May 31, 2017

The Hatton Garden heist

How a Group of Retirees Pulled off the Biggest Jewelry Heist in British History

The audacious April 2015 ransacking of safe-deposit boxes in Hatton Garden, London’s jewelry district, was epic. So much cash, jewelry, and other valuables had been taken that the loot had been hauled away in giant trash containers on wheels.
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The Hatton Garden heist, it turned out, had been the work of a ragtag group of superannuated criminals. “Run? They can barely walk,” Danny Jones wrote to a reporter from jail. “One has cancer, he’s 76, another heart condition 68. another 75, can’t remember his name. Sixty-year-old with two new hips and knees.”

Yet they had defied age, physical infirmities, burglar alarms, and even Scotland Yard to power their way through walls of concrete and solid steel and haul away a prize estimated at more than £14 million ($17 million), at least £10.3 million ($12.7 million) of which is still missing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:27 AM | Permalink

May 30, 2017

Heckler's veto in France

In First Amendment law, a heckler's veto is the suppression of speech by the government, because of [the possibility of] a violent reaction by hecklers. It is the government that vetoes the speech, because of the reaction of the heckler. Under the First Amendment, this kind of heckler's veto is unconstitutional.  But not in France where 93% of Down Syndrome children were aborted.

French Censors Target Children With Down Syndrome

A public-service TV ad—‘Dear Future Mom’—is rejected because it could trigger guilty feelings.

The 2014 ad, “Dear Future Mom,” addresses a pregnant woman who has just discovered her baby has Down syndrome. “Dear future mom,” says one child. “Don’t be afraid,” says another. “Your child will be able to do many things.” “He’ll be able to hug you.” “He’ll be able to run toward you.” And so on.
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In France three TV networks agreed to carry it as a public service. The feedback was glowing—until that summer, when the government’s High Audiovisual Council, or CSA, issued a pair of regulatory bulletins interdicting the ad. The regulator said it was reacting to audience complaints.

It wasn’t until after the foundation retained legal counsel, in December 2014, that the nature of the audience complaints became clear. There were only two.

You can watch the viral Pro-Life video Dear Future Mom produced for World Down Syndrome Day on YouTube.  Here's another video by a young girl with Down Syndrome who says it's 'not scary' and garnered more than 8 million views on Facebook.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 PM | Permalink

How much has changed in 50 years

6 Statistics That Show How Much America Has Changed in a Half-Century 

Drawing on five decades of statistics, anecdotes, and other research, Murray sets out to make the case that America is, well, coming apart—economically, socially, and culturally.

It’s a fascinating book, largely because Murray really did his homework. Murray provides so many statistics and poignant anecdotes that his readers quickly realize a startling fact: the America of 1963 scarcely resembles that of 2017 from a social and cultural perspective.

1. Marriage Was Practically Universal And Divorce Extraordinarily Rare.

2. Out-Of-Wedlock Births Almost Never Happened, Especially In White Families.

3. Illegal Drugs Were Rare And Considered Exotic.

4. Religious Values Were Widely Held And Shared.

5. It Was Not Socially Acceptable For Men To Be Idle.

6. Television Was Much More Influential Than It Is Today.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:47 PM | Permalink

Miscellany #69

The Golden Egg in the Arctic in Sweden’s Lapland

 Golden Egg-1

It’s actually a rather brilliant design for a social structure for townspeople to meet and talk, while also serving as a fully functioning sauna.  The Solar Egg created by the artists Mats Bigert and Lars Bergström, is designed for harsh Kiruna’s town Arctic climate, where it goes from 24-hour-a-day darkness in the winter to the opposite with the sun around the clock in summer.

 Inside Golden-Egg-1

The Moon Trees

“Scattered around our planet are hundreds of creatures that have been to the Moon and back again. None of them are human.”—NASA

Pilot Takes Incredible Photos From His Cockpit, And They Will Blow You Away

You're Welcome says Gerald Vanderleun - 14 Mind-Blowing Tool Hacks

Spring in gorgeous time-lapse by Jamie Scott on Vimeo

The mysterious narwhal, with its strange protruding tusk, is called the ‘unicorn of the sea’

The tusk is actually a canine tooth which spirals anti-clockwise up to nine feet forward from the head of adult males and contains thousands of nerve endings which help narwhal sense tiny movements around them. Tusks washing up on the shore are thought to have inspired tales of unicorns. Now footage captured using aerial drones has found that the narwhals actually use the tusk to stun Arctic cod, rendering them immobile and thus easier to capture and eat.

England’s 500-year-old angel roofs are striking – and all but unknownslideshow at link

Think of medieval England’s finest gems, and castles probably come to mind first. But the country has another type of treasure that few people know about: angel roofs. Built between 1395 and the English Reformation of the mid-1500s, these roofs are decorated with intricately carved wooden angels. Only 170 survive today.

...The angels at Westminster Hall aren’t just decorative. Projecting out from the walls, they support vertical hammer posts and help hold up the entire roof structure, which is no mean feat: the roof’s oak alone weighs some 600 tons.

Because so little of the art from England’s medieval churches survived the Reformation makes these cherubim “the largest surviving body of major English medieval wood sculpture”, writes photographer and expert Michael Rimmer in his book The Angel Roofs of East Anglia: Unseen Masterpieces of the Middle Ages.

 Angel Roofs-1

When England broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the English Reformation. In that period, reformers attacked – and destroyed – all forms of medieval religious imagery, including the countless numbers of paintings, statues and other decorations that once made England’s medieval churches bright and colorful. It’s thought that more than 90% of religious imagery from England’s Middle Ages was lost by the mid-17th Century.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:44 PM | Permalink

May 26, 2017

"Undermining the social order, abrogating the rule of law, ... and sowing distrust" to eliminate threats to power

The Order of Lenin: ‘Find Some Truly Hard People’  Jonathan Brent examines the institutionalization of violence in Bolshevik culture and the Soviet state.

LENIN

The extreme conditions of the civil war from 1917 to 1922, in which some seven million people were killed, together with Lenin’s ruthless economic policies, led to the destitution and desperation of millions of people who found themselves without food, livelihood, shelter or security.  Mass uprisings of the peasantry resulted from the Soviet state’s draconian methods of procuring grain supplies. The fledgling Bolshevik regime needed this staple to stave off famine in the cities, and seeing no other option, Lenin issued in August 1918 this order, later discovered in a secret archive:

“Hang (hang without fail, so the people see) no fewer than one hundred known kulaks, rich men, bloodsuckers.” “Publish their names,” he instructed. “Take from them all the grain. Designate hostages.“Do it in such a way so that for hundreds of versts around people will see, tremble, know, shout,” he went on, that the Bolsheviks “are strangling, strangling to death the bloodsucker kulaks.” He concluded this grisly note with the directive: Find some truly hard people.” The following month, he ordered: It is necessary secretly — and urgently — to prepare the terror.”

STALIN

Lenin used terror against the avowed enemies of the state. Stalin turned it against the institutions of the state and Soviet society itself. Stalin followed Lenin, but surpassed him....The paradox, then, is that Stalin unleashed the Great Terror in 1936 at a time of relative peace and stability. The masses of enemies who suddenly appeared within Soviet society were largely invented. Millions of innocent people were arrested, tortured and shot, without evidence and according to quotas established in the Kremlin. Stalin did not bluff: Literally “anyone” could be guilty....

Nikolai Bukharin, the veteran Bolshevik and editor of Pravda, became one of those enemies: arrested in February 1937 and executed in March 1938. The authoritarian state Bukharin envisioned was based on a permanent state of destabilization, in which disruption and fear were essential ingredients of government. The writer Lydia Chukovskaya depicted the fear at the core of this inverted world in her devastating 1939 novel, “Sofia Petrovna,” which was not published in Russia until the late 1980s. The heroine of the title “was now afraid of everyone and everything,”

Undermining the social order, abrogating the rule of law, putting fear at the core of individual consciousness and sowing distrust were essential to Stalin’s goal of eliminating any threat to his absolute power.


