May 31, 2016

Put down the laptop and take up the Trivium

Why smart kids shouldn’t use laptops in class

For the past 15 years, educators have debated, exhaustively, the perils of laptops in the lecture hall. Professors complain that laptops are distraction machines; defenders say that boring classes are to blame — students have always doodled or daydreamed, so what’s the difference that they’re browsing Facebook instead?

The remarkable thing about all the fuss is that, until now, there hasn’t been really great data on how classroom computing affects learning. There have been some small-scale, short-term experiments. A 2003 study found that laptops make it harder for students to remember what they had just learned in lecture. A 2014 study showed that students are less likely to understand complex ideas when they are forced to take notes by computer instead of by hand. But these were all contrived situations involving immediate recall. It’s less clear how laptop use affects students over the course of a semester.

Now there is an answer, thanks to a big, new experiment from economists at West Point, who randomly banned computers from some sections of a popular economics course this past year at the military academy. One-third of the sections could use laptops or tablets to take notes during lecture; one-third could use tablets, but only to look at class materials; and one-third were prohibited from using any technology.

Unsurprisingly, the students who were allowed to use laptops — and 80 percent of them did — scored worse on the final exam. What’s interesting is that the smartest students seemed to be harmed the most......We might have expected the smartest students to have used their laptops prudently. Instead, they became technology’s biggest victims. Perhaps hubris played a role. The smarter students may have overestimated their ability to multitask. Or the top students might have had the most to gain by paying attention in class.

Reading digital books can hinder your ability to think abstractly

Researchers at Dartmouth Tiltfactor lab have found that reading news stories, features and books on screens makes people more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly.

Why a Classical Education is Better than Common Core

We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. … Our students are the achievement of a systemic commitment to producing individuals without a past for whom the future is a foreign country, cultureless ciphers who can live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes “flexibility” (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).
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The fact is, pedagogy went off the rails when the goal of education was shifted in the early 20th century from the development of the human person to the acquisition of “skills”....Educator Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg argues that modern education puts the cart before the horse. “The modern educational effort is to contrive artificial ways for students to focus on the acquisition of [the] attributes and ends of literacy instead of cultivating the intransitive arts [i.e., grammar, logic, and rhetoric] which comprise the means that enable the ends of literacy to bloom like the rose.”

In the same way, critical thinking isn’t a “skill” learned in a single-semester elective course but rather a virtuous habit of mind. If it is to develop properly, it must be cultivated over time as an intrinsic part of the education process. Before the student can learn any “subjects”, he must first learn how to learn. Otherwise, education simply becomes the exercise Ven. Abp. Fulton J. Sheen described as “the transferring of information from the teacher’s manual to the student’s notebook without passing through the mind of either.

The Three-stage Pattern of the Trivium -
In the first stage, the “grammar” stage (usually grades 1 – 4), the concentration is on “learning the grammar of all subjects”. The students learn vast amounts of information through rote memorization, drills, songs, and stories.
In the second stage, the “logic” or “dialectic” stage (grades 5 – 8), the concentration is on [the mechanics of thought] reasoning, questioning, criticism, and the interior logic of the subjects. Students read primary sources rather than textbooks, and engage in discussion and debate. In the “rhetoric” stage (grades 9 – 12), the focus is on self-expression. Students learn how to speak and write with force and originality, and begin to take courses in subjects that interest them.

In all three stages, the courses are taught as interrelated rather than isolated. Latin, and sometimes ancient Greek, is taught not only for their own sakes but also so students will learn about language — parts, structure, composition, and cultural elements; since they are taught right from the beginning, and taught to be spoken as well as read, students have less difficulty learning other foreign languages later. The emphasis on language in instruction rather than on visuals forces the brain to work harder, while the process of memorization insures longer retention of basic facts.

The sciences, too, are taught from the very beginning. So are the fine arts; poetry, relatively abandoned in secular public schools, is celebrated in the classical school. Technology isn’t abandoned, but rather set in its proper place as a servant, its use disciplined. Classical schools generally combine the best in homeschooling with the social advantages of conventional schools. Above all, students are grounded in the Aristotelian-Thomist moral philosophy, in which the key to the good life is virtue.

The great advantage of the neo-classical education is that it’s connatural to the way children approach the mental world, by progressing from fact to theory and from the concrete to the abstract. Instead of being a passive recipient of an incessant barrage of words and images, the child is actively engaged; his mind is treated, not as a bucket to be filled, but as a muscle to be exercised. Classical education does this because it treats the student, not as “a cog in a machine”, but as a rational, moral, and social being.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:22 PM | Permalink

May 30, 2016

Never too old

My hometown boasts of several Revolutionary War heroes.  Samuel Whittemore is one.

 Samuel Whittemore Monument

Wikipedia:

Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade under Earl Percy, sent to assist the retreat. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British Grenadiers of the 47th Regiment of Foot from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols, killed a second grenadier and mortally wounded a third. By the time Whittemore had fired his third shot, a British detachment had reached his position; Whittemore drew his sword and attacked.He was subsequently shot in the face, bayoneted numerous times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found by colonial forces trying to load his musket to resume the fight. He was taken to Dr. Cotton Tufts of Medford, who perceived no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore recovered and lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at the age of 96.

In 2005, Samuel Whittemore was proclaimed the official state hero of Massachusetts.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:31 PM | Permalink

Remembering the honored dead

Most Americans, 80%, confess to having “little” or only “some” knowledge of Memorial Day. Just 20 percent of respondents claim to be “very familiar” with the day and its purpose.  In a disturbing video, various people thought it was about remembering Neil Armstrong, celebrating LGBT issues, the first flight of the Wright brothers, or the freeing of the slaves.
This appalling ignorance of so many, the product of our education system, is best remedied by parents For that I'm posting a long excerpt from Bookworm's post on Memorial Day, 2016 about teaching her teenage son about Memorial Day.

When my teenage son realized that Monday isn’t just a school holiday but is, in fact, a national holiday honoring the men and women who have died serving our country, he made an interesting comment about those who died. “It’s hard to appreciate that they’re real people because you never know who they are.

”Despite the fact that our country has been actively at war for three-quarters of his life, my son has never known someone who died while fighting on America’s behalf, nor has he ever met someone who lost a loved one to war. For so many in America — and this is true whether they support or oppose the war against fanatic Islamism — this multi-front war is an abstract thing. Thanks to our all-volunteer, professional, and efficient military, while our taxes help fund the war, most of us are utterly disconnected from it.

No wonder that for Americans young and old, Memorial Day is just understood as the excuse for another three-day weekend in the list of American holidays. To the extent people think about it, many confuse it with Veterans’ Day, believing that it’s a day to honor the troops, not to remember and honor the dead.....

Focusing on the dead — or the “honored dead” as they rightfully said during the Civil War — one realizes that my son is right that the sheer numbers make it hard to get a handle on each individual loss. ....I realized that my son had accidentally stumbled upon precisely the formulation attributed to Stalin: A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths are a statistic.

How does one bring the young to realize that, if you’re fortunate enough to live in a free country that values the individual over the collective, each number is a person? Those who died were children who left grieving parents, parents who left grieving spouses and lost children, brothers or sisters whose siblings will now age alone, or friends whose loss is a never-ending hole.

