Friday, December 29, 2006


The most effective way I've found to get a lot of housecleaning done is to decide to do my taxes!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Maternal Diet During Pregnancy Can Impact Offspring For Generations, Study Shows
A new study by scientists at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) is the first to show that a mother's diet during pregnancy influences the health of her grandchildren by changing the behavior of a specific gene. ... The new research shows that the diet consumed by a pregnant Avy mouse affects the health of not only her pups, but also their pups -- her grandchildren.

I read a of a similar study several years ago. In that study, pregnant mice (or rats, I can't remember which), were fed a deficient diet. Their offspring had reduced IQs (no new results there), and so did their daughters' offspring, but not their sons' offspring. President Reagan tried to end the WIC (Women, Infants, and Chidrens nutrition) program, and was able to reduce it. His administration defined ketchup as a "vegetable" in order to save money on school lunch programs. There is no telling what harm this has caused our country. He also tried to eliminate Head Start. It boggles my mind when people claim the press was hard on Reagan, and now Bush. They treated both with blatant favoritism.

striking a balance
In a civilized society based on the rule of law, we live in a delicate balance between obeying those whose job it is to enforce the laws, and policing the police to make certain they do not abuse their special positions of authority.

This is an excellent discussion on this topic.

Rapist who preys on men sparks fear, interest
BAYTOWN, Texas - A rapist who has struck at least five times since April in and around Baytown has not only spread fear in this working-class community but also piqued the interest of those who study the criminal mind.
The reason: He preys on other men.
That makes him something of a rarity in the world of crime.

I worked on a crisis line many years ago. In one of our classes, rape was discussed. This caused the men to giggle, and at least one to comment they wouldn't mind being raped. When I commented that they were most likely to be raped by another man (men being far more likely to engage in violent acts than women), the giggling stopped. And this is not an isolated incidence of male insensitivity to rape - when it happens to women. As a result, I admit I don't feel the sympathy for these men that I would for a woman.

Combinations of over-the-counter drugs can cause serious side effects

However, overdoses of acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage, even death, the FDA said. For aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, there is a risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney injury even when patients take the correct dose. Those risks too are linked to deaths, in this case thousands each year. ... For acetaminophen, the labels also would warn of the risk of severe liver damage if patients take more than the recommended dose or consume three or more alcoholic drinks a day while on the drugs.

This is definitely not an over-reaction on the part of the FDA. This killed my brother, who suffered from chronic back and neck pains from injuries.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Designer’ babies with made-to-order defects?

Creating made-to-order babies with genetic defects would seem to be an ethical minefield, but to some parents with disabilities — say, deafness or dwarfism — it just means making babies like them.

And a recent survey of U.S. clinics that offer embryo screening suggests it’s already happening.
Three percent, or four clinics surveyed, said they have provided the costly, complicated procedure to help families create children with a disability.

As a fairly short person myself (5 feet), I have nothing against dwarfs, but as the article indicates, having a person with one such gene may need surgery for dwarfism-related bone deformities. A baby with two such genes dies. Unless/until we devastate the environment so badly that small people will have an advantage because we need less resources, it would be wrong to deliberately create people such disabilities. Since we know of widespread genes which are seriously harmful or fatal when two are present, but protective in some circumstances for those who have a single gene, we should be leary of trying to stamp out such genes, but it would be wrong to deliberately choose for them, at least when even the single gene causes problems.

I have progressive myopia, caused by a recessive gene. It is possible it is associated with increased IQ (there is still an open question, as far as I know). But I certainly wouldn't go out and deliberately try to have children with this condition.

Backpack generates its own electricity

A new backpack design may offer a way for first responders and disaster relief workers to generate their own electricity for communications devices, night vision goggles, water purifiers or other crucial, portable electronics.
All the person wearing the backpack has to do is walk — the backpack does the rest. The backpack captures energy from the up-and-down movements of its heavy contents and converts this energy to electricity.

This would be good for anybody. Batteries are horrible for the environment.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

help our troops

This site contains instructions for knitting or crocheting wool helmet liners for our troops. The ones supplied by the government are of synthetic fiber, and not as warm.

I have finished one (will send it in next week), and have started another.

