May 31, 2013

Happy Friday

"I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I am not able to appreciate."

One thing everyone appreciates is having a Happy Friday!

May 35th

May 35 is next week. That date is used by some people in China to refer to June 4, which is the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on student protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Other names include the Tiananmen Square massacre or the June Fourth Incident. Variations of the date June 4 are periodically banned from internet postings and search engines within China. "The 35th of May, or Conrad's Ride to the South Seas" is also the title of a 1931 novel.

Gregorian Calendar Exception

Most of the world uses the Gregorian Calendar. We are currently in the year 2013. Even China also follows this calendar, although it also celebrates its own New year.

North Korea uses the names of months we are familiar with, but the calendar year one begins in 1912 rather than two thousand years ago. That year, 1912 was the birth of former North Korea despot Kim Il-sung (grandfather of Kim Jong-un). Three years after Kim Il-sung’s death, the nation promulgated the new Juche calendar after the state’s official ideology of the same name.

It is a government allusion to the idea of Kim Il-sung as god. When Kim Il-sung died, his son and successor, Kim Jong-il redid the calendar to imply that his father was divine. In September 1998, the North Korean constitution deemed Kim Il-sung the “Eternal President of the Republic.” Nice to have a family tradition that changes the calendar for an entire nation.


When asked about his future prospect of communication satellites in 1961, US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Tunis Craven claimed, “There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States.” This was eventually proven false, when a communication satellite named Syncom 3 successfully transmitted communication signals from Japan to the United States three years later, during the 1964 Olympics.

Ostriches Bury Their Heads Myth Debunked

This is one of those myths that is accepted as fact without question. People generally believe this is something the birds do when danger is near.

Ostriches do run if they feel that danger is approaching, but they also have a powerful kick to defend themselves. Ostriches may hold their heads low in an attempt to be harder to see, but they do not actually bury their heads.

Global Warming, Global Cooling

It appears to me that long term climatologists may be suffering from the same afflictions as local weather celebrities, "It may be warmer tomorrow unless it gets cooler".

Attached is an interesting article from 1975 decrying the various governments for not getting ready for the impending global cooling. The chart is interesting because it is markedly different from global warming charts for the same period. Change the word 'cooling' to 'warming' and we have the same dystopian rhetoric used in any number of articles from recent years. . . until this year.

Seems some may be changing their minds again. Here is an April 2013 article from Forbes. LINK

Debunking the Eight Glasses of Water Myth

Drinking eight glasses of water a day is believed by about three fourths of adults with no reliable clinical evidence to support it.

One study on this myth was conducted in 2002 by Heinz Valtin, a Dartmouth Medical School physician and kidney specialist, who researched the subject. He believed that the statement supporting the eight glasses belief is taken from the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council. It grossly misrepresented  the facts by removing facts from the original context. The sentence that followed it stated, “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods,” which was left out and led to the false interpretation that the requirement needed to be fulfilled by drinking water alone.

After 45 years of studying the biological system that keeps the water in our bodies in balance, Valtin concluded that drinking such large amounts of water is not needed at all. He pointed out a number of published experiments that attest to the capability of the human body for maintaining proper water balance from sources other than directly drinking water which may include drinks such as tea, coffee, and soft drinks, as well as prepared foods.

Most foods have some water content. For example, apples: 85%, bean sprouts: 92%, boiled chicken: 71%, raw cucumbers: 96%, lettuce: 96%, potatoes: 85%, roast turkey: 62%, etc.

The bottom line is that the body lets us know when we need more water by making us feel thirsty. People who have specific health concerns, such as kidney stones or urinary tract infections require drinking large amounts of water. Other reasons for drinking water, such as before meals to curb an appetite is its own benefit.

Further scientific evidence also debunks the myth that by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. A number of scientific studies have confirmed there is no support for this. Thirst hits long before we are near risk for dehydration and most folks thirst mechanism kicks in when the osmolality of the blood plasma is less than 2%, and dehydration begins at osmolalities of 5% and higher. I'll drink to that.

Memory Tricks

Have you ever wondered if you closed the garage door, or turned off the stove. How about putting out food for your pet, or watering the plants. Aging reduces these mundane acts far to the back of our consciousnesses. If these niggling things bother you from time to time, try clapping. When you close the door or other mundane activity, clap your hands. Alternatively, you can say it out loud, "I closed the garage door."