I started the process of giving the dead names by showing my son a picture that I found on a friend’s Google+ feed. As you can see, it’s an iconic picture, but one with a difference — every person in the photo is identified. They’re not icons at all. They’re real young men who fought — and most of whom died — defending America’s security and bringing freedom to parts of the world most Americans never had seen and never would see:

 Memorial-Day-Flag-Raising-Iwo-Jima

The transformation in my son when he realized that these were young men just like himself young men who played sports, flirted with girls, went to dances, and just enjoyed their lives — was surprising. He was suddenly awed and saddened. They weren’t historic curiosities; they could have been him or his friends.

As war becomes a pocket industry for a small subsection of society, those of us insulated from its reach have an obligation to make others aware that we are, and long have been, the beneficiaries of those who, willingly or not, fought for America. And while a few of our wars were misbegotten or foolish, the vast majority have seen Americans shed blood to bring freedom, whether at home or abroad.

Those who gave their lives truly are the honored dead and it behooves us to remember that none were statistics — all were individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice for liberty.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:57 PM | Permalink

May 27, 2016

Health Roundup: Superbug, antibiotics, fecal transplant, natural killer immune cells, adult ADHD

Superbug resistant to ALL drugs reaches the US

A woman in Pennsylvania has become the first American to test positive for a strain of bacteria that is resistant to all antibiotics, even those used as the last line of defense....

CDC director, Dr Tom Frieden, said: 'It basically shows us that the end of the road isn't very far away for antibiotics, that we may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive-care units, or patients getting urinary tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics.
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Dr Gerry Wright, director of the Michael G.DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University said while serious, the discovery of the strain in the US was to be expected. 'The mcr-1 gene has been reported across the globe since it was first reported in November of last year. The US was actually not an anomaly in not finding it until now. I expect it's been around for some time, just not detected.  Because the patient has no reported travel history, you can predict with certainty that mcr-1 is established in the USA.'

Antibiotics that kill gut bacteria also stop growth of new brain cells

"We found prolonged antibiotic treatment might impact brain function," says senior author Susanne Asu Wolf of the Max-Delbrueck-Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany. "But probiotics and exercise can balance brain plasticity and should be considered as a real treatment option."

Fecal transplant found to wipe out symptoms of ulcerative colitis

Scientists have found fecal microbiota transplantation is an effective approach to helping individuals who suffer from ulcerative colitis. The condition is an inflammatory bowel disease, which causes long-term inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. It affects the innermost lining of the large intestine and rectum, which can lead to rectal bleeding, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort.

After carrying out the transplants on a group of patients, researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia, found marked improvement in their symptoms. One in four patients who were resistant or intolerant to conventional treatment - steroid or anti-inflammatories - reported their symptoms had disappeared and showed signs that their digestive tracts improved. Furthermore, more than half of patients reported an improvement in their symptoms after undergoing fecal transplant.

Researchers in Australia identified a mechanism that causes natural killer (NK) immune cells to show mercy to cancer.

Switching it off had a dramatic effect on mice with normally lethal skin, prostate and breast cancers.  NK action against the tumors was stepped up, preventing deadly metastasis, the spread of cancer to vital organs in the body. In the case of breast cancer, tumor growth in the mammary glands was significantly reduced.

Natural killer cells are specialized white blood cells that act as the immune system's assassins. Like murderous agents working for a totalitarian state, their job is to locate and eradicate 'deviant' cells in the body that may pose a threat.

Ground-breaking new study finds a poor immune system can lead to 'serious mental illness'

The study, from the University of Sydney and Perth-based charity Meeting for Minds, found immune treatment had already worked for a large number of mental health sufferers.

One person’s cancer can be fought using someone else’s immune cells, study finds

For the first time, scientists have shown that even if a patient’s own immune cells are incapable of recognizing and attacking tumors, someone else’s immune cells might be able to.  In a new study, scientists have shown that by inserting certain components of healthy donor immune cells (or T cells) into the malfunctioning immune cells of a cancer patient, they can 'teach' these cells how to recognize cancer cells and attack them.
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While this is just a proof-of-concept study with only three participants, the results are promising enough that the treatment will hopefully be tested in a much wider clinical study in the future.

ADHD May Not Show Up Until Adulthood

It’s not just for schoolkids. A new U.K. study may uproot everything researchers believed they knew about when attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder presents itself.
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“Although ADHD occurs in approximately 4 percent of adults, relatively few adults receive a diagnosis or treatment for the disorder,” Agnew-Blais said. “It is crucial that we take a developmental approach to understanding ADHD, and that the absence of a childhood diagnosis should not prevent adults with ADHD from receiving clinical attention.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 PM | Permalink

"How wonderful it has been to to be able to save all those lives"

Dr. Henry Heimlich, 96, performs lifesaving technique he invented for the FIRST TIME when a woman chokes on her hamburger in the seat beside him

 Dr Henry Heimlich
Heimlich was sitting at a communal dining table at Cincinnati's Deupree House, an upscale senior living center where he lives, on Monday and noticed fellow resident Patty Ris, 87, in distress while eating an open-faced hamburger.  He dashed out of his seat, put his arms around her and pressed on her abdomen below the rib cage, following his own instructions. 

'After three compressions, this piece of meat came out, and she just started breathing, her whole face changed,' ....
'I sort of felt wonderful about it, just having saved that girl,' Heimlich said.  'I knew it was working all over the world. I just felt a satisfaction.' ....'When I used it, and she recovered quickly, it made me appreciate how wonderful it has been to to be able to save all those lives.'

Heimlich has lived in the 120-apartment complex for six years and swims regularly for exercise.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:05 PM | Permalink

The "vacuum at the heart of things" in academia

David Brooks has a excellent column today, Inside Student Radicalism

The identity politics the students have produced inverts the values of the meritocracy. The meritocracy is striving toward excellence; identity politics is deeply egalitarian. The meritocracy measures you by how much you’ve accomplished; identity politics measures you by how much you’ve been oppressed. In the meritocracy your right to be heard is earned through long learning and quality insight; in identity politics your right to be heard is earned by your experience of discrimination.
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The current identity politics movement, .....does not emerge from a place of confidence and strength. It emerges from a place of anxiety, lostness and fragility. It is distorted by that soil. Movements that grant themselves the status of victim lack both the confidence to lead change and the humility to converse with others. People who try to use politics to fill emotional and personal voids get more and more extreme and end up as fanatics.

There is a vacuum at the heart of things here. The meritocracy has become amoral. We ask students to work harder and harder while providing them with less and less of an idea of how they might find a purpose in all that work.

If we slowed down the frenetic pace of competition, and helped students think about vocation — the meaning and purpose of work — then life would have a firmer base. Political life — whether left or right, radical or moderate — wouldn’t be distorted so much by inner pain.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:46 PM | Permalink

May 25, 2016

People who believe reality exists and people who don't

Prudence today has come to mean cautiousness.  Who can forget Dana Carvey mocking President George H.W. Bush, "Not going to do it. Wouldn’t be prudent."  (Carvey described his impersonation of H.W. Bush once by saying that it was a cross between Mister Rogers and John Wayne.) 

We've lost the sense of prudence, so I was quite struck by Gaghdad Bob's discussion of prudence in Garbage In, Liberalism Out.

