July 31, 2017

Two essays on Beauty and Being

William Desmond on Beauty and Being

Desmond wonders.... if we have “fallen under the spell of the avant-garde doctrine that beauty is the false consciousness and consolation of the bourgeoisie?”....He thinks it is, at least in part, a consequence of long term changes in how we perceive being itself.  Both the Bible and the classical tradition of Plato and Aristotle attested to the goodness of being.  This remained the foundation of medieval theology and philosophy, where being is endowed with value by the sustaining Creator God.
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But in the modern age, ... being began to be seen as a mere neutral resource.... The value of being has largely become whatever use humans could make of it, its “serviceable disposability,” a utilitarian attitude that has led to much ecological devastation—and to a simultaneous devaluing of the resplendence and aesthetic sensuality of being, a devaluing of its beauty.
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Desmond claims, though, that modernity is haunted by a fear that being is not merely valueless but that it is unworthy of value or even evil..... Moderns have been both increasingly wary of beauty and increasingly enthralled by violence and evil.  As Desmond puts it, “The fascination with evil is perhaps understandable in a post-Holocaust time, but it also testifies to a certain lopsidedness of the human spirit.”... “Strangely the horror of evil keeps the spirit alive in an age where spiritlessness is advanced as self-advancing cleverness.”  As Flannery O’Connor might say, it can at least knock us out of our lethargy.  Likewise, Desmond points out that dramatizations of radical evil, at least negatively, raise the possibility of radical good: “It makes no sense to confront the possibility of radical evil without raising, as an equally astonishing perplexity, the possibility of radical good.”

Beauty and Desecration by Roger Scruton We must rescue art from the modern intoxication with ugliness.

At any time between 1750 and 1930, if you had asked an educated person to describe the goal of poetry, art, or music, “beauty” would have been the answer. And if you had asked what the point of that was, you would have learned that beauty is a value, as important in its way as truth and goodness, and indeed hardly distinguishable from them. Philosophers of the Enlightenment saw beauty as a way in which lasting moral and spiritual values acquire sensuous form. And no Romantic painter, musician, or writer would have denied that beauty was the final purpose of his art.
At some time during the aftermath of modernism, beauty ceased to receive those tributes. Art increasingly aimed to disturb, subvert, or transgress and it was not beauty but originality—however achieved and at whatever moral cost—that won the prizes. Indeed, there arose a widespread suspicion of beauty as next in line to kitsch—something too sweet and inoffensive for the serious modern artist to pursue
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Our human need for beauty is not simply a redundant addition to the list of human appetites. It is not something that we could lack and still be fulfilled as people. It is a need arising from our metaphysical condition as free individuals, seeking our place in an objective world. We can wander through this world, alienated, resentful, full of suspicion and distrust. Or we can find our home here, coming to rest in harmony with others and with ourselves. The experience of beauty guides us along this second path: it tells us that we are at home in the world, that the world is already ordered in our perceptions as a place fit for the lives of beings like us.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:46 PM | Permalink

Alzheimer's Roundup: Ninja drug, losartan, risks start in childhood, brain diet, and care using virtual realty

‘Ninja drug’ prevents Alzheimer’s by destroying harmful cells in the brain

The drug, known as PMN310 antibody, is effective as the brain can regenerate. Experiments reveal the treatment stops the process that kills brain cells in dementia patients, while also protecting against short-term memory loss, a study found. Developed by Toronto-based ProMIS Neurosciences, the treatment is thought to neutralize harmful cells in the brain, which can then be cleared out. Unlike other medications, the drug is cell-specific and does not have side effects.  If successful in future trials, the medication could be available in 2025

Common blood pressure drug could halt progression of Alzheimer's

British researchers believe losartan – which has been available for more than two decades – could reduce the rate of brain shrinkage that normally occurs with the incurable condition. We already know people with high blood pressure have raised risk of Alzheimer's, but some are protected by the blood pressure drugs they take. The group of inhibitors losartan belongs to cuts disease risk by up to 50%.  Earlier research suggests losartan may improve blood flow and stop the chain reactions that cause brain cell damage and memory problems.

A ground-breaking £2 million trial is underway to test whether a common blood pressure drug could halt or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The study, known as RADAR, is being led by the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Queen's University Belfast and University College, London.

Is it Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia? New test differentiates between the two with up to 90% accuracy

The test  distinguishes between Alzheimer's and frontotemporal dementia and can tell between Alzheimer's and a healthy brain with 87% reliability. The analysis involved placing an electro-magnetic coil, known as transcranial magnetic stimulation, against the study's participants' scalps.
Researchers hope this will avoid expensive brain scans and spinal fluid samples. Early detection helps to treat patients quickly and greatly improves the management of the disease.

Alzheimer's might not destroy memories completely

It has long been thought that Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia, completely erases a sufferer's memories over time. However, according to a new study conducted on a group of mice at Columbia University, memories might not be completely wiped out by the disease, but instead made harder to access. The new data, also from tests on mice, suggests these 'lost' memories can be reawakened by artificially activating the neurons with lasers where the memories are stored.

About one-third of dementia cases could be prevented by actions that begin in childhood.

More than 1 in 3 cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be traced to factors — such as inadequate education, obesity, hearing loss and smoking....The commission found that stunted educational attainment — specifically, the failure to complete more than eight years of school — is childhood’s most potent risk factor for developing dementia. This alone is responsible for 8% of one’s lifetime risk for the disease. That makes lack of education a more powerful driver than the ApoE-e4 gene variant, which predisposes carriers to dementia and is estimated to be responsible for 7% of its incidence....Stresses that begin in early childhood severely impair brain health in later life. Those stresses — including poverty, family fractures, and poor prenatal healthcare — and their cognitive effects are disproportionately seen in African Americans, the studies found.  In midlife, the commission found that one of the most powerful — and fixable — drivers of dementia risk is hearing loss. In fact, as much as 9% of lifetime risk for dementia lies with hearing loss during midlife.

Stroke risk increases dementia risk

Dementia is far more common in the 'stroke belt' of America's Deep South, where rates of high blood pressure and diabetes are far above the national average. The nine states considered high stroke mortality states in the study are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina and West Virginia. Experts warn it is no coincidence that these states also have a high proportion of black residents, significant levels of poverty, and poor access to healthcare.

The MIND diet is designed to prevent dementia and loss of brain function as you age.

It combines the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet to create a dietary pattern that focuses specifically on brain health.

Virtual reality tried to treat dementia effects

Three or four decades ago, when nursing homes tied unruly patients to chairs or their beds to keep them from hurting themselves or others...Later, drugs took the place of restraints...Now virtual reality can be a novel diversion for patients and even can evoke nostalgia, serenity and wonder...

Black-and-white-striped angelfish glide past Mary Spencer as she scuba dives for the first time in her 84 years. Above, the sun glows white at the top of the Thai sea. Below, a school of bright orange fish darts by. “Oh, it’s a beautiful blue ocean,” the Orlando native said. “There goes a diver. He’s floating by.”....The retired Walt Disney World worker’s next adventure could take her to the Grand Canyon or on a safari without ever leaving her home in an east Orange County assisted-living facility.

How Virtual Reality Is Brightening up Dementia Patients’ Lives with video

The footage shows three dementia patients using a virtual reality headset that surrounds them with peaceful settings like beaches and forests. The experience helps to instantly calm the patients and significantly improves their mood.  Feeling as if they are actually in the surrounding they’re being shown, the patients all remark on how pleasing the experience is and how happy it’s made them feel. They also report feeling calm and relaxed hours after using the virtual reality headsets.

How virtual reality is transforming dementia care in Australia

For people living with dementia, VR can offer relief by triggering memories and positive emotions, even for those in the later stages who are often responsive to very little.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:40 PM | Permalink

July 30, 2017

A Plan to Save Social Security

This Plan to Save Social Security makes a lot of sense to me

Financial Planner Ric Edelman has come up with an idea that is so simple and workable it could transform the aging program and make retirement more comfortable and secure for years to come. Full disclosure: Edelman, who has been ranked three times the number one independent adviser by Barron's, is my financial adviser.
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Edelman's solution? The federal government would set aside $7,000 one time for each child born during the next 35 years. The money would be placed in an investment account managed by a blue-ribbon panel of investment experts appointed by the president and Congress.

After 35 years, the government gets back its $7,000 -- increased for inflation -- and uses the money to pay for children born during the next 35-year cycle, making it self-funding.

When the child reaches age 70, monthly benefits are provided -- equal in income to what Social Security provides, allowing the current program to be replaced with no adverse effect on retirees.
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To keep the money from being "raided" by Congress, Edelman says each baby would be assigned an individual account, much like an IRA, and would receive annual statements showing the account balance.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink

Parenting roundup: Dangerous things, bullies, abstinence, church

23 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do

In return for letting your children grapple with a little bit of healthy risk, the activities below teach motor skills, develop confidence, and get kids acquainted with the use of tools and some of the basic principles of science. Outside any educational justification, however, they’re just plain fun — something we’ve forgotten can be a worthy childhood pursuit in and of itself!

Clint Eastwood Talks About How He Handled Bullies As A Teenager - animated video of an Esquire interview.

Encouraging abstinence is still the best policy for teens

A substantial body of research has existed for some time that indicates that the teens who are the happiest are those who abstain. Beyond the negative effects of teen pregnancy and STDs, findings indicate that teens who engage in sexual activity are at higher risk for depression, suicide, and substance use. There is evidence that delaying intercourse in females is associated with higher rates of high school graduation and college enrollment, even taking into account family, personality, and pregnancy factors. A 2012 poll indicated that over two-thirds of teen girls and over one-half of teen boys who had sex wished they had waited longer. And 78 percent of sexually-active teens ages 12 to 14 expressed regret about this decision. ...

Beyond the physical and psychological implications of teen sex, the social worries loom large. The moment teens (girls especially) engage in sex is the moment where they open themselves up to all sorts of social embarrassment. Not only is it very possible that they will become the subject of conversations (face-to-face or electronic) that may divulge details of this private activity, but they live in fear of what happens if a breakup occurs.

Churched Kids Fare Better Than Nonattenders  Eric Metaxas

Churchgoing kids “are less prone to substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, and smoking), risky behavior (like not wearing seat belts), and delinquency (shoplifting, misbehaving in school, and being suspended or expelled).”

As Harvard sociologist, Robert Putnam documents in his most recent book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” one thing that separates children from families in the top 25 percent of households measured by income and education from their counterparts in the bottom twenty-five percent is social capital.  The well-off parents featured in “Our Kids” were, if anything, exhaustingly engaged and enmeshed in far-reaching networks that made life better for their kids....there's something else that provides another significant advantage: religious participation.

But the benefits of regular church attendance do not stop there. As Putnam tells us, “Compared to their unchurched peers, youth who are involved in a religious organization take tougher courses, get higher grades and test scores, and are less likely to drop out of high school.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:12 PM | Permalink

July 28, 2017

A roundup of feel-good stories

Bride Lost Her Son Before She Got Married. Then A Stranger Shows Up At Her Wedding

Becky Turney donated the heart of her late son, Triston Green, for an organ transplant in October, 2015.  Nearly two years later she was about to marry Kelly Turney when he turned to her and introduced a surprise sixth groomsman, Jacob Turner.  Secretly, her groom had organized her first meeting with the transplant recipient who flew from San Diego to Alaska to be a part of their big day.