Sounds silly, but your mind will file those actions away much more prominently than the act itself. When you doubt whether you turned off the stove, your mind will rapidly remember you said it out loud or clapping.

Here is another mind trick for those times you go into another room to find or do something, only to discover you forgot why you are there. Going through the doorway is like passing through a barrier and it changes your thought process. When you decide to go to another room to retrieve an item, say it out loud, "I am going to the kitchen to get some potato chips". Of course, that is one activity that I would never forget, but you get the idea.

Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose

Glucose, fructose and sucrose are three types of sugar. Sugar production has been around for a few thousand years.  In 2011, worldwide production of table sugar was about 168 million tons.

Glucose, also known as dextrose, is the most common sugar. It is rarely found in food in its single molecular form, but is found as a building block for more complex carbohydrates. Foods containing glucose include: bread, pasta, cereals, rice, most fruits and vegetables, dairy products, maple syrup, pancake mixes, commercial salad dressings, and spices, and all foods containing sugar. Brain cells show a marked preference for glucose.

Fructose is the sugar that sweetens fruits, and it is also naturally present in some vegetables. One of the major differences between fructose and glucose is that cells require insulin to take up glucose from the bloodstream, but fructose is absorbed directly without insulin.  Fructose a healthier choice for individuals with diabetes than glucose or sucrose. Foods rich in fructose include, agave, apricots, blueberries, figs, dates, grapes, honey, and raisins.

Sucrose is made up of two smaller sugar units, glucose and fructose. Sucrose is the type of sugar you use in your kitchen and in cooking. It is usually derived from either sugar cane or sugar beets. An apple contains both fructose and glucose. Sucrose is digested into glucose and fructose before it enters the bloodstream.

Glucose, fructose, and sucrose contain identical amounts of energy. Each provides four calories per gram.  Glucose and fructose units are absorbed across the intestinal wall by active transit into the portal vein. They are then transported to the liver where they are converted to energy units. When reading food labels, sucrose can be listed as sugar, glucose can appear as dextrose, and fructose as corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup.

Bottom line - Cells require a constant supply of energy to keep running. Glucose and fructose have identical chemical formulas. Glucose and fructose can be burned for immediate energy or stored as body fat. It is not important where sugar comes from. Too little and your body is deprived of much needed nutrients, too much and your body stores sugars as fat. There is a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity, but no proven causation. Headlines about soda and obesity are mostly non-scientific mumbo jumbo designed to titillate, but not educate.

Navigating Charities

Before giving your hard earned money to charity, look it up at this site. LINK  I just chose the alphabetic page at random for a starting point. You can look up your favorite charity alphabetically or type in the name to see interesting facts and figures, such as officers, amount going to the cause, amount going to fund raising, etc. It also has many school and church fundraising efforts.

You can also use GreatNonprofit LINK to look up personal reviews of various charities.

I looked up St. Mark's School in Dallas and noticed its headmaster's salary was surprisingly high. Also checked SPCA and was stunned at the bad news about the non-profit organization. These sites are great for your personal caveat emptor.

May 24, 2013

Happy Friday

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is power.

I always have the intelligence, strength, wisdom and power to have a Happy Friday!

Wordology, Feriation

The act of observing a holiday and cessation from work is called feriation. Since Memorial Day is almost here, I want to share my feriation with each of you.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday which occurs every year on the final Monday of May. It is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the US Armed Forces. Originally, it was known as Decoration Day to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Now it has been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.


Taps is widely played on Memorial Day and this music is a variation of an earlier bugle call known as the Scott Tattoo, which was used in the US from 1835 until 1860 and was arranged in its present form by Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield a Medal of Honor recipient. His bugler, Oliver Wilcox Norton, was the first to sound the new call. It was officially recognized by the United States Army in 1874.

The first notes in any bugle call tells the troops in a particular command to pay attention to it, and then tells them what to do, such as to go forward, stop and lie down, or, in this case to go to sleep. Taps also concludes many military funerals. Taps is played here LINK.

The term 'Taps' originates from the Dutch term taptoe, meaning close the beer taps and send the troops back to camp.

"Military tattoo" comes from the same origin. The original meaning of military tattoo was a military drum performance, but subsequently came to mean army displays. Drummers were sent out into the towns at 9:30PM each evening to inform the soldiers that it was time to return to barracks. Tattoo, tap-too, and taptoo are derived from the Dutch taptoe and have the same meaning.

