August 31, 2017

Health Roundup: Fat and low fat, pacemaker cyberflaw, ecstasy + PTSD, cocoa +diabetes

Low-fat diet could kill you, major study shows

Low-fat diets could raise the risk of early death by almost one quarter, a major study has found.  Published in The Lancet, the Canadian study of 135,000 adults found those who cut back on fats had far shorter lives than those enjoying plenty of butter, cheese and meats.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra said it was time “for a complete U-turn” in Britain’s approach to diet, and demonization of fat. “The sooner we do that the sooner we reverse the epidemic in obesity and diabetes and the sooner start improving health.”

Fat has a PROTECTIVE effect:

Major Canadian study challenges decades of advice focused on cutting fat.  It showed that people who eat the least fat have the highest mortality rates and were 23% more likely to die young.  The latest Canadian findings were based on a huge study of 135,000 people aged 35 to 70, from 18 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.

Dr Mahshid Dehghan of McMaster University, speaking at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona, said: 'For decades, dietary guidelines have focused on reducing total fat and saturated fatty acid.'
But she added: 'The body needs fat. It carries vitamins, it provides essential acids, it has a role in the body. When you reduce fat to very low levels, you're affecting these important minerals.'

She stressed that people should not eat unlimited fat – and if people actually hit the British guidance of getting 35 per cent of energy from fat, they will give themselves the best health.  But she said the focus on 'low-fat' dieting – a drive supported by UK authorities - means people often go below this level. And when people try to cut fat they replace it in the diet with carbohydrates and sugar, increasing their heart risk.

Cyber-flaw affects 745,000 pacemakers

A total of 745,000 pacemakers in the U.S. and elsewhere have been confirmed as having cyber-security issues that could let them be hacked. The flaws could theoretically be used to cause the devices to pace too quickly or run down their batteries....Patients are being advised to ask their doctors about an available firmware update at their next scheduled appointment. The pacemakers can receive the revised code by being placed close to a radio wave-emitting wand in a process that lasts about three minutes.

Ecstasy Was Just Labelled a 'Breakthrough Therapy' For PTSD by The FDA

Men who get fit in middle age can halve their risk of strokes

Chocolate could PREVENT diabetes: Cocoa stimulates the release of insulin

A compound in cocoa, known as epicatechin monomers, enhances the secretion of insulin from specific cells, a study found. It also reduces obesity and increases animals' ability to cope with high blood glucose levels.

Although the study was only conducted in animals, the researchers add humans may require large quantities of the compound in order to benefit.  Study author Professor Jeffery Tessem from Brigham Young University (BYU), said 'You probably have to eat a lot of cocoa, and you probably don't want it to have a lot of sugar in it. It's the compound in cocoa you're after.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:03 PM | Permalink

"We've never seen anything like this before" about the "living drug" , tailor-made to each patient

Historic 'living drug' gets go-ahead

The US has approved the first treatment to redesign a patient's own immune system so it attacks cancer.
The regulator - the US Food and Drug Administration - said its decision was a "historic" moment and medicine was now "entering a new frontier".

The "living drug" is tailor-made to each patient, unlike conventional therapies such as surgery or chemotherapy.
It is called CAR-T and is made by extracting white blood cells from the patient's blood. The cells are then genetically reprogrammed to seek out and kill cancer. The cancer-killers are then put back inside the patient and once they find their target they multiply.

Dr Stephan Grupp, who treated the first child with CAR-T at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said the new approach was "enormously exciting" --"We've never seen anything like this before."

That first patient had been near to death, but has now been cancer-free for more than five years. Out of 63 patients treated with CAR-T therapy, 83% were in complete remission within three months and long-term data is still being collected. However, the therapy is not without risks....

US clears breakthrough gene therapy for childhood leukemia

Made from scratch for every patient, it's one of a wave of "living drugs" under development to fight additional blood cancers and other tumors, too. Novartis Pharmaceuticals set the price for its one-time infusion of so-called "CAR-T cells" at $475,000, but said there would be no charge for patients who didn't show a response within a month.

"This is a brand new way of treating cancer," said Dr. Stephan Grupp of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who treated the first child with CAR-T cell therapy — a girl who'd been near death but now is cancer-free for five years and counting. "That's enormously exciting."

CAR-T treatment uses gene therapy techniques not to fix disease-causing genes but to turbocharge T cells, immune system soldiers that cancer too often can evade. Researchers filter those cells from a patient's blood, reprogram them to harbor a "chimeric antigen receptor" or CAR that zeroes in on cancer, and grow hundreds of millions of copies. Returned to the patient, the revved-up cells can continue multiplying to fight disease for months or years.

It's a completely different way to harness the immune system than popular immunotherapy drugs called "checkpoint inhibitors" that treat a variety of cancers by helping the body's natural T cells better spot tumors. CAR-T cell therapy gives patients stronger T cells to do that job.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:49 PM | Permalink

August 30, 2017

"What makes racism so sweet?"

Why the Left Can’t Let Go of Racism by Shelby Steele in the Wall St. Journal
Liberals sell innocence from America’s past. If bigotry is pronounced dead, the racket is over.

Today Americans know that active racism is no longer the greatest barrier to black and minority advancement. Since the 1960s other pathologies, even if originally generated by racism, have supplanted it. White racism did not shoot more than 4,000 people last year in Chicago. To the contrary, America for decades now—with much genuine remorse—has been recoiling from the practice of racism and has gained a firm intolerance for what it once indulged.

But Americans don’t really trust the truth of this. It sounds too self-exonerating....Americans nevertheless yearn to know whether or not we are a racist people. A staple on cable news these days is the “racial incident,” which stands as a referendum on this question. Today there is Charlottesville. Yesterday there were the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and others. ....

Such people—and the American left generally—have a hunger for racism that is almost craven. The writer Walker Percy once wrote of the “sweetness at the horrid core of bad news.” It’s hard to witness the media’s oddly exhilarated reaction to, say, the death of Trayvon Martin without applying Percy’s insight. A black boy is dead. But not all is lost. It looks like racism.

What makes racism so sweet? Today it empowers....The ’60s recast racism in the national consciousness as an incontrovertible sin, the very worst of all social evils....Thus, redemption—paying off the nation’s sins—became the moral imperative of a new political and cultural liberalism. President Lyndon Johnson turned redemption into a kind of activism: the Great Society, the War on Poverty, school busing, liberalized welfare policies, affirmative action, and so on.

...Soon liberalism had become a cultural identity that offered Americans a way to think of themselves as decent people. To be liberal was to be good. Here we see redemptive liberalism’s great ingenuity: It seized proprietorship over innocence itself. It took on the power to grant or deny moral legitimacy across society. Liberals were free of the past while conservatives longed to resurrect it, bigotry and all...The liberal identity must have racism, lest it lose innocence and the power it conveys.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:06 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's edition

Huge increase in Alzheimer's-related deaths in the first few months of 2017, CDC report reveals  In the first quarter of 2017 there were 1.13 as many deaths from the disease as in the first quarter of 2016.

'Ground zero' of Alzheimer's 

Researchers from the UNC Medical School may have discovered how brain cells go bad in Alzheimer's patients. They found bead-like structures that form and indicate the disease are caused by two proteins -MMP-9 and HDAC6.

Alzheimer's disease causes abnormal deposits of amyloid beta protein and tau protein in the brain, as well as swarms of activated immune cells. The team of researchers used different experiments to look at how the proteins and activated immune cells attack the brain and cause Alzheimer's-related symptoms. They also found that one medicine currently in development that blocks a specific protein - HDAC6, which originates from within neurons - show progress in preventing the damage that causes those symptoms.  The drug, called tubastatin A, is currently undergoing late stage clinical trials at a number of hospitals around the United States. 

Led by Dr Todd Cohen, assistant professor of neurology, UNC scientists used human cell cultures to show how amyloid beta can trigger a dramatic inflammatory response in immune cells and how that interaction damages neurons. The team then showed how that kind of neuron damage leads to the formation of bead-like structures filled with abnormal tau protein.  Similar bead-like structures are known to form in the brain cells of people with Alzheimer's disease.

The UNC researchers also identified two proteins - MMP-9 and HDAC6 - that help promote this harmful, amyloid-to-inflammation-to-tau cascade. These proteins and others associated with them could become drug targets to treat or prevent Alzheimer's.'It's exciting that we were able to observe tau - the major Alzheimer's protein - inside these beaded structures,' said Dr Cohen, who is also a member of the UNC Neuroscience Center. 'We think that preventing these structures from forming would leave people with healthier neurons that are more resistant to Alzheimer's.'

Higher risk of Alzheimer's associated with:

1. Bad sleep could raise the risk of dementia by 10%

Deep sleep - also called rapid eye movement sleep - could fight off dementia Scientists believe that the dreaming stage of sleep boosts connections in the brain, helping to protect it against the onset of the disease... The authors of the study said it did not show cause and effect – so it was not possible to confirm whether a lack of REM sleep was causing dementia or whether it was simply an early predictor of the disease.

2. Adults with bad eyesight have higher risk of dementia

A significant link between vision loss and a decline in cognitive function has been uncovered by researchers at Stanford University.  The team of researchers analyzed two sets of data covering about 33,000 people to connect the dots between poor sight and dementia risks. The link wasn't weakened even after scientists adjusted for demographics, health and other factors....The researchers said their study was observational and could not establish exactly why vision loss is linked to cognitive decline. However, both symptoms are known to occur as people become older - suggesting they may both go hand-in-hand.

3. Lower serotonin levels are linked to dementia according to brain scan study.

Results suggest serotonin loss may be a key player in cognitive decline, not just a side-effect of Alzheimer's disease.  In a study looking at brain scans of people with mild loss of thought and memory ability, Johns Hopkins researchers report evidence of lower levels of the serotonin transporter -- a natural brain chemical that regulates mood, sleep and appetite....."Now that we have more evidence that serotonin is a chemical that appears affected early in cognitive decline, we suspect that increasing serotonin function in the brain could prevent memory loss from getting worse and slow disease progression," says Gwenn Smith, Ph.D., director of geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

4. Spinach may cause Alzheimer's disease in at-risk people, research suggests.

The salad leaf's iron-rich content may damage the brain similar to how the compound causes metal to rust, according to new research. People with high levels of iron alongside the protein amyloid, which has previously been associated with Alzheimer's, are more likely to experience rapid cognitive decline, a study found while those with high amyloid but low iron levels are less at-risk of the disease.

Removing such 'rust' from the brain could prevent or delay the degenerative condition, the researchers add. Although iron is important for energy, it can cause cellular stress and their subsequent death. The researchers plan to conduct a five-year trial investigating whether an anti-iron drug could treat Alzheimer's.  Do not cut back on dietary iron. The researchers do not recommend people cut back on their dietary iron intake to reduce their Alzheimer's risk. This is because the amount of the iron in the brain appears unrelated to levels in the blood or a person's food intake.

5. Women face a greater risk of developing dementia during a crucial 10-year span, between 65 and 75

The team of researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, analyzed 27 independent studies, featuring data on a total of 57,979 individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's from North America and Europe. They found women are more at risk during the crucial 10-year span from 65-75. But contrary to past studies, there is no difference between the sexes from 55-85...Study co-author Dr Judy Pa,  said: 'The bottom line is women are not little men. A lot more research needs to target women because gender-specific variations can be so subtle that scientists often miss them. Most research today is ignoring a big part of the equation.'

Draper develops technique to predict cognitive decline in Alzheimer's

When patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it is often difficult to know how rapidly the disease will progress. But researchers at Cambridge-based Draper say that they can help researchers answer that very question, using artificial intelligence to study MRI data from Alzheimer’s patients....“This is one step forward to making better use of the biological data we have in order to obtain more informed insights into the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease.” ....The technique is intended for researchers more than clinicians, and likely won’t be available to patients anytime soon

New eye test could spot Alzheimer's disease 20 YEARS before symptoms emerge  Retinal scan

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai developed an eye test as a non-invasive method. Comparing their results to brain scans, the eye test was just as successful at spotting those with twice the amount of plaque build-up in their brains....

For the study, the researchers conducted a clinical trial on 16 AD patients who drank a solution that includes curcumin, a natural component of the spice turmeric. The curcumin causes amyloid plaque in the retina to "light up" and be detected by the scan. The patients were then compared to a group of younger, cognitively healthy individuals.

The researchers found their results were as accurate as those found via standard invasive methods.  Until about a decade ago, the only way to officially diagnose someone with Alzheimer's disease was to analyze their brain posthumously. In recent years, physicians have been able to use positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the brains of living people, to identify markers of the disease. However, the technology is expensive, and the test is invasive, since the patient needs to be injected with radioactive tracers. Experts say the finding is one of the biggest breakthroughs in Alzheimer's research to date, offering the first sign of a cost-effective and non-invasive test.
'This study adds to existing evidence pointing to the possibility of detecting this feature of Alzheimer's in the retina, by using equipment that already helps ophthalmologists diagnose problems like glaucoma or macular degeneration.