In my lifetime the left has been wrong on every major issue. That’s quite a record, and it leads one to wonder about the source of their preternatural consistency. What is it in them that causes such awful decision-making?  Whatever else it is, it involves an absence of the virtue of prudence. Prudence, writes, Pieper, is "highest in rank among the four cardinal virtues." [Aristotle said the same; so did St.Thomas Aquinas]

Recall the other three, justice, courage, and temperance. Why would they be subordinate to prudence? Because, for example, courage without prudence is just rashness or recklessness. Justice without it is -- well, anything from tyranny to social justice, which amount to the same thing in the end. And temperance without prudence reduces to a lukewarm relativism. So prudence "is the mother of the other three virtues" and "precondition for all that is ethically good." But why, exactly?

Because prudence first and foremost implies contact with reality. Obviously, if we don't know what reality is, then we cannot make prudent decisions about it.
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The sharp ideological differences in the country are a direct consequence of differing ideas about reality. Or, one side believes reality exists, while the other maintains it is both relative and a consequence of perception; which is to say they don't believe in reality at all. So really, the debate reduces to people who believe reality exists vs. people who don't.
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"The precondition for every ethical decision is the perception and examination of reality." And "prudence is the art of making the right decision based on the corresponding reality..." So there are really always two steps: 1) contact with and receptiveness to reality, and 2) deciding rightly.

 Prudence-1

Since Greek and Roman times Prudence has been personified as a woman holding a serpent and a mirror

The artwork above is called “Prudence” and was painted by Italian Renaissance painter Piero del Pollaiuolo. Prudence holds a serpent in reference to Matthew 10:16 that Christians be “wise as serpents” as well as a mirror to indicate the importance of self-knowledge to wisdom. 

 Titian - Allegorie Der Zeit
Allegory of Prudence by Titian, National Gallery, London

From Wikipedia

To Titian, prudence was preparation, foresight and judgement from experience and human history. The three faces in the painting represent the passing of human generations, with the young facing the light while the oldest fade into shadow; the faint inscription above their heads may be translated as "From the past, the present acts prudently, lest it spoils future action"
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:38 AM | Permalink

May 24, 2016

"Law-abiding middle-class citizens are deciding that playing by the rules is nothing but a sucker’s game"

Glenn Reynolds:  When leaders cheat, followers ... follow

The trust that underlies a law-abiding society is rotting away thanks to double-dealing in Washington. Back in the midst of the financial crisis, Gonzalo Lira looked at how people were responding to the mortgage meltdown and warned of a coming middle-class anarchy. He wrote:

“A terrible sentence, when a law-abiding citizen speaks it: Everybody else is doing it — so why don’t we? ... What’s really important is that law-abiding middle-class citizens are deciding that playing by the rules is nothing but a sucker’s game.”

America has been — and, for the moment, remains — a high-trust society. In high-trust societies, people extend trust to strangers and follow rules for the most part even when nobody is watching. In low-trust societies, trust seldom extends beyond close family, and everybody cheats if they can get away with it.

High-trust societies are much nicer places to live than low-trust ones. But a fish rots from the head and the head of our society is looking pretty rotten. As Lira says, “I’m like Wayne Gretsky: I don’t concern myself with where the puck has been — I look for where the puck is going to be.” Where will our society be in a decade if these trends continue? And what can we do to ensure that they don’t?

We Are a Fish Rotting from the Head John Hinderacker at Powerline

The IRS scandal would have sunk a Republican administration, perhaps leading to impeachment. But the Democratic press is in on the joke, and the Obama administration is set to run out the clock in its usual fashion.
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Worst of all, perhaps, is the way Barack Obama and his Attorneys General, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, have corrupted the Department of Justice. Time after time, federal judges have found that DOJ lawyers have lied to the courts on behalf to the Obama administration’s political agenda. Paul described the latest instance, and one of the most shocking, here.

Then there is the fact that Barack Obama is a scofflaw. Repeatedly, he has ignored the Constitution and violated federal law, refusing to enforce the nation’s immigration laws, imperiously changing his own Obamacare statute with no legal authority, and so on. Years later, the courts sometimes catch up with him; the administration has lost a number of 9-0 Supreme Court decisions where its lawbreaking was indisputable. But more broadly, the Obama administration’s campaign of lawbreaking and stonewalling has succeeded.

Glenn asks the right question: if our purported leaders are scofflaws, why should the rest of us be honest?

How important is Trust?  Well, the majority of our wealth is attributable to the degree of trust among people in society, the rule of law and a good school system.  By those standards we are frittering away our wealth. 

Ronald Bailey laid it out in  “The Secrets of Intangible Wealth” in the WSJ

The World Bank, after measuring capital in the 21st century in nations around the world, announced that intangible capital accounted for the vast majority of the world’s wealth. ⁠1Natural capital (the country’s natural resources (e.g. forest, farm land, mineral deposits)  together with produced or built capital (e.g. machinery and equipment, structures, infrastructure, urban land, ) accounted for only about 20% of the wealth of rich countries and 40% of the poor. ..  The report declared that the majority of a country’s wealth is attributable to the degree of trust among people in the society, the skills and education of its citizens (e.g. its human capital) and the value of its institutions primarily measured by the rule of law. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 PM | Permalink

"Newspeak was a means of not only controlling the public conversation, but also private thought."

"Political chaos is connected with the decay of language."  -George Orwell

The Decay of our Language is Happening writes Joseph Pearce

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s ominously prophetic novel novel, the all-powerful government limits the ability of the people to think for themselves through the debasing and dumbing-down of the language. The institution by Big Brother of a politically “correct” vocabulary, known as Newspeak, flattens and constricts the language so that words which express moral, aesthetic or analytical distinctions are removed from the lexicon, rendering precise or nuanced discussion of moral or ethical issues effectively impossible.

Newspeak,” writes Harder, “was a means of not only controlling the public conversation, but also private thought.”

Orwell is right and Harder is to be praised for reminding us of the fact. The effective prohibition on certain politically “incorrect” words, causing them to fall out of usage so that new generations will have no knowledge of them, will ultimately render any dissident thought unthinkable (quite literally).

We think with words and therefore the removal of words removes our ability to think about the things that they signify. The less that we are masters of a rich and vivid vocabulary the easier will we be mastered by the thought police of political correctness. Take, for example, the effective removal of words such as “sin” or “virtue” from political debate or polite conversation. Without such words it becomes increasingly difficult to discuss issues of morality in any objective sense. If the thought police are successful, future generations will not even know these words and will, therefore, not even be able to think about issues of morality in any objective sense. Such a scenario, should it come to pass, would be the triumph of today’s Big Brother: relativism. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:44 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Cheese, potatoes, church, belonging, 'hidden killers', long life personality traits and Oct4, the 'fountain of youth' gene

Cheese triggers the same part of the brain as hard drugs, say scientists

Researchers from the University of Michigan have revealed that cheese contains a chemical found in addictive drugs. Casein, a chemical, which is found in all dairy products, can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors, producing a feeling of euphoria linked to those of hard drug addiction.

Scientists studying dairy products found that in milk, casein has a minuscule dosage. But producing a pound of cheese requires about 10 pounds of milk — with addictive casein coagulating the solid milk fats and separating them from the liquids.  As a result the super-strength chemical becomes concentrated when in solid dairy form, so you’ll get a higher hit of addictive casein by tucking into a cheese sandwich than you will in your morning bowl of cereal.