 Surprised Bride-1

Along with marrying the man of her dreams, Becky was able to listen to Kilby’s heart with a stethoscope and feel her late son’s presence once again....“Everyone has a legacy, but to see how Triston changed Jacob’s life is just incredible,” Becky said. “It makes you super proud.”

Wild Lioness Spotted Nursing A Baby Leopard at Ndutu Lodge, a conservation area in Tanzania.

Typically, a lioness would kill a baby leopard. "It's unprecedented," said Luke Hunter, president and chief conservation officer of the global wild cat organization Panthera,  "It's a once-in-a-lifetime event."

 Lioness Nurses Leopard

101-Year-old Breaks World Running Record: “I Missed My Nap for This”

 101 'Hurricane" Hawkins

In Birmingham, Alabama, at the National Senior Games, 101-year-old Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins ran the 100-meter dash in 40.2 seconds, which is six seconds less than the previous world record for women over 100 years old....She also became the oldest woman to compete in the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships (USATF).  “[I] missed my nap for this,” she said casually, according to USATF.
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Hawkins says she only recently took up track and field because of her constant activity outdoors, biking and gardening... “I’m always outside and the phone always rings, and I come running in is how I knew I could run.”

Ten hour time lapse of an Amish barn building

Jilted Bride Donates $30,000 Reception to City’s Homeless

Sarah Cummins had spent two years planning her dream wedding with her fiancé Logan Araujo, but a week before the big day, the bride and groom decided to cancel the event.  The expensively lavish affair was to take place at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, Indiana, and came with a non-refundable $30,000 deposit.

 Jilted Bride's Reception

Instead of letting the food and decor go to waste, however, the 25-year-old Purdue University student called local homeless shelters and invited the residents to what would have been her wedding celebration. Over 150 of the city’s homeless residents showed up to enjoy a deliciously prepared dinner and reception. Additionally, news of Cummins’s good deed spread across social media, inspiring other locals to donate formal attire for the guests.

Job Offers Come Rolling in for Former Prisoner Who Missed Job Interview to Save Car-Crash Victim

“It was a bad situation. It was really bad.”

John Ogburn doesn’t remember a single thing about Monday, June 26.  He doesn’t remember waking up that morning, or helping prepare breakfast for his three young children, or kissing his wife Sarabeth goodbye...He doesn’t remember crumpling to the floor in Panera Bread at about quarter past 4, his heart gone completely, terrifyingly still. He doesn’t remember any of the many, many things that happened next. But in the two and a half weeks since, he’s come to understand this: If a single one of those things “didn’t happen correctly,” he says, “it could have gone differently pretty quickly.”  And John Ogburn would be dead....

When Ogburn went into cardiac arrest at a Panera Bread cafe, CMPD officers Lawrence Guiler and Nikolina Bajic were able to respond almost immediately - and stayed with him. For more than 30 minutes after his heart stopped, they continued to give him CPR.  “Nobody wanted to give up on him.”

 2Officers+Man They Saved

Just over a week after Bajic and Guiler found John Ogburn unresponsive, they stood with their arms around him in his hospital room, smiling for a camera. “It was very emotional,” Bajic says. “I got goosebumps all over because when I saw him and his wife, and how happy they are, and we met his parents and they couldn’t stop thanking us for saving their son’s life ... that’s when you realize, we did all this. ... All these people’s lives were impacted by what we did.”

8-year-old girl leads cops in prayer at a restaurant

These police officers were still mourning the death of one of their comrades, Miguel Moreno, who was shot down 6 days earlier while investigating a vehicle theft case when they gathered together for a meal at Libby's restaurant in San Antonio, Texas.  Eight-year-old Paige Bosquez approached the agents and asked them: “May I pray for you to be safe, and so that God may take care of you all?”

 8-Year-Old-Girl-Leads-Prayer-Police-Martha-Bosquez-Via-Facebook

Doctor On The Verge Of Giving Birth Pauses To Deliver Another Woman’s Baby

Amanda Hess was dressed in a hospital gown and ready to give birth to her second child last week in Frankfort, Kentucky. But when she heard another mom-to-be’s cries of pain, the obstetrician-gynecologist figured her own kid could chill in the womb for a few extra minutes.

The woman down the hall, Leah Halliday-Johnson, was actually one of Hess’s own patients. So when nurses told Hess that Halliday-Johnson was going through labor much faster than they had anticipated, and that the umbilical cord was wrapped loosely around the baby’s neck, and that the doctor on call had stepped out for a break, Hess didn’t hesitate to spring into action.

 Dr Amanda-Hess-Baby
Dr. Amanda Hess and her new baby


Husband REFUSED to switch off his wife's life support after she had a heart attack and a stroke.

Alexander Way, 44, was left devastated after his beloved wife Beatrice, 42, suffered a stroke and a heart attack at their home in the village of Ugley, Essex, six years ago. With Beatrice in a coma, Alexander recalled how he was 'stunned' when doctors asked whether he would end her life support and donate her organs. He vehemently refused and urged the team to continue treatment.  Beatrice defied the odds to make a full recovery and last year the couple welcomed their first child together, a daughter named Rosemary.

 Miraculous Recovery

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:58 PM | Permalink

Health: Degenerative CTE linked to playing football

Biggest ever NFL brain study diagnoses CTE in 99% of deceased players' brains

Boston University is leading the groundbreaking and ambitious research project to identify whether there is a direct link between concussions on the field and neurodegenerative diseases in players - including the late Aaron Hernandez.  They are focusing on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a little-understood condition a progressive neurodegeneration associated with repetitive head trauma. It has been linked to ALS (also called 'locked-in syndrome') and Alzheimer's.

Now, the team has released their first major findings from post-mortem examinations on 202 deceased players' brains, which were donated to research. The players, who lived to an average of 66 years old, had all played for a median of 15 years - from high school to professional leagues.  Overall, 177 of the brains they analyzed (87 percent) had CTE.  It was by far the most prevalent among NFL players: they found 110 of the 111 NFL players in the study (99 percent) had the hallmarks of CTE.

Ravens star, 26, who is also pursuing a PhD in math at MIT, RETIRES abruptly after shock study shows 99% of NFL players' brains are affected by degenerative disease CTE

Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel has quit the NFL just days after the world's biggest study into a degenerative brain disease showed that it affects 99 per cent of players. That news so shook Urschel - who is studying for a mathematics PhD at MIT in the off-season - that he quit on Thursday

Stunning CTE study message clear — play football at your own risk

87 percent of all players, 99 percent of NFL players, 91 percent of college players studied all came away with their brains dented.  You like those odds? Then send little Johnny on out there.

 Brain Scans Normal Encephalopathy
Normal brain on top, stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy on bottom

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink

Miscellany #76

Guitar made of trees, dedicated to a man's lost love.

 Guitar Forest

Argentine farmer, Pedro Ureta memorialized his wife Graciela who unexpectedly died from a brain aneurysm at the age of 25.

There’s A Genius Street Artist Running Loose In New York, And Let’s Hope Nobody Catches Him

Tom Bob is quickly building a reputation for himself as a brilliant and elusive New York street artist who can turn any street feature he stumbles upon into extraordinary graffiti.

 Tornbob Teeth

 Tornbob Elephant

 Tornbob Lobsters

Man Takes Home 550-Pound WWII Bomb And Now His Whole Neighborhood Has To Be Evacuated

River stones with pouches Japanese artist Hirotoshi Ito

 River Stone W Zipperjpg

Treasure chest with £100 MILLION of Nazi gold is found by a British crew in the wreck of a ship deliberately sunk by Hitler to avoid being captured

A group of British treasure hunters have found a chest that could contain up to £100million in Nazi gold in the wreck of a German cargo ship off the coast of Iceland. UK-based Advanced Marine Services found a box containing up to four tons of valuable metal, believed to be gold from South American banks, in the post room of the SS Minden, which sunk in 1939. They have  applied to the Icelandic government in hopes of gaining permission to cut a hole in the ship to remove the box. The treasure hunters, who believe the haul belongs to the finder of the box, want to bring the contents back to Britain.
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The gold was believed to be on board the ship and headed to Germany when the boat sank 120 miles southeast of Iceland on September 24, 1939, shortly after World War II began. When the Minden was spotted by British cruisers HMS Calypso  and HMS Dunedin, Adolf Hitler ordered Minden's captain to scuttle - or deliberately sink - the ship so the Royal Navy wouldn't seize the cargo.

What happens when you leave a tetherball in the forest (video)

British wildlife photographer says this image published 50 million times cost him his life savings and marked the end of his award-winning career

 Grinning Monkey-Macque Selfie

His story has all the elements of a 21st-century farce — involving crazy controversy over copyright law in a Californian court, and the 'inhumanity' of an activist animal charity that has filed a suit against Dave on behalf of the six- year- old male macaque, claiming it is the rightful owner of the photograph's copyright.

How Capitalism Saved the Bees

A decade after colony collapse disorder began, pollination entrepreneurs have staved off the beepocalypse.

600 lb octopus escapes through hole the size of a quarter  (video)

The Strange Similarity of Neuron and Galaxy Networks

Not only are the complexities of the brain and cosmic web actually similar, but so are their structures. The universe may be self-similar across scales that differ in size by a factor of a billion billion billion.....Interestingly enough, the total number of neurons in the human brain falls in the same ballpark of the number of galaxies in the observable universe.

Restaurant goers can’t believe their eyes when man leaves in car that transforms into a speedboat

Hundreds of diners were flabbergasted as they watched a man leave a restaurant and drive his vehicle into the sea. Video shows the Jeep floating on water before taking off at high speed. Witnesses at the restaurant described the moment as like 'being on a film set'  Richard Robinson, 45, was out for a meal with friends and family at the time when he filmed it all. 'But what took everyone by surprise is when the driver drove it into the sea. It went off like a rocket.'  His video at the link.

 Jeep To Speedboat

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: coffee, walnuts, Ketamine, Tai Chi, green tea, tumeric and prayer

Drinking More Coffee Is Associated With a Longer Life

Two major studies that involved more than 700,000 people and found that the more coffee individuals consumed, the less likely they were to die an early death from a number of diseases including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.  Decaf seems to offer the same health benefits.

Caffeine IS harmless: It's safe to take and even boosts mental performance

A review of 44 trials dispelled the widespread myth that caffeine, found in tea, coffee and fizzy drinks, is bad for the body. It found that sticking to the recommended daily amount of 400mg - the equivalent four cups of coffee or eight cups of tea - has no lasting damage on the body.

Eat WALNUTS to avoid heart disease, cancer and dementia

While walnuts have been hailed a 'superfood' for years, just why they are so good for us has been a mystery. Now an industry-funded experiment on rats has shed light on the reason why – they promote the growth of good bacteria which have anti-inflammatory properties.  Chronic inflammation is now considered to be central – among other factors – to many illnesses including heart disease, cancer and dementia.