Blocking enzyme HDAC2, which is linked to Alzheimer's may reverse memory loss

In the brains of Alzheimer's patients, many of the genes required to form new memories are shut down by a genetic blockade, contributing to the cognitive decline seen in those patients.  MIT researchers have now shown that they can reverse that memory loss in mice by interfering with the enzyme that forms the blockade. The enzyme, known as HDAC2, turns genes off by condensing them so tightly that they can't be expressed.

Scientists believe they have found a drug that could treat childhood Alzheimer's

The disease is called Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) and causes enlarged organs, dementia and difficulty speaking. The study shows that a sugar molecule called cyclodextrin slows progression and can return some brain function in NPC patients.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:48 PM | Permalink

August 28, 2017

"Soul to self to brand is a steep decline in what it means to be a human being"

Brendan O’Neil of Spiked recently wrote on his Facebook page:

“You are a white man. Check your privilege. Stay in your lane. You will never understand black people’s lives or experiences. You’re all about whiteness, that’s how you’re conditioned.” — SJWs

“I am a white man. What a privilege. I’m going to stay in my lane. I will never understand black people. I’m all about whiteness, it’s how I’m conditioned.” — White Nationalists

Rod Dreher quotes Greg Sheridan, foreign editor for The Australian in What Will It Mean When God Is Dead?

"Australia is about to become an atheist nation. ...Our trek to radical unbelief follows much of western Europe. The same trends are evident in the US. Though religious belief is stronger there, it has lost the elites and over time elite opinion leads public opinion.  The eclipse of Christianity will be like the eclipse of the sun. Darkness will be the result. Will it be a temporary darkness or a long night of the Western soul?

In abandoning God, we are about to embark on one of the most radical social experiments in Western history. It is nothing short of the reordering of human nature. Short of war, nothing is as consequential....

The unfolding revelation of the character of God, and the developing conception of the character of humanity, as the Old Testament progresses, is one of the central ­elements of cultural and indeed political development in Western civilization. But it was in the New Testament that the bases for human rights and human dignity were most explicitly developed....

"The soul — the embodiment of our deepest sense of integrity and destiny — gave way to the self as the therapeutic age replaced the age of belief.  Now, in our postmodern times, even self has been supplanted by brand. Soul to self to brand is a steep decline in what it means to be a human being....

The novelist Doris Lessing tells feminists to Lay off men in 2001.

"I find myself increasingly shocked at the unthinking and automatic rubbishing of men which is now so part of our  We have many wonderful, clever, powerful women everywhere, but what is happening to men? Why did this have to be at the cost of men?

"I was in a class of nine- and 10-year-olds, girls and boys, and this young woman was telling these kids that the reason for wars was the innately violent nature of men.  You could see the little girls, fat with complacency and conceit while the little boys sat there crumpled, apologizing for their existence, thinking this was going to be the pattern of their lives."

Lessing said the teacher tried to "catch my eye, thinking I would approve of this rubbish"... "This kind of thing is happening in schools all over the place and no one says a thing. It has become a kind of religion that you can't criticize because then you become a traitor to the great cause, which I am not.

"It is time we began to ask who are these women who continually rubbish men. The most stupid, ill-educated and nasty woman can rubbish the nicest, kindest and most intelligent man and no one protests...Men seem to be so cowed that they can't fight back, and it is time they did."

Seth Godin in What you know vs. what you do

Except I didn't buy 1,000 dollars worth of Bitcoin in 2008. If I had, I'd have more than $40,000,000 today. It's not that I didn't know.  It's that I didn't act. Two different things.I knew, but I didn't know for sure. Not enough to act.
All the good stuff happens when we act even if we don't know for sure.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2017

Red Guards, political vampires and emotional manipulation

66% of Americans now fear speaking their minds in a politically correct nation according to a recent Rasmussen survey.  Just 28 percent of Americans believe that they have think Americans “have true freedom of speech today.”

America’s Post-Charlottesville Nervous Breakdown Was Deliberately Induced

Americans are being emotionally manipulated to take up cause with those whose ultimate purpose is the repeal of the First Amendment and erasure of national memory.

Wars are won or lost based mostly on perceptions of events, not on what actually happens. This is true for any given battlefield, whether it’s the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam or the ideological battlefield over the future of the First Amendment as played out in Charlottesville in 2017. The reality of what takes place in the public arena is always secondary to any projected illusion.  So let’s never forget this: Whoever has the power to dictate public perceptions of reality is in a position to dictate public opinion and behavior. ...

A lot more factors are responsible for the state of mass delusion we appear to be in today, but I’ll try to map out three elements I think the recent gruesome events in Charlottesville highlight:
1. the manipulation of our language;
2. the deliberate use of such loaded language to cultivate extreme emotions in people, particularly anger and resentment; and
3. the role of mass media as a nuclear device to impose those perceptions on a mass scale.

How American Anarchy Parallels China’s Cultural Revolution 

Both movements started on college campuses, with students who wanted to re-make history according to their own ideology....  Both justify violence on the basis of their perceived moral authority....

China’s Cultural Revolution was triggered by a group of students at Beijing University, the most elitist college in China. They called themselves the Red Guards because they worshiped China’s communist dictator Mao and his socialist/communist ideology feverishly. In their manifesto, they questioned the usefulness of knowledge, and condemned their professors and university administrators for harboring “intellectual elitism and bourgeois tendencies” and for stalling China’s progress towards a communist utopia....

Mao’s Cultural Revolution movement was the darkest chapter in China’s history. It should be called “Cultural Destruction.” It brought the Chinese people nothing but misery. It did fundamentally transform Chinese society: millions, including a generation of China’s intellectual backbone, perished, and an entire young generation grew up without any formal education. It tore the social fabric that used to unite people, and overturned traditional close relationships among families and communities. Its irreplaceable destruction of China’s cultural heritage left Chinese people in a spiritual and moral vacuum.

Political Vampires

Political activists have sucked the joy out of a whole lot of places, including science, and planetary exploration...One of the hallmarks of Great Causes™ is that they leave no room for delight and wonder. Everything in life is about The Cause, and The Cause comes before anything else. Thus a scientist overseeing a project that successfully lands a space probe on a comet and takes samples and sends data back to Earth is not someone to be complimented or someone to celebrate with. Oh no, no, he must be excoriated because he’s wearing a shirt with a pattern of attractive young women and rockets on it, a bit like the old pulp sci-fi covers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:00 PM | Permalink

Health Roundup: Opioids, wonder drug for hearts, loneliness, chronic fatigue, peanut allergy and coffee

More than a third of US adults prescribed opioids in 2015.

That's 92 million people.  ....Opioid overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, claiming more than 60,000 lives per year.

New wonder drug hailed as biggest breakthrough in fight against heart attacks and cancer

Cholesterol-busting statins are given to millions of adults deemed to be at risk of heart disease. But half of heart attacks occur in people who do not have high cholesterol at all. Now scientists have found that reducing inflammation in the body can protect against a host of conditions - with a “really dramatic effect” on cancer deaths. The drug canakinumab, given by injection every three months - cut repeat heart attacks by one quarter. Statins cut the risk by around 15 per cent.

Professor Paul Ridker of Harvard Medical School,  said it opens up a “third front” in the war on heart disease.  The landmark study tracked 10,000 heart attack victims who were given canakinumab, a drug which targets inflammation. The four-year study found those given the new treatment saw a 24 per cent reduction in heart attacks and 17 per cent fall in angina, while those on the highest dose saw cancer deaths fall by 51 per cent.

Loneliness, Social Isolation Greater Health Problem In US Than Obesity

Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University conducted two meta-analyses of previous studies to determine how social isolation, loneliness, and living alone plays a role in a person’s risk of dying. In an analysis of 148 studies that included more than 300,000 people total, her research team found that “a greater social connection” cuts a person’s risk of early death by 50 percent.

“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need — crucial to both well-being and survival. Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment...There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators,” says Holt-Lunstad.

Caregiving Is Hard Enough. Isolation Can Make It Unbearable.

“Don’t invite me for lunch — you know I can’t go,” Ms. Sherman-Lewis said. “Just bring a pizza and a bottle of wine and come by.”....Though tangible help counts do regular texts, calls or visits. They help keep caregivers from feeling invisible and forgotten. Counselors in the NYU program once had the friendly inspiration, since they kept caregivers’ information in their database, to send clients a card on their birthdays.  It sounds sweet, if trivial. But often, Dr. Mittelman said, “they’d call up, so grateful, and say, ‘You’re the only one who remembered.’”

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Appears to Leave a 'Chemical Signature' in The Blood

And it's similar to that of hibernating species.... Senior researcher Mark Davis from Stanford University said, "Our findings show clearly that it's an inflammatory disease and provide a solid basis for a diagnostic blood test."  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Linked to 7 Specific Gut Bacteria.  The study adds to research from last year, which showed that up to 80 percent of patients with ME/CFS could be accurately diagnosed by looking at their gut bacteria. And it's also known that up to 90 percent of ME/CFS patients have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Peanut allergy treatment 'lasts up to four years'

An oral treatment for peanut allergy is still effective four years after it was administered, a study conducted at the Murdoch Childrens' Research Institute in Melbourne has found. Children were given a probiotic, with a peanut protein, daily for 18 months. When tested one month later, 80% could tolerate peanuts without any allergic symptoms and after four years, 70% of them were still able to eat peanuts without suffering any side-effects.

Researchers say you might as well be your own therapist

A meta-analyses of 15 studies found no significant difference in the treatment outcomes for patients who saw a therapist and those who followed a self-help book or online program. The findings  suggest, as the researchers write, that self-help “has considerable potential as a first-line intervention.” For those who can’t get a therapy appointment right away, self-help CBT exercises can still have a powerful effect.

Four cups of coffee a day could slash chance of early death

Research on 20,000 middle-aged men and women found that those who drank it regularly had mortality rates almost two thirds lower. Previous studies have found that coffee can improve liver function, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:10 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2017

Alzheimer's Roundup: Singing and Dancing edition

“Most people associate music with important events and a wide array of emotions.
The connection can be so strong that hearing a tune long after the occurrence evokes a memory of it.”
— Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Line-dancing is better than a walk to fight Alzheimer's:

Pensioners who learn to line dance, take up jazz or square dancing are better protected from memory loss and dementia than those who walk or cycle, a study shows. Dancing can help fight off the loss of brainpower as we age and brain scans show that it works better over a period of 18 months than spells of cycling or Nordic walking.

....The study’s lead author, Dr Kathrin Rehfeld from the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, said: ‘Everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible.  I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.’

Singing and Music have Benefits to those with Alzheimer's

A growing body of research suggests that music — like art and other creative forms of therapy — can stir emotions and memories, enhance enjoyment and self-esteem, and enrich the lives of people with dementia....Music may even play a role in helping to ward off Alzheimer’s. Researchers from Loyola University in Chicago found that retired orchestra musicians who had spent a lifetime of playing musical instruments were less likely to develop dementia in old age.

....Singing as part of a group led to improvements in the thinking and memory skills and boost mood in those with dementia....“These data show that participation in an active singing program for an extended period of time can improve cognition in patients with moderate to severe dementia,” the researchers wrote.

Alzheimer's patients' brains boosted by belting out Sound of Music

The sessions appeared to have the most striking effect on people with moderate to severe dementia, with patients scoring higher on cognitive and drawing tests, and also on a satisfaction-with-life questionnaire at the end of the study....Jane Flinn, a neuroscientist at George Mason University in Virginia, said care homes that did not hold group singing sessions should consider them, because they were cheap, entertaining and beneficial for patients with Alzheimer's.

Choir of Alzheimer's patients sings tunes from memory

They're the songs that get stuck in our heads – and not nearly so annoying when placed in the context of a choir made up of Alzheimer's patients.  "That's where the magic comes in." ...Suddenly patients who entered the room having difficulty holding a thought or stringing even a few words together, belt out tunes from Rodgers and Hammerstein and the Beatles...."We know that music is stored in a part of the brain that's last affected by Alzheimer's disease."

Alzheimer's Disease: Music Brings Patients 'Back to Life'

"When I end up in a nursing home, I'll want to have my music with me," said Dan Cohen, executive director of Music & Memory. ...Personalized playlists, chosen by loved ones, make patients light up. "They're more alert, more attentive, more cooperative, more engaged," he said. "Even if they can't recognize loved ones and they've stopped speaking, they hear music and they come alive."

Remind music app helps Alzheimer's patients bring back memories

After being inspired by the documentary Alive Inside, a group of student designers in Sweden created Remind which allows families to curate playlists that help people with Alzheimer's remember parts of their lives through music .

The design team created a simplified MP3 player that feels like a smooth stone to make it easier for patients with any form of dementia to use.  A smartphone application allows the patient's family to personalize playlists.  Unfortunately, this award-winning design has yet to be produced.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

August 25, 2017

Tips you can use

If Nuclear Armageddon Comes, Whatever You Do, Don't Use Hair Conditioner

You must use soap and shampoo to wash OFF radioactive particles from hair and skin.  But don't use anything designed to stay ON your hair and skin like hair conditioner, moisturizing lotions or any cosmetics that contain oil because they can attract dust or radiation particles from the air.