Eating potatoes four times a week raises risk of high blood pressure: Baked are as bad as fries - but chips  have no effect

Baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes raises the risk of high blood pressure.  Researchers, from Harvard Medical School, think eating any form of potato too often can cause blood pressure problems. They suspect the starch in potatoes is to blame. Because potatoes have a high glycaemic index, these starchy carbohydrates rapidly transform into sugars in the body, triggering a sharp rise in blood sugar levels.  Over time, this may cause blood sugar problems, the researchers said.

The experts, whose work was published in the British Medical Journal, analyzed data from 187,000 men and women tracked in three large US projects for 20 years.  The results suggest women who eat regularly eat potatoes may be at slightly higher risk of suffering high blood pressure than men. Overall, however, they found men or women who ate four or more servings a week of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes had an 11 per cent increased risk of high blood pressure compared to those who ate potatoes less than once a month.

New Harvard Study: Women Live Longer if They Go to Church

A new Harvard study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that women who regularly attend church services live longer. In the study, titled “Association of Religious Service Attendance With Mortality Among Women,” researchers found that women who attended church more than once per week had a 33% lower mortality rate, compared with women who never attended church.  The self-reported research took place over a 20-year period and investigated the church-going habits of 74,534 women who participated in the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study. The average baseline age of the women studied was 60 and most were Catholic or Protestant.

Tyler VanderWeele, Harvard professor and author of the study, said church attendance was an under-appreciated health resource. “Religious attendance is a relatively good determinant of health,” he said. Women who attended church regularly were more optimistic, had greater social support, lower rates of depression, were less likely to smoke and suffered less from anxiety.

A sense of belonging makes you happier:

If you feel you belong with your social group, chances are you are likely to be a happy soul.  Psychologists have found that people the more people feel connected to a group and connect with others, the more satisfied they were with their lives.  The findings show that identifying as part of a group may give people a stronger sense of purpose and security, as well as providing support them when times are tough.

Researchers from Nottingham Trent University focused on how connected people felt to certain groups, measuring the impact this had on their happiness and life satisfaction. They looked at almost 4,000 people, and focused on how much they identified with their family and local community. Additionally, participants added a group of their choice, such as a sports team, or a hobby group.

Managing your emotions can save your heart    The negative impact of emotions when your heart is already vulnerable

There are two kinds of stress that impact your brain. Helpful stress (also known as eustress) can assist you with getting things done by helping you focus your attention. Unhelpful stress (distress), on the other hand, can be so severe that it can lead to fatigue and heart disease.

If you have coronary artery disease (CAD), your heart may be deprived of oxygen. This deprivation of oxygen, called myocardial ischemia, can occur in as many as 30% to 50% of all patients with CAD.  It can be further exacerbated by emotional stress. In fact, if you have any type of heart disease, any strong emotion such as anger may also cause severe and fatal irregular heart rhythms. Expressions like “died from fright” and “worried to death” are not just hyperbole — they are physiologic possibilities. Furthermore, when patients with newly diagnosed heart disease become depressed, that depression increases the risk that a harmful heart-related event will occur within that year.

Revealed, the five 'hidden killers' that could send you to an early grave

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Chicago University researchers said we must look at a person as a whole if we are to accurately judge their health. Lead author Martha McClintock said: ‘The new comprehensive model of health identifies constellations of health completely hidden by the medical model.’
The team, which included psychologists, sociologists and doctors specializing in the care of the elderly, analyzed a mountain of data on the health and habits of 3,000 men and women aged between 57 and 85 and discovered the 'hidden killers':

Loneliness
Losing your sense of smell
Broken sleep
Breaking a bone in middle age
Difficulty in walking

The researchers say these factors are just as important as obvious medical conditions such as weight, blood pressure and heart disease.  In fact, being obese won’t necessarily send people to an early grave. And age, it seems, really is just a number. These contained some surprises.  For instance, the members of the healthiest group were all overweight. And despite them having only a 6 per cent chance of dying or becoming very unwell, high blood pressure was also common.However, psychological health, mobility and the sense of smell were all good and the researchers said that if an older adult is otherwise healthy, obesity ‘seems to pose very little risk’.

Scientists have discovered 5 personality traits linked with a long life

For their 75-year study of 300 engaged couples who enrolled in the study in their mid-20s, researchers found that men who were seen by their friends as more conscientious, meaning they were less likely to take risks but also tended to be more thorough and efficient, lived longer.  In sum, the five traits are:

Conscientiousness
Openness
Emotional stability
Friendliness
The ability to express feelings

'Fountain of youth' gene prevents heart attacks, stroke - and could lead to drugs that DELAY aging

A single gene is thought to protect against heart attacks and stroke as well as delay aging, scientists have discovered. The strand of DNA responsible - dubbed the 'fountain of youth' gene - had previously been thought to be inactive in adults.
Scientists believed the gene, named Oct4, was active in embryos but silenced as a person reached adulthood.

However, the new discovery is now hoped to open a new avenue for those battling deadly conditions, and raises the tantalizing prospect that doctors could one day use the gene to protect or delay the effects of aging. Dr Owens and his colleagues have determined the gene plays a crucial protective role in the formation of key plaques inside the blood vessels. The rupturing of these plaques is the underlying cause of many heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers found Oct4 controls the creation of protective fibrous 'caps' inside the plaques - caps that make the plaques less likely to rupture. In addition to this finding, the scientists believe the gene promotes a number of changes in gene expression that help to stabilize these plaques
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink

May 20, 2016

Redskins

You may be as weary as I am over the crusade to get the Washington Redskins to change its name to "something less offensive"

But no one ever took a poll of American Indians until now and what the Washington Post found is shocking.

New poll finds 9 in 10 Native Americans aren’t offended by Redskins name

A poll for the Washington Post finds that 90 percent of Native Americans are not offended by the name of the Washington Redskins football team.
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Across every demographic group, the vast majority of Native Americans say the team’s name does not offend them, including 80 percent who identify as politically liberal, 85 percent of college graduates, 90 percent of those enrolled in a tribe, 90 percent of non-football fans and 91 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 39.

Most Americans agree according to a 2013 AP poll.  Nearly four in five Americans don't think the team should change its name, the survey found. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while 8 percent weren't sure and 2 percent didn't answer.

Only the political and media elite see any problem in the name.  As the Washington Post story points out

Since the nearly half-century-old debate regained national attention in 2013, opponents of the name have won a string of high-profile victories, garnering support from President Obama, 50 Democratic U.S. senators, dozens of sports broadcasters and columnists, several newspaper editorial boards (including The Post’s), a civil rights organization that works closely with the National Football League and tribal leaders throughout Indian Country.
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Team owner Daniel Snyder said, “The Washington Redskins team, our fans and co
mmunity have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride.  Today’s Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree. We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community, and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name.”

Unbelievably, ESPN reporters say this:  Native Americans Who Aren’t Offended By ‘Redskins’ Don’t Know What They’re Talking About

At Breitbart, they call it Death of a Social Justice Warrior Crusade: 90 Percent of Native Americans Not Offended By Redskins Name

Will this ostensibly stunning poll result force liberals to rethink their social-justice agenda, reconsider their arrogance in presuming to speak for designated “victim” groups… or at least accept that nobody names multi-million-dollar sports franchises after people, animals, or objects they disdain?

Don’t count on it. Even though no one seems able to pummel a poll into disgorging more than 28% support among non-Native Americans for changing the Redskins name, the Left will never admit they were wrong about this.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:21 PM | Permalink

Miscellany 43

Amazing. Teen Discovers Lost Maya City Using Ancient Star Maps

Using an unprecedented technique of matching stars to the locations of temples on Earth, a 15-year-old Canadian student says he’s discovered a forgotten Maya city in Central America. Images from space suggest he may actually be onto something.

