Friday, April 30, 2010

Rwanda's Island Prison

Video at the link below...

Hundreds of vagrants, thieves and street kids, some as young as 14, have been sent, without a trial, to the remote island of Iwawa - an extreme example of the levels of repression in Rwanda.

See Better by Believing You Can

Testing visual acuity in reverse is a time-tested method among the ophthalmology cognescenti...

Imagine seeing better by thinking differently. That’s a vision with a future, according to Harvard University psychologist Ellen Langer.
Eyesight markedly improved when people were experimentally induced to believe that they could see especially well, Langer and her colleagues report in the April Psychological Science. Such expectations actually enhanced visual clarity, rather than simply making volunteers more alert or motivated to focus on objects, they assert.
Langer’s new findings build on long-standing evidence that visual perception depends not just on relaying information from the eyes to the brain but on experience-based assumptions about what can be seen in particular situations. Those expectations lead people to devote limited attention to familiar scenes and, as a result, to ignore unusual objects and events.

Watching a Living Brain in the Act of Seeing -- With Single-Synapse Resolution

ScienceDaily (Apr. 30, 2010) — Pioneering a novel microscopy method, neuroscientist Arthur Konnerth and colleagues from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have shown that individual neurons carry out significant aspects of sensory processing: specifically, in this case, determining which direction an object in the field of view is moving. Their method makes it possible for the first time to observe individual synapses, nerve contact sites that are just one micrometer in size, on a single neuron in a living mammalian brain.
Focusing on neurons known to play a role in processing visual signals related to movement, Konnerth's team discovered that an individual neuron integrates inputs it receives via many synapses at once into a single output signal -- a decision, in essence, made by a single nerve cell. The scientists report these results in the latest issue of the journal Nature. Looking ahead, they say their method opens a new avenue for exploration of how learning functions at the level of the individual neuron.
When light falls on the retina of the human eye, it hits 126 million sensory cells, which transform it into electrical signals. Even the smallest unit of light, a photon, can stimulate one of these sensory cells. As a result, enormous amounts of data have to be processed for us to be able to see. While the processing of visual data starts in the retina, the finished image only arises in the brain or, to be more precise, in the visual cortex at the back of the cerebrum.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Net Worth Fighting For

Go to this link for the entire analysis 

Did the onerous income taxes of the 1950s and ’60s affect the behavior of big-money boxers?  The Atlantic’s Henry Fetter believes so, as he explains in his recent article:

The theory makes perfect sense, and yes, you read that right: back in the ’50s, the marginal rate of the uppermost individual Federal income tax bracket was indeed an incredible 90%!  In other words, after making a certain amount of money, nine out of ten of your hard-earned dollars went straight to the man.  If I had a demotivational font, I’d use it here to type “Ouch!”
In 1965, the top tax rate fell to 70%, and it stayed there until Reagan swaggered into the joint and knocked everyone on their asses.  By the end of his second term, as he gave a parting high five to Bush, he’d gutted the upper bracket to a millionaire-friendly 28% on all earnings over $160,000 – in today’s dollars!  Trickle down, baby!
Three decades later, the Gipper is long gone, but the tax code legacy of Reaganomics lives on.  To illustrate, Weather Sealed’s infographic team charted the historical U.S. income tax brackets for singles, adjusted for inflation, from 1910 to present:

South Africa Redoubles Efforts Against AIDS

Well, it's about time...tragic the number of lives lost already...

SOVANE, South Africa — South Africa, trying to overcome years of denial and delay in confronting its monumental AIDS crisis, is now in the midst of a feverish buildup of testing, treatment and prevention that United Nations officials say is the largest and fastest expansion of AIDS services ever attempted by any nation. 

Mr. Mbeki had questioned whether H.I.V. caused AIDS and suggested that anti-retroviral drugs were harmful. Harvard researchers estimated that the government could have prevented the premature deaths of 365,000 people during the last decade if it had provided the drugs to AIDS patients and medicines that help stop pregnant women from infecting their babies.
“If we had acted more than a decade ago, we might not have been in this situation where we are,” Dr. Motsoaledi said. “Obviously, we did lose time.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chances Are

This succinct piece nicely demonstrates the importance of an understanding of probability and statistics for all of us (and is also why I am glad that AP statistics is being offered at Sageridge school next year).

