Archive for: July, 2007

The New Phone Books Are Here!!! The New Phone Books are Here!!!!

Jul 21 2007 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

I realize this post lacks purpose. I'm just excited...
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Eat chana masala to prevent Alzheimer's!

Yes, that title is a bit ostentatious. But the foods we eat contain many compounds that can be beneficial to brain health. One strategy for optimizing our brains for long-term peak performance is to identify these compounds and discover how they are beneficial. Head-healthy chemicals have previously been isolated from curries and spices before, and it looks like we've found another curcuminoid, bisdemethoxycurcumin, which may be useful in combating Alzheimer's Disease:

Researchers have isolated bisdemethoxycurcumin, the active ingredient of curcuminoids -- a natural substance found in turmeric root -- that may help boost the immune system in clearing amyloid beta, a peptide that forms the plaques found in Alzheimer's disease. Using blood samples from Alzheimer's disease patients, researchers found that bisdemethoxycurcumin boosted immune cells called macrophages to clear amyloid beta.
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The results also suggest a new drug development approach for the disease that differs from the amyloid-beta vaccine. The new approach relies on the innate immune system, which is present at birth rather than on antibodies produced by B cells, which is a later developed part of the active immune system.

I like these strategies. Chemicals that occur naturally in the diet and which have anti-inflammatory properties can be consumed in low levels, chronically, and provide health benefits on the cheap. Combining these dietary benefits with drug-based strategies may in fact boost performance of the drugs, and if nothing else we have a new chemical structure to tinker with and hopefully provide more effective therapeutic agents in the future. Additionally, anti-inflammatory dietary factors can protect other organ systems from a myriad of inflammation-related issues that occur with aging.

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SchadenFriday Campaign Edition

Jul 13 2007 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1035231820070710?src=071007_1153_DOUBLEFEATURE_rebel_cleric_killed">Put a fork in 'em. The ultraconservative in centrist's clothing is toast.

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Thomas Kinkade is the Devil

Jul 12 2007 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

Kinkade, the self-professed "painter of light", is known to be a rather boorish businessperson, to put it politely. I have long been uncomfortable, however, looking at the hackneyed Hallmark "art" he produces, but I could never understand why. Could it be that Thomas Kinkade, aka painter of light aka Lucifer, the light-bearer, be the source of all evil, and that evil be reflected in his paintings?
Now I have proof.

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Creationists up to no good in Chesterfield County, VA

Jul 11 2007 Published by under Activism, Evolution

It looks like somebody either never heard of Dover, or refused to learn from their lesson. It seems the local ID supporters of Chesterfield County aren't happy:

So far, the official actions of the CCSB have been limited to issuing a rather vague and confusing statement. ID proponents had hoped to influence the selection of science textbooks, but they started their campaign too late, and the CCSB approved the selection of standard biology texts. But there is still much concern about the situation in Chesterfield. ID supporters, backed by a local conservative group called the Family Foundation, are energetic and well-organized, as evidenced by their ability to deliver a petition with more than 1,100 people who questioned the use of "evolution-only" science texts.

Energetic and well-organized supporters of pseudoscience... sounds like a one-way ticket to another budget-busting, unwinnable multimillion dollar lawsuit. Virginia, you can do better than these guys.
The Alliance for Science has the full story. If you are a Virginia resident and want to get involved, please contact them. Also, visit the link to learn much more about the story, and also about Shawn Smith's blog that tracks the Intelligent Design Creationism movement in Chesterfield County. Let's keep sound science in Virginia science classes and get the jump on things before the anti-science ID creationist movement can stir up trouble.