William Gadoury, a teen from Saint-Jean-de-Matha in Lanaudière, developed an interest in archaeology after the publication of the Maya calendar announcing the end of the world in 2012. After spending hours pouring over diagrams of constellations and maps of known Maya cities, he noticed that the two appeared to be linked; the brightest stars of the constellations overlaid perfectly with the locations of the largest Maya cities. As reported in The Telegraph, no other scientist had ever discovered such a correlation.

" I was really surprised and excited when I realized that the most brilliant stars of the constellations matched the largest Maya cities.”".....Daniel de Lisle of the Canadian Space Agency said he was fascinated by the depth of Gadoury’s research, and that linking the position of stars and the location of a lost city “is quite exceptional.”

In The Guardian, The day we discovered our parents were Russian spies

For years Donald Heathfield, Tracey Foley and their two children lived the American dream. Then an FBI raid revealed the truth: they were agents of Putin’s Russia. Their sons tell their story

If Tim and Alex’s story sounds eerily familiar to fans of The Americans, the television drama about a KGB couple living in the US with their two children, that’s because it’s partly based on them. The show is set in the 1980s, providing a cold war backdrop, but the 2010 spy round-up served as an inspiration. The show’s creator, Joe Weisberg, trained to be a CIA case officer in the early 1990s and, when I speak to him on the phone, tells me he always wanted to put family at the heart of the plot.

A Secret Sculpture Made of Living Trees

 Secret Sculpture
David Nash, an artist, owns land in rural northern Wales. In 1977, he began growing and shaping a circle of trees to form this structure. It's a living sculpture of 22 ash trees called Ash Dome.

8 More Extraordinary Pieces of Architecture Grown From Living Trees

 Gilroy Gardens Cal

How a Wine and Cocaine Cocktail became Coca Cola from the VA Viper

Less well-known is the story about how Coca Cola originates from an alcoholic drink based on cocaine and wine, Bordeaux wine to be specific - a particular combination which made for a distinctly more toxic beverage, known as Coca Wine.

Coca Wine was first developed in 1863 by a French-Corsican entrepreneur in Paris, Angelo Mariani. His advertising in Europe and the United States claimed the tonic would “cure melancholia … restore health, strength, energy, and vitality”. During the second half of the 19th century, everyone was drinking the stuff. Vin Mariani was a favorite amongst celebrities of the day including Thomas Edison, Jules Verne, Sarah Bernhardt, Ulysses S Grant and was even Queen Victoria’s drink of choice. Pope Leo XIII personally endorsed the wine, lending his face to the brand’s advertising campaign - he even awarded it the Vatican gold medal.

And, in fact, when alcohol and cocaine combine, they form a chemical they create a third unique drug called cocaethylene, which produces a feeling of euphoria more powerful and longer lasting than cocaine is capable of producing on its own.

Newlywed husband divorces his wife hours after the ceremony because she was too busy texting her friends to have sex on their wedding night

A relative told Saudi daily Al Watan: 'The groom tried to get closer with her and more intimate, but he was shocked when she ignored him, not responding to his words and action. 'When he asked her if her friends were more important than he was, the bride answered that they were.'

Civilization As We Know It May Have Started Because Of Beer

Civilization started because of agriculture — that much is known. But what if agriculture started because of beer?  Which came first, beer or bread?

Why Do We Put Candles on a Birthday Cake?  And for heaven's sake, don't miss the short video of a 102-year-old woman blowing out the birthday cake candles and her dentures as well.  Here.

How Winston Churchill's Doctor's Note Allowed Him to Drink "Unlimited" Alcohol in Prohibition America

Reading digital books can hinder your ability to think abstractly

Researchers at Dartmouth Tiltfactor lab have found that reading news stories, features and books on screens makes people more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly.

What Happens When You Build a Cube Out of One Way Mirrors is mesmerizing.

BBC  How Dung Beetles Dance on a Ball of Manure While Mentally Recording a SkyMap They Use to Navigate

Goose Finds Cop and Leads Him To Her Trapped Baby   In Cincinnati, Officer James Givens was sitting in his patrol car when...

"This goose came up and started pecking on the side of the car.  I threw some food out for her, but she didn't take it. She just kept pecking and quacking. Then she walked away, stopped and looked back. Then came over again and pecked some more."

When the goose walked away a second time, and again looked back, Givens decided to follow her. And it's a good thing that he did.

"She led me about 100 yards away to this grassy area near a creek. That's when I saw one of her babies all tangled up in some string from a balloon. His little feet were kicking," said Givens. "She led me straight to him."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink

"The Nuns Fought the Law and the Nuns Won"

"The Nuns Fought the Law and the Nuns Won" Eric Metaxas writes about this great victory for religious freedom
On May 15th, the Supreme Court handed a big victory to the Little Sisters of the Poor and other Christian organizations that refused to go along with the HHS contraceptive mandate....This unanimous order vacates previous lower court orders and removes the threat of ruinous fines from over the heads of the groups. It orders “lower Courts to help the government choose an alternative method of providing the services” that does not require the participation of the religious groups.

Not that you would know this if all you had to go on was the reaction of the mainstream media. When they weren’t downplaying the impact of the court’s three-page ruling remanding the cases to the lower courts, they were all-but-ignoring the story....

The Nuns beat Obama so why does the Media Want To Make Sure You Never Hear About ‘The Little Sisters Of The Poor’?
Mollie Hemingway writes

The Little Sisters of the Poor is a large Roman Catholic religious order for women, founded 177 years ago to care for the impoverished elderly as they approach their final rest. The Little Sisters make vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and hospitality. They view their physical care of the elderly as a spiritual calling. They serve in 31 countries and they are awesome.

They won a major religious battle yesterday. The Obama administration wanted to fine them $70 million per year for their religious objection to taking part in a government scheme to distribute birth control. ....Nine times the government rewrote regulations that would force the nuns to take part in the plan or be fined out of existence, each time claiming that the present version of regulations was as far as they could go to accommodate religious belief. Each time the sisters remained steadfast. Their story never changed. They didn’t weigh in on the government’s birth control plan except to say they wanted no part in it, due to their long-standing, sincerely held religious beliefs.

Yesterday the court ruled against the fines and vacated lower court rulings against the sisters. Since the Obama administration had already admitted to the court that it could find another way to accomplish its goals, the court simply asked lower courts to give them time to do just that.
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A case of “Little Sisters of the Poor” vs. “Powerful Men in Government” is a gift from the editorial gods. But our media are too busy scare-quoting “religious liberty” and pushing an authoritarian agenda. Actually identifying the Little Sisters, much less neutrally profiling them, much less giving their story the weight it deserves, that just won’t do. We have stories to cover poorly and narrative agendas to push.

The Washington Post writes Mona Charen in You Can’t Make Me Say It (quoth WaPo)

What’s in a name? The top story in the print version of today’s Washington Post carries this headline: “Justices Return Contraceptive Case to Lower Courts.” In the six and a half paragraphs explaining the decision on the front page, the plaintiff’s name goes unmentioned. When you flip to the jump, you’ve got to read down another five paragraphs to learn this is the case brought by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

We shouldn’t fetishize language, but the name of this order of nuns (however it was arrived at — I have no idea how long it has been around or how it chose its name) is perfectly pitched to make liberals/progressives squirm. Just as the Left used every possible locution to avoid using the term “partial-birth abortion” — the editors of the Post and others go to some considerable trouble to bury the name “Little Sisters of the Poor.”