In one study, Gigerenzer and his colleagues asked doctors in Germany and the United States to estimate the probability that a woman with a positive mammogram actually has breast cancer, even though she’s in a low-risk group: 40 to 50 years old, with no symptoms or family history of breast cancer.  To make the question specific, the doctors were told to assume the following statistics — couched in terms of percentages and probabilities — about the prevalence of breast cancer among women in this cohort, and also about the mammogram’s sensitivity and rate of false positives:
The probability that one of these women has breast cancer is 0.8 percent.  If a woman has breast cancer, the probability is 90 percent that she will have a positive mammogram.  If a woman does not have breast cancer, the probability is 7 percent that she will still have a positive mammogram.  Imagine a woman who has a positive mammogram.  What is the probability that she actually has breast cancer?
The right answer is 9 percent.

The remarkable effects of fat loss on the immune system

Interesting study of the impact on the immune system of gastric banding in patients with Type II Diabetes. (However the n was low at 13).

Australian scientists have shown for the first time that even modest weight loss reverses many of the damaging changes often seen in the immune cells of obese people, particularly those with Type 2 diabetes.

Tea 'healthier' drink than water

Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers.

Adora Svitaka

Lots of good lessons in this 12 year old's talk at TED
This video clip also is a manifestation of why I send my kids to Sageridge school!

via Change Your Thoughts. Change Your Life

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oral medication for Leber's congenital amaurosis demonstrates biological signal in early study

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Three patients enrolled in a phase 1b proof of concept study for an oral medication therapy for Leber's congenital amaurosis had vision gains and reported improvements in functional vision after 7 days of treatment.

People Get Ready

Amazing Performance by Crystal Bowersox last night....

Moral Actions Improve Willpower

In a new study, Harvard University researchers suggest moral actions may increase our capacity for willpower and physical endurance.
Study participants who did good deeds — or even just imagined themselves helping others — were better able to perform a subsequent task of physical endurance.
However, the research also shows a similar or even greater boost in physical strength following dastardly deeds.

Researcher Kurt Gray, a doctoral student in psychology at Harvard, explains these effects as a self-fulfilling prophecy in morality.
“People perceive those who do good and evil to have more efficacy, more willpower, and less sensitivity to discomfort,” Gray says.
“By perceiving themselves as good or evil, people embody these perceptions, actually becoming more capable of physical endurance.”
Gray’s findings run counter to the notion that only those blessed with heightened willpower or self-control are capable of heroism, suggesting instead that simply attempting heroic deeds can confer personal power.
“Gandhi or Mother Teresa may not have been born with extraordinary self-control, but perhaps came to possess it through trying to help others,” says Gray, who calls this effect “moral transformation” because it suggests that moral deeds have the power to transform people from average to exceptional.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BurmaVJ:Live Reporting from a Closed Country

Tonight on HBO will be a highly acclaimed documentary on Burma--home of some of  the kindest people I have ever met...

Bees See Super Color at Super Speed

Bees see the world almost five times faster than humans, according to new research from scientists at Queen Mary, University of London.

This gives bumblebees the fastest colour vision of all animals, allowing them to easily navigate shady bushes to find food, write Dr Peter Skorupski and Prof Lars Chittka in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Monday, April 19, 2010

From Dung to Coffee Brew With No Aftertaste

..But Mr. Sibayan’s prize was the equivalent in the world of rarefied coffees: dung containing the world’s most expensive coffee beans.
Costing hundreds of dollars a pound, these beans are found in the droppings of the civet, a nocturnal, furry, long-tailed catlike animal that prowls Southeast Asia’s coffee-growing lands for the tastiest, ripest coffee cherries. The civet eventually excretes the hard, indigestible innards of the fruit — essentially, incipient coffee beans — though only after they have been fermented in the animal’s stomach acids and enzymes to produce a brew described as smooth, chocolaty and devoid of any bitter aftertaste.

Africa Reboots

My man, Bono of U2,  has just returned from a trip to Africa and is speaking of "smart aid" for Africa.
He highlights  the entrepeneurial spirit of Africa, which I think the mainstream media often gives short shrift to...

