taste silky and creamy and glow a healthy, golden yellow.
Kerrygold butter is sold in every state, except for Wisconsin which is cracking down on 'Illegal butter'.
Butter protectionism in the Dairy State has made this foreign butter illegal. An obscure regulation turns “ungraded butter” into contraband. Since Kerrygold isn’t produced in the good ole U.S. of A., it’s not graded and hence, illegal. Selling illicit butter bears a fine up to $1,000 and a possible six-month stint in the slammer.
Wisconsinites who enjoy Kellygold Irish butter have been forced to venture across state lines to buy the gold foil packaged dairy goodness....If you haven’t tasted Kerrygold, I can assure you it is definitely worth the drive...... It’s pricey, but worth every penny. [Editor's note: Buy it at Costco for best value].
Colcannon or Champ
Colcannon is Irish mashed potatoes with cooked kale or cabbage, milk and plenty of butter. Recipe here. Irish Champ is mashed potatoes with scallions and plenty of butter. Here's a good recipe. I most often combine both. With a sprinkle of parsley on the top, the greens add a lovely Springtime taste.
While your unpeeled potatoes are boiling until tender, finely chop scallions (white and green parts) and mix with cold milk. Then heat them gently. When the potatoes are done, peel, then mash, and while still hot mix with the boiled milk and scallions. Then add some of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a knob of butter on the top. Eat from the outside in, dipping each forkful into the melted butter.
"With enough butter, anything is good," Julia Child.
Astonishing news about Iran
I just came across this article by David P. Goldman, aka Spengler, Why Iran is obsessed with the Jews (hint: same as Hitler) in the Asia Times. The article was written in 2015, but what he reported was gobsmacking news to me.
Someone should tell the mullahs in Tehran that there’s no way Hitler could have lost that war, if only he had had the Jews on his side. There’s more than a modicum of truth in the joke. Killing six million Jews diverted resources from the German war effort. More importantly, Jewish physicists, including Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, Robert Oppenheimer, David Bohm, Rudolf Peierls, Otto Frisch Felix Bloch, Niels Bohr, Otto Hahn, and Edward Teller, led the American effort to build an atom bomb. Enrico Fermi, whose wife was Jewish, left Italy for America after Mussolini imposed race laws in 1938. Albert Einstein had spent the First World War in Berlin; at the outbreak of the Second, he helped persuade Franklin Roosevelt to fund the Manhattan Project.
Killing Jews served no rational German objective. Yet no-one can argue that Jew-hatred was merely incidental to the Nazi regime. On the contrary, it was the raison d’etre of National Socialism....After 1930, Germany’s total fertility rate fell below replacement for the first time in its history, to just 1.7 children per female when Hitler took power in 1933. His apocalyptic fears of the disappearance of the Germans were not unfounded. Germany had begun to die, and Hitler proposed a messianic, megalomaniac vision to restore it.
Hitler was crazy, if by crazy we mean that his obsessions caused him to act repeatedly against self-interest.
A fortiori, Iran’s self-interest would dictate cordial relations with the State of Israel...The last thing Iran should want is an alliance between Israel and its Sunni opponents—Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, but potentially Turkey and Pakistan as well.....
But Iran’s leaders talk about the destruction of the State of Israel obsessively...
Iran’s reality is galloping demographic decline...the result of the unprecedented collapse of Iranian fertility after 1990.
Iran’s national megalomania trumps rational self-interest....Khamenei’s existential problem is to persuade the Persians to continue to exist at all. The collapse of Iran’s fertility rate from 7 children per female in 1969 to between 1.6 and 1.8 children at present ranks as one of history’s great examples of genosuicide.
Between 23% and 25% of Iranian couples claim to be infertile, which might be an excuse not to bear children. It also might be the result of the world’s highest reported rates of venereal infection, associated with Shi’ite “temporary marriage,” or clerically-approved prostitution. Iranian studies report Chlamydia infection rates of 12.6% in Tehran and 21.25% in Isfahan, vs. 0.6% in the United States and 4.3% worldwide.
Iran also has the worst drug problem of any country in the world. According to Iran’s interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, six million Iranians (20% of the population over age 15) have been affected by drug abuse, and 1.3 million (or 4.3% of Iranians over age 15) are addicts, using heroin as well as crystal meth. Only 36.7% of Iran’s population is economically active, one of the lowest counts in the world.