'There is a right way and a WRONG way to carry your beige colored neck pillow through the airport'

 Beige Neckpillow Wrong

Chemists confirm that whiskey really does taste better with a splash of water

Diluting your whiskey with water makes it more flavorful, especially if it’s Scotch. The reason is guaiacol, an aromatic oil that gives the liquor its signature smoky flavor. When the scotch mash is put to age in charred oak barrels, guaiacol slowly seeps in. Charring wood creates wood creosote, so as the liquid interacts with the barrel’s walls, guaiacol migrates into the liquor....When whiskey is more than 50 percent alcohol, as is the case with some of the finer varieties, guaiacol tends to hang out deep in the glass. Adding a bit of water moves guaiacol closer to the surface, where you can better smell and taste it, creating a more satisfactory flavor.

Wine tastes better if you think it's expensive  Time to rename your Two Buck Chuck.

How to Make Your Tables Less Terrible.  Less is more effective, attractive, impactive.

A Navy SEAL explains what to do if you're attacked by a dog  Video at link.

 Navy Seal Dog Attack

The power of the plastic inbox  It’s been a huge success with many benefits.

If you're planning a vacation to an upscale Mexican resort, beware of the alcohol

The despair and frustration he’s facing are familiar to dozens of vacationers who have been victimized at upscale, all-inclusive Mexican resorts. Following blackouts, robberies, assaults, even the death of a loved one, they have experienced indifferent — if not hostile — treatment from resort staffers, local police, and doctors, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation has found....

For most, the trouble started when they blacked out after drinking small or moderate amounts of alcohol at resort bars. ...As much as 36% of the alcohol consumed in the country is sold or produced illegally, and potentially dangerous, according to a 2017 industry and government report. In a crackdown last week that followed the Journal Sentinel investigation, the government seized 10,000 gallons of illicit alcohol from a company that was supplying tourist hot spots around Cancun and Playa del Carmen.  U.S. State Department warns tourists about tainted alcohol at Mexico resorts.  Before you go, check out Mexico Vacation Awareness
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:16 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2017

Miscellany #81

Incredible Shots Of The 2017 Solar Eclipse.  My favorite comes from reddit, photo by curstenj in Lewiston, Idaho, who said" I am the accidental photographer of this once in a lifetime shot."

 Solar Eclipse Plane Contrail

How Three Doctors Invented A Disease To Fool The Nazis And Save Jewish Lives

The little-known story of Syndrome K, which stayed secret for 60 years after the war.
From September 1943 to June 1944, Nazi forces occupied the city of Rome. During this time, a mysterious illness broke out, which led many to be quarantined in an isolated wing of the city’s Fatebenefratelli Hospital. Called Syndrome K, the disease resulted in zero fatalities, and instead saved dozens of Jewish lives.

The Women Warriors who served Wine on the Battlefield

The Vivandières, alternatively known as cantinières, was the French title for women attached to military units who sold wine to the troops and offered better cuisine on the battlefield than the army could offer, a tradition that began in French Army regiments during the early 18th century. Most Vivandières were married or related to soldiers in their regiment.  They kept soldiers from straying from camp in search of these extras, lowering the possibility of desertion....Their role evolved from canteen keepers to include everything from an auxiliary presence at camp, to acting as nurses and support to the troops, to taking part in battle themselves...


The practice was widely imitated and equivalent versions of their role have appeared in armies across the world.  They served on both sides of the American Civil War and in the armies of Spain, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and various armies in South America...In the American Civil War, vivandières on both the Union and Confederate sides were known as “daughters of the regiment.” On the battlefield they were brave soldiers, charging to the front lines shoulder to shoulder with their male comrades in arms.


Theo Jensen and his Strandbeest
A Dutch artist, Theo Jensen began in 1990 to build large mechanisms out of PVC that were able to move on their own and, which he called collectively, Strandbeest.  Watch them walk the beach in a mesmerizing video at his website.


Tired Boy And His Cow Lose Out At Dairy Fair, Fall Asleep And Win The Internet

That would be Mitchell Miner and his cow Audri at the Iowa State Fair dairy cattle show where Mitchell's father captured this moment.

 Boy-Cow-Take-Nap-Together-Mitchell-Miner-Iowa-State-Fair-1-59953Edf68446  700

A Secret Work Studio Suspended Below a Highway Overpass

 2Secret Studio Underpass

Spanish furniture designer Fernando Abellanas has built a studio affixed to a highway underpass where the floor and walls function as a self-operated horizontal elevator. Using mechanics adapted from a metal dolly, Abellanas hand-cranks his way to his studio...The studio hasn’t been sanctioned by the city of Valencia, so its exact location is a secret.

New Jersey husband finds his wife's diamond engagement ring in a sidewalk crack in Italy NINE YEARS after she lost it there while on vacation

Justin and Margaret Mussel were visiting San Marco dei Cavoti, Italy in the summer of 2008 where her family owns a home when Margaret noticed that her ring was gone....Nine years later, Justin and Margaret, now 36, and parents to two boys, took the family back to the same southern Italian town.  They were sitting on a bench in the front yard on August 5 when something caught Justin's attention. 'I saw this flicker of light coming out of a crack in the sidewalk.' The crack was several inches deep, so he grabbed a screwdriver from inside the house. And there was the ring. Only 10 feet from the house.

 9Years Later Ring FoundA

What a dump of 12,000 tons of orange peels looks like now.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby. One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.
Sixteen years later: Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit (on the right above) was "like night and day."

 Orange Peel Dump

Watch a Charm of Hummingbirds frolicking in a birdbath.

 Charm Of Hummingbirds

A horse in Turkey has been dubbed the most beautiful horse in the world.

The horse is an Akhal Teke, a breed that is a direct descendant of the extinct Turkoman horse that lived in ancient times. With only a few thousand of these horses in existence, it's little wonder that the Chinese refer to them as "Horses from Heaven."

 2Golden Horse

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:47 PM | Permalink

The Etymology of 'man' and some words for woman

The term man (from Proto-Germanic *mannaz or *manwaz "man, person") and words derived from it can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their sex or age....The word developed into Old English man, mann meaning primarily "adult male human" but secondarily capable of designating a person of unspecified gender, "someone, one" or humanity at large... 

However, man in traditional usage (without an article) refers to the species, to humanity, or "mankind", as a whole. The usage persists in all registers of English although it has an old-fashioned tone. Equating the term for the male with the whole species is common in many languages, for example in French (l'Homme). On the other hand, some languages have a general word for 'human individual' which can apply to people of either gender. German has the general word Mensch, but Mann for (adult) male person.  Latin has the general word homo and for males the word vir.  The Latin word for woman is femina......The Latin root word 'man' means “hand" from which we get manual, manuscript, manufacture, and manicure.  In Old English the words wer and wīf  were used to refer to "a man" and "a woman" from which we get werwolf and wife.

Some wonderful words for women

Belladonna - Literally “fair lady” in Italian, belladonna can mean a deadly plant used to enhance beauty in the 15th century, or it can mean an equally venomous woman.

Colleen - an unmarried girl

Coquette - a woman who flirts lightly.

Dowager - any high-class, wealthy, or dignified elderly woman

Doyenne - the feminine version of a badass leader who possesses the trifecta for power: seniority, authority, and rank.

Duenna - a female guardian

Harridan - a particularly vicious older woman

Mavourneen - From the Irish for “my love,” a mavourneen is a darling.

Termagant - A trouble-making woman, prone to fits of violence or brawling

Regina - Regina has long been the official title for a queen

Slattern - an untidy or slovenly lady.

Virago - Once meant a woman of extraordinary stature, strength, and courage; a woman who has the robust body and masculine mind of a man - a female warrior.  It's come to mean a domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman.

Vixen  -  a spiteful or quarrelsome woman.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:29 PM | Permalink

"There is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down" and more

"For the past forty-odd years as a journalist and writer, I have felt myself part of, and complicit in, an increasingly unreal world, in which the means of my existence are generated by others, while I simply comment and observe, a pitcher on the ditch. I have felt myself drifting away not merely from the concrete world of my father, but actually from reality itself." ― John Waters,  Back to Work

"I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream – the maximum of individual freedom consistent with law and order – or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism."  ― Ronald Reagan  A Time for Choosing, aka The Speech, 1964

"Scientism is the religion of the part, while religion is the science of the whole....It is only too easy... to rest content with what we already know. But he who wishes to behold, and to continue to behold, the totality of things, lives in a perpetual expectation of new light. The truth is the whole, but we never see the whole of anything!...Nevertheless, we never stop trying, for we are open at the top." ―  Gaghdad Bob, The Loss of God is Just Plain Careless

"We forget that nature itself is one vast miracle transcending the reality of night and nothingness. We forget that each one of us in his personal life repeats that miracle." ― Loren Eisley via The Muskrat and the Meaning of Life

"Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket."  ― Eric Hoffer, The Temper of Our Time

"People who worry about the fate of democracy still write (and read) books. Those who are determining it prefer to tweet." ― Elizabeth Kolbert in Who Owns the Internet?

"What I’ve learned from TV about the aging process for white males is that they’re hopeless goofballs until they hit around 50 or 55, at which point they start windsurfing, mountain-biking, and consuming vast amounts of Viagra and Cialis." ― Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit

“He snorted and hit me in the solar plexus. I bent over and took hold of the room with both hands and spun it. When I had it nicely spinning I gave it a full swing and hit myself on the back of the head with the floor.” ― Raymond Chandler, Pearls are a Nuisance

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:44 PM | Permalink

August 23, 2017

Health Roundup, Cancer Edition: Blood cancer, alternative medicine, Vit C, HIV as cancer cure, gum disease, clinical trials

New treatment approved for deadly blood cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration on Thursday approved the anti-cancer drug Besponsa, or inotuzumab ozogamicin, to treat B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL...Besponsa was evaluated in clinical studies involving 326 people with relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL who had received one or two prior treatments with other medication. More than 35 percent of people evaluated achieved complete remission for about eight months after taking Besponsa, compared with about 17 percent of those who took a different chemotherapy drug.

Treating Cancer With Alternative Medicine More Than Doubles Your Risk of Dying

Choosing alternative medicine to treat curable cancer instead of conventional cancer treatments more than doubles your risk of dying in five years, according to researchers from Yale University who analyzed 10 years of records in the National Cancer Database from 2004 to 2013 and identified 281 patients who had presented with early-stage breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer – but decided to forgo conventional treatments in favor of alternative approaches.

Cancer survivors share incredible pictures of themselves before and after they beat the disease

 Cancer Survivors Before After

'I survived': This woman faced 4 surgeries, 55 chemos and 28 radiation treatments and has come through to live a happy, healthy life

Vitamin C May Encourage Blood Cancer Stem Cells to Die

Vitamin C may “tell” faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health.  The scientists warned it is impossible to get the required amount through fruit, and that such high quantities would be given intravenously. By injecting patients with it, sufferers can get up to 500 times the amount than they would through eating fruit and vegetables. Super-strength vitamin C doses could be a way to fight leukemia, 'exciting' early trials suggest.

How HIV Became a Cancer Cure
The immunologist behind the revolutionary new treatment set to win approval from the FDA.

In 2011, a team of researchers led by immunologist Carl June, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, reported stunning results after genetically altering the T-cells of three patients with advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a cancer that affects white blood cells. The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August 2011, opened the field of cancer immunotherapy.
About 15 years ago June first considered using HIV to kill cancer cells. It turns out the HIV works better with human T-cells than the mouse virus does.”  A CAR T-cell is a “chimera”—Greek for a fusion of two animals. It combines the “killing machinery” of T-cells with the precise antibody targeting of B-cells. A CAR T-cell is designed to bind to a particular site on the cancer cell. That means, unlike with chemotherapy and radiation, other cells in the body aren’t damaged when patients receive CAR T-cell infusions. The result is fewer unpleasant long-term side effects.

The characteristic that makes HIV so deadly—it incorporates its DNA directly into host cells’—also makes it pliable for gene therapy. In the 1990s, Dr. June’s lab at Penn experimentally treated HIV patients using a re-engineered form of the virus. The researchers used modified HIV cells as a tool to alter the DNA of T-cells, which prevented the virus from replicating. Dr. June calls the cut-and-paste job “an anti-HIV molecular scissors.”“When we started in 2010, there were only three groups in the world trying to treat cancer with CAR T-cells,” he says. “Now there are over 200 trials.”

A Cancer Conundrum: Too Many Drug Trials, Too Few Patients

With the arrival of two revolutionary treatment strategies, immunotherapy and personalized medicine, cancer researchers have found new hope — and a problem that is perhaps unprecedented in medical research. There are too many experimental cancer drugs in too many clinical trials, and not enough patients to test them on. The logjam is caused partly by companies hoping to rush profitable new cancer drugs to market, and partly by the nature of these therapies, which can be spectacularly effective but only in select patients.

