September 30, 2015

Musical medicine

Byron Janis pens a personal account of the power of music in the Wall Street Journal, How Music Soothes the Troubled Soul.

What an extraordinary gift music has given us besides its beauty. It has a scientifically proven ability to help heal both physical and psychological problems. Listening to your favorite music does help, but playing an instrument has a greater success. Playing well or badly doesn’t matter; just using one finger to plunk out a tune is sufficient—you can come away with a feeling of well-being. Music’s healing powers, which Pythagoras called “musical medicine,” have been the leitmotif of my career.
Music has also helped me conquer physical challenges. From an accident at age 11 that left me with a permanently numb little finger to living with arthritis for 40-plus years, music has been a constant healing force. In the late 1980s after a botched operation on my arthritic left thumb, I fell into a devastating depression lasting many months. Then one day my wife, Maria, asked me to compose a theme for a film documentary on her father entitled “Gary Cooper: American Life, American Legend” (1989). I didn’t feel up to it, but as it was “family” I wanted to try.

After a few days I came up with a theme and played it for her. She suddenly began crying. “Why are you crying?” I asked. “Because your music totally captures my father’s spirit.” It also recaptured me! That wonderful feeling of hope was coming back, and my depression slowly began to lift. Music had started working its magic.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 AM | Permalink

September 29, 2015

Miscellany 21

Wow!.  Kurt Steiner world record of 88 skips of a stone over water.  Video at link.

Ten reasons why it's good to be a redhead: From Spartacus and scent to standing up for difference.

 Redhead Girl  By Vianaarts-D5531Ab

But watch out for the "ginger extremists".

Europe trotter on Flickr.

 Trees-Growing On Roof

Russian 5-year-olds dig tunnel out of nursery ‘to buy Jaguar’

Selfies are killing more people than shark attacks  So far this year, 12 people have died while trying to take a selfie

Ten most offensive collective nouns, among them,  a herd of harlots, an obedience of servants, an impatience of wives and an unhappiness of husbands.

Correlation is not causation: charts of weird things that correlate with each other.

 Weird Correlation

New Scientist The lies we tell are more convincing when we need to pee  Urgency conveys sincerity

Progress!  Father pulls out his daughter's wobbly tooth with a drone,  Video at link.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:38 PM | Permalink

September 11, 2015

Heart Health Roundup: Hearts older than bodies, Rx, intermittent fasting, vitamin C, pros and cons of statins

Nearly three out of four U.S. adults have a heart that is older than the rest of their body, CDC report reveals.

The average U.S. man's heart age is nearly eight years older than his real age  Meanwhile, average woman's heart is about five-and-a-half years higher.  Mississippi is the state with highest proportion of adults with advanced heart age, followed by West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Alabama.

 Heart Age Us

This is alarming. Heart disease is the nation's number one killer,' said the report's lead author, CDC scientist Quanhe Yang.
'But the bottom line is you can do some very simple things' to become younger at heart, he said..  Rx for a young heart

 Rx For Young Heart

Live Science Does Intermittent Fasting Have Benefits? Science Suggests Yes

Instead of eating three square meals a day, an eating schedule that involves "intermittent fasting" could help fight not just obesity but many related diseases of modern life, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's, researchers say….

Mounting evidence reveals that other key aspects of diet — when and how often people eat — can also play a major role in health. In fact, the most common eating pattern in modern societies of three meals daily, plus snacks, is abnormal from the perspective of human evolution, an international group of researchers wrote in an article published online Nov. 17 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Fasting alone is more powerful in preventing and reversing some diseases than drugs," said Satchidananda Panda, an associate professor of regulatory biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, and one of the co-authors of the article.

Could vitamin C be a replacement for EXERCISE?   

A daily vitamin C supplements of 500mg 'is as effective as walking in improving the heart health of obese people', claims a study of 35 overweight and sedentary people. 

The blood vessels of people who are overweight or obese show elevated activity of the small vessel-constricting protein, endothelin (ET)-1. Narrowed blood vessels mean it is harder to pump blood around the body.  While past studies have show that exercise helps to reduce ET-1 activity, many overweight use a lack of time as an excuse for not incorporating exercise into their daily routines.

Scientists at the University of Colorado examined whether vitamin C supplements, which have been found in the past to improve vessel function, can also lower ET-1 activity. Their findings, which will be presented at the 14th International Conference on Endothelin: Physiology, Pathophysiology and Therapeutics, suggest the supplement can have similar benefits to a person's heart health as exercise.

Giving patients statins before ANY operation could halve the risk of dying and slash complications dramatically

Statins, the cholesterol-busting drugs are usually prescribed for at risk cardiac patients.  When given  before planned heart surgery to prevent complications, statins were linked to a 43 per cent lower chance of dying from any cause and a 52 per cent reduced risk of dying from a heart-related problem.

While Healthy patients using statins are 'more likely to suffer side-effects than gain health benefits'

Fewer than one in every 200 healthy patients who take statins actually benefit, doctors have warned.  Reigniting the debate over the cholesterol-busting drugs, the experts warn that too many patients are given statins without proper information about their drawbacks.
They say people should stop using them if they are suffering side effects - and call for patients to have a greater choice over taking the pills in the first place.

People should be advised to take up more exercise and improve their diet before they are directed towards statins, the experts say.
Their editorial, published last night in the Prescriber medical journal, points to industry-sponsored studies which found that only 0.5 per cent of healthy people avoided a heart attack or stroke by taking statins for five years.