Just two ounces – about 28 walnut halves, or a small bag – improve digestive health by nourishing friendly bacteria in the gut, helping them multiply. Walnuts are the only nut that contain a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acid as well as protein and fibre.
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Our microflora has also increasingly been linked to many aspects of health including aging, arthritis, depression, cancer and heart conditions. Physiologist Professor Lauri Byerley, of Louisiana State University, said: 'The health of the gut is related to overall health in the rest of the body.

Ketamine has 'truly remarkable' effect on depression and is effective in elderly patients, scientists say

After six months, 43% of the subjects said they had no significant symptoms of depression....Colleen Loo, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, led the world’s first randomised control trial into the drug’s effect on people over 60 with treatment-resistant depression....Ketamine was discovered in 1962 and is licensed for medical use in the UK as an anesthetic, but is also used illegally as a recreational drug.

Tai Chi reduces the risk of deadly falls by 43%

'Falls are the primary cause of traumatic death in older adults...Taking up Tai Chi can prevent falls that lead to fractures and broken bones in the elderly, new research suggests. The ancient Chinese practice slashes the risk of pensioners having a tumble by 43 per cent, compared to other interventions. Used for more than 1,000 years, it combines deep breathing and slow and gentle movements to boost muscle health.

The Athletes Turning to Prayer for a Performance Boost

Skeptics might dismiss it as religious posturing, but science is revealing that prayer works. When believers pray, something happens in their brains that actually makes them better athletes.  Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, direc­tor of research at Thomas Jefferson Univer­sity Hospital’s Marcus Institute of Integrative Health, has spent a large portion of his career studying the effects of religious faith on our mental hardware. “When you pray, it changes your brain,” he says. “The mindfulness movement is really more of a secular approach.  We sort of cleaned it up and secularized it so that it’s more available to everyone, which is good. But in many ways it isn’t as good or as power­ful as prayer.”

10 science-based benefits of Green Tea extract

Like green tea, green tea extract is a great source of antioxidants. These have been credited with a range of health benefits, from promoting heart, liver and brain health to improving your skin and even reducing the risk of cancer. ...What’s more, many studies have looked at green tea extract’s ability to aid weight loss. In fact, many weight loss products list it as a key ingredient.

Tumeric, a curry spice, helped a dying woman beat cancer

After five years of living with cancer and the ravages of side-effects from repeated unsuccessful treatment, Dieneke Ferguson thought she was finally losing the battle. She had a serious relapse and there seemed little hope. She had been diagnosed with the blood cancer myeloma in 2007 and had undergone three rounds of chemotherapy as well as four stem cell transplants.  ‘I have been on all sorts of toxic drugs and the side-effects were terrifying,’ she says. ‘At one point I lost my memory for three days, and in 2008 two of the vertebrae in my spine collapsed so I couldn’t walk. They injected some kind of concrete into my spine to keep it stable.’
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She tried Curcumin, a component of turmeric, and five years on, her cancer cell count is negligible, with her recovery featuring in the British Medical Journal. Curcumin has been linked to a host of benefits, including for heart disease. Dieneke is still taking 8g of curcumin in tablet form daily — the equivalent of about two teaspoonfuls of pure powdered curcumin. As kitchen turmeric contains 2 per cent curcumin, it would be physically impossible to eat enough of the curry spice to get the same dose of curcumin.

For although it is widely used in Eastern medicine, and has been studied for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects, for curcumin to be widely prescribed it must be tested in large-scale trials.  These cost millions, and the investment could never be repaid as there is no money to be made from sales of a natural compound that cannot be patented.

Doctors Found 27 Contact Lenses Lost in a Woman's Eye

The lenses were clumped together in a "blueish mass" and were "bound together by mucus," according to the journal. "She was quite shocked," Morjaria, who worked on the patient, told Optometry Today. "When she was seen two weeks after I removed the lenses she said her eyes felt a lot more comfortable."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

The 16 Positive Emotions That Boost Health

Positive thinking could extend your lifespan:

Stanford University researchers tracked data on more than 60,000 Americans. Those who saw themselves as less active were 71% more likely to die years later. According to Stanford University, people who view themselves as less healthy than others are at risk of suffering a premature death - no matter how active they actually are.  The study is the latest of many to show how our thoughts, feelings and beliefs have a direct impact on our health.

Lead author Professor Anthony Ong from Weill Cornell Medicine, said: "There are many kinds of happiness, and experiencing a diversity of emotional states might reduce a person's vulnerability to psychopathology  by preventing any one emotion from dominating their emotional life.....The simple daily practice of labeling and categorizing good feelings in specific terms may help us experience more differentiated emotions in different contexts." 

Experiencing a wide range of positive emotions significantly reduces a person's inflammation level.  Inflammation has previously been linked to premature death and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and osteoporosis. A person's experience of negative emotions has no effect on their inflammation.

The 16 Positive Emotions That Boost Health Are:
Enthusiasm
Interest
Determination
Excitement
Amusement
Inspiration
Alertness
Activeness
Strength
Pride
Attentiveness
Happiness
Relaxation
Cheerfulness
Being at ease
Calmness
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

July 24, 2017

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's Edition

Bacteria Found in Alzheimer’s Brains

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK have used DNA sequencing to examine bacteria in post-mortem brains from patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Unexpectedly, Alzheimer’s brains gave on average an apparent 7-fold increase in bacterial sequences above that seen in the healthy brain. Their findings suggest increased bacterial populations and different proportions of specific bacteria in Alzheimer’s, compared with healthy brains. The findings may support evidence that bacterial infection and inflammation in the brain could contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Alzheimer’s brains usually contain evidence of neuroinflammation, and researchers increasingly think that this could be a possible driver of the disease, by causing neurons in the brain to degenerate,” says David Emery, a researcher from the University of Bristol, and an author on the study.

Snoring linked to Alzheimer's:

Difficulty breathing while asleep accelerates memory decline in people at-risk of the condition, a study found. Daytime sleepiness and sleep apnea is also linked to impaired attention, memory and thinking in people who are genetically susceptible to the degenerative condition, the research adds.  Researchers hope the findings will support sleep-based treatments in people at-risk of developing Alzheimer's.

The researchers from Harvard University analyzed 1,752 people with an average age of 68. People were identified as being at-risk of Alzheimer's if they carried a certain variation of a gene known as APOE, which carries cholesterol and supports brain injury repair in healthy people. Previous studies have demonstrated one-fifth of the population who carry the APOE genetic variation are at an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Many people being treated for Alzheimer's may not actually have it

The Washington Post reports doctors tested 4,000 Medicare patients with mild cognitive impairment or dementia and discovered many of them definitively do not have Alzheimer's. Using PET scans, the study revealed only 54.3 percent of mild cognitive impairment patients and 70.5 percent of dementia patients had brains containing amyloid plaques. These plaques can be a sign of Alzheimer's.
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The findings show many people are potentially taking unnecessary Alzheimer's medication, and doctors may want to change their treatment to something cheaper or more effective. Unfortunately, the only ways to test for amyloid plaques while a patient is alive are expensive PET scans, which aren't usually covered by insurance, or invasive spinal taps.

This new blood test could potentially reveal the plaques. 

Blood test detects Alzheimer’s plaques building up in brain

A blood test can detect whether plaques of beta-amyloid are building up in a person’s brain – a sign that they may develop Alzheimer’s disease. ...Now a team has developed a simple blood test that may make it possible for family doctors to screen for Alzheimer’s risk during health check-ups. “This kind of test could be used to screen many thousands of patients to identify those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and to start treatments before memory loss and brain damage,” says Randall Bateman, of Washington University in St Louis, who unveiled the test at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London today.
Bateman says the test could be used in a similar way to annual checks on cholesterol. The test works by measuring the relative amounts of different forms of beta-amyloid, a sign of whether plaques are likely to be building in a person’s brain. They developed the test by comparing ratios of beta-amyloid types in 41 people’s blood with PET scans showing how much beta-amyloid had aggregated in their brains.

“I’m very positive about the test, but would like to see it validated,” says Dean Hartley of the Alzheimer’s Association. “It was a very small sample, and they’re trying to confirm it in an additional 180 people. But in time, if we can get a blood test, it will take us further, just as cholesterol tests did in the cardiovascular field.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:49 PM | Permalink

July 21, 2017

Waste, Fraud & Abuse in Medicaid

The Facts about Medicaid Fraud

In September, the Department of Health and Human Services sent out a warning that improper payments under Medicaid have become so common that they will account this year for almost 12 percent of total Medicaid spending — just shy of $140 billion
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As the Wall Street Journal has reported, we don’t even verify that doctors billing Medicaid for services rendered are actually doctors. In many cases, we do not do much to verify that their patients actually, you know, exist. We’ve paid untold billions of dollars to “clinics” that turn out to be little more — or nothing more — than post-office boxes and prepaid cell phones. And as bad as that 12 percent rate is, some policy scholars believe that it is in fact probably worse.
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...the real problem with the welfare state is not the poor people receiving checks — it’s everybody in the middle, the vast array of government employees, their union allies, contractors, and third parties who earn six-, seven-, eight-, or nine-figure paydays taking their cuts of money we think we’re spending on the poor. This is an enormous criminal conspiracy against the American people and the public fisc.

The Great American Rip-Off

According to The Economist: Some criminals are switching from cocaine trafficking to prescription-drug fraud because the risk-adjusted rewards are higher: the money is still good, the work safer and the penalties lighter.
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Without indulging in black-helicopter stuff, we should squarely face the fact that organized-crime syndicates are being permitted to use our medical entitlements to loot the Treasury, and that not very much is being done about that, which suggests the possibility — only a possibility — that there is political collusion in this at some level.

U.S. Charges 412, Including Doctors, in $1.3 Billion Health Fraud

Nearly one-third of the 412 charged were accused of opioid-related crimes. The health care providers, about 50 of them doctors, billed Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that were never purchased; collected money for false rehabilitation treatments and tests; and gave out prescriptions for cash, according to prosecutors.

Some of the doctors wrote more prescriptions for controlled substances in a single month than entire hospitals wrote in that time...“This event again highlights the enormity of the fraud challenge we face,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:38 PM | Permalink

Transcendence

What a ‘Transcendent Experience’ Really Means by Emily Esfahani Smith

A new paper in the Review of General Psychology, “The Varieties of Self-Transcendent Experience,” defines these states as transient moments when people feel lifted above the hustle and bustle of daily life, their sense of self fades away, and they feel connected to something bigger. In such states, people typically report feelings of awe and rapture; of time stopping; and of feeling a sense of unity with other people, nature, God, or the universe. That was Janeen’s experience on psilocybin: “There was not one atom of myself,” she said, “that did not merge with the divine.”
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Transcendent experiences, in other words, bring perspective, helping us to abandon the conceit that we are at the center of the world. “We can experience union with something larger than ourselves,” as William James put it, “and in that union find our greatest peace.”