Gum disease raises a woman's risk of cancer by up to 14% as oral inflammation promotes tumor development

Researchers from the University of Buffalo analyzed 65,869 postmenopausal women with an average age of 68.  They found that periodontal disease is associated with both esophageal and gallbladder cancer. Pathogens from the mouth are thought to easily infect the nearby esophagus. Inflammation has previously been linked to both gum disease and cancer onset.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

August 21, 2017

Some feel-good news

Toronto police officer buys would-be thief the outfit he was trying to steal

 Niran Jeyanesan Toronto Cop

When the officer learned the young man had tried to steal a shirt, tie, and socks for a job interview, he decided to help him out. Not only did Const. Niran Jeyanesan let the man go, he used his own money to pay for the clothes the man had tried to steal.

Meet The Man Who Built A $51 Million Theme Park For His Special-Needs Daughter

 Gordon Harman+Daughter
Gordon Hartman with his daughter Meghan

He then worked with a team of doctors, engineers, and special needs experts to create Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park tailored to accommodate visitors with special needs. More than one million people have visited the $34 million park since its opening in 2010. Last month, Gordon opened an adjacent waterpark, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, to the tune of $17 million. Morgan’s Inspirational Island is the first handicap-accessible waterpark in the world. The park provides waterproof wheelchairs that run on compressed air for all visitors who need it and many of the attractions feature warm water to soothe pain or calm kids down.

To make the park financially accessible for visitors, admission for individuals with disabilities is free. Tickets for adults and children older than 2 range from $11-$27. Gordon keeps admission prices low even though it means losing about $1 million per year. The park relies on donations to stay afloat.

Retired judge, 94, builds swimming pool for neighborhood kids in his backyard

After his wife passed away last year, a retired district court judge decided to do something about the silence at his home. Keith Davison, 94, installed an in-ground pool in his backyard in Morris, Minnesota, for the neighborhood kids to swim in. He had been lonely after his wife of 66 years, Evy, died from cancer in April 2016.

 Judge 94 Builds Pool Neighborhood

'I'm not sitting by myself looking at the walls,' he said. 'What else would you think of doing where you could have a whole bunch of kids over every afternoon?' The kids aren't the only ones who will enjoy the pool. Davison said he still enjoys swimming when all the kids have gone home.

Neighborhood mom Jessice Huebner said, 'It's him spreading joy throughout our neighborhood for these kids'.  She told Davison: "You kind of adopted our whole neighborhood of kids. These are your grandchildren." Davison has three adult children, but no grandchildren.

Remember that kid who invented a way to clean up ocean plastic? He's back, and it's happening

Boyan Slat was just a regular Dutch high-school student when he went on a diving trip to Greece. Once underwater, he was surrounded by plastic waste. “There were more plastic bags than fish.”...He put off college and his social life to work full time on his idea. ... Now, Boyan Slat's solar-powered booms will soon be in the Pacific Ocean. The design works via massive floating booms that sit on top of the water and act like a mini-coastline. Just like beaches collect our plastic waste, the boom can passively gather plastic waste and pull it to its center. Once a month or so, a boat would go collect the garbage....According to Slat's current estimates, his booms will collect about 50 percent of the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch in just five years.


Georgia Family Adopts 7 Siblings and ‘Prays’ Their Baby Sister Still in Foster Care Can Join Them

After spending three years in foster care, seven Georgia foster siblings found their forever home together. Jessaka and Joshua Clark of Rincon, Georgia, adopted Maria, 14, Elizabet, 11, Guillermo, 10, Jason, 8, Kristina, 7, Katerin, 7, and James, 5. The Clarks are also parents to their 3-year-old biological son, Noah.

Jessaka and Joshua began considering adoption “years ago” after being told by doctors they couldn’t conceive on their own.  “There was a huge need, especially for larger sibling groups,” says Joshua. “They are normally split up and that’s detrimental — it was in our hearts to open our home to them.”
It was only after the adoption was finalized on May 9, that Jessaka and Joshua found out about the eighth sibling, a baby girl, still in foster care. “So our new goal is to bring her into our family, that’s our hope.”

 Clark Family Adopts 7

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:35 AM | Permalink

August 20, 2017

New Medical Research and Tech: Vaccine breakthroughs, Watson, probiotics, type 1 diabetes and balding

New treatment cures, vaccinates mice against cancer

Researchers at Duke University have successfully cured and vaccinated mice against cancer in a recent small study using nanotechnology and immunotherapy. The study combined a Food and Drug Administration-approved cancer immunotherapy treatment with a new tumor-killing nanotechnology to improve the effectiveness of both therapies. Researchers developed the photothermal immunotherapy using lasers and gold nanostars to heat and destroy tumors in combination with an immunotherapy drug.

Plants 'hijacked' to make polio vaccine

Plants have been "hijacked" to make polio vaccine in a breakthrough with the potential to transform vaccine manufacture, say scientists. The team at the John Innes Centre, in Norfolk,U.K., says the process is cheap, easy and quick.  As well as helping eliminate polio, the scientists believe their approach could help the world react to unexpected threats such as Zika virus or Ebola.

Experts said the achievement was both impressive and important. The vaccine is an "authentic mimic" of poliovirus called a virus-like particle. Outwardly it looks almost identical to poliovirus but - like the difference between a mannequin and person - it is empty on the inside. It has all the features needed to train the immune system, but none of the weapons to cause an infection.

IBM Watson Makes a Treatment Plan for Brain-Cancer Patient in 10 Minutes; Doctors Take 160 Hours

In treating brain cancer, time is of the essence....IBM Watson’s key feature is its natural-language-processing abilities. This means Watson for Genomics can go through the 23 million journal articles currently in the medical literature, government listings of clinical trials, and other existing data sources without requiring someone to reformat the information and make it digestible. Other Watson initiatives have also given the system access to patients’ electronic health records, but those records weren’t included in this study.

At Last, a Big, Successful Trial of Probiotics

A large Indian study of 4,500 newborn babies found that the right microbes can prevent a life-threatening condition called sepsis.  Sepsis is one of the biggest killers of newborn babies, ending around 600,000 lives every year when they’ve barely begun. Panigrahi’s trial, just 5.4 percent of the infants who took the synbiotic developed sepsis in their first two months of life, compared to 9 percent of those who received a placebo. That’s a reduction of 40 percent....The effect was twice as large as what the team expected, especially since the infants took daily doses of the synbiotic for just one week. And given the clear evidence of benefits, independent experts who were monitoring the study decided to stop the trial early: It would have been unethical to continue depriving half the newborns of the treatment...

The treatment also reduced the risk of infections by both the major groups of bacteria: the Gram-positives, by 82 percent; and the Gram-negatives, which are harder to treat with antibiotics, by 75 percent. It even reduced the risk of pneumonia and other infections of the airways by 34 percent. That was “completely unexpected,” says Panigrahi, and it’s the result he’s especially excited about. It suggests that the synbiotic isn’t just acting within the gut, but also giving the infants’ immune systems a body-wide boost.

Immune systems of type 1 diabetics can be ‘retrained’ to stop destroying insulin, scientists show

Researchers at King’s College London and Cardiff University showed that injecting patients with tiny protein fragments prevented immune cells from targeting vital insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops when a patient's immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. Without treatment the number of beta cells will slowly decrease and the body will no longer be able to maintain normal blood sugar (blood glucose) levels, leading to patients needing daily injections. But a trial involving 27 people showed it was possible to halt the loss of  beta cells with fortnightly or monthly injections for six months. There were also no toxic side-effects.

A cure for balding could be on the horizon after scientists have found a new way to make hair grow.

Increasing lactate production genetically accelerates the stem cells in dormant hair follicles to get them growing again, a study on mice showed. Researchers believe the discovery may lead to new drugs to help people who suffer from alopecia, the medical term for hair loss. Receding hairlines and thinning crowns can be caused by aging, genetics, hormone imbalance, stress, illness and medications.

'Before this, no one knew that increasing or decreasing the lactate would have an effect on hair follicle stem cells,' said William Lowry, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The researchers - whose work was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology - stress that these medications were used in preclinical tests only.  They have not been tested on humans or approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:55 PM | Permalink

August 18, 2017

Health Roundup: Food edition: Watercress, Vit B3, wine, walnuts, peanut allergy, probiotics and magnesium

You are what your grandmother ate

Parents' own prenatal environment has a detectable impact on their children's weight, new research indicates.

Watercress can boost sperm count and reduce stress.

Watercress can dampen the body's response to stress and help fight obesity. Both these are factors blamed for declining sperm count levels, studies show. The superfood has been found to reduce stress-related damage to DNA. The vegetable also has vitamins C and E shown to maintain sperm count levels.

Landmark Vitamin Discovery Could Prevent Miscarriages And Birth Defects

Vitamin B3 could have the potential to prevent miscarriages and birth defects, according to a 12-year study by scientists in Australia....It's the first time that NAD (aka nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) has been linked to congenital abnormalities, identifying a previously unknown cause of birth defects – along with the supplement that might treat the problem... research has shown that up to one third of women in the US have low levels of vitamin B3 during their pregnancy. Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is usually found in meats and green vegetables, along with condiments such as Vegemite and Marmite....."The most important discovery for pregnant women since folate."

A daily glass of wine helps to protect the heart and can cut the risk of an early death by up to a fifth.

Drinking a glass of wine or a bottle of beer a night could slash your risk of an early death by a fifth.
Moderate drinking – defined as up to seven drinks a week for women and 14 for men – significantly cuts the risk of dying from heart disease and other problems, a study has found. Scientists from the University of Texas and Shandong University in China tracked 333,247 Americans for an average of 8.2 years. Researchers stressed there was a ‘delicate balance’ between the benefits and dangers of alcohol.

Walnuts boost the willpower of dieters

Walnuts reduce food cravings and promote a feeling of fullness, new research from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston suggests. Eating the healthy snack boosts brain activity in the region associated with control which suggests people will have more discipline when faced with unhealthy food.  Study author Dr Christos Mantzoros said, "When participants eat walnuts, [a] part of their brain lights up, and we know that's connected with what they are telling us about feeling less hungry or more full.'

Cure to deadly peanut allergy?

Peanut allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis, a deadly allergic reaction, and one of the most common causes of food allergy deaths.  Immunologist and allergist Professor Tang from Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Australia has pioneered a new form of treatment that combines a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy, known as PPOIT.  Instead of avoiding the allergen, the treatment is designed to reprogram the immune system response to peanuts and over the longer term develop tolerance. It's thought combining probiotics with the immunotherapy gives the immune system the 'nudge' it needs.

A small clinical trial found two-thirds of children were rid of their allergy after undergoing an experimental immunotherapy treatment. The kids were given a probiotic treatment called lactobacillus rhamnosus, with a peanut protein, once daily for 18 months. Professor Tang said they found 70 per cent of children were able to stomach peanuts without suffering any reactions.  Astonishingly, their desensitisation to peanuts persisted for up to four years after treatment.

Will popping magnesium pills cure your aches and pains?  Are you getting enough Magnesium?

Guidelines suggest we should consume 375mg per day of magnesium, primarily from nuts and seeds, pulses, whole grains and leafy vegetables. Men take in 283mg a day on average, while women get just 226mg, says a UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey, published in February...‘After 40 ‘You are more likely to be overweight, and muscle mass starts to deteriorate. You are also more likely to have other conditions which affect the uptake of magnesium by the body."
U.S. researchers said the tablets improved mood in depressed patients. Bristol University experts found  that middle-aged people with low levels of magnesium in their blood had an increased risk of bone fractures.... Many clinical studies have shown magnesium deficiency contributes to osteoporosis.

Migraine sufferers get relief from daily magnesium supplements, says Dr Andrew Dowson, a headache specialist and chairman of the Migraine Action Medical Advisory Board. ‘There is definitely evidence that it works as a preventative,’ he said....In a large study published in 2013, researchers found that magnesium intake protected people against the Type 2 diabetes. And magnesium deficiency has been linked to insulin resistance and poor glucose regulation.

A study published in the journal Stroke said it had been found men and women reduced their stroke risk with a higher intake of magnesium. ‘We don’t know exactly why this happens, but one theory is magnesium reduces inflammation in the body,’ says Professor Welch.  Studies also show higher levels of dietary magnesium can help to reduce hypertension and cholesterol levels — both risk factors for stroke....

Eating foods rich in magnesium is linked with a positive impact on heart disease risk factors such as lowering blood pressure.’ Magnesium also plays a role in the heart’s electrical functioning by which it beats, and studies show it can relieve atrial fibrillation, or unusual heart rhythms.

Several studies also suggest the supplements can help you sleep better....‘Magnesium is a relaxer of muscles, so this can help to calm the body,’.... Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to restless leg syndrome,
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 PM | Permalink

A Bout with Gout

The Pain Principle by Theodore Dalrymple

I know that the gratitude will not last, because gratitude can never be a chronic emotion. I will forget the pain within the week and take my painless toe for granted again. But still the episode illustrates the point that suffering is necessary for the full appreciation of life. Without some experience of it, we could hardly be aware that we were enjoying anything; and it is why it is so difficult to imagine heaven, where suffering does not and could not exist. We can all imagine, vividly, a thousand hells, but a single heaven is quite beyond our imagination to conceive. That is why the iconography of hell is varied and fascinating, that of heaven dull and boring.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:47 AM | Permalink

August 17, 2017

Identity politics can only unravel further what binds us

To be clear, I am unequivocally against every form of division and hatred whether on the left or the right.  I am for what brings us together and lifts us up.