One horrifying example of how far Stalin was willing to go is the artificial famine he imposed on the Ukraine during peacetime from 1932-1933, a deliberate action of mass murder known as the Holodomor or death by hunger.

The Two Abysses of the Soul by Costica Bradatan

In a recent book, Bloodlands, Yale historian Timothy Snyder estimates that approximately 3.3 million people died then of starvation. (Some three millions were ethnic Ukrainians; the rest were Russians, Poles, Germans, and Jews.) How was this done? First, when the peasants could not meet the excessively high quotas of grain set by Moscow, all their food supplies were confiscated. “The authorities searched for that grain as if they were searching for bombs and machine guns,” writes Vasily Grossman, whose book Everything Flows offers one of the most compassionate accounts of the Ukrainian famine. Everything edible was taken away by party activists and OGPU (Soviet security services) officers. Their entire seed fund was seized; even cooked food, dinner already set on the table, was swept away.

Once that was done, people were left to die the slowest of deaths: “The village was left to look after itself — with everyone starving in their huts. […] And all the various officials from the city stopped coming.” To make sure nobody escaped, roadblocks were set up by the OGPU, and the railway stations were guarded by armed soldiers. Through Party and OGPU channels, Stalin was kept abreast of what was going on.

“Death by hunger” is a degrading death. You don’t just die — before you do so you regress to an animal state. When no dogs and cats were to be found, people turned to mice and rats. When there was absolutely nothing left to eat, they started eating each other.


Walter Duranty, the New York Times Bureau Chief in Moscow at the time wrote a series of reports in which he criticized reports of the famine and denied its existence for which he won the Pulitzer Prize.

It was clear, meanwhile, from Duranty's personal exchanges that he was fully aware at the time of the scale of the calamity. In 1934 he privately reported to the British embassy in Moscow that as many as 10 million people may have died, directly or indirectly, from famine in the Soviet Union in the previous year. Both British intelligence and American engineer Zara Witkin (1900–1940), who worked in the USSR from 1932 to 1934, confirmed that Duranty knowingly misrepresented information about the nature and scale of the famine.

Years later, there were calls to revoke his Pulitzer; The New York Times, which submitted his work for the prize in 1932, wrote that his articles constituted "some of the worst reporting to appear in this newspaper".

The Pulitzer Prize board declined to revoke the prize.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:46 PM | Permalink

The Internet is rewiring your mind

If you find you're spending too much time on the Internet, there are 2 useful YouTube videos that will give you some motivation to wean yourself off your addiction.

How the Internet Redesigns your Mind for enhanced distractibility, 

'There's no need to "quit" it, just be aware of how it affects you."  "To reach enhanced levels of productivity and be successful in your professional or artistic pursuits, you really need to carve out long periods (2 hours) of time where you can work absolutely focused - no interruptions whatsoever."

How the Internet Ruins Productivity (by Design)

Content on the internet is purposely designed to be addicting. Simply changing the way we use the internet could be the productivity 'hack' that we're looking for.

“The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”  – Cal Newport from the book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

Instagram is the most detrimental social media platform to young people's mental health

Researchers from the Royal Society for Public Health in conjunction with the Young Health Movement published the report entitled #StatusOfMind, which looks at the positive and negative effects of social media on young people's health and well-being. Snapchat ranked the second worst for mental health of the sites reviewed in the report, followed by Facebook. On the plus side, YouTube topped the list as the most positive, with Twitter coming in after it.
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"Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people's mental health issues," Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said.  She noted that both Instagram and Snapchat "are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:22 PM | Permalink

The "erosion of privacy is a cancer of digital life"

Your Data Is Way More Exposed Than You Realize WSJ

To get a handle on your online privacy, first understand how much of your data is already out there, and how it can be weaponized.

Privacy wasn’t a concern for her until it was too late.....She suspected her ex of stalking her online, and posting her information to fuel harassment. “It is psychological torture,” she told me.....Her nightmare, which is ongoing, might not resemble your life or mine. But it’s a stark reminder that erosion of privacy is a cancer of digital life. And while we might not talk about privacy as often as the latest cool app, it’s only getting worse.

I hear this all the time: “I have nothing to hide.” The truth is, pretty much everybody does something online they have reason to keep private. You can’t see the future. The woman I spoke to said she never planned on getting into what she described as a terrible relationship.
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I have a theory: People would care a lot more about privacy if they realized how exposed they already are. So I invited a half-dozen volunteers I hadn’t met before into my lab to see how much extremely personal information I could find about each of them in under an hour.  I managed to shock every person. It wasn’t even very hard.
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Level one was calling up what’s out there and totally public. Lots of people have googled themselves, but fewer are familiar with “people search engines” like FamilyTreeNow.com and Spokeo, which pull together and cross-reference public data, such as property records and court reports, into one place. Anyone can use them to look for birth dates, current and former addresses, phone numbers, gobs of relatives—even ex-lovers and roommates.
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Level two in my privacy test was looking at data we willingly give to companies like Google. My volunteers brought their laptops and logged in. What we found provoked their most uncomfortable reactions.

Why privacy is so important

From  The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America by Jeffrey Rosen, a legal scholar

“Privacy protects us from being misdefined and judged out of context in a world of short attention spans, a world in which information can easily be confused with knowledge. True knowledge of another person is the culmination of a slow process of mutual revelation. It requires the gradual setting aside of social masks, the incremental building of trust, which leads to the exchange of personal disclosures. It cannot be rushed...In a world of short attention spans, privacy is necessary to protect citizens from the misjudgments that can result from the exposure of too much information as well as too little information. Filtered or unfiltered, information taken out of context is no substitute for the genuine knowledge that can only emerge slowly over time...

“Privacy is necessary for the formation of intimate relationships, allowing us to reveal parts of ourselves to friends, family members, and lovers that we withhold from the rest of the world. It is, therefore, a precondition for friendship, individuality, and even love. In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera describes how the police destroyed an important figure of the Prague Spring by recording his conversations with a friend and then broadcasting them as a radio serial. Reflecting on his novel in an essay on privacy, Kundera writes, “Instantly Prochazka was discredited: because in private, a person says all sorts of things, slurs friends, uses coarse language, acts silly, tells dirty jokes, repeats himself, makes a companion laugh by shocking him with outrageous talk, floats heretical ideas he'd never admit in public, and so forth.”

“We are trained in this country to think of all concealment as a form of hypocrisy. But we are beginning to learn how much may be lost in a culture of transparency: the capacity for creativity and eccentricity, for the development of self and soul, for understanding, friendship, and even love. There are dangers to pathological lying, but there are also dangers to pathological truth-telling. Privacy is a form of opacity, and opacity has its values. We need more shades and more blinds and more virtual curtains. Someday, perhaps, we will look back with nostalgia on a society that still believed opacity was possible and was shocked to discover what happens when it is not.”

Google Is About To Start Tracking Your Offline Behavior, Too

It’s no secret that Google already monitors its users’ online shopping activity, but now it will follow them out of their homes and keep a close eye on every interaction they make. The tech giant announced a new system to track users’ in-store credit card purchases Tuesday in a statement published on the company’s official blog.

Top 9 Reasons to Stop Using Facebook... Now.