Friday, December 15, 2006

results of voluntary standards

Pres. Bush must be happy at the results of the voluntary standards he is so enamored of.
Recent E. coli outbreaks have drawn attention to foodborne illnesses, and though officials say the overall number of cases is on the decline, produce — particularly leafy vegetables — is increasingly a carrier of germs once linked only to meat and dairy.
A type of salmonella found in eggs is turning up more often in chicken meat and needs to be reduced, according to the Agriculture Department.
From 2000 through 2005, there was a fourfold increase in positive test results for salmonella enteritidis on chicken carcasses.

inspirational words

I cried because I had no shoes,
until I met a man who had no hair.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Jack Kevorkian to be paroled in June
After more than eight years in prison, a frail Dr. Jack Kevorkian will be paroled in June with a promise that he won’t assist in any more suicides, a prison spokesman said Wednesday.=

I never thought he should have been sent to prison, certainly not for so long. He wasn't killing people w/o their permission. He was giving them freedom to end their pain and suffering. The fear of not being able to make such a decision for myself would cause me to end my life earlier than otherwise in such a situation, before I became helpless to do so. If someone insists that people should be forced to endure agony, whether physical pain or severe depression, that person is a sadistic jerk.

I disagree with disabled people who said such actions devalue disabled people. Disabled people should be supported. And they should have the right to make decisions about their own lives that able-bodied people can do. If they are not in severe pain, it would be reasonable to not allow assisted suicide for a time after a person becomes unable to act on their own. Six months might be reasonable, because research has found that people tend to adjust to circumstances in that amount of time, and to end up about as happy or unhappy as they were before the disability.

I read once of a man who had been severely burned. He wanted to be allowed to die, but wasn't allowed to do so. After he recovered, he said that he should have been allowed to die, that even though he was recovered, he didn't want to have lived through such pain. I feel the same way for myself. If someone else makes a different decision, that's their choice.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

cooperative fish
The giant moray eel is normally a lone hunter in the dark. Now scientists find these eels may at times hunt in the daytime in the Red Sea, and surprisingly cooperate with another predatory fish, the grouper, which is also normally a solitary predator.

If two differenct species of fish cooperate for mutual benefit, why not Republicans and Democrats?

Friday, December 01, 2006

lucky female chimps
Researchers studying chimpanzee mating preferences have found that although male chimpanzees prefer some females over others, they prefer older, not younger, females as mates. The findings uncover a stark contrast between chimpanzee behavior and that of humans, their primate cousins.

passive smoking
Over time, inhaling environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)--a process often called "passive smoking"--can cause otherwise healthy adults to develop chronic respiratory symptoms.

I myself have noticed a large decrease in asthma and hayfever since smoking has been banned in work places and restaurants.

good news on global warming
Scientists at UC Irvine have determined that levels of atmospheric methane – an influential greenhouse gas – have stayed nearly flat for the past seven years, which follows a rise that spanned at least two decades....Methane has an atmospheric lifetime of about eight years. Carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas that is produced by burning fossil fuels for power generation and transportation – can last a century and has been accumulating steadily in the atmosphere.

Methane has a greater greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide, so this is good news, although methane is of lesser importance because of much smaller amounts in the atmosphere.

avoiding back pain
Researchers are using a new form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to show that sitting in an upright position places unnecessary strain on your back, leading to potentially chronic pain problems if you spend long hours sitting. The study, conducted at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland, was presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
"A 135-degree body-thigh sitting posture was demonstrated to be the best biomechanical sitting position, as opposed to a 90-degree posture, which most people consider normal," said Waseem Amir Bashir, M.B.Ch.B., F.R.C.R., author and clinical fellow in the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Alberta Hospital, Canada.

ecstasy not ecstatic to brain
Researchers have discovered that even a small amount of MDMA, better known as ecstasy, can be harmful to the brain, according to the first study to look at the neurotoxic effects of low doses of the recreational drug in new ecstasy users.

unexpected results
Cincinnati researchers, led by David Bernstein, MD, have found that infants living in homes with high levels of endotoxins (bacterial contaminants) and multiple dogs were more than two times less likely to wheeze than other infants.

is deafness a handicap
COULD the end of sign language for deaf children be in sight? A spate of new studies has shown that profoundly deaf babies who receive cochlear implants in their first year of life develop language and speech skills remarkably close to those of hearing children. Many of the children even learn to sing passably well and function almost flawlessly in the hearing world.
These findings may sound like a triumph to audiologists and the hearing parents of deaf babies. But they have done little to convince those in the deaf community who maintain that it is unethical to give deaf babies cochlear implants, which bypass damaged areas of the ear and stimulate the auditory nerve directly.

If deafness is not a handicap, then we can do away with tax deductions and other help, such as funding for special education.

It seems to me these parents are just selfish jerks.