Ecstatic Experiences

The polling company Gallup has, since the 1960s, measured the frequency of mystical experiences in the United States. In 1960, only 20 per cent of the population said they’d had one or more. Now, it’s around 50 per cent.  In a survey I did in 2016, 84 per cent of respondents said they’d had an experience where they went beyond their ordinary self, and felt connected to something greater than them. But 75 per cent agreed there was a taboo around such experiences....

‘I was out walking one night in busy streets of Glasgow when, with slow majesty, at a corner where the pedestrians were hurrying by and the city traffic was hurtling on its way, the air was filled with heavenly music, and an all-encompassing light, that moved in waves of luminous colour, outshone the brightness of the lighted streets. I stood still, filled with a strange peace and joy … until I found myself in the everyday world again with a strange access of gladness and of love.’

Thomas Merton, the American Catholic writer, theologian and mystic was a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky.  His autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain has been translated into 15 languages with the paperback edition selling millions of copies. 

 Thomas Merton

He describes his Mystical Vision in Louisville

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 AM | Permalink

July 20, 2017

Miscellany #75

Hilarious Panoramic Fails

 Panoramic-Photography-Fails-Cat

Humans hardwired to lean to the right while kissing the world over

DC security robot quits job by drowning itself in a fountain

 Dc Security Robot Drown

30 GIFs PERFECTLY Explain Life’s Little Mysteries
How dogs drink, how keys work, how chains link together, Pi explained, how ice cream gets sandwiched, how braces rearrange teeth, how popcorn pops

BBC clip How Baby Flamingos Become Pink They are fed with a bright red 'milk' from both their parents.

 Baby Flamingo

Britain's lost tribe

The islanders of St Kilda, some 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, whose primitive way of life date back to the Bronze Age, survived for centuries on its own until outsiders brought diseases and the island was evacuated in the 1920s.  The islanders spoke Gaelic and an important aspect of St Kildan life was their daily ‘Parliament’ where they would decide upon the day’s activities.

 St. Kildans Tweed

The population never exceeded more than 100 people after 1851 and the islanders survived by keeping sheep, a few cattle and a limited amount of food crops. The St Kildans eschewed fishing because of the heavy seas but seabirds, particularly puffins and gannets, were a mainstay of their diet. Hunting these seabirds involved considerable skills in climbing, especially on the precipitous sea stacks.

Hilarious

-Have-You-Seen-This-Dog

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:07 PM | Permalink

"In the vacuum of belief, Islam ascends"

Maureen Mullarkey revisits Hilaire Belloc and finds 80 Years Ago, Hilaire Belloc Predicted Radical Islam’s Re-Emergence Because Of Secularization

His insight into Islam at a time England was preoccupied—with Hitler, communism abroad, and a fascist movement at home—was exceptional. And penetrating.
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The sway of conversion—aided by terror alongside the juridical and economic subjection of dhimmis—has moved in Islam’s favor over the centuries...

I say the suggestion that Islam may re-arise sounds fantastic— but this is only because men are always powerfully affected by the immediate past. One might say they are blinded by it.say the suggestion that Islam may re-arise sounds fantastic— but this is only because men are always powerfully affected by the immediate past. One might say they are blinded by it.

Belloc understood what modernity blithely ignores: cultures spring from religions. Religion is a vital sustaining force. Its disintegration entails the historic decay of the culture that carries it. Belloc saw that most clearly in the decomposition of Christianity.....

She quotes Douglas Murray, echoing Belloc in “The Strange Death of Europe”

For centuries in Europe one of the great—if not the greatest source of [cultural] energy came from the spirit of the continent’s religion. It drove people to war and stirred them to defense. It also drove Europe to the greatest heights of human creativity.

In conclusion, she writes

In the vacuum of belief, Islam ascends—as Belloc envisioned it would.

Religion is the key of history,” said Lord Acton. It is the key of our future as well. But it is uncertain which civilization holds the key. A secular West is caught in an impasse, its own freedoms and God-given rights deadlocked in the wreckage of beliefs it has discarded.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:49 PM | Permalink

"Love goes missing in our country thousands of times an hour"

Gerard Vanderleun recalls the story of the 'runaway bride' in Love Gone Missing

It seems to me that if we knew the secrets of all our hearts, we’d know that love goes missing in our country thousands of times an hour. True it doesn’t usually go for a run, take a taxi, and grab a bus for destinations thousands of miles away, but that can often be the end of it.

Love goes missing in a moment of fear, of spite, of words spoken or left unspoken, in the blink or wink of an eye or in a spoken sentence only half-heard or remembered wrongly.
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Love gone missing can’t be compelled to return like some runaway bride taken through the airports with a cloak over its head — an apprehended perpetrator of the non-crime of going missing. Love’s a wild force in our too domesticated and ordered lives. Once gone missing, for whatever reason, Love can’t be just taken back as it was even if it is found. For if love gone missing is found and returns, it always remains a shattered vessel.
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Maybe, if you take the time to improve your skills on the wheel of life, you will be able at some point to take up the clay of that love and, kneading more patiently, centering more carefully, and shaping with caring and constant hands a better, stronger vessel.

True, it might not be as fine and pretty as the first more delicate one, but it could be good and serviceable and steady. Not at all as likely to shatter on a glance or a word or a silence or a shadow… and just go missing.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:31 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2017

Health Roundup: Cancer + immunology

Cancer vaccines help patients get tumor-free in 2 studies

Cancer vaccines — which are intended to help patients fight cancer by enlisting the individuals' own immune systems to attack cancer cells —showed promise in two small new studies.  In both studies, researchers used experimental cancer vaccines to treat patients who had the deadly skin cancer melanoma . And in both studies, tumors completely disappeared in more than half of the patients after they were given their cancer vaccines.
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Both studies were phase I clinical trials, meaning they were carried out with a small number of patients to test the safety of the treatment, and find the best dose of a new treatment with the fewest side effects. "These are small-scale studies that need to be confirmed with larger numbers of patients."

Researchers are developing similar vaccines against other cancers as well, including a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma, kidney cancer, blood cell cancers and ovarian cancer, said Dr. Catherine Wu, a physician-scientist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who led one of the new studies. "Many other cancers might benefit from this approach," Wu said. ...

More detail Custom cancer vaccines safely fight and kill tumors in early human trials

It’s early and there are many hurdles, but data so far suggests safety, efficacy.

A cancer treatment that one expert called the 'most exciting thing I’ve seen in my lifetime' just got closer to approval.

A  US Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) advisory committee just gave a critical recommendation for a cutting-edge cancer therapy...Novartis...  CTL019, a treatment for pediatric acute lymphoblastic lymphoblastic leukemia. The panel voted unanimously 10-0 in favor of recommending the treatment.

The highly personalized treatment is called CAR T-cell therapy. It's a type of cancer immunotherapy — or a therapy that harnesses the body's immune system to take on cancer cells.  Short for chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, CAR-T treatment takes a person's own cells, removes them from the body, re-engineers them, and then puts the cells back in the body where they can attack cancer cells. Novartis' therapy is one of two cutting-edge treatments for blood cancers are poised to get approved by the end of the year.


More detail
Why CAR T-cell immunotherapy is such a big deal for cancer treatment

The FDA will likely approve the gene-altering therapy.

Scientists Find New Biomarker to Guide Cancer Immunotherapy

Scientists said on Monday they had pinpointed a particular type of immune system cell that could predict more precisely if cancer patients are likely to respond to modern immunotherapy medicines. The discovery, reported in the journal Nature Immunology, suggests doctors and drug developers will need to get smarter in zeroing in on those people who stand to benefit from the expensive new drugs, which are revolutionizing cancer care.  Drugs such as Merck's Keytruda, Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo, Roche's Tecentriq and AstraZeneca's Imfinzi can boost the immune system's ability to fight tumors, but they only work for some patients.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Oral sex, omega 3, Mediterranean diet, artificial sweeteners, toxic sunscreen, Vit D heals sunburnt skin and medical marijuana

Oral sex is causing the spread of untreatable 'SUPER gonorrhea',

Oral sex is causing the spread of a dangerous gonorrhea superbug, experts have warned. The untreatable strain of gonorrhea is rapidly spreading across the world putting millions of lives at risk, the World Health Organization has warned.

Experts said that incurable gonorrhea has started to spread after becoming resistant to antibiotics, which has been partly caused by oral sex and a decline in condom use.The sexually transmitted bacteria can live at the back of the throat and, because of this, has been evolve immunity to antibiotics used to treat common throat infections.

An omega-3 rich diet really can fight bowel cancer:

Eating salmon, walnuts and chia seeds boosts the body's ability to stop deadly tumors, reveals first study of its kind. Omega-3 fatty acids prevent deadly tumors from spreading across the body. When broken down, these then go onto release cancer-fighting molecules.

Diet rich in oily fish, fresh vegetables and nuts cuts the risk of dementia by 35%

Is there anything a Mediterranean diet can't do?

Powerful compounds in tomatoes  HALVE skin tumors in male mice but not female  mice.

Compounds responsible for the fruit's red color may protect against UV rays. A trial showed mice fed a daily diet of tomato powder had their tumors shrink. Lead author Professor Tatiana Oberyszyn said: 'The study showed us that we do need to consider sex when exploring different preventative strategies.  'What works in men may not always work equally well in women and vice versa.'

Medical Marijuana Is Preferred by 93% of Patients for Pain Management

Patients managing pain vastly prefer using medical marijuana to opioid-based medications. They reported fewer side effects, and the majority found cannabis more effective.

Long-term use of artificial sweeteners increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

A wide-ranging review has found that long term use of the sweeteners – including aspartame, sucralose and stevia – may have negative effects on our metabolism and appetite, as well as our gut bacteria.  And contrary to expectation based on the belief cutting out sugar would prevent weight gain, evidence that taking artificial sweeteners reduces weight was mixed. Researchers at the University of Manitoba's George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation reviewed 37 studies that followed over 400,000 people for an average of 10 years.  The researchers said there was no consistent weight loss seen in people who took artificial sweeteners.

Swimming can turn your sunscreen toxic!

The compound used in the protective lotions becomes deadly when it reacts with chlorine and the sun, increasing risk of cancer. Avobenzone is widely considered to be the most popular sunscreen in the world. The compound works by making UV rays safer so that they don't damage the skin. But scientists say it becomes poisonous when exposed to both sun and chlorine

High doses of vitamin D help heal sun-burnt skin

Vitamin D 'significantly' reduces skin redness and swelling, a new study has found. And not only did it suppress inflammation, the 'sunshine vitamin' was also discovered to activate skin repair genes.
With participants who took a supplement an hour after a burn, the higher their vitamin d levels, the more the burn had healed 48 hours later. The findings of the trial – the first of its kind – suggest vitamin D increases levels of an anti-inflammatory enzyme in skin.

Study author Professor Kurt Lu from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center said 'We hypothesize that vitamin D helps promote protective barriers in the skin by rapidly reducing inflammation.'What we did not expect was that at a certain dose, vitamin D not only was capable of suppressing inflammation, it was also activating skin repair genes.'