1. Facebooks creates false endorsements for products from you to your friends - and they never reveal this to you.....
3. They read your private messages and the contents of the links you send privately.....
4. They’ve introduced features that turn your phone’s mic on without telling you....
7.They’ve used snitching campaigns to trick people’s friends into revealing information about them that they chose to keep private.....
8.They use the vast amount of data they have on you, from your likes, things you read, things you type but don’t post, to make highly accurate models about who you are – even if you make it a point of keeping these things secret. There are statistical techniques, which have been used in marketing for decades, that find correlating patterns between someone’s behavior and their attributes. Even if you never posted anything, they can easily work out your age, gender, sexual orientation and political views. When you post, they work out much more. Then they reveal it to banks, insurance companies, governments, and of course, advertisers.
9. Facebook is demanding to track what you buy, and your financial information like bank account and credit card numbers. You’ve already agreed to it in the new Terms Of Service. It’s already started sharing data with Mastercard..
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:21 PM | Permalink

May 25, 2017

Health Roundup: Anabolic steroids, ALS, Vit D, arthritis, cancer drug, dietary fat, and walking

Long-term use of anabolic steroids damages the heart

Anabolic steroids are manufactured drugs that mimic the effects of the male hormone testosterone. There are an estimated 2.9 million to 4 million steroid users in Americans, the researchers said. 'Most people relate anabolic steroids to cheating among athletes and fail to realize that there is a large population of men who have developed dependence upon these drugs, but who are not readily visible,' Dr Pope said. 'The oldest members of this population are only now reaching middle age.'

Use of anabolic steroids appears to contribute to artery-clogging, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a team of US scientists have discovered. ...According to NHS Choices, effects of anabolic steroids in men can include reduced sperm count, infertility, shrunken testicles, erectile dysfunction and breast development. They also also risking baldness, increased risk of developing prostate cancer, severe acne and stomach pain.

The FDA just approved the first new drug to treat ALS in 22 years

The drug, known chemically as edaravone, is already sold by Japanese pharmaceutical company Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp (MTPC) in Japan and South Korea....After six months of treatment with edaravone on top of standard-of-care, data showed the intravenous drug reduced the rate of functional decline in patients by about a third.

FDA approves first cancer drug to target a tumor's genetic traits, rather than body parts

Until now, cancer care in the US has been categorized by body part, but in many cases that treatment is not specific enough and does not target a patient's tumor as it should. The new wave in treatment targets specific biomarkers of tumors. Keytruda is the first such drug approved by the FDA.

High fiber diets reduces risk of developing arthritis by up to 61%

Researchers from Tuft University, Boston and the University of Manchester conducted a review of two studies.  Their findings may debunk the theory that arthritis occurs due to 'wear and tear' as damaged cartilage is unable to properly repair itself. The findings also showed that consuming more fibre, particularly from cereals, reduced the risk of knee pain worsening.

This comes after researchers from the University of Surrey found a good diet and regular exercise can prevent arthritis. Eating poorly and being inactive reprograms cells in the joints, leading to an overproduction of glucose that causes inflammation and immobility, they found.

Walking linked to improved brain function

A moderate-intensity walking regimen may reduce symptoms of mild cognitive impairment that are linked to poor blood vessel health in the brain, a small study suggests.....Vascular cognitive impairment, or VCI, refers to mildly impaired thinking or more advanced dementia that’s due to the same kinds of blood vessel damage seen with heart disease elsewhere in the body. It is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin D in pregnancy may protect babies from asthma

'Sunshine supplements' boost infants' immune response

Government’s “Dietary fat guidelines have no evidence base”

Publishing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Dr Zoë Harcombe of the Institute of Clinical Exercise and Health Science of the University of the West of Scotland researched both the origins and the results of following the dietary fat guidelines that have prevailed in the US and the United Kingdom for almost 40 years. The evidence provides no support for the assertion that low-fat diets are healthier, especially as the incidences of obesity and diabetes have escalated dramatically during the same four decades of the guidelines’ implementation.

....First, the case against eggs was cracked. Recently, salt has been shown to lower blood pressure. Based on the new report, I am having steak and eggs for breakfast tomorrow!
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:09 PM | Permalink

"We are either invisible, expendable, a threat, or a wallet"

To those who say gender is a social construct, look at the science: Researchers Identify 6,500 Genes That Are Expressed Differently in Men and Women

If you are a woman, just imagine yourself as a man in a society described by these men.  66 Guys Explain Why It Sucks To Be A Man:

5. We are treated as second-class citizens by female teachers.
12. We get laughed at if we get raped.
15. We are presumed guilty in the court of public opinion.
18. We don’t get believed when we say females bully us, too.
24. We get lonely and nobody cares.
25. We can’t be victimized by women according to the law.
30. We’re routinely trivialized as untrustworthy or evil.
32. We’re all viewed as potential rapists.
36. We have to tiptoe around every single conversation or interaction with a female in case they get ‘offended.’
41. We have no advocacy organizations.
42. We are the vast majority of the homeless population.
54. We have no real choice in the ‘pro-choice’ debate.
57. We suffer nearly all workplace deaths.
60. We’re automatically presumed to be the aggressor in all domestic disputes.
64. We are either invisible, expendable, a threat, or a wallet.

Americans don't want what feminists want

Predictably, "Lean In" has been a spectacular failure. "Sheryl Sandberg's 2013 book 'Lean In' has spawned lasting initiatives meant to spur the progress of women to positions of power in major corporations," writes author and professor Steven Rhoads. But such efforts have failed since "most women who have dependent children don't want to work full time, much less to put in the hours required of corporate titans."

A new study by the Council of Contemporary Families was released that shows fewer young people want gender equality at home! The study found an increase in the number of college-bound students who believe families are better off if men are "the achievers outside the home" and women "handled most of the family and domestic duties." There has also been "an uptick in the number who prefer the men to be dominant."

It seems to today's young people are wiser than the feminists who came before them. In fact, a mere "25 percent of the women Millennial voters and 15 percent of the Millennial men" identify as feminists. That's not because they've "shifted back to more traditional views of the roles of the sexes," notes Belinda Luscombe of Time but because, unlike feminists, they recognize the significance and value of domestic life and accept that sex differences are a vital component of any good marriage.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:00 PM | Permalink

May 24, 2017

Health Roundup: Pain relievers + heart, ice packs, skin patch for stroke, navigating the ER

Pain Relievers Tied to Immediate Heart Risks

Researchers did a systematic review of studies involving more than 446,000 people ages 40 to 79, of whom more than 61,000 had heart attacks. In those who used Nsaids one to seven days, the risk of heart attack increased 24 percent for celecoxib (Celebrex), 48 percent for ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), 50 percent for diclofenac (Voltaren), and 53 percent for naproxen (Aleve).

The study, in BMJ, found that the risk increases with higher doses and duration of treatment, but there was no significant increase in risk after one month of taking the drugs.  The lead author, Michèle Bally, an epidemiologist at the University of Montreal Hospital, said that the absolute increase in risk is quite small, since the risk of heart attack for most people is small to begin with.

Insty comments As a population, though, Americans are taking these at much higher rates than a few decades ago, yet heart attacks aren’t more common, in fact they’re less so. So what gives?

Wrap your loved ones in ICE PACKS to save their brain after cardiac arrest, new guidelines advise

Body cooling is now advised by medical professionals for cardiac arrest patients. Experts say it will limit brain injury from those who suffered a heart arrest. Cooling is done by placing packs and blankets on the body or through devices.

A cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly. They will lose consciousness and will stop breathing normally. More than 400,000 Americans experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year.  The survival statistics are bleak: approximately 50 percent of people who arrest are revived and only about 10 percent of these people leave the hospital.  Of those who do survive, around half suffer some level of brain impairment from the brain not getting enough oxygen.

Skin patch can halve the risk of death of stroke

A small skin patch costing only 39p (about 50 cents) 'can halve the risk of death after a stroke' by lowering blood pressure and relaxing veins and arteries to improve circulation to the brain.  The patch which delivers glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) usually used to treat high blood pressure, must be applied to the shoulder or arm of the patient within hours of the stroke. Experts believe it can improve survival rates and reduce the effects of a stroke dramatically if administered quickly. In a pilot study by the University of Nottingham, patients who were given the patch by paramedics had a 16 per cent risk of dying – less than half the 38 per cent mortality rate among those not given the patch.