Hemingway calls out the New York Times

But a very special prize goes out to Adam Liptak of the New York Times. ...Liptak’s 22-paragraph, 1283-word story manages to mention the Little Sisters of the Poor not once. Not in the headline. Not in the lede. Not in any paragraph or sentence. Not in the captions, even though the captions had to work really hard to avoid mentioning them......
Our media, the hacks who are “dumb, uneducated and eager to deceive” on the existentially important issue of religious liberty, don’t do that in this case. Their silence and covering-up on behalf of the regime is telling.


Terry Mattingly at Get Religion explains it: "The goal is to write that final headline that Will. Make. This. Stuff. Go. Away."

There's no doubt in my mind that the Obama Administration wanted to stick it to the nuns with $80 million in fines.  There's no reason why they couldn't have been given an exemption.  After all, the Administration gave out 1237 waivers from parts of Obamacare to corporations.  Here's the list.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2016

Health roundup: Risks of tylenol and heartburn drugs, daily beer good, so are gardens, advances in breast cancer, Alzheimers and depression

Acetaminophen doesn't just kill pain - it makes us less CARING

Acetaminophen may be a more powerful painkiller than we realize.  Research shows that the popular pills don’t just ease our pain, they also stop us from feeling others’ pain.  It is thought by dulling the part of the brain that feels pain, we also find it harder to imagine what others are going through.

With previous research crediting acetaminophen with blunting joy, the researchers say we have a lot to learn about the drug....Previous research has found it to take some of the pain out of making difficult choices.  The team is now starting to study ibuprofen, to see if it produces similar results.

Popular heartburn tablets 'may increase risk of dementia, heart attacks and kidney problems'

Indigestion pills taken daily by millions of people around the globe may increase the risk of dementia, heart attacks and kidney problems, research suggests. Scientists found proton pump inhibitors - available in supermarkets and pharmacies without a prescription – accelerate the aging of cells which line blood vessels. Researchers said that the discovery was a ‘smoking gun’ which backs up previous reports linking long-term use of PPI medicines to several serious illnesses. Sold in bottles and packets, the drugs are used to treat gastroesophageal reflux, a severe form of heartburn.
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In the new study, lab tests at Houston Methodist Research Institute found long-term exposure to PPIs accelerated the aging of the human endothelial cells which line the inside of blood vessels.  Writing in the journal Circulation Research, they said: ‘When healthy, these cells create a Teflon-like coating that prevents blood from sticking. ‘But older and diseased, the endothelium becomes more like Velcro, with blood elements sticking to the vessel to form blockages.’
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But the findings are supported by a German study of 74,000 people, published in the journal JAMA Neurology in February, which suggested that elderly people who used PPIs at least once every three months had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia compared with those who did not take the drugs.  And a Stanford study of 3million people, published last July, suggested that people who took PPIs were 16 to 21 per cent more likely to have a heart attack.

FORTY mutated genes are to blame for the 10 different forms of breast cancer, experts at the University of Cambridge discover

Only a fraction of these genes were previously known to be involved in the development of the disease....The information could, in the future, help design clinical trials for breast cancer patients, or give researchers more flags to look out for in liquid biopsies, a type of test used to detect genetic material in the blood that is released by dying cancer cells.

Brain scan spots Alzheimer's 15 YEARS before symptoms appear: Early detection will help delay onset of disease

Scientists are using positive emission tomography (PET) scans that can identify clumps of destructive proteins that form in the brain. These clumps build up for years  before symptoms of Alzheimer's appear.

A beer a day keeps a heart attack at bay: Even one can reduces risk of disease by a quarter

A review of 150 studies found that drinking 1.4 pints a day  reduces risk of heart problems and does not increase risk of dementia or cancers.
Alcohol and other chemicals in the drink protects heart and blood vessels.  But researchers warned binge drinking is known to harm our health

Green thumb?  Expect to see a ripe old age: Having access to a garden or living near the countryside 'helps people live longer'

Research conducted by Harvard University explored the link between higher amounts of vegetation and mortality rates. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, it studied the well-being of 108,630 women and adds further weight to the suggestion urban living takes a greater physical toll.  Specifically, researchers found those who live in the urban jungle had a 12 per cent higher death rate than those with access to green spaces. In addition, they also had higher chances of developing cancer or respiratory illnesses.

Those in the greenest areas had a 34 per cent lower rate of respiratory disease-related mortality and a 13 per cent lower rate of cancer mortality. The increased opportunity to get out and be active, along with breathing in less air pollution or suffering noise pollution were factors in reducing death rates.

Scientists think they've found the key to ketamine's unprecedented anti-depressant effects

Back in February, we reported how patients with severe depression have been reporting "unbelievable" relief from taking the psychedelic party drug, ketamine, with symptoms being treated within hours, and doctors reporting response rates of 75 percent.
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Now a new study, published in Nature, brings us closer to an answer. Researchers in the US report that a breakdown product of ketamine - not the drug itself - appears to be responsible for the anti-depressant effects seen in a mouse study....One of these breakdown molecules, a chemical called (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine, appears to be behind the benefits. 

Fountain of Youth? Drug Trial Has Seniors Scrambling to Prove They’re Worthy

What if there were a way to stave off the creaks and calamities of old age? Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is working on it. With word leaking out, seniors from all over the globe have been hounding Dr. Barzilai and his colleagues to get in on the action—with many writing to prove their worthiness. Never mind that formal patient recruitment is still perhaps a year away.
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Behind the mania is a widely used, inexpensive generic pill for Type 2 diabetes called metformin. Scientists are planning a clinical trial to see if the drug can delay or prevent some of the most devastating diseases of advanced age, from heart ailments to cognitive decline to cancer. To test the pill, gerontologists at 14 aging centers around the U.S. will follow 3,000 seniors for six years. Half the seniors involved would get the drug, while the others would receive a placebo.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 PM | Permalink

May 12, 2016

Christians, Gays and Women Find No Safety in German Refugee Centers, only Violence and Harassment

The most persecuted and victimized people in the world today are Christians, particularly Christians living in Muslim-majority countries or, as you can see below, Christians in refugee camps in Germany where most of the migrants are Muslim and the security guards are Muslim. 

Christians facing violence and harassment inside German Refugee Centers Muslim guards involved in the abuse of Christian refugees, forced Islamic prayers imposed on non-Muslims

For many Christians fleeing the nightmare of religious persecution in Arab and Muslim lands their torment and suffering doesn’t end when they arrive on the shores of Europe since Islamist bullies single them out for harassment. A detailed study released by the Christian group Open Doors on Monday says that newly arrived Christian refugees in Germany are facing systematic violence, harassment and abuse at the hands of Muslim migrants.

The most disturbing part of the study is the abuse faced by Christians at the hands of Muslim guards inside the German refugee housing. In many refugee housing centres most of the migrants and the security guards are Muslim. The Christian group talked about the prevailing atmosphere of “fear and panic” among the persecuted Christians arriving in Germany. According to a Christian minister from Berlin, Christian refugees must take part in Islamic prayer and threatened if they refused to comply.