Common disinfectant found in soap and toothpaste could be causing antibiotic resistance

Researchers found that triclosan, a chemical found in soap, toothpaste and cleaning products, could be making bacteria more immune to antibiotics. A new British study found that bacteria exposed to triclosan could become more resistant to a group of antibiotics known as quinolones. Quinolones are a common antibiotic used to treat urinary tract infections, sinusitis, bronchitis and pneumonia. The warning comes just a year after the use of triclosan in antibacterial soap was banned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:54 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Statins, prostate surgery, OTC for MS and 'dry AMD'

Statins have 'no consistent evidence' of improving heart attack patients' survival:

Statins have 'no consistent evidence' of improving heart attack patients' survival, researchers from around the world conclude after analyzing dozens of studies over two decades. Taking a daily statin for five years after a heart attack extends your life by just four days, new research reveals. The researchers add that statins' supposed benefits are based on 'cherry-picked science' and are unjustly promoted by pharmaceutical giants. Heart attack survivors should instead aim to improve their health through diet and exercise, according to the researchers.

Prostate removal in cancer sufferers does not increase a patient's survival prospects,

Some 7.4 percent of prostate cancer sufferers who have the gland removed die as a result of their disease versus 11.4 per cent who leave it intact, which is not a significant difference, a study found. Men who have the surgery report greater urinary incontinence, greater erectile and sexual dysfunction and greater limitations in their daily activities. Lead author Dr Timothy Wilt from the Minneapolis VA Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research, said: 'Men currently diagnosed with prostate cancer will have even better long-term overall and prostate cancer survival with observation.'

Over-the-counter lipoic acid may slow the progression of multiple sclerosis, study finds

Also known as thioctic acid, it is a naturally occurring compound that is synthesised in small amounts by humans, which is available in supplement form.  The effects were seen on patients with the secondary progressive form (SPMS) of the common neurological disease.  In a pilot study, researchers found that taking a high dose of lipoic acid every day for two years reduced whole brain atrophy by 68 percent compared with a placebo.

The research, published in the journal Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation, noted that the reduction of brain atrophy by 68 percent with lipoic acid was greater than the reported impact of the drug ocrelizumab. Known as brand name Ocrevus, the medication was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of primary progressive MS – improving whole brain atrophy by 18 percent in clinical trials.  Furthermore, the new study revealed participants treated with lipoic acid had fewer falls and better walking times, compared with those who were given the placebo.
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However, the researchers caution that further trials involving a larger number of patients is necessary before lipoic acid can be recommended as a safe and effective treatment for the disease.

Drug May Help with Common Form of Vision Loss

An experimental drug reduces eye damage in people with a common form of vision loss for which there is currently no available treatment, a new study finds. The new study included 129 participants ages 60 to 89 in the United States and Germany. All of the participants had a particular type of AMD called geographic atrophyAMD, or "dry AMD." In the 18-month trial, the participants who were given monthly injections of a drug called lampalizumab had a 20 percent reduction, on average, in the size of the area of the retina that is affected by the disease.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 PM | Permalink

Good news in the Alzheimer's roundup UPDATED

Sharp focus on Alzheimer's may help target drugs

Abnormal deposits that build up in the brain during Alzheimer's have been pictured in unprecedented detail by UK scientists at The Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), a research institute in Cambridge, England.

The researchers used brain tissue from a 74-year-old woman who died after having Alzheimer's disease. The form of dementia leads to tangles of a protein called tau spreading throughout the brain. The more tau tangles there are, the worse the symptoms tend to be. Doctors have known this has happened for decades but what has been missing is a detailed understanding of what the tangles look like.

The team took advantage of the "resolution revolution" in microscopy to take thousands of highly detailed images of the tau inside the woman's brain tissues. Using computer software, they figured out the tangles look like this:

 Tau Tangles Pictured

It is pretty meaningless to an untrained eye, but to scientists this could be one of the most important recent discoveries in tackling dementia. Attempts to develop a drug to slow the pace of dementia have been met by repeated failure. But it is hard to come up with a drug when you do not know the precise chemical structure of what you are targeting.

Dr Sjors Scheres, one of the researchers, told the BBC News website: "It's like shooting in the dark - you can still hit something but you are much more likely to hit if you know what the structure is."We are excited - it opens up a whole new era in this field, it really does."

A Common Epilepsy Drug Can Fix Abnormal Brain Activity in Alzheimer's Disease

A team from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) at Harvard Medical School turned to an anti-seizure medication to see whether it might have any effect on the brain activity of patients with mild Alzheimer's disease. The drug in question was levetiracetam (LEV for short), commonly used for treating seizures in epilepsy patients. It's been tested before in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, showing benefits for normalizing brain activity and even reversing some cognitive deficits. Even though this was just a small feasibility study, the results look promising indeed.

New Alzheimer's Drug Trial Clears Toxic Brain Proteins And Slows Memory Loss

The drug targets amyloid deposits - toxic proteins linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s - and after just 12 months, patients on the highest dose had no detectable signs of these deposits. Not only that, but for the 20 early-stage Alzheimer’s patients who took the highest dose of the drug for more than six months, there were indications that their cognitive decline and memory loss had been slowed down.

Nothing is confirmed until the results are replicated in a much longer trial with a larger and more diverse sample set, so while we can be excited about the incredible potential of this drug, we need to wait for follow-up trials. So with that in mind, here’s what happened. The team recruited 165 participants who had been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease to test the efficacy of a drug based on an antibody called aducanumab.Aducanumab has been shown to naturally occur in people who age without experiencing significant cognitive decline, so the researchers decided to see what would happen if they injected high doses of the antibody into people with early-stage Alzheimer’s.

"This is the best news we’ve had in my 25 years of doing Alzheimer’s research, and it brings hope to patients and families affected by the disease," one of the researchers, neurologist Stephen Salloway from Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.

Experts excited by brain 'wonder-drug'

In 2013, a UK Medical Research Council team stopped brain cells dying in an animal for the first time, creating headline news around the world. But the compound used was unsuitable for people, as it caused organ damage.  Now two drugs have been found that should have the same protective effect on the brain and are already safely used in people. These two drugs were shown to prevent both a form of dementia and prion disease by stopping brain cells dying.

"It's really exciting," said Prof Giovanna Mallucci, from the MRC Toxicology Unit in Leicester.  "Both were very highly protective and prevented memory deficits, paralysis and dysfunction of brain cells." She wants to start human clinical trials on dementia patients soon and expects to know whether the drugs work within two to three years.

Adults with ADHD are more than THREE TIMES as likely to develop dementia

Researchers studied 600 adults from Taiwan with ADHD over a 10-year period.They found adults with ADHD are 3.4 times more likely to develop dementia.  While it is unclear why, studies suggest both disorders are caused by problems with brain messengers.

Pauses in speech may indicate Alzheimer's disease: Taking longer to talk is an early sign of mental decline

Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that people with a family history of Alzheimer's disease who are at-risk of developing the condition are less able to express their ideas and have reduced 'fluency' when speaking, a study found. They also use words such as 'it' or 'they' rather than specific names for things and speak in shorter sentences, the research adds.

Orange a day cuts the risk of dementia by a quarter:

Daily intake of citrus fruits can cut chances of developing dementia by almost a quarter, according to a study by scientists at Tohuku University in Japan. Citric acid contains nobiletin, shown to slow or reverse impairment of memory. It's the first major study to investigate the effects citrus fruit consumption might have on large numbers of those most at risk.

People who complete daily crosswords have sharper brains as they grow older

Doing the tricky word puzzles helps boost attention, reasoning and memory. The 'exciting' findings were based on data from more than 17,000 participants in research led by Exeter University and Kings College London.

UPDATE: Two new genes which could be linked to Alzheimer's found in ground-breaking study
Until now, these genes were seen as protectors, since they are part of the brain's immune system.  However, scientists at Cardiff University have demonstrated that they can also create fertile ground for the neurodegenerative disease. Crucially, they said there are clear ways to target these genes - potentially blocking them from triggering dangerous activity. 

The study compared the DNA of tens of thousands of individuals with Alzheimer's with aged-matched people who are free from the disease, building on their previous work of identifying 24 susceptibility genes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:21 PM | Permalink

Roundup of exciting medical research and new medical technologies

Scientists stumble across a solution to deadly antibiotic resistance by CHANCE

Deemed to be one of the biggest threats to humanity, antibiotic resistance has previously been cited as severe as terrorism and global warming. It is causing usually harmless infections to turn into deadly superbugs that don't respond to a range of medications.  But Salford University scientists claim they may have stumbled across a very simple way forward – even though they weren't looking for antibiotics. And they have created several of the drugs already – many of which are as potent, or more so, than amoxicillin.

Study author Professor Michael Lisanti told MailOnline they were looking into ways of inhibiting mitochondria, the 'powerhouse' of cells which fuel fatal tumors, when they made the discovery. 'These broad-spectrum antibiotics were discovered, by simply screening candidates first on mitochondria in cancer cells.
'Mitochondria and bacteria have a lot in common. We began thinking that if what we found inhibited mitochondria, it would also kill bacteria.' 'So, these new anti-cancer agents should also be potential antibiotics.'

Their results showed that these synthetic compounds - without any additional chemical engineering - inhibited a broad spectrum of five types of common bacteria. This included Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, E. coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). They also killed the pathogenic yeast, Candida albicans.
Dubbed as 'mito-riboscins', they are equally, if not more, potent than standard antibiotics, the researchers said.

Johns Hopkins researchers say they've unlocked key to cancer metastasis and how to slow it

Hasini Jayatilaka was a sophomore at the Johns Hopkins University working in a lab studying cancer cells when she noticed that when the cells become too densely packed, some would break off and start spreading....Seven years later, the theory Jayatilaka developed early in college is now a bona fide discovery that offers significant promise for cancer treatment.

Jayatilaka and a team at Johns Hopkins discovered the biochemical mechanism that tells cancer cells to break off from the primary tumor and spread throughout the body, a process called metastasis. Some 90 percent of cancer deaths are caused when cancer metastasizes. The team also found that two existing, FDA-approved drugs can slow metastasis significantly....The drugs the team used were Tocilizumab, a rheumatoid arthritis treatment, and Reparixin, which is being evaluated for cancer treatment. The drugs bind to the Interleukin receptors and block their signals, slowing metastasis.  The next step for the team is to test the effectiveness of the drugs in human subjects.

New vaccine providing '100% protection' against life-wrecking Lyme disease is in the pipeline

Experts at UMass Medical School in Boston have prevented mice getting Lyme disease.  A single jab injects an antibody that targets bacteria inside the tick's gut as soon as the tick bites, thus preventing the illness from being transmitted to the body.