Despite the almost deafening roar of excitement about Africa’s hosting of soccer’s World Cup this summer, we managed to hear a surprising thing. Harmony ... flowing from two sides that in the past have often been discordant: Africa’s emerging entrepreneurial class and its civil-society activists.
It’s no secret that lefty campaigners can be cranky about business elites. And the suspicion is mutual. Worldwide. Civil society as a rule sees business as, well, a little uncivil. Business tends to see activists as, well, a little too active. But in Africa, at least from what I’ve just seen, this is starting to change. The energy of these opposing forces coming together is filling offices, boardrooms and bars. The reason is that both these groups — the private sector and civil society — see poor governance as the biggest obstacle they face. So they are working together on redefining the rules of the African game.

Entrepreneurs know that even a good relationship with a bad government stymies foreign investment; civil society knows a resource-rich country can have more rather than fewer problems, unless corruption is tackled.
This joining of forces is being driven by some luminous personalities, few of whom are known in America; all of whom ought to be. Let me introduce you to a few of the catalysts:

So I was listening. Good for me. But did I actually learn anything?
OVER long days and nights, I asked Africans about the course of international activism. Should we just pack it up and go home, I asked? There were a few nods. But many more noes. Because most Africans we met seemed to feel the pressing need for new kinds of partnerships, not just among governments, but among citizens, businesses, the rest of us. I sense the end of the usual donor-recipient relationship.
Aid, it’s clear, is still part of the picture. It’s crucial, if you have H.I.V. and are fighting for your life, or if you are a mother wondering why you can’t protect your child against killers with unpronounceable names or if you are a farmer who knows that new seed varietals will mean you have produce that you can take to market in drought or flood. But not the old, dumb, only-game-in-town aid — smart aid that aims to put itself out of business in a generation or two. “Make aid history” is the objective. It always was. Because when we end aid, it’ll mean that extreme poverty is history. But until that glorious day, smart aid can be a reforming tool, demanding accountability and transparency, rewarding measurable results, reinforcing the rule of law, but never imagining for a second that it’s a substitute for trade, investment or self-determination.

Weighing the Evidence on Exercise

But a growing body of science suggests that exercise does have an important role in weight loss. That role, however, is different from what many people expect and probably wish. The newest science suggests that exercise alone will not make you thin, but it may determine whether you stay thin, if you can achieve that state. Until recently, the bodily mechanisms involved were mysterious. But scientists are slowly teasing out exercise’s impact on metabolism, appetite and body composition, though the consequences of exercise can vary. Women’s bodies, for instance, seem to react differently than men’s bodies to the metabolic effects of exercise. None of which is a reason to abandon exercise as a weight-loss tool. You just have to understand what exercise can and cannot do.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Is Marriage Good for Your Health?

An intriguing article which updates the impact of marriage on health...

Contemporary studies, for instance, have shown that married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer or have heart attacks. A group of Swedish researchers has found that being married or cohabiting at midlife is associated with a lower risk for dementia. A study of two dozen causes of death in the Netherlands found that in virtually every category, ranging from violent deaths like homicide and car accidents to certain forms of cancer, the unmarried were at far higher risk than the married. For many years, studies like these have influenced both politics and policy, fueling national marriage-promotion efforts, like the Healthy Marriage Initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From 2006 to 2010, the program received $150 million annually to spend on projects like “divorce reduction” efforts and often cited the health benefits of marrying and staying married.

But while it’s clear that marriage is profoundly connected to health and well-being, new research is increasingly presenting a more nuanced view of the so-called marriage advantage. Several new studies, for instance, show that the marriage advantage doesn’t extend to those in troubled relationships, which can leave a person far less healthy than if he or she had never married at all. One recent study suggests that a stressful marriage can be as bad for the heart as a regular smoking habit. And despite years of research suggesting that single people have poorer health than those who marry, a major study released last year concluded that single people who have never married have better health than those who married and then divorced.
These data strongly suggested that marital stress could affect the body in striking ways, but the Glaser team had yet to prove that marital conflict had any truly meaningful or lasting effect on health. Kiecolt-Glaser had an idea for another study that would meet this higher standard. She had read about a strange tool used by her dermatology colleagues: a small plastic suction device designed to leave eight tiny blisters on the arm and allow monitoring of the immune-system response at the wound sites. Kiecolt-Glaser’s proposal was to use this blistering device to measure how quickly or slowly physical wounds healed among married couples who had undergone different levels of marital stress.
The results were remarkable. After the blistering sessions in which couples argued, their wounds took, on average, a full day longer to heal than after the sessions in which the couples discussed something pleasant. Among couples who exhibited especially high levels of hostility while bickering, the wounds took a full two days longer to heal than those of couples who had showed less animosity while fighting.