The group Open Doors Germany collected testimonies of 231 Christian refugees, most of them coming from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. The study found that an overwhelming majority, nearly 90 percent, of the respondents admitted being attacked and harassed on grounds of their Christian faith. Apart from widespread harassment, 37 percent of these Christian refugees suffered physical injuries and 32 percent admitted receiving death threats. According to survey, an overwhelming majority (88 percent) said they have been targeted by other migrants because of their religion. Additionally, almost one-half of survey participants accused guards of discriminating against religious minorities or harassing them  Out of 231 Christian migrants, 42 percent have reported insults, 37 percent said they suffered a physical injury, and 32 percent allegedly received death threats. (…)
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Open Doors Germany urged German government to take urgent steps to address the plight of Christians, Yezidis and other non-Muslim minorities housed in refugee centres. One suggestion is to separate the Christians and the non-Muslims from the Muslim migrants. The group is asking the government to place non-Muslim guards to protect the Christian refugees.

As the Lutheran minister Gottfried Martens asked the press on Monday, does “every last Christian [in Germany] needs to be attacked” before the government could get its act together?

REPORT: Christians, Gays, Women Fleeing Asylum Centres Due To Persecution By Muslim Men

Christians, homosexuals and women are fleeing asylum centres in Germany in ever growing numbers due to acts of violence, intolerance and crime perpetrated by Muslim men.

According to German newspaper Die Welt, the violence toward ethnic minorities, religious minorities and women continues to skyrocket across German asylum centres. Muslim men tear up Bibles and assault Christians, sexually abuse women and children, and beat up homosexuals. The news has led to calls from human rights campaigners to say enough is enough.
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Breitbart London has reported on migrant violence within asylum homes with cases of Christians, homosexuals and others being beaten in asylum centres across Germany, reports of asylum centres as breeding grounds for extremism, and even young children being brutally raped by fellow migrants.

Watch this video from Prager University presented by Raymond Ibrahim: Christians, the World’s Most Persecuted Minority.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:32 PM | Permalink

May 7, 2016

Health Roundup: Cancer Cure 'on the brink', Alzheimers stopped in its tracks, heartburn drugs, light therapy, reversing tooth decay and chocolate for your brain

Cancer Cure 'on the brink'  Starving Cancer Cells by cutting off key supply routes  'eradicates tumors'

To arrive at their findings, a team from The Australian National University, blocked gateways through which the cancer cell was obtaining the amino acid glutamine.  They found the cells almost completely stopped growing.

Professor Stefan Bröer, who led the study, said: 'This is likely to work in a wide range of cancers, because it is a very common mechanism in cancer cells.'  'Better still, this should lead to chemotherapy with much less serious side-effects, as normal cells do not use glutamine as a building material. ...Crucial white blood cells, which current treatments damage, could be spared, and it could cut out the hair loss that chemotherapy causes.'
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Lead author Angelika Bröer spearheaded the effort to identify and genetically knock out glutamine transporters.'It is an exciting time to do cancer research,' she said. ...Now the importance of glutamine gateways have been identified in cancer, the hunt is on to find drug treatments that will lock them down and kill the disease....: 'we have developed a set of tests, which make it very easy to determine if a drug is targeting glutamine transporters.This means we can set robots to work that will test tens of thousands of drugs for us over the next year or two.'  The results are published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

First drug that can stop Alzheimer's in its tracks 

A new breakthrough study shows a drug can stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease - and it could be available within five years.  Tests have shown that a cheap drug commonly used to treat diabetes called Liraglutide stopped the brain disease from advancing and in some cases even gave sufferers a cognitive boost.  No study has ever before shows such dramatic results, and it could mean those who detect the disease at an early stage could live a lifetime of normal brain function.

The breakthrough was made a Denmark's Aarthus University and trials have now begun at Imperial College London, with neuroscientists said to be 'really excited', reports The Express.  Professor Jorgen Rungby, who led the study in Denmark, said: 'This is a significant step. We now have a drug that appears to have some kind of effect on how the brain works in Alzheimer’s.

The drug is commonly used to treat diabetes and scientists recognize a link between type 2 of the disease and Alzheimer's, as the brain being unable to utilize sugar is a symptom of dementia.  A 26-week test on 38 patients resulted in 'proof in principle' that the drug halted the progression of the disease, with patients maintaining their brain metabolism.  It is now being tested on 206 people in 20 hospitals around the UK, who will be given the drug via insulin pen, then have their memory and thinking assessed by doctors.

Dr Paul Edison, consultant physician at Imperial College, London, is leading the UK trials and expects the results by 2018.  He said: 'If effective, there could be a potential new and safe treatment for Alzheimer’s in the next five years.'

WSJ A Simple Tool to Ease Cancer’s Side Effects

In a test, researchers at Mount Sinai try light therapy to help the fatigue and depression that many cancer patients feel...“We know that cancer patients are light-deprived,” says William Redd, a Mount Sinai psychologist and professor of medicine and another of the lead researchers in the trial. “You feel lousy, you stay at home, you feel even worse.” Light therapy “has had a major impact on cancer patients with fatigue and depression,”

WSJ Simple Dental Treatments May Reverse Decay

Some fillings may not be necessary.  A recent study led by Wendell Evans at the University of Sydney supports growing evidence that early tooth decay, before a cavity forms, can often be arrested and reversed with simple treatments that restore minerals in the teeth, rather than the more typical drill-and-fill approach.

The randomized, controlled trial followed 19 dental practices in Australia for three years, then researchers checked up on the patients again four years later. The result: After seven years, patients receiving remineralization treatment needed on average 30% fewer fillings.  In the study, patients in the experimental group with early decay received a fluoride varnish to the site. Dentists also gave those patients fluoride varnish preventively two to four times a year, and encouraged them to brush well and avoid sugary snacks between meals.

Commonly used heartburn drugs may lead to kidney damage

Long-term use of a common type of medication used to treat heartburn, acid reflux, and ulcers may lead to an increased risk of kidney disease and kidney failure, new research shows. The study, published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, adds to prior research that suggests proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), a group of drugs which reduces gastric acid production, can lead to serious kidney damage.

The paper notes that an estimated 15 million Americans were prescribed PPIs in 2013, though the authors point out that the number is likely higher as many, including Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, are available over the counter. ....After controlling for other factors, including age and other diseases, this translated to a 28 percent increased risk of developing kidney disease for PPI users.

Could PROBIOTICS ward off cancer? Increasing levels of 'good' bacteria in the intestines 'slows and stops the disease developing'

New study found anti-inflammatory bacteria lowers risk of cancer.  Experts at UCLA found the bacteria, used to make yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut 'slows and stops the development of lymphoma'

Eating chocolate regularly ‘improves brain function’ according to new study

Researchers used data collected from a Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS), in which 968 people aged between 23 and 98 were measured for dietary intake and cardiovascular risk factors, as well as cognitive function.  They found that regularly eating chocolate was significantly associated with cognitive function “irrespective of other dietary habits”.  More frequent chocolate consumption was “significantly associated with better performance on [cognitive tests including] visual-spatial memory and organization, working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination”.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:52 PM | Permalink

Another spectacular hack

Cyber Experts: Change Passwords After Massive Hack

The thefts involved some of the biggest email providers in the world such as Google, Yahoo, Hotmail and Microsoft. The bulk of the stolen accounts—some 272.3 million—.... according to Alex Holden, founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security who discovered the theft.