The seasonal injection of the single antibody could be given in the spring, and could last through the fall, when ticks are most active. The developers say it has shown virtually no adverse side effects, but more testing needs to be done. And this means that it could take another two-to-three years before it is available and it has passed the clinic trials required for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Until then, the sweetener Stevia might work even better than antibiotics to treat Lyme disease

A professor who has battled with the illness for 15 years, believes to have found a solution.  Dr Eva Sapi, an academic and researcher at the University of New Haven, conducted tests on the sweetener Stevia and found that it combats the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme disease.  "We did some research, and found out it's been used in Japan for centuries as a microbiotic agent."  The sugary substance has proven much more effective in killing the bacteria than antibiotics. Clinical trials are being conducted in Hyde Park, New York, by Dr Richard Horowitz, a doctor specializing in Lyme disease and curing patients with the illness. 

Geko 'wristwatch' may help speed up healing of leg injuries and aid patients who have surgery for broken bones

The neuromuscular electro-stimulation device reduces swelling in broken limbs.  Around 75 per cent of patients using Geko were treated successfully and went home in one or two days.

Rapidly expanding biofoam will save soldiers' lives.

Bleeding to death is the leading cause of fatalities on the battlefield.  Dubbed ResQ Foam, this remarkable biofoam rapidly expands inside the body (up to 35 times the original volume) and seals off the wound.  The foam which must be injected doesn’t repair the injury, but stabilizes the wounded, buying the patient about three more hours to get to a surgeon which can be the critical difference between life and death.

Silk patch that heals a burst eardrum

Called ClearDrum, the contact lens-sized implant is stitched over the hole in the eardrum and acts as a ‘scaffold’ on to which the patient’s own healthy new tissue can grow. It can also transmit sound just as a healthy eardrum would do. Trials on patients are due to begin in Australia within the next year and if these prove successful, ClearDrum could be widely available in three to five years.

The titanium 'butterfly' device which can cut the risk of a stroke after being placed in your neck

A tiny titanium ‘butterfly’ implanted in the neck could give hope to half a million British patients blighted by drug-resistant high blood pressure, dramatically reducing their risk of stroke, heart attacks and dementia.
In American trials, the baked-bean-size device – a featherlight, four-sided wire cage – has been able to improve patients’ prospects where medication had failed to do so.  Some, who still suffered high blood pressure despite being on the highest doses of medication, saw their readings drop to normal levels within months..... 

Dutch cardiologist Dr Jan van der Heyden, who has been using the device on patients, said: ‘We’ve been following patients for more than two years and have seen dramatic improvements....The implant remains in place permanently and the patient is unable to feel it.  Studies suggest that there is an initial effect within 24 hours, and that blood pressure continues to fall over three months and then remain stable.

Given European approval last year, the device, called MobiusHD, is now set to be offered to a select group of patients as part of a trial led by British experts. The procedure is set to go on trial at University College London Hospitals in a study expected to gain approval and begin recruiting later this year.

'Microneedle' Patch Promises Painless Flu Vaccine

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

Big shift in understanding how the brain makes memories

Rules of memory 'beautifully' rewritten

 Brain Memory

It had been thought that all memories start as a short-term memory and are then slowly converted into a long-term one. Two parts of the brain are heavily involved in remembering our personal experiences: The hippocampus is the place for short-term memories while the cortex is home to long-term memories.

The US and Japanese team found that the brain "doubles up" by simultaneously making two memories of events. The results, published in the journal Science, showed that memories were formed simultaneously in the hippocampus and the cortex. One is for the here-and-now and the other for a lifetime.

Experts said the findings were surprising, but also beautiful and convincing.  Prof Susumu Tonegawa, the director of the research centre, said: "This was surprising. This is contrary to the popular hypothesis that has been held for decades." "This is a significant advance compared to previous knowledge, it's a big shift."

Dr Amy Milton, who researches memory at Cambridge University, described the study as "beautiful, elegant and extremely impressive". "I'm quite surprised.  "This is [just] one study, but I think they've got a strong case, I think it's convincing and I think this will tell us about how memories are stored in humans as well."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:45 PM | Permalink

July 16, 2017

“Invariably over 50% of the population ... go down to the sea to watch the tsunami,”

Survival is less about heroic actions than avoiding mindless mistakes.

What not to do in a disaster

“Survival training isn’t so much about training people what to do – you’re mostly training them not to do certain things that they would normally think to do,” says John Leach, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth who survived the King’s Cross fire disaster in 1987. He estimates that in a crisis, 80-90% of people respond inappropriately. Footage of the Japanese earthquake in 2011 showed people risking their lives while rushing to save bottles of alcohol from smashing in a supermarket. And when a plane caught fire at an airport in Denver earlier this year, evacuating passengers lingered by the plane to watch the flames and take selfies.

If faced with a life-threatening scenario, what behaviors should you do your best to avoid?
1. Freezing.  When we’re paralyzed with fear the brain is actively putting on the brakes. As adrenaline surges through the body and our muscles tense, the primitive “little brain” at the base of our necks sends a signal to keep us rooted to the spot....
2. Inability to think. Even at the best of times, our brains are disconcertingly slow – while disasters are rapid. ...
3. Tunnel vision....  A typical response to disaster is so-called “perseveration” – attempting to solve a problem in a single way, again and again and again, regardless of the results.
4. Staying stuck in a routine....“The number of people who have been killed going back to get their wallet from their house, or checking if they’ve left the oven on…”
5. Denial...“Invariably over 50% of the population do it, they go down to the sea to watch the tsunami,”...Denial usually happens for two reasons; either because they fail to interpret the situation as dangerous, or because they simply don’t want to. The latter is extremely common in the event of a wildfire, since often evacuating your home means consigning it to ruin.

What you SHOULD do in a disaster
Surviving a natural disaster is about having a plan. “If you know what you’re doing in advance and you start early, you can usually get away from a tsunami".....  Preparation, acting fast, busting routines and avoiding denial may all be ways to live a bit longer in worst-case scenarios – but as Larson’s experiences suggests, sometimes you need a good dose of luck too.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:19 AM | Permalink

July 15, 2017

Young Afghan refugees "are motivated by a deep and abiding contempt for Western civilization."

A bone-chilling article by a doctor who has worked with refugees for decades.

I've Worked with Refugees for Decades. Europe's Afghan Crime Wave Is Mind-Boggling by Dr. Cheryl Benard

It quickly became obvious that something was wrong, very wrong, with these young Afghan men: they were committing sex crimes to a much greater extent than other refugees, even those from countries that were equally or more backward, just as Islamic and conservative, and arguably just as misogynist.

This is not an article that has been fun for me to write. I have worked on issues related to refugees for much of my professional life, from the Pakistani camps during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan to Yemen, Sudan, Thailand, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Lebanon, Bosnia, Nicaragua and Iraq, and have deep sympathy for their plight.
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It took a while for the pattern to be recognized because, until recently, western European media deliberately refrained from identifying an assailant’s refugee or asylum status, or his country of origin. Only when the correlation became so dramatic that it was itself newsworthy did this policy change. At that point, it became clear that the authorities had known about, and for political reasons had deliberately covered up, large-scale incidences of sexual assault by migrants.

--

What’s going on? Why is this happening? And why the Afghans? A few competing theories are in circulation.
First: “They get drunk.”....A second theory hypothesizes confusion caused by a clash in cultural values. .....
This brings us to a third, more compelling and quite disturbing theory—the one that my Afghan friend, the court translator, puts forward. ...
They are motivated by a deep and abiding contempt for Western civilization. To them, Europeans are the enemy, and their women are legitimate spoils, as are all the other things one can take from them: housing, money, passports. Their laws don’t matter, their culture is uninteresting and, ultimately, their civilization is going to fall anyway to the horde of which one is the spearhead. No need to assimilate, or work hard, or try to build a decent life here for yourself—these Europeans are too soft to seriously punish you for a transgression, and their days are numbered.
--
The young Afghan attackers are saying, yes, that they have no impulse control, that their hormones are raging, and that they hate themselves and the world—but most especially, that they will not tolerate women who are happy, confident and feeling safe in public spaces. They are saying that they have no intention of respecting law, custom, public opinion, local values or common decency, all of which they hate so much that they are ready to put their own lives, their constructive futures and their freedom on the line for the satisfaction of inflicting damage.

---

What to do? The necessary measures, I think, are obvious.
1. Anyone convicted of a felony or any kind of sexual crime should be immediately deported, and that consequence should be made known to new arrivals as part of their initial orientation....

2. Every arriving refugee and asylum seeker must be subjected to rigorous fact-checking of their story, including validation of their asserted age by lab testing if there is any doubt. Yes, it’s troublesome and costly, but not nearly as troublesome and costly as letting the wrong people in, or putting hundreds of thousands of foreigners permanently or semipermanently on the dole with benefits they are not entitled to.....

3. Members of the relevant diaspora communities must make very clear to the refugees that they do not approve of and will not assist them with their false claims, cheating, bad behavior or crime......

4. Finally, the Left has to do a bit of hard thinking. It’s fine to be warm, fuzzy and sentimental about strangers arriving on your shores, but let’s also spare some warm, fuzzy and sentimental thoughts for our own values, freedoms and lifestyle
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:43 PM | Permalink

The Bad Ass Librarian from Timbukto

The Librarian Who Took On Al-Qaeda

Protecting one book is easy. Saving 377,000 fragile historic documents from gun-toting vandals hell-bent on erasing centuries of knowledge? That takes a different type of hero.

....the founder of Timbuktu’s Mamma Haidara Library, a scholar and community leader named Abdel Kader Haidara, saw the burning of the manuscripts as a tragedy—and a vindication of a remarkable plan he’d undertaken. Starting with no money besides the meager sum in his savings account, the librarian had recruited a loyal circle of volunteers, badgered and shamed the international community into funding the scheme, raised $1 million, and hired hundreds of amateur smugglers in Timbuktu and beyond. Their goal? Save books.
--
In a low-tech operation that seemed quaint in the second decade of the 21st century, Haidara and his team had transported to safety, by river and by road, past hostile jihadi guards and suspicious Malian soldiers, past bandits, attack helicopters, and other lethal obstacles, almost all of Timbuktu’s 377,000 manuscripts. Not one had been lost en route. “Abdel Kader and I experienced something I have trouble describing. Power, strength, perseverance can’t adequately articulate what it was,” Brady said in an interview on Reddit. “We kept thinking that we had to lose some manuscripts—theft, bandits, belligerents … combat, books in canoes on the Niger River—we had to lose some, right? Well, we didn’t. Not a single manuscript was compromised during the evacuation—nada, zero. They all made it.”

From The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts, by Joshua Hammer. Copyright © 2016

 Timbuktu Haidara Librarian
YouTube link

From a review, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is the wonderfully gripping story of Abdel Kader Haidara and the hundreds of ordinary Malians who, at great personal danger, endeavored to save the ancient fabled manuscripts of Timbuktu from destruction by Islamic jihadists. It is also an inspirational reminder that, even as the forces of barbarism extend their thrall across so much of the Muslim world, there are still those willing to risk everything to preserve civilization.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:08 PM | Permalink

Thoughts of a reactionary

David Warren 

Absolute monarchies tend to be reactionary, which is why I am well disposed to them. The hereditary principle weeds for ambition. All change is for the worse, including change for the better, from an absolute monarch’s point of view. This is what makes him the opposite of a tyrant. The best sort of ruler promises nothing, and delivers on his promise every time. The worst sort of tyrant has “plans.” 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2017

Miscellany #74

Majesty in Miniature The amazing and mesmerizing beauty of hummingbirds flying, shaking and drinking captured in slo mo by National Geographic.  They flap with a twist and drink with a forked tongue.