Strategies to Navigate the Emergency Room

The most important fact every E.R. visitor should know can be that will true medical emergencies —-patients which has a potentially life-threatening problem like a heart attack, stroke, respiratory distress or uncontrolled bleeding —- take precedence over a broken bone, headache or stomach pain.

Also important to know: If faced which has a true emergency, call 911. The responding ambulance will take you to the nearest hospital equipped to deal with your problem. Don’t follow the example of two friends of mine who walked themselves to the hospital while inside throes of a heart attack. in addition to don’t drive or have someone drive you. If you come by ambulance, you will be evaluated in addition to given emergency treatment immediately, even before reaching the hospital. however if your problem turns out to be less than urgent, once there you’ll be sent to the back of the line.

Assuming that will an emergency room can be your best option, there are many things you can do to make the visit more efficient in addition to less anxiety-provoking. Along with your insurance card, keep a card in your wallet or a list on your phone with all the medications in addition to supplements you take in addition to any allergies or chronic health problems you have. If available, also take copies of recent laboratory or diagnostic test results.

Try to have someone come with you or meet you at the E.R. who can serve as your advocate in addition to helpmate. A friend who recently spent many hours inside E.R. with an elderly woman who had fallen in addition to broken her nose was able to get her a needed drink, refill her ice pack, find out when she might be admitted in addition to offer moral support.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:03 PM | Permalink

May 15, 2017

Health Roundup: Sleep skills, kiwis, nod to beat dizziness, too much exercise, gardening for fat kids, octopus toys for premies

Sleep Is the New Status Symbol

If sleep used to be the new sex, as Marian Salzman, a trend spotter and chief executive of Havas PR North America, proclaimed 10 years ago, today it is a measure of success — a skill to be cultivated and nourished — as a “human potential enhancer,” ....“Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body,” Dr. Walker of U.C. Berkeley said.

Kiwi fruit, the surprise secret to nodding off:

Eating two of them one hour before bedtime 'helps people sleep more soundly'.  It is not understood why, but it could be linked to high antioxidant and serotonin levels in the fruit.

Do you want to beat dizziness? Nod your head:

One in three pensioners suffer from dizziness caused by inner ear problems. Researchers at Southampton University found five minutes of simple head movements a day can solve problem. The home remedy was found to be twice as effective as seeing a family doctor.  After only six weeks, 40 per cent of dizziness sufferers felt much better or completely well. The exercises were twice as effective as conventional care for adults aged 50 and older. They showed significantly lower levels of dizziness symptoms after three and six months.

The researchers say the exercises must be followed precisely as directed through a freely available internet program called Balance Retraining.  Paul Little, a GP and professor of primary care research at the University of Southampton, said: ‘Balance Retraining intervention has huge potential to provide effective and easily accessible treatment for a really under-served patient group.’

Volunteering more than doubles your protection against dementia by keeping your brain engaged

Researchers from the University of Calgary analyzed 1,001 retired Swedish citizens over five years....Results revealed those who never volunteered were around 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia than those who consistently did so for at least an hour a week....

Study author Yannick Griep, from the University of Calgary, said, '[Volunteering] brings a structure to the day. It offers social contact with people outside of our family. It makes us feel like we're making a meaningful contribution to society.'

TOO much exercise causes a leaky gut and increases health risks

The first study to investigate gut bacteria during military training found that intense physiological stress can change the composition of our gut microbiota.  Imbalances in the gut are linked to diabetes, obesity and some cancers. Findings raise concerns for endurance athletes and military personnel

Gardening helps reduce childhood obesity

Researchers from the University of California studied the impact of gardening lessons to children aged nine to 10-years-old at four schools in California. The results, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, revealed that the gardening classes dramatically improved student's health.

Octopus toys improves health of premature babies

Hospital sees an improvement in health of premature babies in intensive care after using knitted octopus toys with woolly tentacles that feel like an umbilical cord which appear to replicate the feeling of being inside the womb.  The fluffy sea creatures - which each take two hours to make - calm the agitated newborns by making it feel like they are attached to an umbilical cord.

According to medical staff in Curitiba Maternity Hospital in Brazil, where the initiative has been launched, the donated toys are working wonders and nurses have seen an improvement in the infants.  Each baby receives two octopuses which are sterilized at temperatures of 375ºF which they can take home when they are discharged from hospital. A team of 50 knitting volunteers has produced nearly 150 octopuses in a month
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:46 PM | Permalink

New medical research and technology: Cure for baldness and greying, breast milk substance, anorexia partially genetic, UpnRide vertical wheelchair and more

Skin cell discovery could spell cure for baldness and grey hair:

Researchers were investigating how certain tumors form when they discovered the identity of the cells that produce hair and turn it grey.  The study found the protein called KROX20, more commonly associated with nerve development, turned on in skin cells that become the hair shaft. These hair precursor, or progenitor, cells then produce a protein called stem cell factor (SCF) which is essential for hair pigmentation.

Dr Lu Le, professor of Dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Centre in Texas, said the chance discovery could lead to an effective treatment to cure baldness and stop greying.

Swedish scientists discover that breast milk contains a substance that kills cancer cells

Breast milk is being used to fight cancer after scientists accidentally discovered it contains a substance that kills tumor cells.Trials in patients with bladder cancer have already yielded promising results and researchers believe the compound breast milk contains – nicknamed Hamlet – will also help tackle bowel cancer and cervical cancer. They also say it homes in on cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed – so it has none of the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy.

The substance attacks cancer cells in numerous ways – first evading the cell’s outer defenses, then targeting the ‘power station’ mitochondria and the ‘instruction manual’ nucleus. These actions cut off the cell’s energy source and ‘program’ it to commit suicide, in a process called apoptosis.

Professor Catharina Svanborg, who made the initial discovery, said last night: ‘There’s something magical about Hamlet’s ability to target tumor cells and kill them.’ She said human breast milk contained a protein called alpha-lactalbumin, which is transformed into a cancer-fighting agent when in the gut. An immunologist at Lund University in Sweden, she made the chance discovery that the substance kills tumor cells when working on antibiotics.

Early trials in patients with bladder cancer show those injected with Hamlet start shedding dead tumour cells in their urine within days. A full-scale trial pitting Hamlet against a placebo ‘dummy drug’ is now planned.

Anorexia is partly genetic and eating disorder risk could be passed on to children, study finds

An international collaboration of scientists found that many people who suffer from anorexia nervosa have mutated DNA on a particular chromosome.

Apple's watch really can save your live: Study finds its sensors can spot signs of a stroke with 97% accuracy

The Apple Watch has been found to detect a heart condition that affects some 2.7 million people in the US, a new study has revealed. By pairing the smartwatch's heart rate sensors with artificial intelligence, researchers developed an algorithm capable of distinguishing an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation, from a normal heart rhythm - and with 97 percent accuracy. Atrial fibrillation, although easily treatable, has been difficult to diagnose.

CCM disease, a common hard-to-treat brain disease starts in the GUT, study reveals

Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are clusters of dilated, thin-walled blood vessels in the brain that can cause stroke and seizures.  Tests on mice showed certain gut bacteria triggered the formation of clusters that cause these seizures. Looking at human models it seems the same is true for people. Currently there is not drug available to treat CCM. The only treatment option is surgical removal.

In 2016, Dr Mark Kahn, a professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, discovered the molecular mechanism in cells that underlies CCM formation. These studies identify an unexpected, direct link between the microbiome and a common cerebrovascular disease.'This suggests that treatments designed to block TLR4 signaling or alter the microbiome may be used to treat this disease,' Dr Kahn said.

Looks like a Segway, acts like a wheelchair

Introducing the UPnRIDE convertible wheelchair from the Israeli makers of the ReWalk robotic exoskeleton....UPnRIDE will enable many wheelchair users to be fully mobile in standing position anywhere, including in an urban environment.

As a category, the standing wheelchair is not a new product. These devices have been shown to improve circulation, elimination and bone density, and could also improve overall quality of life and independence among wheelchair users.  What’s different about the UPnRIDE?“The twist we bring here is the stabilization,” said says Oren Tamari, CEO of RehaMed Technologies.