Taps Lyrics

Many do not know, but there are words to Taps, written by Horace Lorenzo Trim:
 Day is done, gone the sun
 From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
 All is well, safely rest
 God is nigh.
 Fading light dims the sight
 And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
 From afar, drawing near
 Falls the night.
 Thanks and praise for our days
 Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
 As we go, this we know
 God is nigh.

Il Silenzio

('The Silence' in English) is an Italian pop music instrumental piece written in 1965 by Nini Rosso and Guglielmo Brezza, its melody is an extension of the Italian Cavalry bugle call used by the Russian composer Tchaikovsky to open his Capriccio Italien. It is often mistaken for Taps. This version by a thirteen year old is likely to bring tears. LINK

May 22, 2013

Fugitive Glue

If you ever received a credit card, it was likely stuck to a piece of paper with some icky glue that you can rub off. The name of the glue is Fugitive Glue.

It is a low tack adhesive, which means that it is easy to remove. It leaves a minimal residue on the paper and card. The glue is used for marketing materials, as well as for mailing credit cards. The beauty is that fugitive glue tends to lose most of it's stickiness after the first application and cannot be reused. Hmmm, interesting name for credit card use.

Morton Salt Facts

Difficult to imagine a barbecue without some salt for the ribs, burgers, and fries. Also difficult to think of Morton's Salt without thinking of the umbrella girl (when it rains it pours).

During the 1880s, Joy Morton invested in a Chicago-based salt company. Salt was big business in those days, largely fueled by the demand of the explorers and pioneers who were settling the American West. Salt is a critical component of any diet and throughout history has been critical to various types of food preservation.

Salt is hygroscopic, which causes it to absorb water from the air around it. When water is absorbed, the salt tends to clump. Morton's solved this problem in 1911 by adding an anti-caking agent, magnesium carbonate, to its product. It also put the salt in a cylindrical package to aid in keeping water out.

Morton hired an advertising agency to put together a marketing campaign to promote the anti-caking properties of his salt. The ad team came up with a long list of marketing plans. Morton’s son chose the umbrella-wielding girl, accidentally pouring salt in the rain. The illustration epitomized wholesomeness, innocence and the value of Morton salt to pour easily, even if you are standing in the rain.

The additional ingredients did help, but salt still tended to clump and people put a few grains of rice in salt shakers to absorb moisture. Salt producers often add trace amounts of iodine to salt to prevent iodine deficiency, or folic acid to reduce anemia, both of which are a serious problem around the world. Today there are more than a half dozen common additives to reduce clumping, reduce health defects, and add flavors. About 17% of all salt production is used for food. The bulk of the rest is used in manufacturing, dyeing, and in soaps and detergents.

Judas Iscariot is depicted knocking over a jar of salt in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting The Last Supper. Spilled salt was considered a bad omen and still is for some people.


Many people put out flags for Memorial Day and many organizations play the national anthem, but did you ever wonder why men take off their hats for the song?

The origins are the same as the origins of the tradition of saluting. Knights, wearing helmets that covered their heads, would typically lift their visors to show their faces to their monarchs and others as a sign of friendliness and respect.

The traditions of using ones right hand for taking off the hat, saluting, and shaking hands also come from this. Most people are right handed and so, if your right hand is exposed and busy, it can’t contain a weapon.

It is the law in the United States for men to take their hat off during the national anthem and hold it over their heart, except those in the military typically, because the hat is a part of the military uniform. There is no penalty for failure to comply.

Old  records of etiquette state that women must be allowed to keep their hats on because when a woman takes off her hat, her hair and possibly more of her flesh will be exposed. This will cause the men around to think lustful thoughts and thus they will be unable to focus on contemplations of patriotism or in church, unable to fully give their attentions to learning about God. I doff my hat to etiquette.

Ken Olsen Computer Quote

In 1977, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) president, chairman, and founder Ken Olsen issued his statement against computers saying–“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Today, nearly every home has a computer in it, and one can only imagine how difficult life would turn out to be without computers and the internet, both for students and employees, individuals, and families.

May 17, 2013

Happy Friday

The most dramatic conflicts are perhaps, those that take place not between men but between a man and himself.

There is never a conflict with having a Happy Friday!