“Put a high-speed camera on it, and you’re like, ‘Holy cow! That’s what the bird’s doing?’ ”

 Hummingbirds-And-Tongue

Can Goats be Scabs?

Western Michigan University is one of the top four-year colleges in the nation. Its five campuses in and around Kalamazoo, Mich., comprising more than 1200 acres, feature plenty of green, open spaces meticulously maintained by union members of the local AFSCME chapter.  In addition to all those green lawns, there's a 12-acre section of woodland where a titanic struggle is being waged between the AFSCME local and university officials over the use of non-union labor, a herd of 20 goats.

 Goats

The union has sued the school alleging they are using scab labor to maintain the woodland and didn't inform them of their plans to do so....University spokeswoman Cheryl Roland said a small goat crew has been on campus this summer... to clear undergrowth in a woodlot, much of it poison ivy and other invasive species that are a problem for humans to remove. "Our analysis showed the goats to be a sustainable and cost-effective way of removing them."

Man's big toe transplanted on to his HAND after his thumb was torn off in a cattle accident

Zac Mitchell was working on a remote cattle station in Western Australia state in April when his hand was kicked by a bull and thrust against a fence, slicing off his right thumb....With the nearest hospital five hours away, the 20-year-old cattle handler put the thumb on ice until he could receive treatment, but attempts to reattach it were unsuccessful...'To recreate a thumb you can just use skin and bone, but that doesn't work so well, so really the toe is just the best option by far- when it works well,' said plastic surgeon Sean Nicklin, who performed the operation, adding the procedure had a success rate of over 95 percent. ...Mitchell will receive ongoing hand therapy and is expected to have feeling in his new thumb after about a year.

 Big Toe Now Thumb

What's directly across the ocean if you're in North and South America

Mom ‘Dresses’ Daughter In Food And Flowers

 Food Dresses Girl

Your Brain Treats a Blink Like a Tiny Nap

You probably don’t realize it, but you spend a good chunk of time each day walking around with your eyes closed. Scientists estimate that the average person blinks somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 times a day.

A Gallery of Iconic Guests Of The Ed Sullivan Show  I remember many of them, the Beatles, Diana Ross, the Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, the Jackson Five and George Carlin who cracked me up. 

 George Carlin George Carlin in 1968 on Ed Sullivan show.

Best story of the week. Stuck inside an ATM

 Atm Help

An unidentified man was fixing a lock inside the ATM room at Bank of America, Corpus Christi, when he accidentally locked himself in, and then realized he'd left his phone in his truck.  The contractor resorted to posting notes begging ATM customers for help 'Please Help. I'm stuck in here, and I don't have my phone. Please call my boss'.  Numerous ATM users wrote the note off as a bizarre practical joke until one did call his boss. Eventually, the police were called and kicked down the door, freeing the man who had been trapped for 2 hours.

Ancient Easter Island civilization did NOT obliterate itself by exhausting its natural resources

 Easter Island

The inhabitants of the remote location, off the coast of Chile, were believed to have been wiped out by bloody warfare, as they fought over dwindling resources. New research, however, has flipped these findings on their head, suggesting the islanders were highly competent at managing their resources.

An international team of researchers analyzed human, animal and plant remains from the island, known as Rapa Nui, famed for its Moai statues....'The Rapa Nui people were, not surprisingly, smart about how they used their resources. ..they had extensive knowledge of how to overcome poor soil fertility, improve environmental conditions, and create a sustainable food supply.

So what did happen to the Rapa Nui? Some claim the first Dutch ship to arrive in 1722 brought illness and that, as the died in huge numbers, the islanders lost their faith in the protection of the Moai and knocked them over.

What we do know is that ships passing between 1862 and 1864 kidnapped up to 3,500 Rapa Nui from the already-dwindling population. These included all the elders who could read glyphs known as Rongorongo and who passed on the tradition. They were used as slaves in Peruvian mines and just two survived long enough to return to the island, bringing yet more disease with them. By 1868, there were just 111 Rapa Nui left. Today’s population of about 4,000 Rapa Nui stems from those 111 people.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:18 PM | Permalink

"The most dangerous text published in America in decades"

To speak about administrative law is to introduce automatic yawns in any audience. No one noticed that the administrative agencies evolved into an 'enormous rogue beast'.  Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes, "You didn’t give these clowns power. They just grabbed it."  Unelected bureaucrats are running our lives

How did a system designed to provide government of, by, and for the people devolve into a system in which bureaucrats unaccountable to voters (though exquisitely accountable to political players and special interests) produce masses of law that was never voted on by an elected official? Simple: on purpose.

In the early days of the Republic, the franchise was limited. But as the mass of voters became larger, more diverse, and less elite, those who considered themselves the best and brightest looked to transform government into something run not by those deplorable unwashed voters but by a more congenial group. As Hamburger says, “They have gradually moved legislative power out of Congress and into administrative agencies — to be exercised, in more genteel ways, by persons like … themselves.”

It has been, in essence, a power grab by what Hamburger calls the “knowledge class,” or what others have called the New Class: A group of managers and intellectuals who, although they may not actually be especially knowledgeable or elite in practice, regard themselves as a knowledge elite.

Philip Hamburger, a Columbia University law professor, exposes the rogue beast in The Administrative Threat which Joseph Bottum calls "the most dangerous text published in America in decades—the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of our time. A Dangerous Book 

Philip Hamburger has provided the populist right with something that had been missing: a theoretical rationale for the national irritation with the current regime of administrative law. Where before there was only a kind of wordless rage, there exists now an actual articulation: a serious and convincing constitutional explanation of what's wrong with the way the nation is being run......

Through their rule-making powers, the administrative agencies manage and direct both the national economy and national manners with a particularity unrivaled and unexpected. Through their administrative hearings, they exercise judicial functions outside the judiciary: deciding cases, interpreting laws, and imposing penalties. And through their enforcement arms, they can arrest and charge those who violate their rules.

This kind of authority, Hamburger notes, "evades many of the Constitution's procedures, including both its legislative and judicial processes. Administrative power thereby sidesteps most of the Constitution's procedural freedoms. Administrative power is thus all about the evasion of governance through law." We have "a state within a state," a shadow government that is "the dominant reality of American governance." And this administrative state is now the "preeminent threat to civil liberties."

The Tyranny of the Administrative State by John Tierney

Sometimes called the regulatory state or the deep state, it is a government within the government, run by the president and the dozens of federal agencies that assume powers once claimed only by kings. In place of royal decrees, they issue rules and send out “guidance” letters like the one from an Education Department official in 2011 that stripped college students of due process when accused of sexual misconduct.

Unelected bureaucrats not only write their own laws, they also interpret these laws and enforce them in their own courts with their own judges. All this is in blatant violation of the Constitution,

“Essentially, much of the Bill of Rights has been gutted,” Hamburger says, sitting in his office at Columbia Law School. “The government can choose to proceed against you in a trial in court with constitutional processes, or it can use an administrative proceeding where you don’t have the right to be heard by a real judge or a jury and you don’t have the full due process of law. Our fundamental procedural freedoms, which once were guarantees, have become mere options.” ​
--
The Supreme Court capitulated further in decisions like Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council (1984), which requires judges to defer to any “reasonable interpretation” of an ambiguous statute by a federal agency. “Chevron deference should be called Chevron bias,” Mr. Hamburger says. “It requires judges to abandon due process and independent judgment. The courts have corrupted their processes by saying that when the government is a party in case, they will be systematically biased—they will favor the more powerful party.”

One example: Amish farmer sold herbal health products. He’s going to prison for 6 years
The government said that Girod misbranded his Chickweed Healing Salve, TO-MOR-GONE, R.E.P. products. The jury found that Girod also processed those products in an establishment that the FDA did not have registered and that the product labels did not bear adequate directions for use.

R

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:20 PM | Permalink

July 10, 2017

Slavery past and present

Who sold the slaves? Everybody did.

Slavery is practiced illegally in many nations, mainly in Africa and the Middle East. In some nations the practice is almost legal, for example in Mauritania. Theoretically slavery is illegal in the Middle East, but in reality it is widely practiced. ....Wherever mohammedanism gains a strong foothold, slavery re-emerges.
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The biggest surprise for Livingstone was ... was a continent geared to one product only: slavery. Everything else was extra. The entire continent was a production line for slaves. Some black tribes specialized in catching slaves. Others provided way stations to rest slaves on the march towards the Middle East and North Africa. There was a lingua franca: Arabic. Everywhere he met Arabs who were managing some part of the slave network....Everything in Africa south of the Sahara was run like a colonial slavery empire by the Arabs. In reality, Arabs had colonized Africa long before and ran it as a merchant empire.
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Credit were credit is due: It was devout Christians who first realized that chattel slavery is an abomination. Long before it became mainstream or even economically feasible.

 Sowell Slavery Worldwide

A story of slavery in modern America. My Family’s Slave

She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.

Modern day debt slavery exposed by USA Today Forced into debt.Worked past exhaustion.Left with nothing.

Port truckers -- many of them poor immigrants who speak little English -- are responsible for moving almost half of the nation’s container imports out of Los Angeles’ ports. They don't deliver goods to stores. Instead they drive them short distances to warehouses and rail yards, one small step on their journey to a store near you.

A yearlong investigation by the USA TODAY Network found that port trucking companies in southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks by taking on debt they could not afford. Companies then used that debt as leverage to extract forced labor and trap drivers in jobs that left them destitute.

If a driver quit, the company seized his truck and kept everything he had paid towards owning it....If drivers missed payments, or if they got sick or became too exhausted to go on, their companies fired them and kept everything. Then they turned around and leased the trucks to someone else....Drivers who manage to hang on to their jobs sometimes end up owing money to their employers – essentially working for free.

We drift in a sea of historical fraud

Slavery was a product of the North. Slave ships in hundreds left from New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut for Africa. When the slave trade was outlawed in 1808, Northern slavers sold contraband slaves to the South or to the godawful sugar-raising West Indies or to South America. The North grew rich from the cotton of the South,  financed its plantations, and provided the slaves. Further huge profits came from trading in the products of the sugar plantations, which it turned into rum.

The North had tens of thousands of slaves itself. It not infrequently burned blacks alive, connived at the kidnapping of free blacks to sell to the South, returned runaway slaves. When abolition-minded whites set up schools for blacks, Northern mobs attacked them and Northern courts refused to do anything about it.
Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery is a good account.

 White Slaves Sowell

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:34 PM | Permalink

July 5, 2017

Miscellany #73

On a wing and a prayer! Bald Eagle struggling to fly is rescued in D.C. just in time for Independence Day
A Bald Eagle who was struggling to fly was rescued by a team of wildlife experts in Washington DC.  The adult bald eagle was struggling to breathe and was unable to fly after getting injured.  ...'According to City Wildlife, the eagle is in stable condition and prognosis is guarded.