The Liberal Crackup by Mark Lilla

Liberals should reject the divisive, zero-sum politics of identity and find their way back
to a unifying vision of the common good

It is time to admit that American liberalism is in deep crisis: a crisis of imagination and ambition on our side, a crisis of attachment and trust on the side of the wider public....

To meet the Reagan challenge, we liberals needed to develop an ambitious new vision of America and its future that would again inspire people of every walk of life and in every region of the country to come together as citizens. Instead we got tangled up in the divisive, zero-sum world of identity politics, losing a sense of what binds us together as a nation. What went missing in the Reagan years was the great liberal-democratic We. Little wonder that so few now wish to join us.

There is a mystery at the core of every suicide, and the story of how a once-successful liberal politics of solidarity became a failed liberal politics of “difference” is not a simple one. Perhaps the best place to begin it is with a slogan: The personal is the political.

This phrase was coined by feminists in the 1960s and captured perfectly the mind-set of the New Left at the time. ....This was an innovation on the left. Socialism had no time for individual recognition. Rushing toward the revolution, it divided the world into exploiting capitalists and exploited workers of every background. New Deal liberals were just as indifferent to individual identity; they thought and spoke in terms of equal rights and equal social protections for all. Even the early movements of the 1950s and ’60s to secure the rights of African-Americans, women and gays appealed to our shared humanity and citizenship, not our differences. They drew people together rather than setting them against each other.

How ‘Diversity’ Is Tearing America Apart Rod Dreher

Lilla is exactly right when he says that a foundation based on personal identity “sets up a wall against questions” and that “the more obsessed with personal identity campus liberals become, the less willing they become to engage in reasoned political debate.”
It is not easy to live in a pluralistic democracy. Left-wing identitarians and those who empower them — I’m especially looking at you, university administrators and corporate managers — are making it much harder. A workplace where people have to be on edge for fear that they will be reported to Human Resources for microaggressing someone by engaging in “lookism” is a place that, sooner or later, is going to blow.

The Poison of Identity Politics  WSJ Editorial

The new identity politics that again seeks to divide Americans by race, ethnicity, gender and even religion. “Diversity” is now the all-purpose justification for these divisions, and the irony is that America is more diverse and tolerant than ever.

The problem is that the identity obsessives want to boil down everything in American life to these categories. In practice this means allocating political power, contracts, jobs and now even salaries in the private economy based on the politics of skin color or gender rather than merit or performance. Down this road lies crude political tribalism, and James Damore’s recent Google dissent is best understood as a cri de coeur that we should aspire to something better. Yet he lost his job merely for raising the issue...Identity politics can destroy democratic trust and consent.

Weimar America by Daniel Greenfield

You can’t legitimize one form of racism without legitimizing all of them. The media may advance this hypocritical position. Obama used the shameful “reverse racism” euphemism that distinguishes between black and white racism. But propaganda and spin don’t change the physics of human nature. Either all racism is bad. Or all racism is acceptable.

Charlottesville is what happens when you normalize racism and street violence. Every normalization of extremism equally normalizes the extremism of the opposite side.  A civil society depends on a consensus. ‘Racism is bad’ is an example of such a consensus. If you normalize black nationalism, you will get more white nationalism. If you normalize leftist street violence against Trump supporters, you will also get more street violence against leftists.
Compromises are uncomfortable. After the Civil War, the Union was preserved, but Southerners were allowed to honor their cause. It was an uncomfortable compromise, but it helped limit the violence from a conflict that had claimed the lives of 2% of the population. The Taliban campaign by black nationalists to tear down Confederate memorials was a deliberate effort at shattering a compromise that kept civil society working.

Washington Post Editorial Openly Calls for Political Violence

Its title "Charlottesville showed that liberalism can't defeat white supremacy. Only direct action can."
It concludes with, “Start throwing rocks."

Here’s A List Of All The Monuments Liberals Want To Tear Down So Far

including the Jefferson Memorial and Mt. Rushmore.  On Wednesday, a bust of Abraham Lincoln was defaced after someone doused it with a flammable liquid and then set it on fire.

What Do We Say About Decent Men Who Died for a Wicked Cause? Spengler

" Of course they're not going to be stop with a few Confederate generals.
They're just getting started. Pretty soon it will be all statues. Then it'll be movies. Then books. They're on a roll and they're not going to stop until they've turned the entire country into 'Fahrenheit 451', Mao's Cultural Revolution, and '1984' all mashed up together and managed by Google" 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:06 PM | Permalink

August 16, 2017

When there are no words

Some favorites from Foreign Words That Don’t Exist In English

Sobremesa (Spanish)
...that sedated, drowsy, happy conversation that results from full stomachs, a few bottles of wine, and good friends.

Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You suddenly discover that you have a long-lost brother. After a series of feverish phone calls, he agrees to meet you at your house. You’re so excited that you’re lips are numb and your palms are sweating. Because of your excitement, you keep going outside to see if he’s arrived. That act of going outside is iktsuarpok.

Greng-jai (Thai)
Have you ever asked someone to help you move? You feel bad for asking them and don’t really want them to do it because it will be pain for them. You really don’t want to ask them to help you move, especially since you have a vast weight collection.  That feeling of not wanting to ask is Greng-jai.

Tartle (Scots)
You know that awful feeling you have when you need to introduce someone but can’t remember their name? You mumble and bumble, then finally say something lame like, “Yes, this is my…friend.” Then you feel like a moron. That experience is tartle.  In English, we call this, “Looking like a fool.”

Fremdschämen (German); Myötähäpeä (Finnish)
Meaning something close to “vicarious embarrassment”, this is what you feel when someone makes a complete fool of themselves in front of a large crowd.

Ya’arburnee (Arabic)
Literally translated, “May you bury me,” this intense word is a declaration that you wish to die before someone else because you love them so much and can’t stand to live without them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink

Miscellany #80

In 1956, it took four men and a truck to transport 5MB of memory That's the equivalent of 1 song on an iPod.

 1956 5 Mb

Goldfish make ALCOHOL in their cells to survive months without oxygen in icy waters -

They convert lactic acid into ethanol which keeps them alive under frozen lakes ....Research led by the University of Liverpool and Oslo found crucian carp produce between 50 and 100 mg per millilitre in their blood. 'This puts them above the legal drink drive limit in most countries', lead researcher Michael Berenbrink, an evolutionary physiologist at the University of Liverpool.

Italy's tiniest VOLCANO is a four foot high 'flaming fountain'

'The Volcano of Monte Busca', up the slope near Tredozio village, Province of Forli, is barely more than a small pile of rocks on a hill.  Yet, the flame burns day and night, come rain or shine, as a result of natural gases from under the surface.

 Tiniest Volcano

Genius Church Signs That Will Make You Laugh

 Church Sign Apple Terms

Introducing Steve - a Newly Discovered Astronomical Phenomenon

 Large Aurora Steve

Rare Photos of Elvis as a Child and Teenager


Amazon’s Alexa Can Now Read Audiobooks To Your Dogs While You’re Away
Available titles include "A Dog's Purpose," “Soldier Dogs” and “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

'Crown Shyness'

A naturally occurring phenomenon where tree tops avoid touching is called 'crown shyness'.  The visual effect of images of crown shyness are akin to the appearance of winding rivers.

  Crown Shyness

Magical Beauty Of Mushrooms Captured By Jill Bliss

Jill Bliss is an artist (and naturalist, educator, farmhand, caretaker, and deckhand) who lives on a small island in the Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest. In 2012 she sold her house and nearly everything she owned to move to the island and reconnect with nature after a busy career as a designer in New York and San Francisco. Using a wide assortment of the beautifully vibrant wild fungi she finds, Bliss turns them into stunning arrangements and photographs them for a project she calls Nature Medleys.


Jaw-Dropping Long Exposure Photos

 Long Exposure Milky Way
#2 This Long-Exposure of the Milky Way Looks Like Fractal Geometry

 Long Exposure Candlelight Procession Salisbury Cathedral
#27 Long Exposure Photo Of Candle Procession At Salisbury Cathedral

 Long Exposure Train Canadian Rockies
#13 A Long Exposure Photo Of A Train Roaring Through The Canadian Rockies

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2017

"Compliment your host, even if you strain the facts to do so."

Here are some selected maxims from “Teepee Etiquette" 


The Art of Manliness explains that they were published in 1912 as The Book of Woodcraft and Indian Lore.
The author Ernest Thompson Seton said he gathered these maxims on American Indian hospitality  “chiefly from observations of actual practice, but in many cases from formal precept.”

• Always assume that your guest is tired, cold, and hungry.
• Do not trouble your guest with many questions about himself; he will tell you what he wishes you to know.
• Always repay calls of courtesy; do not delay.
• Give your host a little present on leaving; little presents are little courtesies and never give offense.
• Say “Thank you” for every gift, however small.
• Compliment your host, even if you strain the facts to do so.
• In another man’s lodge follow his customs, not your own.
• Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
• Do not talk to your mother-in-law at any time, or let her talk to you.
• Show respect to all men, but grovel to none.
• Thank the Great Spirit for each meal.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2017

Health Roundup: Breakthrough in CF, recovery from vegetative stroke, oxygen therapy and counter-productive drugs

'Breakthrough in treating cystic fibrosis

Vertex Pharmaceuticals scored a major win Tuesday with the release of data from three clinical trials testing three different triple combinations of cystic fibrosis drugs. Patients genetically resistant to all treatments now on the market showed unprecedented gains in lung function on all three experimental therapies - a 10 percentage point improvement, adjusted for placebo, in FEV1, an important measure of lung capacity. ....To put the 10 percentage point improvement in lung function in perspective, Vertex CEO Jeff Leiden points to the company’s first approved cystic fibrosis drug, Kalydeco, which demonstrates similar efficacy. “We have Kalydeco patients that call to tell us that they used to only be able to walk one block, but now they can run several miles, or they couldn’t walk up the stairs to their apartment and now they just run up and down those stairs every day,” he said. “This is life-changing for these patients.”

Vegetative stroke patient, 36, was able to speak and move just 16 DAYS after being given a Parkinson's disease drug

A vegetative stroke patient who was completely unresponsive to what was going on around her, regained complete consciousness just 16 days after being given a Parkinson's disease drug, a case report reveals. The unnamed woman, 36, who was only being kept alive by medical intervention, was able to speak in short sentences after being given the dopamine-boosting drug, known as amantadine. Unable to move, doctors thought her only option was to be admitted to a nursing home, yet the woman, believed to be from Berlin, can now eat and stand.

Experts believe the drug may have pushed the woman, who was diagnosed with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, 'above the threshold' for recovery. Amantadine is used to treat Parkinson's disease and 'flu. It is thought to increase levels of the 'feel-good' hormone dopamine in the brain which is involved in regulating movement.

Oxygen therapy revives brain of toddler who nearly drowned

In one of the first such confirmed cases, an Arkansas toddler who suffered severe brain injury after nearly drowning has had that brain damage reversed, using a new treatment. The treatment is known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT. It exposes a patient to pure oxygen within the confines of a carefully controlled pressurized chamber. During the therapy, the body gets three times the normal amount of oxygen, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The saga began with every parent's nightmare. Just one day shy of her 2nd birthday, Eden Carlson nearly drowned in the family pool. The little girl was found floating face down, unresponsive. Alive, but just barely.  The initial prognosis, noted Dr. Paul Harch, wasn't good. The little girl's heart had stopped beating.  "It took 100 minutes of CPR at both the house and the emergency room to get a return of circulation," he said. "And when they did, she had lab values that you rarely see in a living human being."  MRI scans revealed significant brain injury. Her brain had started to shrink. She was losing both gray matter -- critical to muscle control, sensory perception and speech -- and white matter, the network of central nervous system wiring that makes up the lion's share of the brain.Over the next two months, Eden progressively lost muscle control as well as her ability to speak, walk and respond properly to commands.

The tide only started to turn at the two-month mark, when under the guidance of Harch, Eden started undergoing HBOT, the therapy that he describes as the "most misunderstood therapy in the history of science."  One reason hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been met with skepticism is that it's been difficult to explain how this treatment works, he said. But several recent studies involving adult acute injury patients have indicated that even a single session of HBOT can have an immediate impact on the activity of thousands of genes critical to the promotion of tissue recovery, Harch explained. What that means, he said, is that "every time you [have HBOT], we are manipulating gene expression in a beneficial way, inhibiting cell death and inflammation while promoting tissue growth and repair."

And Eden's experience perfectly drives home that point.  He said Eden's mother reported that by the 10th round, her child appeared to be "near normal." "She was able to walk again," said Harch. "Her language development accelerated and ended up improving to the point that it was better than it had been before the accident." And subsequent MRI scans confirmed what Harch suspected: "The shrinkage of her brain had almost completely re-grown," he said.