Smith’s results suggest that there are important differences between men and women when it comes to health and the style of conflict that can jeopardize it. The women in his study who were at highest risk for signs of heart disease were those whose marital battles lacked any signs of warmth, not even a stray term of endearment during a hostile discussion (“Honey, you’re driving me crazy!”) or a minor pat on the back or squeeze of the hand, all of which can signal affection in the midst of anger. “Most of the literature assumes that it’s how bad the arguments get that drives the effect, but it’s actually the lack of affection that does it,” Smith told me. “It wasn’t how much nasty talk there was. It was the lack of warmth that predicted risk.”
For men, on the other hand, hostile and negative marital battles seemed to have no effect on heart risk. Men were at risk for a higher coronary calcium score, however, when their marital spats turned into battles for control. It didn’t matter whether it was the husband or wife who was trying to gain control of the matter; it was merely any appearance of controlling language that put men on the path of heart disease.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010


This is a great talk by Michael Specter, a staff writer for the New Yorker. It is worth 16 Plus minutes of your time...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Old Gout Drug Gets New Life and a New Price, Riling Patients

A centuries-old drug used to treat excruciating gout pain had cost just pennies a tablet—until last year. Now, the retail price has skyrocketed to more than $5 and some of the manufacturers have ceased production amid a battle over marketing rights.

The tale of how this common gout drug, colchicine, became the costlier branded drug Colcrys offers a window into the Byzantine world of drug pricing. The price rise is a consequence of a Food and Drug Administration effort to improve the safety of long-used but unapproved drugs, with a trade-off often made between drug affordability and safety
"It's not a new product. It's been out for hundreds of years. To all of a sudden have to pay $125 or $150 a month, after it only cost $5 or $10 a month, is a real problem," said Stanley Cohen, a Dallas doctor who is the president of the American College of Rheumatology. He met with the FDA to express concern about the price increase.

Avatar II: The Hospital

Health-care facilities are discovering that practicing in the virtual world can have major benefits in real life.

In the drill, developed by Laura Greci, a professor at the medical school at the University of California, San Diego, ER nurses log in to the virtual world, where each assumes control of an avatar—a cartoon rendering of a nurse wearing crisp blue scrubs. The nurses can walk their avatars through hallways, up and down stairs and through doorways using keyboard or mouse controls. They can give voice to their avatars by typing—their words pop up as a text box—or by speaking into a special microphone. Headsets let each nurse hear ambient noise from the virtual scene and listen to the other avatars talking.
In the drill, which lasts three hours, the nurse-avatars must create a triage system, assess each patient and figure out how to isolate the most contagious.
In addition to the disaster drills, Second Life is increasingly being used to train medical and nursing students in clinical skills. Medical schools traditionally have run such exercises using computerized mannequins, which can be programmed to exhibit certain symptoms. But each mannequin costs about $65,000, so there may be just one for every 50 or 100 students. In Second Life, though, every student can take on a nurse or doctor avatar and practice interviewing virtual patients, filling in medical charts and making diagnoses.

In Sleepless Nights, a Hope for Treating Depression

Although this sounds too good to be true, it has been well documented in over 1,700 patients in more than 75 published papers during the last 40 years.[1]  Sleep deprivation used as a treatment for depression is efficacious and robust: it works quickly, is relatively easy to administer, inexpensive, relatively safe and it also alleviates other types of clinical depression. Sleep deprivation can elevate your mood even if you are not depressed, and can induce euphoria. This throws a new light on insomnia.