February 21, 2017
“Drinking home alone in your underwear, with no intention of going out.”
L’appel du vide, or “the call of the void" .You’re waiting for the train when an inexplicable thought flashes into your mind: What if you jumped off the platform? ... the emotion is so unsettling because of the way it “creates an unnerving, shaky sensation of not being able to trust one’s own instincts.”
Awumbuk - the feeling of “emptiness after visitors depart.”
Ilinx - a French word for “the ‘strange excitement’ of wanton destruction.
Torschlusspanik - that fretful sensation of time running out. . The deadline’s approaching. The train’s a-comin’. Literally translated from German, torschlusspanik means “gate-closing panic.”
Not all are from other languages.
Brabant - a word for the fun of pushing someone’s buttons, to see how much you can tease them until they snap.
Pronoia - the “strange, creeping feeling that everyone’s out to help you.”
But my favorite is kalsarikannit, a Finnish term that roughly translates to “drinking home alone in your underwear, with no intention of going out.” This Finnish Word Makes Your Sad Weekend Plans Sound a Little Cooler
February 20, 2017
George Washington, "First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen"
Biographer Ron Chernow wrote Alexander Hamilton which inspired the current smash Broadway musical, but he is most celebrated and rightly so for his gripping portrait of our first president in Washington: A Life which won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.
From the sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon
Publishers Weekly noted Chernow's goals: Using the recent "explosion of research," he wants to render George Washington "real" and "credible," to replace "frosty respect" with "visceral appreciation." And that he did. Hendrik Hertzberg reviewed the book in The New Yorker, calling it, “A truly gripping biography of George Washington... I can’t recommend it highly enough—as history, as epic, and, not least, as entertainment. It’s as luxuriantly pleasurable as one of those great big sprawling, sweeping Victorian novels.”
I can attest to that as I am in the middle of listening to this amazing biography. So far I've learned: (cribbed text from Amazon)
-Washington was the only major founder who lacked a college education. John Adams went to Harvard, James Madison to Princeton, and Alexander Hamilton to Columbia, making Washington self-conscious about what he called his “defective education.”
--Washington never had wooden teeth. He wore dentures that were made of either walrus or elephant ivory and were fitted with real human teeth. Over time, as the ivory got cracked and stained, it resembled the grain of wood. Washington may have purchased some of his teeth from his own slaves.
--Washington had a strangely cool and distant relationship with his mother. During the Revolutionary War and her son’s presidency, she never uttered a word of praise about him and she may even have been a Tory. No evidence exists that she ever visited George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon. Late in the Revolutionary War, Mary Washington petitioned the Virginia legislature for financial relief, pleading poverty—and, by implication, neglect by her son. Washington, who had been extremely generous to his mother, was justly indignant.
--Even as a young man, Washington seemed to possess a magical immunity to bullets. In one early encounter in the French and Indian War, he absorbed four bullets in his coat and hat and had two horses shot from under him yet emerged unscathed. This led one Indian chief to predict that some higher power was guiding him to great events in the future.
--By age 30 Washington had survived smallpox, malaria, dysentery, and other diseases. Although he came from a family of short-lived men, he had an iron constitution and weathered many illnesses that would have killed a less robust man. He lived to the age of 67.
--While the Washingtons were childless—it has always been thought that George Washington was sterile—they presided over a household teeming with children. Martha had two children from her previous marriage and she and George later brought up two grandchildren as well, not to mention countless nieces and nephews.
--That Washington was childless proved a great boon to his career. Because he had no heirs, Americans didn’t worry that he might be tempted to establish a hereditary monarchy. And many religious Americans believed that God had deliberately deprived Washington of children so that he might serve as Father of His Country.
--Though he tried hard to be fair and took excellent medical care of his slaves, Washington could be a severe master. His diaries reveal that during one of the worst cold snaps on record in Virginia—when Washington himself found it too cold to ride outside—he had his field slaves out draining swamps and performing other arduous tasks.
--For all her anxiety about being constantly in a battle zone, Martha Washington spent a full half of the Revolutionary War with her husband—a major act of courage that has largely gone unnoticed.
--Washington was obsessed with his personal appearance, which extended to his personal guard during the war. Despite wartime austerity and a constant shortage of soldiers, he demanded that all members of his personal guard be between 5'8" and 5'10"; a year later, he narrowed the range to 5'9" to 5'10."