Chemotherapy could cause cancer to SPREAD and grow back even more aggressive,

The drug is often regarded as the first option for breast cancer patients. But scientists at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found evidence that this is only a short-term solution - and can be dangerous. While shrinking the tumors, it opens a gateway for tumors to spread.  Cancer becomes almost impossible treat once it spreads to other organs

Lead author Dr George Karagiannis says the findings, should not deter patients from seeking treatment, but suggests we could create a way to better monitor tumor movement in patients undergoing chemotherapy. 'One approach would be to obtain a small amount of tumor tissue after a few doses of preoperative chemotherapy.'

Drugs used to treat osteoporosis could have the opposite effect and make you more prone to fractures

US health officials recommend that patients use bisphosphonates for no more than three to five years.  The study of 50 women aged 65 to 93 found using the drugs long-term can make bones more mineralized and harder. Older women were found to be most at risk of taking the cheap pills, which include Fosamax, Boniva and Reclast. Such pills protect millions of osteoporosis patients from potentially fatal fractures if they are taken daily.  The findings have potential implications for the treatment of osteoporosis which affects some 44 million in the US.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 PM | Permalink

August 11, 2017

Miscellany #79

The shortest time between two points is NOT a straight line

Sampling DNA From a 1,000-Year-Old Illuminated Manuscript

The York Gospels were assembled more than a thousand years ago. Bound in leather, illustrated, and illuminated, the book contains the four gospels of the Bible as well as land records and oaths taken by clergymen who read, rubbed, and kissed its pages over centuries. The Archbishops of York still swear their oaths on this book. The York Gospels are also, quite literally, a bunch of old cow and sheep skins. Skin has DNA, and DNA has its own story to tell.....Every one of these books is a herd of animals.

 York Gospel2

This Newly Discovered Dinosaur, Titanosaur,  Makes T. Rex 'Look Like a Dwarf'

At 76 tons, the plant-eating behemoth was as heavy as a space shuttle.  The dinosaur’s fossils were found in southern Argentina in 2012.

Amazing photos of Trees That Just Won't Give Up

 #1 Enchanted Tree

 #5 Tree Of Life Olympia

8 Amazing Things Uncovered by Melting Glaciers and Ice

Lost Clan Found in Highlands of Italy

"Especially the way you say 'yes'. It's 'si' in Italian and usually, in other dialects, you just change it a bit, like 'shi'," she says. "Here it's 'aye'. They actually switch the accent so it's more 'ayee' than 'aye' but it sounds like the Scottish way." 

 Tartan Baby

Yoda-like bat discovered in 2011

 Yoda Fruit Bat

Scientists have also re-christened it the 'Hamamas tube-nosed fruit bat' after the Papuan word for 'happy'. After extensive research, the bat - discovered in a remote Papua New Guinea rainforest - has been formally registered as a newly identified species. The bat's scientific name, Nyctimene wrightae sp. nov. honors the conservationist Dr Deb Wright who devoted 20 years of her life to conservation in Papua New Guinea.

The move comes after University of York biologist Dr Nancy Irwin's team studied some 3,000 fruit bat specimens in 18 museums around the world. She said: 'Most of the morphological characteristics that separate this bat from other species are associated with a broader, rounder jaw which gives the appearance of a constant smile.

Recreating a 70-year-old photo  "Same brooch, same necklace"

 Queen And Prince  70Yrs Apart

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:25 PM | Permalink

August 10, 2017

Some useful tips

Snapping a picture inside your hotel room could help protect children across the globe.

The TraffickCam app enables travelers to submit pictures of hotel rooms around the world. The images are matched against a national database used by police to track down where the victims are being trafficked. TraffickCam which now has more than 1.5 million images of hotels across the world is free and available for iPhone, iPads, and Android devices.

Don't worry about whether you left the stove on, Take Photos of Stove Dials Before You Leave for Vacation

You can clean and dry your underwear in just six minutes flat using a SALAD SPINNER

The detergent company Woolite has shared a video showing customers how they can clean and dry their underwear using a salad spinner. To get started, the company recommends filling the salad spinner halfway with warm water before adding a gentle detergent. After placing your underwear or bra inside the kitchen tool, spin for two minutes. Dump the soapy water and refill with clean water to rinse, and then spin again for another two minutes....Others recently revealed on Twitter that they use their salad spinners to hand wash cashmere and silk tops.

Make cheeseburgers the right way.  You Are Cheesing Your Cheeseburgers All Wrong And I Can't Stand It Anymore

Build a Luxury DIY Pool Using Only A Dumpster


For Easier Dog Baths, Just Shower With Your Pet

He’s happy to just stand in the bathtub and let me shampoo him as long as I’m doing it too. He’ll even stand in the shower after I get out and wait for me to come towel him off before he takes off running. It was a refreshing change, and something I regret not trying earlier.

How to Make a Cat Maze


Concealed Key Storage Using only a pill bottle


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:48 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2017

Astonishing advances in medical technology

Groundbreaking skin patch the size of a penny can regrow organs, restore brain function, and heal wounds by injecting genetic code into the damaged area

 Tissue Nanotransfection

The technology, known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), uses a nanochip the size of a penny, which is placed on the skin for a second and then removed. In that time, the chip injects genetic code into skin cells, turning them into any type of cell needed to restore wounded blood vessels. And a new study reveals its effects can be seen within days. The researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center restored brain function to mice after strokes and rescued badly injured legs on mice in just three weeks with a single touch of this device. ...
'What's even more exciting is that it not only works on the skin, but on any type of tissue,' Sen said. In fact, researchers were able to grow brain cells on the skin surface of a mouse, harvest them, then inject them into the mouse's injured brain.  Just a few weeks after having a stroke, brain function in the mouse was restored, and it was healed. Because the technique uses a patient's own cells and does not rely on medication, researchers expect it to be approved for human trials within a year.

This miracle medical chip could one day heal almost anything

The future implications for such a device are limitless, though some examples include reprogramming brain cells in Alzheimer’s or stroke patients, regenerating limbs or helping injured soldiers or car crash victims at the scene.

“This technology does not require a laboratory or hospital and can actually be executed in the field,” said Chandan Sen, the director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies. “It’s less than 100 grams to carry and will have a long shelf life.” The technology is currently waiting for FDA approval, but Sen expects the device to enter human trial within the year.

Cutting edge procedure uses your own cells to repair cartilage

It's called MACI, which is a procedure that repairs damaged cartilage using a person’s own cartilage cells. Doctors say cartilage is harvested from the patient and sent to a lab in Massachusetts. It's then soaked into a patch and applied to the damaged area.

"You stimulate the cells in the right environment and they make cartilage around themselves. It's kind of like they make a cushion around themselves,” Dr. Zak Knutson said. "The cells start to stick 24 hours to the bone. Once they stick, then we're good because then we start motion and a little bit of weight-bearing to stimulate them to grow and make cartilage around them.”

Mind-controlled hearing aids filter out background noise by tracking the wearer's brain activity

Scientists have created a hearing aid that is controlled by the mind, new research reveals. The technology filters out background noise, allowing the wearer to focus on just one conversation, a study found. Such a hearing aid works by monitoring the user's brain activity to determine who they are conversing with and amplifying that voice, the research adds. Current hearing aids can filter out background noise but are unable to determine specifically who the wearer is listening to.

Researchers from Columbia University in New York are behind the technology, which picks up several speakers before separating them into individual voices thus combining speech engineering and auditory decoding.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2017

"Long passwords that contain four words are much harder to break than shorter ones with a mix of letters, characters and numbers"

The man who came up with the safe password rules admits he was WRONG

Bill Burr's 'bible' on password security was written in 2003 while he worked for the US Government.  His guidance was to change passwords often, use numbers, include non-alphabetic symbols and try capital letters and change passwords every 90 days. He says he now 'regrets' his advice as passwords that use these guidelines are often easier to hack.

'It just drives people bananas and they don't pick good passwords no matter what you do,' he said.
'Through 20 years of effort, we've successfully trained everyone to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember, but easy for computers to guess',

Experts now believe long passwords that contain perhaps four words are much harder to break than shorter ones with a mix of letters, characters and numbers. Cartoonist Randall Munroe found it would take 550 years to crack 'correcthorsebatterystaple' where as the password 'Tr0ub4dor&3' - which was previously considered strong by Mr Burr's calculations - could be hacked in three days.

There's a Simple New Way to Find Out if Hackers Already Have Your Password

When massive data breaches happen to the companies we actually trust with our online credentials, our usernames and passwords can become totally exposed – but luckily, there's now a simple way to find out if you've been compromised

Troy Hunt is an Australian security researcher and the man behind Have I Been Pwned (HIBP), a website that lets people check if their email addresses and usernames have been involved in some of the biggest data breaches ever – involving companies like Myspace, LinkedIn, Adobe, Dropbox (and sadly hundreds more)....He has created a new tool called Pwned Passwords that does the same kind of thing, but this time it lets you enter just your passwords to see if they've been leaked in any of the aforementioned hacks.

There's a staggering 320 million leaked passwords stored in this database...none of the passwords here are stored alongside the email addresses or usernames that they pair with....Hunt explains  "It goes without saying but don't enter a password you currently use into any third-party service like this! I don't explicitly log them and I'm a trustworthy guy but yeah, don't."

Your 'Anonymous' Browsing Data Isn't Actually Anonymous

It requires an astonishingly small amount of browsing information to identify an individual out of an anonymous dataset of 3 million people. Since everyone's browsing habits are unique, it only takes about 10 website visits to create a "fingerprint" for an individual based on which websites they are visiting and when.....

the most worrisome part of collecting browsing data is that it is legal and relatively cheap to obtain. After contacting over 100 data brokers, Eckert said that the quoted prices she received for a month's worth of browsing data ranged from 10,000 to 500,000 euros—chump change in the world of politics...Even companies like Web of Trust, whose business model is built on safe and anonymous web browsing, are liable to unintentionally expose users browsing habits.

The Company That Knows Everything About You Is Now Punishing Thoughtcrimes

Google, which is worth $498 billion and employs more than 60,000 people worldwide, was not big enough in the end for the triggering perspective of a single engineer.


I've switched to DuckDuckGo as my default search engine.  It doesn't store my personal info or track me or follow me with ads.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:35 PM | Permalink

Antiibiotics: Closthioamide, superbugs, and vaccines

Vaccines are part of the solution to the emerging crisis of antibiotic resistance

Preventing infections in the first place will also reduce the need for antibiotics. That’s where vaccines come in as an important part of the solution.  Vaccines have a unique quality among health interventions by benefiting both the individuals who are vaccinated and the larger community.

Vaccines that prevent bacterial diseases such as pneumococcal infections, bacterial meningitis, or pneumonia reduce antibiotic use by directly preventing these types of bacterial infections, for which antibiotics are the recommended treatment. Vaccines against viral diseases can reduce antibiotic use by preventing the occurrence of influenza and other viral infections that are commonly lumped together as “the flu,” which are often mistreated with antibiotics.

New antibiotic has potential to transform 'arms race' against resistant diseases - including super-gonorrhea

A new antibiotic has been found in the ‘arms race’ against incurable superbugs. While still at least five years away from being available to patients, closthioamide cured 98 per cent of gonorrhea samples taken from British patients.  The antibiotic, only discovered seven years ago, has also been found to tackle hospital superbug MRSA and deadly E.coli and could go on to be tested against other bacteria, including drug-resistant TB.
Closthioamide was a lucky discovery by researchers trying to stimulate harmless bacteria to provide useful treatments. When they added ordinary soil to the bacteria, they came up with the antibiotic – a type of drug never seen before. It is thought to work by blocking the action of certain enzymes that maintain DNA inside bacterial cells.

You SHOULDN'T always take full course of antibiotics: Experts now say taking drugs after you feel well may encourage risk of superbugs

The report from ten specialists in infectious diseases from Oxford University and Brighton and Sussex Medical School said the current advice is not backed up by evidence. Instead, they say there is evidence that stopping antibiotics sooner is a safe and effective way to reduce overuse of the drugs....In hospitals, patients are often treated with antibiotics only until tests show they have recovered from infection. The authors said more trials were needed to establish what advice should be given to patients about how long to take the drugs.

Professor Martin Llewelyn, the report’s lead author, said: ‘Historically, antibiotic courses were set by precedent, driven by fear of under-treatment, with less concern about overuse… Completing the course goes against one of the most fundamental and widespread medication beliefs people have, which is that we should take as little medication as necessary.’

But Professor Stokes-Lampard said: ‘Recommended courses of antibiotics are not random – they are tailored to individual conditions and, in many cases, courses are quite short. ‘We are concerned about the concept of patients stopping taking their medication midway through a course once they “feel better”, because improvement in symptoms does not necessarily mean the infection has been completely eradicated.’

Don't jump the gun.  Why You Probably Should Still Take Your Full Course of Antibiotics

The advice needs to be clear. No one wants to take medication unnecessarily, but sometimes feeling better doesn't mean you are better....More research and clinical trials (as also noted in the BMJ article) are required in order to fully understand and adjust the lengths of antibiotic courses, but, in my opinion as a microbiologist, the risks of taking an insufficient course significantly outweigh the benefits.