Big Banks Draw Big Profits From Microloans to Poor

In recent years, the idea of giving small loans to poor people became the darling of the development world, hailed as the long elusive formula to propel even the most destitute into better lives.
Actors like Natalie Portman and Michael Douglas lent their boldface names to the cause. Muhammad Yunus, the economist who pioneered the practice by lending small amounts to basket weavers in Bangladesh, won a Nobel Peace Prize for it in 2006. The idea even got its very own United Nations year in 2005.

But the phenomenon has grown so popular that some of its biggest proponents are now wringing their hands over the direction it has taken. Drawn by the prospect of hefty profits from even the smallest of loans, a raft of banks and financial institutions now dominate the field, with some charging interest rates of 100 percent or more. 

Underlying the issue is a fierce debate over whether microloans actually lift people out of poverty, as their promoters so often claim. The recent conclusion of some researchers is that not every poor person is an entrepreneur waiting to be discovered, but that the loans do help cushion some of the worst blows of poverty.
“The lesson is simply that it didn’t save the world,” Dean S. Karlan, a professor of economics at Yale University, said about microlending. “It is not the single transformative tool that proponents have been selling it as, but there are positive benefits.”
Still, its earliest proponents do not want its reputation tarnished by new investors seeking profits on the backs of the poor, though they recognize that the days of just earning enough to cover costs are over.

Medical Schools Can't Keep Up

As Ranks of Insured Expand, Nation Faces Shortage of 150,000 Doctors in 15 Years.

But medical colleges and hospitals warn that these efforts will hit a big bottleneck: There is a shortage of medical resident positions. The residency is the minimum three-year period when medical-school graduates train in hospitals and clinics.
There are about 110,000 resident positions in the U.S., according to the AAMC. Teaching hospitals rely heavily on Medicare funding to pay for these slots. In 1997, Congress imposed a cap on funding for medical residencies, which hospitals say has increasingly hurt their ability to expand the number of positions.
Medicare pays $9.1 billion a year to teaching hospitals, which goes toward resident salaries and direct teaching costs, as well as the higher operating costs associated with teaching hospitals, which tend to see the sickest and most costly patients.
Doctors' groups and medical schools had hoped that the new health-care law, passed in March, would increase the number of funded residency slots, but such a provision didn't make it into the final bill.
"It will probably take 10 years to even make a dent into the number of doctors that we need out there," said Atul Grover, the AAMC's chief advocacy officer.

Bushmeat Presents Latest Food Scare

Researchers Find Strains of a Virus Related to HIV in Illegal Imports of Primate Flesh, a Delicacy to Some Africans 


Bushmeat, often cured or smoked, has entered the U.S. through the mail and in shipping containers.
Smugglers also resort to packing smoked monkey or cane rat in personal suitcases. A fraction of the bushmeat coming into the New York City area is seized at the border by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and hundreds of samples from at least 14 species have been sent to be studied.
"We get these big boxes of meat," said Kristine Smith, a wildlife veterinarian who is conducting the study for the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Sometimes you see primate heads or hands in there."

Hallucinogens have Doctors Tuning In Again

What I find intriguing is the long lasting effect of these psychedelic interventions as discussed in the article itself..reminds me of what I envisioned when reading "Island," by Aldous Huxley...

Scientists are taking a new look at hallucinogens, which became taboo among regulators after enthusiasts like Timothy Leary promoted them in the 1960s with the slogan “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Now, using rigorous protocols and safeguards, scientists have won permission to study once again the drugs’ potential for treating mental problems and illuminating the nature of consciousness.

After taking the hallucinogen, Dr. Martin put on an eye mask and headphones, and lay on a couch listening to classical music as he contemplated the universe.

“All of a sudden, everything familiar started evaporating,” he recalled. “Imagine you fall off a boat out in the open ocean, and you turn around, and the boat is gone. And then the water’s gone. And then you’re gone.”

Today, more than a year later, Dr. Martin credits that six-hour experience with helping him overcome his depression and profoundly transforming his relationships with his daughter and friends. He ranks it among the most meaningful events of his life, which makes him a fairly typical member of a growing club of experimental subjects.
In interviews, Dr. Martin and other subjects described their egos and bodies vanishing as they felt part of some larger state of consciousness in which their personal worries and insecurities vanished. They found themselves reviewing past relationships with lovers and relatives with a new sense of empathy.
“It was a whole personality shift for me,” Dr. Martin said. “I wasn’t any longer attached to my performance and trying to control things. I could see that the really good things in life will happen if you just show up and share your natural enthusiasms with people. You have a feeling of attunement with other people.”
The subjects’ reports mirrored so closely the accounts of religious mystical experiences, Dr. Griffiths said, that it seems likely the human brain is wired to undergo these “unitive” experiences, perhaps because of some evolutionary advantage.