A new laser imaging technique now allows for a real time look inside the the body of a small animal.

The technique, which uses light and ultrasound, provides enough resolution to see active organs, flowing blood, circulating melanoma cells and firing neural networks.  The researchers, based at the Duke University and The California Institute of Technology (Caltech), used a technique called 'single-impulse photoacoustic computed tomography (SIP-PACT)' to produce the images.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:40 PM | Permalink

May 10, 2017

Miscellany #68

'Angry' bear tries to break into home of Connecticut woman baking brownies

Neighbors called 911 after the panicked woman spotted the bear outside her home after it was enticed by the smell of the baked treats. The black bear slammed on the terrified Connecticut resident’s glass back door and spent 30 minutes trying to get into the property.

 Angry Bear

Couple Climbs Mount Everest For 3 Weeks To Get Married On Top

 Everest-Camp-Wedding Climb

 Everest-Camp-Wedding

Congratulations to Ashley Schmeider and James Sisson.

People Photographed As Young Adults And 100-Year-Olds

The "Faces Of Century" series by photographer Jan Langer is a side-by-side comparison of how people who have lived for a century look now compared to how they looked in early adulthood. The twelve people Jan chose as his subjects were all chosen from his homeland, a dozen people representing the over 1200 centenarians who currently call the Czech Republic home:

 Faces Century

Women over 100 years old share their best beauty advice, A short and charming video at link.

New Jersey Twin Sisters Give Birth to Baby Boys on the Same Day, Hours Apart

 Twin Sisters Gavebirth Same Day

Best hobbit house I've ever seen.  My uncles crazy hobbit house on Imgur.  The inside rooms are quite extraordinary.  Like the kitchen below:

 Hobbit Kitchen

Irish beach washed away 33 years ago reappears overnight after freak tide

Villagers express delight after entire beach that vanished in Achill Island storms in 1984 turns back sands of time

Narrative Optical Illusions Painted by Rob Gonsalves who never fails to enchant.

 Gonslaves-Sails-1

91-Year-Old man Spends 56 Years Building His Own Cathedral Alone

Former monk Justo Gallego Martinez has been constructing his own cathedral in Mejorada del Campo, Spain, since 1961. He had no prior knowledge of architecture and hadn’t laid a brick in his life, yet his project currently stands 131ft tall, and acts as a wonderful reminder that faith overcomes everything.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 AM | Permalink

The insecurity of the Internet of Things

‘How can I have a doctorate in physics from MIT and trust technology?

Dr. Herbert Lin, one of the nation’s pre-eminent thinkers on cybersecurity policy, shuns the internet-connected devices that fill some American homes.  He’ll have nothing to do with “smart” refrigerators, hands-free home speakers he can call by name, intelligent thermostats and the like.....Part of what he distrusts is the “internet of things,” and the ease with which hackers can penetrate “smart” devices with digital worms and shanghai them into massive robotic networks to launch crippling digital attacks or generate ever greater quantities of spam.
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Internet-enabled devices are exploding in number. Gartner, a research giant in technology, says the devices will climb from 6.4 billion at the end of last year to 25 billion by 2020. Such growth sharply augments the power of hidden robotic networks, or botnets....Weaponized digital worms are entering the scene and infecting masses of devices that obediently await instructions from a remote master to spring to action, possibly a new botnet attack.
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Many consumers don’t realize that internet-enabled devices are unregulated and insecure – simpleton digital recruits in potential malicious armies.

A botnet already made headlines once. Last Oct. 21, a botnet slowed internet activity to a crawl along the Atlantic Seaboard. A hacker using a malicious worm dubbed Mirai – Japanese for “the future” – took over thousands of internet-connected security cameras and other seemingly innocuous devices and ordered them to fire relentless digital “pings” at a New Hampshire company, Dyn, that oversees part of the backbone of the internet. Dyn was overwhelmed, and popular sites such as Twitter and The New York Times were temporarily inaccessible.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 AM | Permalink

Medical research and technology: Skin gun for burns, 'capsule robot', depression gene, tequila study and MRIs from newborns

Remarkable advance in treating burns with the 'magic' skin gun

Burns victims are making incredible recoveries thanks to a revolutionary ‘gun’ that sprays stem cells on to their wounds, enabling them to rapidly grow new skin. People who suffer extensive burns usually have to endure weeks or even months of treatment, with surgeons taking large sheets of skin from elsewhere on the body and grafting them. The process is painful, and patients are often left with permanent, unsightly scars.

Now, US doctors are using a new technique that allows patients to regrow a new layer of healthy skin in as little as four days. One man,  45, with horrific hot-water burns was sprayed with 17 million cells and within six days new skin had formed over whole wound and he was discharged;

 Skin Gun Before After-1

Patients who have benefited say their new skin is virtually indistinguishable from that on the rest of the body. Thomas Bold, chief executive of RenovaCare, the company behind SkinGun, said: ‘The procedure is gentler – and the skin that regrows looks, feels and functions like the original skin.’

Colonoscopy 'capsule robot' could make the diagnosis of bowel conditions more comfortable

Despite its potential to save lives, many people fear the discomfort of having a colonoscopy. But in the future, tiny robots could be deployed to search for pre-cancerous lesions and tumors in the bowel, resulting in less discomfort for patients. Researchers have shown an 18mm magnetized capsule colonoscope can perform intricate and sometimes autonomous movements inside the colon for the first time. The 'capsule robot' was guided by an external magnet attached to a robotic arm.

'Not only is the capsule robot able to actively maneuver  through the GI tract [digestive tract] to perform diagnostics, it is also able to perform therapeutic maneuvers, such as biopsies of tissue or polyp removal, due to the tether - something that other capsule devices are unable to do,' said Keith Obstein, the study's corresponding author and associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Scientists discover 'depression gene' that takes effect in childhood

Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center found a gene linked to childhood depression that appears to be linked to variations that have long been linked to bipolar disorder. Studying children that had the gene, researchers found they were more prone to depression and had severe reactions to stressful situations.

Tequila study: Drinking tequila could be good for your bones and help fight osteoporosis:

At the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies in Mexico, researchers conducted experiments with mice and found that substances from the tequila plant may help boost levels of calcium and magnesium, minerals that help keep your bones strong.  Dr Mercedes López, leader of the project, said 'The consumption of fructans contained in the agave, in collaboration with adequate intestinal micriobiota, promotes the formation of new bone, even with the presence of osteoporosis.'  ...Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to replace old bone with new. As a result, the skeleton becomes porous and weak.
The researchers hope to perform clinical studies on humans to prove that agave sugars can be used as a treatment.

Newborn MRI scans reveal the growth of TRILLIONS of neural connections

A ground-breaking project  has released its first images which researchers from around the world can download to study how the brain develops its wiring. The images could help scientists understand how conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy and attention deficit disorders arise.

The Developing Human Connectome Project is a collaboration between researchers from King's College London, Imperial College London and the University of Oxford. It aims to make major scientific progress by creating the first 4-dimensional brain map of early life.  The goal of the project is to create a dynamic map of human brain connectivity from 20 to 44 weeks post-conceptional age, which will link together imaging, clinical, behavioral, and genetic information.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:41 AM | Permalink

What to do if you're bit by an alligator

10-year-old girl reveals how she fought off a nine-foot gator biting her leg by sticking her fingers up its nostrils

Juliana Ossa, 10, learned tips to fend off an alligator from Gatorland, a theme park and wildlife preserve in Orlando, Florida. When an alligator bit her leg on Saturday she stuck her fingers in its nose, forcing it to open its mouth to breathe and enabling her to get away. She also yelled loudly for help which quickly came as people reacted swiftly and decisively to the unexpected danger.

Two lifeguards then bandaged Ossa's bleeding leg before she was taken for medical treatment. She is able to walk and recovering after receiving 10 stitches in her leg. The alligator was captured and euthanized following the attack. 