--While Washington lost more battles than he won, he still ranks as a great general. His greatness lay less in his battlefield brilliance—he committed some major strategic blunders—than in his ability to hold his ragged army intact for more than eight years, keeping the flame of revolution alive.
--Washington ran his own spy network during the war and was often the only one privy to the full scope of secret operations against the British. He anticipated many techniques of modern espionage, including the use of misinformation and double agents.
--Washington tended his place in history with extreme care. Even amid wartime stringency, he got Congress to appropriate special funds for a full-time team of secretaries who spent two years copying his wartime papers into beautiful ledgers.
--For thirty years, Washington maintained an extraordinary relationship with his slave and personal manservant William Lee, who accompanied him throughout the Revolutionary War and later worked in the presidential mansion. Lee was freed upon Washington’s death and given a special lifetime annuity.
--The battle of Yorktown proved the climactic battle of the revolution and the capstone of Washington’s military career, but he initially opposed this Franco-American operation against the British—a fact he later found hard to admit.
--Self-conscious about his dental problems, Washington maintained an air of extreme secrecy when corresponding with his dentist and never used such incriminating words as ‘teeth’ or ‘dentures.’ By the time he became president, Washington had only a single tooth left—a lonely lower left bicuspid that held his dentures in place.
--Washington always displayed extremely ambivalence about his fame. Very often, when he was traveling, he would rise early to sneak out of a town or enter it before he could be escorted by local dignitaries. He felt beleaguered by the social demands of his own renown.
--At Mount Vernon, Washington functioned as his own architect—and an extremely original one at that. All of the major features that we associate with the house—the wide piazza and colonnade overlooking the Potomac, the steeple and the weathervane with the dove of peace—were personally designed by Washington himself.
--A master showman with a brilliant sense of political stagecraft, Washington would disembark from his coach when he was about to enter a town then mount a white parade horse for maximum effect. It is not coincidental that there are so many fine equestrian statues of him.
If you don't have time for this 928 page biography, do make a visit to MountVernon.org to learn more about this remarkable man, the father of our country, which I note has never accepted government funds, but is entirely run on private support.
"First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen"
February 15, 2017
Firefighter adopts baby he delivered on emergency call "It was meant to be," says the proud dad.
Fireflghter Marc Hadden, who worked with the medical unit, was eating dinner in the middle of his 24-hour shift when he had to hop in the ambulance and head out to the emergency. He and his partner found a woman in labor, and as soon as they got her in the ambulance she was ready to give birth. Hadden took charge — his first time ever being in charge of a delivery in 20 years of his work, according to a story on CBS News. Little did the firefighter know at that moment that he was helping his own daughter take her first breath.
Students of Troy High School, in Ohio, received a wonderful Valentine’s day surprise yesterday when each student found an origami heart stuck on their locker. The truly impressive part is that all of these hand crafted gifts were made by one anonymous student ---who began making them last September.
Mohamed Bzeek has chosen a tough, heart-wrenching vocation. The quiet, devout, Libyan-born Muslim has for more than two decades been a father to terminally ill children in Los Angeles County’s foster care system. And as a long profile in the Los Angeles Times makes clear, he is very good at what he does. Bzeek reportedly has buried about ten children -- some of whom died in his arms -- yet still maintains the patience and empathy to do what even the children's parents can't or won't do.'I know they are going to die'....
after they decided to care exclusively for terminally ill kids. He has buried ten children in the past 20 years of fostering severely ill children. Dawn died in 2013. Bzeek cares for the kids, and his disabled son, by himself. Bzeek is currently caring for a six-year-old girl who is paralyzed, deaf and blind. Foster care workers say he is the only person they can turn to with an ill child.
'The key is, you have to love them like your own,' Bzeek told the Los Angeles Times. 'I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.'
For the three siblings who lost their parents to cancer within days, a nation pulled out the stops. A homeless beggar donated his day’s earnings, a family in Scotland offered a home, countless others gave a tenner in anonymity.
Luke, 21, Hannah, 18, and Oliver Bennet, 13, were “astounded” as the total amount raised to keep them in full-time education soared above £192,000 in five days. The money poured in via the website JustGiving after Julie and Mike Bennet’s children, who live in the Wirral, released a picture of their parents holding hands on their deathbeds.