While accepting that those with a history of heart disease can benefit from statins, they say that a tiny minority of people who take it as a ‘preventative’ medicine will actually live longer.

The authors - London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, Canadian pharmacist Professor James McCormack, and US physician Professor David Newman - called for a complete rewrite of British and American guidance.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 PM | Permalink

Miscellany 20

15 Microprints Hiding in United States Currency at  Mental Floss.

Meet Ralph Lincoln,  An 11th Generation Lincoln


There are more than three trillion trees in the world,  about 8 times larger thatn the previous best estimate of 400 billion.  That's 420 trees for every person on the planet.    Researchers from Yale used 429,775 ground-based measurements in 55 countries collected from a variety of sources.

A big number indeed.  By comparison,  the US. government debt now stands at $18 trllion and by the end of the year will be $18.6 trillion, not including state and local debt or the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare.

Somewhere among the approximately two thousand sandstone arches that compose Arches National Park in Grand County, Utah, sits a tree.


Scientist: Forcing People to Work before 10 AM is Basically Torture  I agree completely

The United Slang of America.  If every state had an official word, what would it be?  Click link for interactive version and complete list

-Us State Slang

11 images that capture the incredible vastness of space at Vox.

We think of the Earth as a big place: flying around the equator on a 747 at top speed would take about 42 hours. Flying around the sun at the same speed, by contrast, would take about six months.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:07 PM | Permalink

September 3, 2015

"The people hate the elites, which is not new, and very American. The elites have no faith in the people, which, actually, is new. "

“The 2016 election is simple; the person who runs on the platform ‘Who do they think they are?’ will win,” Angelo Codevilla….The primordial fact in American public life today, from which most of the others hide their eyes, namely: most Americans distrust, fear, are sick and tired of, the elected, appointed, and bureaucratic officials who rule over us, as well as their cronies in the corporate, media, and academic world.

Peggy Noonan, America Is So in Play
One is the deepening estrangement between the elites and the non-elites in America. This is the area in which Trumpism flourishes. ….

I will throw in here that almost wherever I’ve been this summer, I kept meeting immigrants who are or have grown conservative—more men than women, but women too.  America is so in play.
On the subject of elites, I spoke to Scott Miller, co-founder of the Sawyer Miller political-consulting firm, who is now a corporate consultant. He worked on the Ross Perot campaign in 1992 and knows something about outside challenges. He views the key political fact of our time as this: “Over 80% of the American people, across the board, believe an elite group of political incumbents, plus big business, big media, big banks, big unions and big special interests—the whole Washington political class—have rigged the system for the wealthy and connected.” It is “a remarkable moment,” he said. More than half of the American people believe “something has changed, our democracy is not like it used to be, people feel they no longer have a voice.”
The people hate the elites, which is not new, and very American. The elites have no faith in the people, which, actually, is new. Everything is stasis. Then Donald Trump comes, like a rock thrown through a showroom window, and the molecules start to move.

The long, slow death of the rule of law in America

That’s the organizing precept of this era in American politics: The rules apply until they put those in power at a disadvantage. Because we’ve arrived at this point incrementally, perhaps we’re not conscious of how sweeping the transformation is. So let’s be clear about what’s at stake: This is a wholesale abandonment of the foundational American principle of the rule of law.

There are only two options available here: Either the country returns to a form of government bound by the strictures of the Constitution and its subordinate laws or we give up the ghost and accept the fact that our politics are now entirely about power rather than principle – that we live in a nation where the president, whether his name is Obama or Trump, is limited only by the boundaries of imagination.

There are a lot of ways to describe that form of government. “Constitutional republic” isn’t one of them.

She thought and acted as if the law didn't apply to her.  Former Secretary of State Clinton declined to use the government-provided secure email.  Instead she conducted official business including placing classified intelligence  into unclassified emails on her own private, unencrypted server.  Hillary’s e-mail scandal constitutes one of the most serious American national security disasters on record.

….So America’s intelligence agencies are assuming that every communication of America’s Secretary of State for months or more was read by our adversaries…..Doesn’t that mean that we are now making massive changes to the sources and methods of our intelligence? Are we now withdrawing valuable agents? Are we trying to replace methods that cannot be easily replicated? Are we now forced to rebuild a good deal of our intelligence capabilities from the ground up? Are we not suffering tremendous intelligence damage right now, regardless of what foreign intelligence services did or did not manage to snatch from Hillary’s server—simply because we are forced to assume that they got it all?

Yes, Really: 141 Counties Have More Registered Voters Than People Alive

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) has put 141 counties on notice across the United States that they have more registered voters than people alive. PILF has sent 141 statutory notice letters to county election officials in 21 states. The letters are a prerequisite to bringing a lawsuit against those counties under Section 8 of the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

Scores of Counties Put on Notice About Corrupted Voter Rolls
States with counties which received a notice letter are (# of counties): Michigan (24), Kentucky (18), Illinois (17), Indiana (11), Alabama (10), Colorado (10), Texas (9), Nebraska (7), New Mexico (5), South Dakota (5), Kansas (4), Mississippi (4), Louisiana (3), West Virginia (3), Georgia (2), Iowa (2), Montana (2), North Carolina (2), Arizona, Missouri, New York (1 each). Federally produced data show the letter recipients have more registrants than living eligible citizens alive.

VA Report: 307,000 Veterans Died Waiting for Applications to Be Processed

“These are not veterans waiting for care; these are veterans who were applying for the privilege of waiting for care.” One veteran’s unprocessed application was fourteen years old.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:25 PM | Permalink