It's a good idea to make a lot of noise while poking an alligator in the eyes and ears if attacked.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:50 AM | Permalink

This and that -The world today fabricates more transistors each year than the number of grains—not bushels, but grains—of wheat grown globally."

The world's most amazing achievement ever? How about the 78% percent reduction in extreme world poverty from 1981 to 2015.
— Mark J. Perry (@Mark_J_Perry) April 30, 2017
More at Global Extreme Poverty

 Aei Poverty Decline Chart

In energy terms, operating today’s global digital infrastructure surpasses the fuel demand of global aviation

The world today fabricates more transistors each year than the number of grains—not bushels, but grains—of wheat grown globally. And those silicon devices, along with a myriad other complex components from lasers to optical systems manifest not only in billions of consumer devices, but in megatons and trillions of dollars of hardware in the ‘hidden’ infrastructure of communications networks and warehouse-scale datacenters. The data coursing through the world’s wired and wireless networks is now countable north of two zettabytes, an incomprehensible number.

Organized crime “Illegally trafficked cigarettes now have a higher profit margin than cocaine, heroin, marijuana or guns,” a Virginia State Police official was quoted as saying by the state’s Crime Commission.

Landline Users Now a Minority in the U.S.

Gaming gone bust, tribe turns to marijuana farming

San Diego County, California.  The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel — which shuttered its 35,000-square-foot gaming hall in February 2014, buried under $50 million in debt — has transformed the vacant space into a high-tech medical marijuana operation, and is leasing part of the property to growers who cultivate and distribute the drug to legal dispensaries throughout the state.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:30 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2017

Health Roundup: Pot for elderly, salt to lower blood pressure, coffee for pain, cheese and dairy good

Could marijuana hold a key to keeping our brains forever young? .

There are many indications that weed can impair the developing adolescent brain....But what does cannabis do to the elderly brain?  A coalition of researchers from Germany and Israel published a study in Nature Medicine that examined the different effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in weed that's also known as THC, on young and old mice.

Their findings were provocative: A low dose of THC... "reversed the age-related decline in cognitive performance of mice aged 12 and 18 months." ...The experiment focused on learning, spatial skills and memory. While older mice typically did not perform as well as young ones in mazes or with location-recognition tasks — an outcome consistent with the decline of brain function in aged individuals — they performed just as well as their younger cohort under the influence of THC. Meanwhile, younger mice given doses of THC demonstrated worse performance, more in line with that of average old mice

Clinical trials on humans will start later this year.

'A toke a day keeps the dementia away.'

Marijuana could help reverse brain aging in senior citizens, especially Alzheimer’s patients, according to a new study....“We repeated these experiments many times,” Andreas Zimmer, head author of the study, told The New Scientist. “It’s a very robust and profound effect.” The findings were published May 8 in Nature Medicine.

“If we can rejuvenate the brain so that everybody gets five to 10 more years without needing extra care then that is more than we could have imagined,” said Andras Bilkei-Gorzo, one of the study’s co-authors. "The treatment made the young brain old and the old brain young," he said. "So that was something that was above our imagination."  If it is shown to help the memories of aging adults, Bilkei-Gorzo says the psychoactive ingredient could be taken in the form of an herbal tea.

Higher sodium, lower blood pressure. You read that right.

In another blow against decades of accepted medical wisdom, one of the most prestigious, long-running studies reports that lowering sodium intake doesn’t reduce blood pressure.

The study also implies that most Americans are consuming a perfectly healthy amount of salt, the main source of sodium. But those who are salt-sensitive, about 20 to 25 percent of the population, still need to restrict salt intake. Consuming fewer than 2,500 milligrams of sodium daily is actually associated with higher blood pressure, according to the Framingham Offspring Study report, given today. The study is an offshoot of the groundbreaking Framingham Heart Study. Both are projects of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and Boston University.
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The report directly contradicts advice from the American Heart Association, which recommends consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day to reduce blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

Why Everything We Know About Salt May Be Wrong  New York Times

Forget ibuprofen - grab a coffee:

Coffee is far better treatment for chronic pain than over-the-counter pills, new research shows. Feeling tired drastically increases pain sensitivity, the study found. To counteract that, scientists from Boston Children's Hospital gave exhausted lab mice either painkillers, coffee or more time asleep. They found the most wide-awake mice - after a jolt of caffeine or a long sleep - were more impervious to pain than those on painkillers.In the caffeine-drinking mice, they saw a rush of dopamine to the brain's pleasure center, which alleviated their feelings of pain.  Sleep also abated pain sensitivity better than over-the-counter pills

Why eating cheese will not harm your health:

Eating dairy does not raise the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, a team of international experts have found. Scientists analyzed 29 previous studies to find a link between dairy and disease. They found foods containing milk had a 'neutral' impact on human health. Even full-fat cheese, milk and yoghurt do not increase the danger, the meta-analysis of 29 studies found. The findings contradict warnings that dairy can be harmful because of its high saturated fat content.

Eat your butter, it’s good for you!

According to a new editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the belief that saturated fat in foods such as butter, cheese and meat clogs arteries is “just plain wrong.” Instead, the focus should be on eating a Mediterranean-style diet, taking a brisk walk daily and minimizing stress.

The editorial identifies coronary heart disease as a “chronic inflammatory condition.” Malhotra explains that eating too much white bread, pasta, and potatoes — carbohydrates, essentially — raises blood glucose rapidly, and the body responds by creating too much insulin.When the body is constantly flooded with insulin, it can’t do its job of getting glucose into cells for energy. This initiates an inflammatory response, which in turn begins to harden your arteries.
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Not since doctors touted smoking as a digestive aid has there been such a medically sanctioned public health debacle. The rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease have skyrocketed since low-fat diets were universally recommended, while those suffering from diet-induced ill health have been blamed and shamed. It’s about time doctors spoke up and put the blame where it belongs, on processed and refined “low-fat” foods.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:27 PM | Permalink

May 8, 2017

Scientific method increasingly out of fashion

Fewer Than 1 Percent Of Papers in Scientific Journals Follow Scientific Method 

according to research by Wharton School professor and forecasting expert J. Scott Armstrong.  Armstrong defined eight criteria for compliance with the scientific method, including full disclosure of methods, data, and other reliable information, conclusions that are consistent with the evidence, valid and simple methods, and valid and reliable data.

 Criteria Compliance Science

Former Energy Department Undersecretary, Steven Koonin confirmed what we already knew to be true. The Obama administration purposely manipulated ‘climate change’ data to influence public opinion and policy.

"Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket,"
Eric Hoffer

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:03 PM | Permalink

"Hired hearts" can't be replaced by robots

From the Knowledge Economy to the Human Economy by Dov Seidman in the Harvard Business Review

Over the course of the 20th century, the mature economies of the world evolved from being industrial economies to knowledge economies. Now we are at another watershed moment, transitioning to human economies—and the shift has profound implications for management.

The industrial economy replaced the agrarian economy when people left farms for factories; then the knowledge economy pulled them from factories to office buildings. When that happened, the way workers added value changed, too. Instead of leveraging their brawn, companies capitalized on their brains. No longer hired hands, they were hired heads.

In the human economy, the most valuable workers will be hired hearts. The know-how and analytic skills that made them indispensable in the knowledge economy no longer give them an advantage over increasingly intelligent machines. But they will still bring to their work essential traits that can’t be and won’t be programmed into software, like creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit—their humanity, in other words. The ability to leverage these strengths will be the source of one organization’s superiority over another.
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This notion of a human operating system appeals to me because it hints at how fundamental the commitment to humanity has to be in a company. Many times, we see businesses launching initiatives or projects that take on problems such as bureaucracy or bribery. Think about these efforts as programs or “apps”—they are individually targeted at important problems, but without an operating system that lets them talk to each other and to the “hardware” of the organization, they can’t accomplish much.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

May 5, 2017

Miscellany #67

Total Eclipse Stamp
Using "thermochromic" ink for first time, the USPS will issue a new stamp that changes with heat from finger.