"We know he's a young man in central Russia who collected this information from multiple sources," Holden told NBC News. "We don't know the way he did it or the reason why he did it."

The user names and passwords were being offered for sale on the so-called "dark web" where hackers hock their goods.

The Dark Web

The dark web is a part of the internet that remains unindexed by search engines and can only be accessed using specific web browsing tools such as Tor. It is frequently used by whistleblowers, activists in tyrannous countries, and technology professionals, but its advanced anonymity and concealment also makes it a frequent habitat for cyber-criminals including hackers, terrorists, and pedophiles.

Since the mass hack has been discovered, security professionals are advising that anyone with a personal email account immediately change their password. This includes anyone who has an account with Hotmail, Microsoft, Gmail (Google Mail), Yahoo, and Mail.ru.


The second step to take is to Set Up Two-Factor Authentication

Don't let the fancy name throw you, it just means that to log in to your account you need two ways to prove you are who you say you are. It's like the bank or DMV asking for two forms of ID.

The idea is that a hacker is going to have a much harder time getting both forms of ID, and it's true. Most major services and companies, such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, offer two-factor authentication now....

In most cases, one of the "factors" is a randomly generated code sent to your cellphone. If a hacker steals your password and tries to log in to your account on an unknown computer, the site will ask them for the second code. Unless they also stole your phone, and were able to unlock it, they won't be able to get the second code to log in. ....a bit more effort at first, but it gets easier fast and the security benefits are huge. Plus, you can set up "safe" computers and gadgets, such as your home computer or tablet, where you don't have to go through the whole sign-in process every time
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 PM | Permalink

Miscellany 41

I began listening to nature sounds in the 80s and often still do when I am writing.  But I never knew about  The Man Who Recorded, Tamed and Then Sold Nature Sounds to America

A forgotten 1970s-era hippie polymath named Irv Teibel created the "soothing" vibe of the great outdoors....New York's least likely media mogul was the mastermind behind Environments, a series of records he swore were "The Future of Music." From 1969 to 1979, he took the best parts of nature, turned them up to 11, engraved them on 12-inch records, and sold them back to us by the millions. He had a musician's ear, an artist's heart, and a salesman's tongue....

Between 1969 and 1979, Teibel released 11 environments LPs. Most sold well, though none approached the success of "The Psychologically Ultimate Seashore," which moved enough units that he never had to work again. His records couldn’t go out of style, Teibel figured, because they were never in style in the first place. They were functional items—“like a bar of soap,” he said.
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Teibel's cultural reputation is quietly growing alongside his scientific one, thanks to historians and music buffs like Jonathan Een Newton. ....It is, in his eyes, a major one. Teibel is a kind of auditory missing link. "Before, there’s Muzak, there’s mood music, and there’s sound effects records. Afterwards, there’s new age music, ambient music, Brian Eno... and he’s right in between," Een Newton says. "He's a forgotten godfather."

Why Do We Forget What We’re Doing the Minute We Enter a Room?

It’s called the Doorway Effect, and it’s actually a sign that your brain is in fine working order.

Four generations of royals

On the occasion of her 90th, some spectacular photographic portraits of Queen Elizabeth the royal family have been released.   Queen+3 Generations

My favorite by Ranald MacKechnie was planned as a stamp sheet

 Royal-Stamps-Featuring-Prince-George

Meet the woman who makes fake fingers for Japan's reformed gangsters

Yukako Fukushima crafts lifelike pinkies to help yakuza criminals who severed fingers as a mark of contrition begin a new life

Mesmerizing Gifs Capture The Changes Of Old Age

They are animated to show a clean transition between youth and old age, in which the young and old images of the pictured individuals are superimposed onto each other. They are an excellent way of highlighting what changes in us as we grow older – some facial features remain recognizable and similar, while others change drastically.

Signs of the Times Shepherd Charges Phone Using A Donkey and A Solar Panel

 Shepherd-Charges-Phone-Donkey

Two remarkable examples of what the human spirit can achieve:  Handless 7-Year-Old Wins National Handwriting Competition

 Anaya Ellick 7 Wins Handwriting Competition
And Russian teenager born with no fingers becomes celebrated piano player
Alexey Romanov first took up music two years ago after being inspired by the works of Mozart and Vivaldi.  In the short time since he has performed for the republic’s orchestra and has found fame on national TV.

 Alexander
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:35 PM | Permalink

Art is Good for your Heart

A scientific study confirms the obvious, Art is Good for your Heart.

Experts recently studied 100 people during a visit to the monumental Basilica of Vicoforte in northern Italy's Cuneo - with surprising results.
Prior to entering the 18th century church, participants had their saliva tested for presence of the stress hormone cortisol.  The volunteers - men and women of different ages and with varying IQ levels - climbed 200 ft to the apex of the building as part of their two-hour experience. Then, following their tour of the building - which is famed for its elliptical cupola, the world's largest - the test was performed again.

 Oval-Cupola Basilica-Vicoforte


Professor Enzo Grossi, who studies the relationship between culture and physical health, told La Repubblica newspaper: 'On average, we found that cortisol levels dropped by 60 per cent. More than 90 per cent of the participants said they felt much better at the end of the experience.

'The idea of art as therapy is not new. But this is the first time that the beneficial effect of art on health has been measured.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink

May 6, 2016

"Every industry gets worse when government gets involved"

The cost of federal regulations each year for each household is about $15,000.     Economy Hit With Hidden $1.9 Trillion Tax From Federal Regulations.

More than 3,400 rules were issued by agencies, while Congress only enacted 114 laws in 2015, the report said. That means there were about 30 regulations for every law passed

No one can keep up, no matter how many administrators are hired.

 Growth Drs Admin

"I am a general surgeon with more than three decades in private clinical practice. And I am fed up," wrote Jeffrey Singer in How Government Killed the Medical Profession  in Reason, 2013

Government interventions over the past four decades have yielded a cascade of perverse incentives, bureaucratic diktats, and economic pressures that together are forcing doctors to sacrifice their independent professional medical judgment, and their integrity. The consequence is clear: Many doctors from my generation are exiting the field. Others are seeing their private practices threatened with bankruptcy, or are giving up their autonomy for the life of a shift-working hospital employee. Governments and hospital administrators hold all the power, while doctors—and worse still, patients—hold none.
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Once free to be creative and innovative in their own practices, doctors are becoming more like assembly-line workers, constrained by rules and regulations aimed to systemize their craft. It’s no surprise that retirement is starting to look more attractive. The advent of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which put the medical profession’s already bad trajectory on steroids, has for many doctors become the straw that broke the camel’s back.
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A June 2012 survey of 36,000 doctors in active clinical practice by the Doctors and Patients Medical Association found 90 percent of doctors believe the medical system is “on the wrong track” and 83 percent are thinking about quitting. Another 85 percent said “the medical profession is in a tailspin.” 65 percent say that “government involvement is most to blame for current problems.” In addition, 2 out of 3 physicians surveyed in private clinical practice stated they were “just squeaking by or in the red financially.”
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As old-school independent-thinking doctors leave, they are replaced by protocol-followers. Medicine in just one generation is transforming from a craft to just another rote occupation.

Every Industry Gets Worse When Government Gets Involved

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Hilarious Ikea fail

Hilarious pictures show people butchering the most basic tasks

 Ikea Fail

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