Are we all descended from a common female ancestor?

In 1987, a group of genet­icists published a surprising study in the journal Nature.­ The­ researchers examined the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) taken from 147 people across all of today's major racial groups. These researchers found that the lineage of all people alive today falls on one of two branches in humanity's family tree. One of these branches consists of nothing but African lineage, the other contains all other groups, including some African lineage.
­Even more impressive, the geneticists concluded that every person on Earth right now can trace his or her lineage back to a single common female ancestor who lived around 200,000 years ago. Because one entire branch of human lineage is of African origin and the other contains African lineage as well, the study's authors concluded Africa is the place where this woman lived. The scientists named this common female ancestor Mitochondrial Eve.

(via Guy Kawasaki)

Mindblowing asttronomical relativity

Most of us have an idea of the relative size of the planets and sun, 
but it's rather dazzling to see it presented this way.

(via Guy Kawasaki)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To appreciate, first acknowledge

“Sawu Bona” is a South African greeting which literally means, “I see you.” Its deeper meaning is “because you are there, I exist,” that “without each other, we literally do not exist.” Imagine what your workplace would be like if this acknowledgment was genuinely sent and received on a daily basis.

Appreciation is  a key ingredient for a thriving workplace, but one that is undervalued by many organizations. This is the conclusion from countless management experts and research projects. In “How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life,” Tom Rath and Donald Clifton said that the main reason most North Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. They also noted that 65% of Americans say they receive no recognition at work.

Work Smart: 3 Useful Things You Didn't Know Your Cameraphone Could Do

Having a camera built into your phone isn't a big deal anymore. But when you combine that camera with the rich software applications that run on devices like the iPhone and Android, you get lots of cool new ways to put your cameraphone to good use.

Cameraphones are becoming a form of digital photographic memory, helping you remember what level you parked on or the label on that fantastic bottle of wine. Now, with the right apps, you can also use your phone to scan barcodes and store them, and even translate and recognize text. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Young Superheroes in a Hut

Why is Africa poor?
Is it a legacy of colonial exploitation? Tropical diseases and parasites? Or is it that local mammals, like the zebra and the African elephant, were difficult to domesticate and harness in agriculture?
There’s truth in each of these explanations. But a visit to Zimbabwe highlights perhaps the main reason: bad governance. The tyrannical, incompetent and corrupt rule of Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has turned one of Africa’s most advanced countries into a shambles.

In a village less than a day’s drive from Victoria Falls, I stumbled across a hut that to me captured the country’s heartbreak — and also its resilience and hope. The only people living in the hut are five children, orphans from two families. The kids, ages 8 to 17, moved in together after their four parents died of AIDS and other causes.
The head of the household is the oldest boy, Abel, a gangly 10th grader with a perpetual grin. He has been in charge since he was 15.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Chinese Boy does Whitney Houston: "I will always love you";

Doctors and Patients, Lost in Paperwork

This article documents the metamorphosis of doctors into documenters, often to the detriment of both the patient and doctor, in the current health care environement in the U.S.

Paperwork, or documentation, takes up as much as a third of a physician’s workday; and for many practicing doctors, these administrative tasks have become increasingly intolerable, a source of deteriorating professional morale. Having become physicians in order to work with patients, doctors instead find themselves facing piles of charts and encounter and billing forms, as well as the innumerable bureaucratic permutations of dozens of health insurance companies.

The Claim: For Better Muscle Tone, Go Lighter and Repeat

For better tone, try fewer reps and more challenging weights.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

What's Life Like For the More Than 1 Billion in the World Who Are Hungry? One Woman Decided to Find Out for Herself

This is a very impressive and potentially rewarding journey upon which Ms. Pepper is embarking...