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That durned 8 things tag

Jul 10 2007 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

I just noticed a comment in my Undergraduate Research Changed My Life post from a friend of mine; Camilo at Mercurical tagged me with the "8 Things" meme.
Ok ok ok. I should just jump on this bandwagon as well. After all, Wilkins is doing it, and Tara at Aetiology issued a blanket tag for everybody that reads her blog (which I do regularly, so heck with it I better do this).
Here are 8 things about me, in no particular order:

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Creation Museum and Public Perception: Tepid Waters

Jul 10 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

The Alliance for Science, a wonderful group of which I am a member, has a link about a survey that examines public perception of the new Creation Museum. Having recently visited the Propoganda Ministry Museum myself, I was very underwhelmed. I will report my experiences there in a future post replete with pictures. I feel bad because I haven't been keeping up on the evolution/science activism side of my life for a very long time now, aside from this post and pushing the Alliance for Science's Evolution Essay Contest, I have done very little this year to even address the issue. Might have something to do with my dad dying and whatnot, I'm not sure.
The interesting part of the survey is that "white evangelicals" or "fundamentalists" weren't particularly approving of the intellectual travesty Museum either. Maybe there is hope for America after all. Or, maybe the "Museum" really is such a shoddy, transparent attempt at evangelizing that nobody is fooled.
Do stop by and check it out.

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Thoughts on Approaching Hormone Therapy Data

Jul 10 2007 Published by under Blog Carnivals, Health Care/Medicine

I recently posted three "Basics"-style blurbs about menopause and hormone therapy (HT). If you missed it, they are here, here, and here. The field has gone through a lot of upheaval since the WHI studies in 2002, and I would just like to share my thoughts on how to approach where we stand now. These are the sorts of questions and considerations that researchers and health care professionals need to keep in mind when they evaluate HT. After the reference-heavy previous posts this one is going to just be my thoughts, and very off-the-cuff at that.
We, as humans, have a tendency to put things in conceptual boxes. Cholesterol bad. Eggs bad. No wait eggs good. Hormone therapy good. No wait hormone therapy bad. Unfortunately, endocrinology doesn't like boxes. Hormones abhor predictability. In fact endocrinology is a frakkin' nightmare even when you're dealing with one simple feedback loop. So when you hear that "estrogen is bad again" in the news, STOP.

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Simpson's Avatar Bandwagon

Jul 09 2007 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

I'm pretty hyped to see The Simpsons Movie, so of course I have to jump on the "make your own avatar bandwagon". Here's me, rendered as a Simpson's character...

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Skies of blue, clouds of white.... and I think to myself....

Jul 09 2007 Published by under Uncategorized

My dad passed away on June 21st at 1:28 pm. I haven't posted anything about it yet because I had to take some time to clear my head.
Part of my sporadic posting has been due in large part to his health issues, as he has been steadily spiraling downward in his battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for the last few months. So as I've been bouncing back and forth halfway across the country for a while now, well, blogging just hasn't been of much interest to me. I'll try to rectify that in the near future.
I drove home the weekend before to see him and scarcely got back to my apartment before I had to turn around and drive back a few days later. That first weekend he'd just had 10 liters of fluid drained from his abdomen and had finally gone on hospice care. So we moved him back home, knowing full well he'd never leave the house he'd spent the last 35 years in again. The doctor had guessed he might have another 3 weeks left in him which turned out to be a bit longer than the truth, unfortunately. We didn't have the heart to tell him, though, because he was in good spirits about going home and having less pain from the massive fluid reduction, and was talking about "hoping to drag things out to February so mom can have my full pension upon retirement". That's just the kind of person he was, not so concered with his own well-being.
He was stubborn as usual, insisting on minimal help getting up the stairs and down the hall. Even though he could barely walk he refused to use the damn portable commode we had in the room with him, and refused to sleep in the hospice bed, preferring his favorite recliner. It was hard enough on him to let me help him get dressed after a shower. But the whole time he kept to his jovial nature, as always. Insufferable dry humor to the end.
So yeah, I drove home when things took a turn for the worst and he started getting opiates for the pain. I was already scheduled to catch a flight out Friday and get in just after midnight on Saturday. However, the hospice nurse said he had about 48 hours at the most, so I hopped in the car and left DC at 10:30 Thursday night for Illinois with cat in tow. I didn't want to try to make a new flight after what happened with United's computers the week before, air travel this summer has been a damned nightmare.
The last thing Bill said to me, over the phone from a drug-induced stupor, was "It will be so good to see you again".

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