Mike Bennet, a cabinet-maker, had a brain tumor diagnosed four years ago. Last May his wife, Julie, a primary school teacher, had liver and kidney cancer diagnosed. Last month, after their treatments failed, the couple were admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral and put in adjacent beds for their final days. Mr Bennet died there on February 6, aged 57. Mrs Bennet was then moved to St John’s hospice in Bebington, where she died on Saturday, aged 50.
“They are extremely, extremely grateful,” Ms Gallagher said. “They just cannot believe the support they have been given. They are proper down-to-earth kids whose parents brought them up well. It is not about cars and new shoes with them. It is about rallying around each other.”
The money will allow the siblings, Oliver 13, Hannah 18 and Luke 21, to continue in full-time education
February 14, 2017
Sometimes you just don't have the words...
The language of love: 10 romantic expressions around the world for which there is no English word.
Their 71st Valentine's Day Together
John Mackay will celebrate his 71st Valentine's Day with the prisoner he saved. During WW2, his unit liberated Jewish prisoners, among them his future wife. Edith Steiner caught Mr Mackay's eye at a dance to celebrate their liberation.
The couple married on July 17, 1946, and have been 'wholly dedicated' to each other since. With a family of two children, seven grandchildren and five great-grand-children, they worked as hoteliers before retiring to live at a care home in Dundee.
February 13, 2017
I really admire this weatherman's sang-froid on live TV. This Arizona weather report started out normally… except for one small glitch on the green screen. After all, he was reporting on the hottest day of the universe.
Aaron McAvoy’s washing machine makes a banging noise while washing clothes so he played The Devil Went Down to Georgia in time with the banging. This is the most perfect little internet entertainment…I actually started crying I was laughing so hard. A much needed respite from the world.
Ann Carrington produces sculpture that elevate objects used in the everyday... In her series Bouquets and Butterflies, Carrington gathers hundreds of spoons, knives, and forks both shiny and tarnished to create elegant bouquets. Clumping spoons together she is able to recreate the shapes of roses and tulips, some appearing so realistic you wonder if they are organic flowers dipped in a layer of silver.
Scientists Engineered the Perfect Song to Make Babies Laugh with video at the link.
Get a professional musician together with some psychologists, brush up on the baby-laughter literature, write some tunes, write some lyrics, and cobble it all together into a research-backed piece of sonic science. There are easier ways, sure, but this one’s still pretty cool: As Caspar Addyman, a developmental psychologist at the University of London, recently explained in the Conversation, he and his colleagues — including singer Imogen Heap — have created the first song engineered specifically to elicit adorable baby giggles.
The two birds were discovered by a priest in Weisendoft, northern Bavaria. Foresters cut the remains of the kingfishers from the ice with saws It is assumed that either they could no longer find the exit while underwater, or the hole froze over quickly. Forestry director Peter Proebstle called it a 'tragic, but also a bizarre and somehow beautiful sight'
On the last of NASA's manned moon mission, Apollo 17 in 1972, Astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt came down with lunar dust hay fever. Schmitt, it turns out, was basically allergic to the Moon....Of all the difficulties involved with putting a man on the Moon, “the major issue the Apollo astronauts pointed out was dust, dust, dust.” Moondust may look soft and pillowy, but it’s actually sharp and abrasive, largely the detritus of micrometeorite impacts. With no wind or moving water on the Moon’s surface, moondust never erodes. Effectively, no natural process exists on the lunar surface that can round its edges. When astronauts inhale what is essentially finely powdered glass.....
Schmitt was the first, and only, professional scientist to walk on the Moon, a Harvard-educated geologist who had dedicated the better part of a decade to studying the Moon’s landscape
In December 1972, Schmitt landed in the Moon’s Valley of Taurus-Littrow, surrounded by mountains and endless stretches of moondust. During their first moonwalk, the lunar roving vehicle lost a fender. The tires spun, and the rover kicked up a cloud of dust. The sediment got lodged in every wrinkle, fold, nook, and cranny of Schmitt’s spacesuit. The dust “gummed up the joints” of his suit so badly that he had trouble moving his arms. The powder chewed up his footwear, too. “The dust was so abrasive that it actually wore through three layers of Kevlar-like material on Jack’s boot,” Taylor said.
My favorite Gifs of the week.
Dog confronts robot dog
Timeline of Queen Elizabeth's Life As Told Through Banknotes.
Entire crowd goes nuts when special needs player scores final basket