1.02 billion people in the world go hungry every day according to theFood and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. That’s 1,020,000,000 people.  I was tempted to round down and write 1 billion people in the world go hungry every day.  It dawned on me that I would be doing a monumental disservice to .02 billion people.  That’s 20,000,000 people.  Children.  Mothers.  Fathers. 20,000,000.  Slightly more than the entire population of Florida.  Ignoring that number would be like disregarding the entire state of Florida.  In some ways, it’s easier for me to focus on the 20,000,000 instead of the total 1.02 billion, because I cannot even conjure a picture in my head of 1.02 billion people.  I have no point of reference.
In honor of world hunger, I am going to engage in potentially curious behaviors.  I have decided that for the next 21 days I’m going to eat – to the best of my knowledge and ability – like those who are living with hunger. I think I’m most nervous about this Souljourn, because I know it will entail pangs.  If you recall, that scares me.  But again, I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to be starving or malnourished.  I know there is food available if my resolve breaks.  This is an intentional experiment thus creating the confounding factor that I will still likely never have the experience of knowing the real fear of real hunger.  For this, I am grateful.
Burden not yourself with the suffering of others.
Acknowledge not the presence of anguish in the world.
Ask not the truth.
Fear not the consequences of inaction.
Believe not in the worth of each hungry soul.
Give not of yourself for the common good.
Exist not in the presence of peace.
Want not.
Be Not.
See Not.
Do Not.
Why Not.

100 meters of existence

This is a very cool  100 meter long montage of 127 people shot in the same place over the course of 20 days...
It evokes the uniqueness of time, place, and societal connectivity with existential solitude in a unique way in my opinion
...similar to the  feeling I experienced when I first visited the Vietnam memorial in D.C.
Kudos to the creativity of the photographer..Simon Hoegsberg

(via photojojo)

New Studies Eat Into Diet Math

How many calories must a dieter cut to lose a pound?

The answer most dietitians have long provided is 3,500. But recent studies indicate that calories can't be converted into weight through a simple formula.

The result is that the 3,500-calorie rule of thumb gets things very wrong over the long term, and has led health analysts astray. Much bigger dietary changes are needed to gain or shed pounds than the formula suggests.

Consider the chocolate-chip-cookie fan who adds one 60-calorie cookie to his daily diet. By the old math, that cookie would add up to six pounds in a year, 60 pounds in a decade and hundreds of pounds in a lifetime.

But new research—based on studies of volunteers whose calorie consumption is observed in laboratory settings, rather than often-unreliable food diaries—suggests that the body's self-regulatory mechanisms tamp down the effects of changes in diet or behavior. If the new nutritional science is applied, the cookie fiend probably will see his weight gain approach six pounds, and then level off, pediatrician David Ludwig and nutrition scientist Martijn Katan wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this year. The same numbers, in reverse, apply to weight loss.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Atul Gawande on checklists

I am a huge fan of checklists. Here, Dr. Gawande, explains the rationale and benefits of checklists in medicine.

Red Wine Helps Cardiovascular Health, But Is It the Alcohol or Something Else?

Two studies show different results on the source of wine's heart health benefit.(..)
Previous studies suggest that red wine is responsible for improved blood flow, which helps keep the heart and the body in better health, but whether that's due to polyphenols or alcohol, or both, is still unclear. A study from the Research Laboratories at the Catholic University of Campobasso, Italy, claims the alcohol, not the antioxidants, helps prevent another heart attack or stroke.
"Our research highlights another crucial issue: Drinking has not only to be moderate, but also regular," said co-author and university epidemiologist Licia Iacoviello in a statement. "Moderate consumption spread along the week is positive. The same amount of weekly alcohol, concentrated in a couple of days, is definitely harmful."
A study conducted at the University of Surrey, England, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, suggests that alcohol may not be the only factor, however. A research team found that people who drank a kind of simulated wine—alcohol mixed with red grape juice—during mealtime showed several markers of improved cardiovascular health. Those who drank just water did not see the same levels of improved blood flow. Those who drank just grape juice saw slightly lower benefits.


Steven Ing takes on the response of the Catholic Church to the most recent allegations of sexual abuse and offers up some advice to the Pope here.

Hiromi_chou à la crème

If you haven't heard of the fabulous jazz pianist,Hiromi, you need to check this out!!

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