Web3-Solar-Eclipse-Stamp-Forever-Stamp-Heat-Transfer-Color-Changing-Us-Postal-Service-2-1

Aquaculture provides more than half of the world's seafood

About 80% of trout consumed in the U.S. comes from southern Idaho fish farms.  In Magic Valley, “The spring water is a constant 58 °F (14.4 °C) year-round, saturated in oxygen, and perfect for raising rainbow trout.”

The Last Wild Apple Forests

Granny Smiths, Fujis, and Pink Ladies can all be traced back to Kazakhstan, where apples still grow wild.

In The 1930s, People Kept Babies In Cages Suspended Out Their Windows

So, even apartment babies could get fresh air.  Believe it or not, no cage-related injuries or deaths were ever reported.

 Baby-Cages

Japan’s new luxury sleeper train is the ultimate travel experience

East Japan Railway’s new luxury sleeper train, “Train Suite Shiki-shima”, providesa cruise experience with a modern Japanese taste -- sky views, bathtubs and dark wood interiors.  The top suite costs a mere $10,000 or a four-day trip from Tokyo to Hokkaido.

Below is a photo of the deluxe, but not the top, suite on the train. Below that is a cutaway of the regular suite.  More photos of the train with unimaginable luxury here.

 Suite Japan Sleeper
 Japan Train Suite

Soccer Pitch, Lofoten Islands, Norway

 Soccer Pitch Lofuten

Dancing Forest

Between the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon, on the Kruglaya Dune of the Curonian Spit, there is a forest where the pine trees seem to be doing the twist.

 Dancing Forest

Dozens of trees in the Dancing Forest of Russia have trunks that are contorted into rings, spirals, and other loops and squiggles, and the reason for this mysterious malformation is not known. The trees were planted in the early 1960s to stabilize the dune sand, but the unstable sand is one explanation people posit for the trees seeming so unstable themselves. Locals call the crooked wood the Drunken Forest.

“Grand Model of Russia” in St Petersburg

It is the largest model in Russia (800 square meters) showing cities and towns, forests and seas, people and animals, roads and railways.The exposition has all key and typical objects of every Russian region. You can see different scenes from the life of the country: moving trains and cars, naval base, spaceport, a shepherd with a flock of sheep, ships at sea, etc. Here is just a small part of the models presented.

 Grand Model Russia

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:54 AM | Permalink

May 4, 2017

New Medical research and technology: Exercise in a pill, brain in a dish, robotic brain surgeon and more

Artificial 'brain in a dish'

Scientists have grown the first working 'mini-brains' in a dish which could provide future treatments for autism and epilepsy. The lab-grown organs have their own brain cells, formed into circuits similar to those of a two-month-old baby in the womb. Described as 'thrilling science', it is the first time a human forebrain has been seen in action outside the body. Scientists hope to use the mini-brains to watch in real time the triggers for epilepsy, when brain cells become hyperactive, and autism, where they are thought to form bad connections.

An artificial womb successfully grew baby sheep — and humans could be next

The lambs spent four weeks in the external wombs and seemed to develop normally
Alan Flake, fetal surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of today’s study, said the point of developing an external womb — which his team calls the Biobag — is to give infants born months too early a more natural, uterus-like environment to continue developing in.

The robotic brain surgeon will see you now: drill can perform complex procedures 50 times faster

Scientists have revealed a robotic drill that can cut the most sensitive brain surgery down from two hours to two and a half minutes. The machine, developed at the University of Utah, is being hailed as a potential breakthrough in survival for brain patients as the reduced time they spend in surgery will drastically cut the chances of infection....It has so far not been tested on a human patient.

One Day, a Machine Will Smell Whether You’re Sick

Each of us has a unique “odorprint” made up of thousands of organic compounds. These molecules offer a whiff of who we are, revealing age, genetics, lifestyle, hometown — even metabolic processes that underlie our health....
Researchers have been trying for decades to figure out how to build an inexpensive odor sensor for quick, reliable and noninvasive diagnoses. The field finally seems on the cusp of succeeding.  “You’re seeing a convergence of technology now, so we can actually run large-scale clinical studies to get the data to prove odor analysis has real utility,” ...

Scientists discover key genes that control our immune response to chlamydia

Scientists may be one step closer to discovering a cure for the silent but devastating sexually transmitted infection (STI) chlamydia...Often called the 'silent disease', as it rarely produces symptoms early on, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility if untreated. ...

Switching off' two key genes makes immune cells more susceptible to infection. The genes could be a useful target for new chlamydia therapies, helping to combat antibiotic resistance that increasingly limits STI treatment options. The researcher's model demonstrates how chlamydia interacts with our immune system, which could also have important implications for other infections

Muscle-building 'exercise pill' one step closer, scientists say

A muscle-building “exercise pill” that could reduce visits to the gym has come a step closer with the publication of a new study focusing on a protein that keeps us weak. Scientists found that suppressing production of the protein myostatin increased muscle mass and led to significant improvements in markers of heart and kidney health. Although the research was conducted in mice, the team hopes that further down the road it will lead to human treatments.
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“A pill that inhibits myostatin could also have applications for muscle-wasting diseases, such as cancer, muscle dystrophy and Aids.”  Myostatin is known to be a powerful “brake” that holds back skeletal muscle growth.

“Exercise-in-a-pill” boosts athletic endurance by 70 percent

Salk Institute scientists, building on earlier work that identified a gene pathway triggered by running, have discovered how to fully activate that pathway in sedentary mice with a chemical compound, mimicking the beneficial effects of exercise, including increased fat burning and stamina. The study, which appears in Cell Metabolism on May 2, 2017, not only deepens our understanding of aerobic endurance, but also offers people with heart conditions, pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes or other health limitations the hope of achieving its benefits pharmacologically.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink

May 3, 2017

Health roundup: Older sleep, dementia, hepatitis, chronic fatigue linked to gut, colon, stomach and bladder cancers

Older people need as much sleep as those who are younger - but don't get it due to brain deterioration

A scientific review has concluded that we cannot get away with less sleep as we age, as many experts believe.  Older people appear to need less sleep because they are less exhausted after missing out on it, seeing less of a drop in their ability to carry out normal tasks than the young. But a review by US scientists has found they may simply have just adjusted to a life without proper rest. But this has a mental and physical price too, increasing the risk of dementia and other illnesses.

Study author Professor Matthew Walker, of the University of California, Berkeley, said ... as the brain ages, neurons and circuits in the areas that regulate sleep slowly degrade, resulting in a decreased amount of non-REM sleep.  Writing in the journal Neuron, Professor Walker said: 'Sleep changes with aging, but it doesn't just change with aging, it can also start to explain aging itself.

Drugs already in medicine cabinets may fight dementia, early data suggests

In mouse and cell studies, two drugs shut down damaging stress response, protected brain....The two drugs—trazodone hydrochloride, used to treat depression and anxiety, and dibenzoylmethane (DBM), effective against prostate and breast tumors—could shut down a devastating stress response in brain cells, known to be critical for the progression of brain diseases. The drugs both protected brain cells and restored memory in mice suffering from brain diseases.

More people are dying from hepatitis than AIDS and tuberculosis, warns World Health Organization

In its first global report on hepatitis, WHO found deaths from the infection, often caused by alcohol and drug abuse, is rising. Viral hepatitis is believed to have killed 1.34 million people in 2015, it warned. This is a similar amount to those who have died from HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis; but while those are both falling, hepatitis deaths continue to rise globally

The two most common forms, which are responsible for 96 per cent of deaths from the disease, are hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV). HBV can be passed on through unprotected sex and bodily fluids. It requires life-long treatment with a drug commonly used to battle HIV. New infections of this type of the disease are falling, thanks to a vaccine given to 84 per cent of newborns across the world....HCV, usually spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person, can be cured relatively swiftly. But four fifths of those infected with this type of the disease are unaware they are suffering.