The Simple Joys of the Dull Men's Club  Delight in the ordinary in a 3 min YouTube video

What you can learn from Einstein's Quirky Habits which were 10 hours of sleep, one-second naps, daily walks outside and eating spaghetti.  Well, for one thing, people who have more spindle events tend to have greater ‘fluid intelligence’ – the ability to solve new problems, use logic in new situations, and identify patterns.

10+ Best Pics From The Best Photoshop Battles Ever

 German Shepherd On Ice

After 500 years, Leonardo da Vinci’s music machine is brought to life

His extensive archive of ideas and schematics has been collected in a 12-volume set known as the Codex Atlanticus. It was in these pages that Polish instrument maker Sławomir Zubrzycki found a forgotten invention, an instrument played like a harpsichord, but with the sound of a chamber orchestra....Constructing the first viola organista  took Zubrzycki 3 years and 5,000 hours to complete.

Mick Jagger: ‘The Times hit the floor of my cell. The same day I was out’

Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?

Why Did Greenland’s Vikings Vanish?

“It’s a good thing they can’t make you give your PhD back once you’ve got it,” McGovern jokes. He and the small community of scholars who study the Norse experience in Greenland no longer believe that the Vikings were ever so numerous, or heedlessly despoiled their new home, or failed to adapt when confronted with challenges that threatened them with annihilation.

The Nazis Had No Idea the “Perfect Aryan” Child in their Propaganda Was Jewish

 Perfect-Aryan-Baby-Jewish

7 Sanctuaries linked by a straight line: The legendary Sword of St. Michael

A mysterious imaginary line links seven monasteries, from Ireland to Israel. Is it just a coincidence? These seven sanctuaries are very far from each other, and yet they are perfectly aligned...the Sacred Line also is perfectly aligned with the sunset on the day of the Northern Hemisphere’s Summer Solstice....The Sacred Line of Saint Michael the Archangel represents, according to legend, the blow the Saint inflicted the Devil, sending him to hell.

 Sword St Michael

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 PM | Permalink

July 4, 2017

A Feel-Good Roundup

When Poland Sent The U.S. A Birthday Card With 5.5 Million Signatures, artwork, photographs, poems, and pressed flowers.

That's almost a sixth of the population of Poland in 1926.  The good wishes came on 30,000 pages, in 111 bound volumes compiled by the people of Poland, newly independent following World War I, who wanted to express their affection for the United States.  The Poles thanked the United States for the good example it set, for its role in World War I, and for saving Poland's children from famine and disease at the war's end.

 Polish Bcard To Us

10-Year-Old Genius Invents A Device To Stop Children Dying In Hot Cars After His Neighbor’s Death

His name is Bishop Curry from McKinney, Texas, a fifth grader has invented something called the Oasis, a clever little gadget that monitors the temperature inside the car. Once it gets to a certain level, the device emits cool air while simultaneously alerting parents and authorities via an antenna. The idea for the Oasis came to Bishop after he learned that his neighbor’s 6-month-old infant had died from being in an overheated car, and although he only has a 3-D clay model of the device at the moment, he and his father have so far managed to raise over $24,000 for their invention on GoFundMe.
 10-Year-Old-Boy-Inventor-Children-Hot-Car-Lifesaving-Invention-Bishop-Curry-1  GoFundMe to prevent hot car deaths.

Firefighters Throw Baby Shower For Woman Who Lost Everything In Fire

Firefighters surprised a mother-to-be with keys to a new home and a baby shower after she lost everything in a devastating fire.

Veterans Community Project Is Building A Village Of Tiny Houses For Homeless Vets

In Kansas City, Missouri the Veterans Community Project is helping their fellow veterans get off the street by building an entire community of tiny houses for them to live in free of charge.

 Tiny House For Vets

The Restaurant Staffed by Nanas

Kitchen on Staten Island only employs immigrant grandmothers - from Italians to Brazilians and Algerians - to cook home style meals from across the world.

 Restaurant Nonnas

Saving Sex Slaves from Isis

Steve Maman obtained many business contacts in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East as a custom car curator and crystal manufactor over the years of his career. With these contacts in the fall of 2014, Steve Maman began a private effort to liberate Yazidis and Christians after ISIS attacked Northern Iraq. The success of 102 private-funded liberations inspired him to keep going, and he formed CYCI June 25, 2015.

 Maman Cyci

The ‘Jewish Schindler’ Who Sprang Into Action After Witnessing ISIS’s Genocide And Slavery

“From 1939-1945, Jews were being murdered during the Holocaust,” said Steve Maman, “despite the fact that everyone around knew it was going on. It was three years into the genocide [of Christians and Yazidis] yet nobody acted. That is why I did what I did. I didn’t trust anyone else to do it.” ...."When you see a girl being rescued, you cry, I don’t care how tough you are, you cry.’.... The full story of the Jewish Schindler on YouTube

Cop ADOPTS abused ten-year-old boy

Officer Jody Thompson of the Poteau Police Department in Oklahoma has adopted 10-year-old John and his baby sister after he responded to a call regarding the young boy, two years prior....Thompson was stunned to see a severely underweight eight-year-old boy with his wrists bound by belts, bruises all along his back and a huge bump on his head, having been submerged in a trash can full of cold water. He weighed a mere 61lbs. The officer added: 'He did not have a spot on his body that didn't have a bruise or abrasion. It was the worst thing I've ever seen.'

 Officer Jody Thompson

Strangers Buy Car For 20-Year-Old Man Who Walks 3 Miles Each Way To Work

Dying dog meets autistic boy. That's when a miracle happened

Jonny Hickey was an eight-year-old boy with autism who didn't speak much at all. Xena was an emaciated, abused puppy who was so far gone that her rescuers doubted she would make it.  Then Jonny and Xena's paths crossed, and they changed each other's lives forever. From death's door, Xena fought back to become the guiding light and best friend to a boy who needed her. Watch the story of Xena, the Warrior Dog and Jonny.

 Zena+Jonny

Watch 80 Bystanders Form Human Chain To Save 9 Strangers From Riptide

When a dangerous riptide swept a Florida family away, strangers on the beach took more action than law enforcement.

 Human-Chain-Rescue

Dementia-stricken woman celebrates incredible 65 YEARS of marriage with the 'only person she remembers' 

After marrying in 1952, Ruby, 89, and Harold Coleman, 90, went on to have five children together: Marty, Rhonda, Tim, Cindy and Sandy.The couple from Virginia, USA, also have seven grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Harold is a retired building contractor whilst Ruby spent her years as a stay at home mother raising five children and supporting her husband in his ventures. 

Megan Vaughan, the photographer hired to commemorate their love together, explained that despite Ruby's dementia, she loves her husband more and more each day, adding: 'You can see it in her eyes.....I feel completely blessed to have gotten the privilege to meet them and get a glimpse of their wonderfully fulfilling marriage.'

 Ruby+Harold Coleman-1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:20 AM | Permalink

Reading wise men on the Fourth of July

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, July 4 1776

Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom.
I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not,
I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it.
John Adams Letter to Abigail Adams, 26 April 1777

Nothing short of Independence, it appears to me, can possibly do … To see men without Cloathes to cover their nakedness—without Blankets to lay on—without Shoes, by which their Marches might be traced by the Blood from their feet—and almost as often without Provisions as with; Marching through frost & Snow, and at Christmas taking up their Winter Quarters within a days March of the enemy, without a House or Hutt to cover them till they could be built & submitting to it without a murmur, is a Mark of patience & obedience which in my opinion can scarce be parallel’d
General George Washington to John Banister, April 21, 1778

But you may rely upon it, the patience & long sufferance of this Army are almost exhausted,
and that there never was so great a spirit of Discontent as at this instant.
General George Washington to Benjamin Lincoln, October 2, 1782

...if Men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, ....reason is of no use to us—the freedom of Speech may be taken away—and, dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.

General George Washington to Officers of the Army, 15 March 1783

An extra ration of liquor to be issued to every man tomorrow, to drink
Perpetual Peace, Independence & Happiness to the United States of America

General George Washington General Orders, April 18, 1783

It is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union
to your collective and individual happiness

President George Washington in his Farewell Address, September 17, 1796


Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.
Benjamin Franklin, under the pen name Silence Dogood, No. 8, 9 July 1722

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Abraham Lincoln June 16, 1858

Our popular Government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled—the successful establishing and the successful administering of it.
One still remains—its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it.
It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets, and that
when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves at succeeding elections.
Such will be a great lesson of peace, teaching men that what they can not take by an election neither can they take it by a war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.

President Abraham Lincoln, Fourth of July Address to Congress, 1861.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation,
conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war,
testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure....
We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain —
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom —
and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
President Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history....
In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document.
It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man—these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals...

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful.

It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern.
But that reasoning can not be applied to the great charter.
If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final.
No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions.
If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when
there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.
Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary.
Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers. . . .
President Calvin Coolidge  on the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 5, 1926

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:17 AM | Permalink

July 3, 2017

A Map of the Soul

A Map of the Soul

I’m a neuroscientist and professor of neurosurgery. The mind-brain question haunts me. Neurosurgeons alter the brain on a daily basis, and what we find doesn’t fit the prevailing view that the brain runs the mind as computer hardware runs software.

I have scores of patients who are missing large areas of their brains, yet who have quite good minds. I have a patient born with two-thirds of her brain absent. She’s a normal junior high kid who loves to play soccer. Another patient, missing a similar amount of brain tissue, is an accomplished musician with a master’s degree in English.

How can this be? It wasn’t until I read Thomas Aquinas that I began to understand.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:59 PM | Permalink

On the eve of the 4th

I'm gobsmacked at how many of the Communist Goals of 1958 have been partially or completely fulfilled in America today. 

Was all this accomplished by Soviet agents and Communist subversives? No, they had plenty of “useful idiots” to help do their work for them. All it took was the “long march through the institutions” to get into influential positions, put the ideas into the public sphere, and convince others that all this was “social justice”. As Yuri Bezmenov put it:

…the demoralization now reaches such areas where previously not even comrade Andropov and all his experts would even dream of such a tremendous success. Most of it is done by Americans to Americans thanks to lack of moral standards.

We certainly don't lack useful idiots or social justice warriors.

The new face of cultural marxism is the social justice warrior (SJW).

Whilst the SJW will not identify itself as a Marxist, their ideology and modus operandi is an exact replica of the Marxist. The SJW has a narrow world view, totalitarian tendencies, is weak to criticism and is extremely paranoid. We should call them for what they are: Communists, Marxists, and Leninists.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink

"I hope you will be treated unfairly"

Chief Justice John Roberts, at his commencement address to graduates at Cardigan Mountain School uses an uncommon way to illustrate the importance of the virtues

From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope you will suffer betrayal, because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time, so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck again, from time to time, so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in your life, and understand that your success is not completely deserved, and the failure of others is not completely deserved, either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you will be ignored, so you will learn the importance of listening to others. And I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:37 PM | Permalink