You Still Have to Finish Your Antibiotics, But Ask These Questions First

  1. Do I really need antibiotics for this? I always ask this question, and you’d be surprised how often the answer is something like “This could you either way, actually. Would you like a paper prescription that you can get filled in a few days if you’re not feeling better?”
  2. Could we do a short course of antibiotics? Sometimes this is an option.
  3. It’s been a few days and I’m feeling better. Could I stop taking the antibiotics? Again, it depends on the specifics, but sometimes the answer will be yes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:14 PM | Permalink

Reconsidering the wisdom of memorization and liberal arts degrees

Children Have Amazing Powers of Memorization… So Why Aren’t Schools Using Them?

We’ve flipped things around these days, shunning the memorization of facts and instead asking young children to reason and draw conclusions based on their own limited experience and feelings.
Isn't time we capitalized on the Poll-Parrot stage and filled the minds of young children with rhythmic facts and knowledge upon which they can draw and philosophize on in later years?

“The Poll-Parrot stage is the one in which learning by heart is easy and, on the whole, pleasurable; whereas reasoning is difficult and, on the whole, little relished. At this age, one readily memorizes the shapes and appearances of things; one likes to recite the number-plates of cars; one rejoices in the chanting of rhymes and the rumble and thunder of unintelligible polysyllables; one enjoys the mere accumulation of things.”

The problem, Sayers notes, is that many schools no longer capitalize on this Poll-Parrot stage, losing valuable opportunities to lay a firm foundation of facts for future learning. Sayers suggests that the following six subjects be diligently taught to young children while they still possess a great capacity for memorization through rhyming:
Foreign languages

Why Genuine Liberal Arts Degrees Are A Perfect Fit For Today’s Uncertain Economy

Its purpose, as it is today, is “to develop well-rounded individuals with general knowledge of a wide range of subjects and with mastery of a range of transferable skills.” In today’s rapidly changing, innovative economy, the value of such a personally empowering education should not need defending.
Russell Kirk argues that a liberal arts education is not intended to prepare students for jobs. He explains its purpose is to develop the individual in mind and moral character. He emphasizes that cultivating these areas sets an individual free from the material aims of the state. The fruits of a liberal arts education also set individuals free materially by preparing them for life rather than specific jobs, which are vulnerable to societal changes and innovation.
Recent graduates are unprepared to enter the workforce because they lack soft skills. According to the managers surveyed, new hires are “lacking in critical thinking and problem-solving skills (60 percent) and attention to detail (56 percent) as well as writing proficiency (44 percent) and public speaking (39 percent).” These are exactly the dynamic, transferable skills that a liberal arts education is supposed to develop.
Our institutions of higher education are failing to deliver on their promise to provide a true liberal arts education....The liberal arts degree is not irrelevant or outdated, just hard to find.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:44 PM | Permalink

"His music fulfills a deep human need that has nothing to do with fashion"

My favorite contemporary composer is the Estonian Arvo Part, composer of classical and sacred music
Pärt grew up, was educated and began his career behind the Iron Curtain and many of his early works were banned by Soviet censors.  "He had reached a position of complete despair in which the composition of music appeared to be the most futile of gestures, and he lacked the musical faith and willpower to write even a single note."  For years he did not write but immersed himself in early music, reinvestigating the roots of Western music, studying plainsong, Gregorian chant and polyphony in the European Renaissance. 

Emerging from his self-imposed creative exile, he found his own musical language with a love of every note at its heart

the result sounds as if it had existed all along, music of the "little bells", the so-called "tintinnabuli", which you hear for the first time in this two-and-a-half minute piano miniature, Für Alina. This little piece is the seed from which the rest of Pärt's musical life has grown.... The power of the "tintinnabulation" he discovered comes from its combination of ascetic rigor and the apparent simplicity of its materials...That austerity of process makes Pärt's tintinnabulation a new use of tonality, even a new kind of tonality, and it explains why his music sounds simultaneously ancient and modern...

 Arvo Part

The "founding father of minimalism" Steve Reich said of him,"I love his music, and I love the fact that he is such a brave, talented man. He became involved in the Russian Orthodox church at a time when that was dangerous, and for the last 20 years he has written religious music for ensembles that might have existed in the middle ages. He's completely out of step with the zeitgeist and yet he's enormously popular, which is so inspiring. His music fulfills a deep human need that has nothing to do with fashion."

Pärt has received honorary degrees around the world, been inducted into the French Legion of Honor, appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and won numerous prizes and distinctions including a Grammy in 2014.  For the past five years, Pärt has been the most performed living composer in the world.

In 2014, he received an honorary doctorate from St Vladimir’s Seminar and his short address "From my musical diaries" was captured on video. Joseph Pearce wrote, "It’s rare indeed for a speech to bring me to the verge of tears. This marvelous short address by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is simply breathtaking. It’s well worth seven minutes of anyone’s time."  "From my musical diaries" 

....These unexpected words were said by a little girl. I remember exactly…it was July 25th, 1976. I was sitting in the monastery’s yard, on a bench in the shadow of the bushes with my notebook.

‘What are you doing? What are you writing there’, the girl who was around ten asked me.
‘I am trying to write music, but it is not turning out well’, I said. And then the unexpected words from her, Have you thanked God for this failure already?’

The most sensitive musical instrument is the human soul. The next is the human voice. One must purify the soul until it begins to sound.....We shouldn’t’ grieve because of writing little and poorly, but because we pray little and poorly, and lukewarmly, and live in the wrong way. The criterion must be everywhere and only humility.

Music is my friend, ever-understanding. Compassionate. Forgiving. It’s a comforter, the handkerchief for drying my tears of sadness, the source of my tears of joy. My liberation and flight. But also, a painful thorn in my flesh and soul, that which makes me sober and teaches humility.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

Miscellany #78

Bald Eagle Stuck In Ocean Saved By Lobstermen (video)

Lobsterman John Chipman and his stern-man Kevin Meaney spotted a bald eagle swimming in the ocean. While bald eagles in the wild are able to swim for small periods of time, the lobstermen realized that the bird was struggling to stay afloat. The majestic bird was on the surface of the water using its large wings to propel itself forward.

 Baldeagle Saved Lobsterman

Light My Fire at 50 - Fascinating interview of Ray Manzarek about its creation and the Bach inspired intro.

Popular beer is renamed to honor priests

A Cardiff pub that turned away seven Catholic priests after they thought they were on a stag do has renamed a local beer after them to say sorry....“The Thirsty Priests” is a “rich, warming ale with a clean, rewarding finish”  It even has its own witty slogan  --- “saving souls and satisfying thirsts”.

 Thirsty Priests

The airplane that drew an airplane in the sky.

Boeing Test team draws in the sky during 18 hour endurance test.

 Boening Makes Map

The Ex-Anarchist Construction Worker Who Became a World-Renowned Scientist

Despite a late start in his field, Kerry Knudsen might know more about lichens than anyone alive today. "They have no use except their own beauty and life"


American Digest has the video The Lichenologist: His Whole Life Is an Acid Flashback

"As beautiful to me as seeing the redwoods"...."Not a plant, not a moss, not even a mushroom, lichens are a fungus in a symbiotic relationship with an algae....The algae is captured when the fungus is young and is kept alive within the fungus....The fungus literally grows a garden within itself...."I enjoy just seeing this...the intense feeling of reality, of just being here."

X-ray decks: the lost bone music of the Soviet Union

You can get the sense that what is being played is no ordinary vintage record: indeed, on the platter, instead of a vinyl, is the X-Ray of some guy’s skull, cut in the shape of a disc.....
From 1946 to 1964, he found, people in Soviet Russia had been using X-rays as makeshift records to listen to the music they loved. The reason for that was that most of that music was forbidden....
When it came to choosing the recording material, Coates says, discarded X-rays were an obvious choice. “ X-ray film is soft enough to be recorded on, but strong enough to hold the groove,” he explains. “It was also very easy to find: Russian hospitals had to get rid of their X-rays within one year because they were flammable, back then.”

 X-Ray Record Bones Coates Pic

A Man of Science Confronts Demonic Possession

Dr. Richard Gallagher, an Ivy League-educated, board-certified psychiatrist who teaches at Columbia University and New York Medical College. ...has become something else: the go-to guy for a sprawling network of exorcists in the United States. For the past 25 years, he has helped clergy distinguish between mental illness and what he calls "the real thing." He estimates that he's seen more cases of possession than any other physician in the world.  He says demonic possession is real. He's seen the evidence: victims suddenly speaking perfect Latin; sacred objects flying off shelves; people displaying "hidden knowledge" or secrets about people that they could not have possibly have known....

Eerily charming abandoned wrecks

SS Ayrfield, Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia

Rare white lion quintuplets born in Czech zoo (video)


An Iceberg Flipped Over, and Its Underside Is Breathtaking

In the case of this jewel-like iceberg, the ice is probably very old. In glaciers, years of compression force out air pockets and gradually make the ice denser,... "The ice absorbs a small amount of red light, leaving a bluish tint in the reflected light, which is what we see.” In addition, minerals and organic matter may have seeped into the underwater part of the iceberg over time, creating its vivid green-blue color.

 Alex Cornell Antarctica-1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 AM | Permalink

Parenting roundup: Structure, transgender ideology, pornography, binge drinking, 6 hours

Kids need structure more than warmth from their parents

Children need both affection and structure in order to develop into secure, happy adults. But if parents can only provide one, it should be structure, said Lisa Damour, a psychologist who specializes in adolescent girls, and the author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood. ....

“They can get warmth from their teachers, from their friends’ parents, but they can only get structure from parents."....“Being a teenager feels like you’re out of control and you’re surrounded by people who are out of control,” she said. “You don’t want parents to be out of control.”
Some of her advice on how to raise teens:
Frame rules around safety. Kids are more apt to follow guidelines if they understand the rules’ purpose is to keep them safe. Insisting they obey for reasons of morality or hierarchy (eg “because I’m your father!”) is more likely to backfire.
Don’t underestimate the power of apologizing. It tells teenagers they’re respected, and it helps builds trust.
Stress is normal part of growing up, and it helps teens grow and become resilient. It becomes a problem when they have no downtime, or opportunities to relax.
Technology should be introduced to kids as late as possible, and be kept out of their bedrooms. Videogames, social media and the internet demand their attention—which makes technology the enemy of the sleep which is critical for teens’ health. “You may lose the battle, but I’d rather you lose the battle with a 17-year old than a 13-year old.”

I’m a Pediatrician. How Transgender Ideology Has Infiltrated My Field and Produced Large-Scale Child Abuse.

These professionals are using the myth that people are born transgender to justify engaging in massive, uncontrolled, and unconsented experimentation on children who have a psychological condition that would otherwise resolve after puberty in the vast majority of cases.

Today’s institutions that promote transition affirmation are pushing children to impersonate the opposite sex, sending many of them down the path of puberty blockers, sterilization, the removal of healthy body parts, and untold psychological damage. These harms constitute nothing less than institutionalized child abuse.

Pornography has changed the landscape of adolescence beyond all recognition

Sometimes you hear a story that is so awful that it refuses to leave your mind, no matter how fervently you beg it to go away.  I was told one such story recently by a family doctor. ....

Take that female insecurity, warp and magnify it in the internet Hall of Mirrors, add a longing to be “fit” and popular, then stir into an ubiquitous porn culture and you have a hellish recipe for sad, abused girls. It explains why more than four in 10 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 in England say they have been coerced into sex acts....

However embarrassing it may be, we need to educate and embolden our daughters to fight back against pornography, which is warping the behavior of boys who are supposed to be their lovers, not their abusers. Anything that hurts and humiliates you is never OK. I suggest that future sex education classes begin with this joke: “I asked my wife to try anal sex. ‘Sure,’ she said: ‘You first.’”
PS: I just texted my own teenager for her view. She texted back: “A lot of truth to this. I think dubious consent is the greatest problem of my generation.

Binge drinking teenagers ‘damaging brain development’

US study points to genetic changes making teenagers more prone to alcoholism and anxiety in later life. The study, published in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, found evidence that binge drinking effectively changed the shape of the DNA in the animals’ brains at a crucial stage of their development.

Six hours a week 'family time' to tame a teenager

It doesn't matter how much time you spend with your children when they're young - but six hours a week of "family time" could keep teenagers from going off the rails, new research suggests.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:47 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2017

"I cannot be the only man who feels less at home in the world than his father did."

For the past forty-odd years as a journalist and writer, I have felt myself part of, and complicit in, an increasingly unreal world, in which the means of my existence are generated by others, while I simply comment and observe... I have felt myself drifting away not merely from the concrete world of my father, but actually from reality itself....

Deep down, the divides exposed by Brexit and Trump are between those who are handcuffed to the tangible and those who have grown up thinking that the virtual is the only reality.....

More than forty years ago, when I departed the Irish education system, I thought nothing of the fact that I was coming away without a tradable craft. Had I considered this at all, I would probably have regarded it as close to a virtue...I now sense what I lacked: my father’s capacity to integrate his view of reality with the objects he manipulated with his hands. In him, the processes of thinking and doing were fully integrated; in me they were separated. His view of politics and economics was rooted firmly in his sense of how a door frame should be mortised together, how a valve should be ground, how a tree should be pruned. ....