Another Study Just Linked Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to Gut Bacteria

It was only in 2015 that the US Institute of Medicine detailed a comprehensive way to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), and earlier this year, scientists linked the condition to faulty cell receptors in immune cells for the first time - which explains why the side effects can be so varied and hard to pin down.

But there are still no effective treatments for the disease, and no cure - some commonly prescribed treatments for the condition have been cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise, neither of which have any evidence to support they work, and could actually be doing more harm than good. Now, new research has shown that patients with ME/CFS have abnormal levels of specific gut bacteria - and those levels change depending on the severity and type of symptoms they have.

Scientists Halt Growth of Colon, Stomach Cancers

Protein-inhibiting drug possible within 3 years say Australian researchers.  "Our discovery could potentially offer a new and complementary approach to chemotherapy and immunotherapy as options for treating gastrointestinal cancers."

The FDA just approved a new drug that uses the body's immune system to treat bladder cancer

AstraZeneca Plc's immuno-oncology drug treats a type of bladder cancer in patients whose disease progressed despite chemotherapy. The drug, called Imfinzi, works by helping the body's immune cells kill cancer, offering an alternative to toxic chemotherapy.  While not without side effects, immuno-oncology is a kinder option that also promises longer-lasting efficacy, although it costs more.  Imfinzi, chemically known as durvalumab, belongs to a new class of oncology drugs called PD-L1 inhibitors that block a mechanism tumors use to evade detection from the immune system.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:14 PM | Permalink

Books are "antiquated" so one principal threw out all the textbooks

New York City school is trashing all its textbooks  School is no place for books, one Manhattan principal apparently believes.

 Books Trashed

In a scene out of “Fahrenheit 451,” administrators at Life Sciences Secondary School have ordered all textbooks rounded up and removed — calling them “antiquated,” sources say. Principal Kim Swanson and Assistant Principal Derek Premo, who launched the ban, “really frown upon the use of books,” an insider told The Post. “They just took books that teachers have been using and not replaced anything.”

“They made an announcement that they were getting rid of the books because they were antiquated and outdated, and we should be using new technology,” a teacher said. “I hid some of my books to prevent them being taken.”

While the administrators tout “modern technology” over books, they have failed to provide the necessary equipment, the staffer said. “Most classrooms have only two computers, and not all are hooked up to the Internet. Our hands are tied, and not having books has not helped the cause.”
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14-year-old Anthony Galindo is disappointed that books are considered obsolete. “It’s really strange. Last year we didn’t have enough textbooks so we had to share. Now we don’t have any at all,” he said, adding: “I liked being able to take them home to study . . . In my government class, my teacher gives hand-written assignments.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:58 AM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Food Edition: Gluten-free, cauliflower, sparkling water, broccoli, espresso, beer and snot

Gluten-free is not so great: People who avoid grains increase the risk of developing heart disease

The Harvard researchers, whose work was published last night in the British Medical Journal, tracked more than 110,000 people for 26 years, found  slightly more heart problems in the fifth that ate least gluten compared with those who ate most. Looking only at the difference in gluten intake resulting from whole grains, those who ate most had a 15 per cent lower risk of heart attacks.  ‘The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without coeliac disease should not be encouraged.’ ‘

Separate research, also by experts at Harvard, concluded in March that people with a low-gluten intake were also at greater risk of developing type two diabetes.They found that people with the highest 20 per cent of gluten consumption had a 13 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes than those with the lowest 20 per cent. Researcher Dr Geng Zong, who led that study, said: ‘Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fibre and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more.

The Gas in Sparkling Water is Acidic,

Adam Thorne, a dentist in Harley Street, warns fizzy water is extremely acidic, more than wine, fruit juice and even vinegar. 'The bubbles erode your tooth enamel – and over time this causes painful, yellow cracked teeth.'

Cauliflower is the new kale:

 Caulifflower

'It is replacing kale as the "new" sweetheart vegetable because of its ability to substitute for rice and potatoes in recipes,' ...'Its texture is so versatile that you could puree it and add it to any soup or casserole.... The cruciferous vegetable is also packed with nutrients that keep you full, help digestion, strengthen your body against cancer, and strengthen your bones

How broccoli helps beat strokes:

A powerful daily pill that harnesses a potent chemical in broccoli could soon be given to patients to protect against the most damaging effects of a stroke. British researchers have proved that a molecule called sulforaphane, which occurs naturally in the vegetable, turns on a protective enzyme in the brain. Scientists at King’s College London found this ‘scavenger’ enzyme then removes dangerous free radical cells that damage and kill other cells in a process known as oxidative stress.

Three espressos a day cuts prostate cancer risk by 50%, study claims

The study, conducted by the Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed (IRCCS) in Pozzilli, Italy, looked at about 7,000 men residing in central Italy and found that drinking three espressos daily can cut your risk of prostate cancer by 53% The drink was also found to suppress the growth of tumor cells.  Caffeine has been linked to a decreased risk of disease, suicide and depression. Espresso was also shown to improve exercise performance. A 2014 study from the University of California found that drinking two espressos a day enhanced the process of memory consolidation. This process, in turn, improved long-term memory among the participants.

Energy drinks ARE more dangerous than other caffeine-laden options and raise blood pressure in just 2 hours

Researchers found drinking 32 fluid ounces - just under a litre - of an unnamed but commercially-available energy drink resulted in profound changes to the heart's electrical activity and blood pressure. The drink was packed with 108g of sugar - roughly 27 teaspoons - and 320mg of caffeine, close to the daily recommended daily limit, along with other 'natural' substances such as taurine, ginseng and carnitine.

Two pints of beer are better than paracetamol (Tylenol) for pain relief

The analysis, published in The Journal of Pain, observed 18 studies involving 404 participants who were experiencing chronic pain. The studies provided alcohol versus no-alcohol comparisons for 13 tests of pain threshold...
Dr Trevor Thompson, who headed the study at London's Greenwich University, told The Sun: '[Alcohol] can be compared to opioid drugs such as codeine and the effect is more powerful than paracetamol.' Now the experts are planning to find out if alcohol either lowers anxiety of pain, which then reduces the perception of discomfort, or if it numbs the sensation of pain by affecting the brain receptors.

Why picking your nose and eating it may be good for you!

Austrian lung specialist Professor Friedrich Bischinger, said: 'Eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's immune system. Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do. 'In terms of the immune system, the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine.' 

Scientists from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that nasal mucus' rich reservoir of 'good' bacteria prevents cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth. Published in the American Society for Microbiology, their findings also suggest snot could defend against respiratory infections, stomach ulcers and even HIV.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2017

Honesty

The secret to honesty revealed: it feels better

It is a mystery that has perplexed psychologists and philosophers since the dawn of humanity: why are most people honest?Now, using a complex array of MRI machines and electrocution devices, scientists claim to have found the answer.

Researchers at University College London discovered that at a physical level the brain finds decency far more satisfying than deception. The trial revealed that, despite accumulating a large amount of money, most participants derived no deep-seated satisfaction if the success was gained at the expense of others.

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
Thomas Jefferson

No legacy is so rich as honesty
Shakespeare, All’s Well that Ends Well

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2017

Make Life Magical

Here’s how to make life magical — scientifically: : 5 Secrets Backed By Research

  • Believing you’re lucky increases performance: Excuse me while I go look for four-leaf clovers.
  • Believing in fate helps you cope: When things are bad, saying it was “meant to be” can make you feel better and help life make sense.
  • Placebos can work wonders: Sugar pills can give you superpowers — even if you know they don’t give you superpowers.
  • Make routines into rituals: If this doesn’t help, please don’t put a hex on me.
  • Deluded love is the best love: Seeing the one you love as better than they really are improves relationships.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:40 PM | Permalink