The thinking of my father and uncles was true because it was trained by reality itself. It derived from their physical engagement with the world rather than arriving as a series of signals they had learned to receive. For them, fixing things was compatible with a modest ambition to adhere to the laws of reality, not to set themselves above it, and so their judgments tended to be balanced, aphoristic, and persuasive. But they worked together with other men because they knew that shared wisdom was more reliable than the ego.....

I cannot be the only man who feels less at home in the world than his father did.  Perhaps this is the deepest meaning of Trump’s election: the back answer of the dispirited men of America who still want to build and fix things but have gotten on the wrong side of a cultural wrecking ball. 

Back to Work by John Waters

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:46 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2017

Health Roundup: Alcohol & Food

Moderate to heavy drinkers are more likely to live to 85 without developing dementia

A 30-year study by the University of California, San Diego has concluded that over-65s who indulge in up to three alcoholic drinks a day can look forward to a happy and healthy retirement. In fact, they said, moderate to heavy drinkers (1-3 drinks a day) are more likely to live to the age of 85 without dementia or other cognitive impairments than non-drinkers. The study, which tracked more than 1,000 middle class white men and women in California, builds on a swell of recent research linking alcohol intake to longevity.  Ninety-nine percent of them were white with at least some college education....

The researchers warned that the study does not suggest drinking is responsible for increased longevity and cognitive health. They make the point that people who drink moderate amounts of wine on a regular basis tend to have higher incomes and education levels. They also tend to smoke less and have better access to health care....However, the researchers warned excessive alcohol intake is known to cause alcohol-related dementia.

Queen Elizabeth, 91, knocks back four drinks a day

In the morning, when she downs a gin and Dubonnet cocktail with lemon and ice...Next, the queen enjoys a glass of wine or champagne with her lunch... she unwinds in the evening with a dry martini and a glass of champagne....The four drinks technically add up to six units of alcohol, which makes the queen a binge drinker by British “government standards.”

Regular Alcohol Drinkers Have a Lower Risk of Diabetes

According to a new study that looked at more than 70,000 Danish people, those who drink small to moderate amounts of alcohol on a frequent basis are less likely to develop diabetes than people who don't drink at all.

Alcohol Helps You Remember What You Learned Earlier, a small study shows.

Drinking booze after learning new information can help our brains store away what we took in when we were still sober, according to new research, even though alcohol is traditionally linked to problems forming memories.... it seems that when alcohol intake blocks the short-term memory circuits in the brain, long-term memories can then be consolidated. So after a few drinks, you stop taking in any new information, which means anything you learned earlier in the day has more chance to take root.

Alcohol increases the risk of skin cancer by up to 11% by causing irreparable DNA damage

For every 10g of alcohol a day, the risk of a form of skin cancer increases by 11%. Basal cell carcinoma increases by 7% and the risk of cutaneous squamous by 11%.  It is unclear if alcohol is linked to melanoma; the most deadly form of skin cancer. Past research suggests the ethanol in alcohol metabolizes into acetaldehyde, a chemical compound that damages DNA and prevents repair.

Reach for tea, red wine and blueberries to prevent flu taking hold.

Natural compounds found in berries, tea and red wine are known to have protective properties that help regulate the immune system to fight infections. Now, a new study shows that the flavonoids in these products works with a particular gut microbe to prevent severe flu infections. In their tests on mice, scientists explained that this did not stop the highly contagious infection being contracted. But the mechanism boosted the immune system and prevented the flu from harming the lung tissue.The new research, carried out at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, aimed to identify the exact gut microbes that might provide that protection.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:53 PM | Permalink

Miscellany #77

The Power of Nature

 Grandprize-Nature 1St Velasco
For this dramatic photo of a lightning bolt flashing on the Colima Volcano in Mexico, photographer Sergio Tapiro Velasco won Grand Prize, and 1st Prize Nature Category in the 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest.

A U.S. President Born In 1790 Has Two Living Grandsons  Three generations of Tylers have managed to span 227 years and counting.

U.S. Still Paying a Civil War Pension A North Carolina woman is the daughter of a Civil War veteran, and still collects his benefits. 

How Amish produce gets to Whole Foods—without the internet, tractors, or phones

The Invention of the Chilean Sea Bass

Until 1977, the name Chilean sea bass didn’t exist and few people ate the fish before the 1990s which was known as the Patagonian toothfish....In short, the Chilean sea bass is a pure marketing invention -- and a wildly successful one. Far from unique, the story of the Chilean sea bass represents something of a formula in today’s climate of overfishing: choose a previously ignored fish, give it a more appealing name, and market it. With a little luck, a fish once tossed back as bycatch will become part of trendy $50 dinners.

During World War II, American soldiers wore milk to battle.

Aralac was blended with rayon to produce hats....Aralac spread so quickly throughout the United States—it soon appeared in coats, suits, and dresses—that a 1944 LIFE article declared, “A great many U.S. citizens, without knowing it, are wearing clothes made from skimmed milk.”

Mystery of ball lightning is finally solved:

Ball lightning is a sphere of electrical light that can appear during thunderstorms, but can also form inside aircraft and closed rooms. The strange phenomenon can appear in the sky from the size of a golf ball to several meters across and can last between one second and tens of seconds. Naturally occurring fireballs have been mistaken for UFOs for many centuries. Now scientists have come up with a theory to explain the strange phenomenon: the eerie orb-like glow is created when radiation gets trapped inside a plasma bubble.

Facebook shuts down robots after they invent their own language

Miniature Scenes Set Amongst Office Supplies by Derrick Lin

 Derek Lin Office1

 Dereklin Office2

Probiotic Beer Coming Your Way

Badass Woman Escapes Kidnappers Using A Manual Transmission And Nerves Of Steel

The Little Old Sod Shanty on My Claim


In one of his most famous photos, and one of his first, he captured the four Chrisman sisters, my distant relatives, late teens or early twenties, perhaps, standing before the front door of their soddy, flanked on both sides by a saddled horse, their floor-length cotton dresses—each a different pattern—lost in the brittle prairie grass. They stand tall and altogether badass, reigning in the prairie one day at a time, each of them with three claims to their name.  See more at Solomon D. Butcher’s prairie photographs.

The most famous book that takes place in every state

The Drug Runners

The Tarahumara of northern Mexico became famous for their ability to run incredibly long distances. In recent years, cartels have exploited their talents by forcing them to ferry drugs into the U.S. Now, with their land ravaged by violence, they’re running for their lives.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 AM | Permalink

Medical research and technology roundup: Lung fibrosis, cancer, depression gene, MS, aging cells, bio-glue

Stem cell therapy for lung fibrosis conditions

A team of scientists from the UNC School of Medicine and North Carolina State University (NCSU) has developed promising research towards a possible stem cell treatment for several lung conditions, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis -- often-fatal conditions that affect tens of millions of Americans.

Discovery points to drugs that would 'short-circuit' deadly leukemia

Researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have discovered that survival of a particularly aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) depends on production of a small molecule called heme that is a kind of molecular "battery." The researchers said discovery of this vulnerability points the way to new targeted drug therapies that block heme synthesis, killing the leukemic cells.

Nearly 25% of people carry a gene that makes it more likely they will develop depression as they age, a new study claims

The study, conducted at the University of Central Florida, found that a gene variant called apolipoprotein-E4 (ApoE4), makes it 20 percent more likely that people will develop depression later in life than people without it. The study was conducted on a pool of 3,203 participants, following them as they aged from 53 to 71 years old.

New blood test can check for 13 types of cancers

A research team led by the Tokyo-based National Cancer Center Japan has developed a new test to diagnose 13 kinds of cancers from a single drop of blood, including relatively early stage 1 cancers, with more than 95 percent accuracy. Breast cancer was diagnosed with 97 percent accuracy....The new test utilizes microRNA (miRNA), a substance that is secreted from cells into the blood and regulates the movements of genes and which differ between cancer cells and normal cells.

Pioneering test can predict whether breast cancer will return

Patients with clustered immune cells, known as 'hotspots', were 25 per cent more likely to relapse within 10 years. The likelihood of cancer returning within five years was 23 per cent higher in women with the hotspots, a study found. The new method gives doctors the opportunity to dish out better preventative drugs to help keep the disease at bay. An automated computer tool on tissue samples searches for 'hotspots' by assessing how cells are organized spatially.

Small green sponge found in the icy waters off Alaska could CURE pancreatic and ovarian cancer

Scientists say a molecule from the sponge selectively killed malignant cells in both types of diseases in laboratory tests....The molecule in the sponge is structurally and chemically unique, said researchers...The discovery came after researchers spent the last two decades researching natural products that could be used for drugs....Any clinical trials would likely be about six years away

Resistance training SLOWS the progression of multiple sclerosis and even REVERSES brain shrinkage

Specifically, resistance exercise - also known as strength or weight training - has been shown to result in less brain shrinkage in patients. Furthermore, brain atrophy - classically considered as a measure of the disease's progression - appeared to be reversed in small areas....The team say they are unable to explain why training had a positive effect on the brain in people with MS. Previous research suggests exercise boosts two proteins - brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) - which help repair neurons in MS.  Study author associate professor Ulrik Dalgas at Aarhus University in Denmark, said, "The fact that physical training also seems to have a protective effect on the brain in people with multiple sclerosis is new and important knowledge.'  Dr Dalgas said further - and larger - research was necessary.  He stressed that the aim is not to replace medication with physical training.

Harvard develops medical bio glue based on slug secretions

As any gardener who has observed the revolting pests scaling a wet flowerpot will know, the sticky mucus exuded by the revolting pests has the power to stick to wet surfaces....[while]  most glues invented by humans require nice dry surfaces to stick, or are often too toxic to use on a human wound......The bio-glue was developed by experts at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. The researchers say that in laboratory tests they successfully repaired a hole in a pig heart that was slick with blood.  The sealant did not leak when the pig's heart beat, highlighting how the glue was flexible enough to cope with stretching. Tests revealed it bound together skin, cartilage, heart, artery, and liver with significantly greater strength than other medical adhesives. It is also non-toxic and does not cause tissue damage or adhesions. Professor Donald Ingber, who worked on the project, said: "Nature has frequently already found elegant solutions to common problems...'We are excited to see how this technology, inspired by a humble slug, might develop into a new technology for surgical repair and wound healing."

Brain cells found to control aging

Scientists have found that stem cells in the brain's hypothalamus govern how fast aging occurs in the body. In mice, when adult stem cells were injected, the signs of aging were reversed. The crucial hypothalamus stem cells are 'mother cells' that mature to produce new neurons. Researchers  believe that humans are likely to respond to the influence of hypothalamus stem cells in just the same way. The finding could lead to new strategies for warding off age-related diseases and extending lifespan.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 AM | Permalink

August 1, 2017

How to survive freak accidents on vacation and how to recover from tragedy

How to survive freak accidents on vacation

A fall off a cruise ship
Remain still, do as little as possible and float.  Do not swim.
Ditch the ski poles and 'swim' sideways
Lean backwards and make like a starfish
Don't fight against the rip. Swim sideways across the current, you will eventually come out of the Rip current. and safety.  Or tread water and conserve energy until the current weakens and they can make it back to shore.
On Safari
Find yourself face-to-face with a lion, for example, and you'll need to make direct eye contact and back away very slowly. Never turn your back, never run.  If you endure a stand-off with a leopard, the reverse is true. Here, you'll need to avoid eye-contact at all costs and hope they lose interest.
Lost on a hike
Stop, stay calm, stay put. The further you walk, the longer it will take rescuers to find you.
All you can do now is solve the problem of getting out of the situation. Next, try to re-trace your steps...... 'If you are confident that you have determined the way to go and have time before dark to reach a known spot, such as the marked trail on your map, then go carefully and obviously mark your route with stacked rocks, sticks stuck in the ground, or strips of cloth from your bandanna. If you are not very, very confident in the route, then it's better to stay put.'
Snake bite
If you come across a snake, back away slowly and change your course. If it looks like it's following you, stamp on the ground to make vibrations in the ground, which should drive it away. If you are bitten, bring your affected body part down lower than your heart to slow the flow of venom in your bloodstream (if it's a limb) and get to the nearest hospital. Try and remember, or better still photograph, the snake so doctors can faster identify which anti-venom you need.

How To Recover From Tragedy: 4 Secrets From Research

1. Avoid personalization, pervasiveness and permanence: It’s not all your fault, it won’t affect every area of your life, and the pain will subside with time.
2. Ask “How much worse could it have been?”: Sheryl lost her husband. Adam reminded her that she could have lost her children too. It can always be worse. It’s not. Be grateful.
3. Get support: Talk to someone, preferably someone who has dealt with a similar problem.
4. Write about it: Thinking about it makes it worse. Writing about it makes it better.

In the past, researchers thought people who came out of tragedy fell into two categories: those who suffered PTSD and those who recovered. They were wrong…
There were actually three categories. Some people experienced “post-traumatic growth.” After tragedy they came out even stronger than they had been.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 AM | Permalink