New Use for Windex

Windex is a great tool to kill ants around the house and keep things clean at the same time. It only kills the active ants and is not a permanent solution, for that spread some cornmeal so they will take it back to the nest and kill the queen. It may take a few days to a week, but is a permanent solution. Sprinkle the cornmeal liberally around the house to keep those critters away.

How Some Measurements Were Named

Can You Fathom a Bushel and a Peck? Fathom is derived from the Old English word faeom or the Old Saxon word fathmos, meaning the length of the outstretched arms. It was eventually standardized to the length of two yards. Although international nautical charts have converted to meters, the United States still measures depth with fathoms.

Bushel comes from the old French words boissel and boisseau and is a measure of dry goods equal to about eight gallons (or four pecks). Today, it is most commonly used to measure things by their weight, and that weight varies depending on the commodity measured. Typical goods sold by the bushel and their weights include oats (32lb), corn (56lb), wheat (60lb), and soybeans (60lb).

Peck is likely derived from the Old French, pek or picot, and is also a measure of dry goods or commodities. Some retailers, farmers at markets and roadside stands still sell fruits and vegetables by the peck. A peck is equal to about two gallons.

A cord is traced back to the 1600s when wood was sold in bundles tied with a cord. Today, a cord of firewood must take up 128 cubic feet, traditionally in a stack 8′ x 4′ x 4′. The size of a cord of wood is typically regulated, either by a state or national government.

Knot comes from the word of the same spelling meaning intertwined ropes. To measure speed, a long rope had knots tied regularly, about every 50 feet, and a log tied to the end. The log was dropped into the water and a sandglass upended at the same time to time how many knots per time unit. Eventually, the speed of one knot became standardized at one nautical mile (6076 feet vs. land mile 5,280 feet) per hour.

Mach (pronounced mock) was named after Ernst Mach in 1937. Mach numbers represent the ratio of the speed of an object moving through a fluid, gas, or atmosphere and the local speed of sound. When space shuttles re-entered the atmosphere, they initially traveled at a speed greater than Mach 25.

An inch was originally the width of a man’s thumb at the base of the nail. After 1066, 1 inch was equal to 3 barleycorn, dry and round, placed end to end, lengthwise.

A foot was the length of a human foot. A yard was the distance from the tip of the nose to that of the middle finger on an outstretched arm.

One thousand paces of a Roman Legion was a mile. A furlong was originally the length of one furrow in a common field, a bit over 200 feet long. In the 9th century, it was standardized to be the same as a Roman stadium, one eighth of a Roman mile.

Glowing Flowers

There is a project to create glowing plants using synthetic biology and Genome Compiler's software. The project says it is the first step in creating sustainable natural lighting.


This is a kickstarter project where people donate money in hopes of seeing the project succeed commercially. Backers who back the project with $40 or more receive seeds to grow a glowing plant at home and can expect around 50-100 small seeds. Backers who back the project with $150 will get a glowing rose as well when it's completed.


Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative projects, such as Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater. Kickstarter is full of projects, big and small, that are brought to life through the direct support of people who donate money.

Since 2009, more than 4 million people have pledged over $612 million, funding more than 41,000 creative projects. Here is a link showing some highly funded projects. LINK  It is a great way to get in on the development of new things. You may have read or heard about the Pebble watch that connects with smartphones, it was started as a Kickstarter project and has received over ten million dollars so far.

There are a number of projects for 3D printers, but one project that interests me is a pen that can draw in 3D. As you draw in the air, the output instantly dries.

Sadism and Masochism

These words were named after their first practitioners, Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade (Marquis de Sade) and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Their sexual conduct so shocked the world that their names became synonymous with their activities. "It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure." Marquis de Sade

Sade was well known for his morally unrestrained sexuality. He was accused of a number of sexual crimes like imprisoning a prostitute and poisoning another one. He wrote erotic works describing his practices.

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was a writer renowned for his romantic stories. He had a thing for dominating women in furs and once entered i a contract with a women to become her slave for 6 months, with the stipulation that she wear furs as often as possible, especially when she was in a cruel mood. “A slap in the face is more effective than ten lectures. It makes you understand very quickly.” Leopold von Sacher-Masoch,

The terms were first selected as professional scientific terminology, identifying human behavioral phenomena and intended for the classification of distinct psychological illnesses and/or malicious social and sexual orientations.

German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing introduced the terms "Sadism" and "Masochism"' into institutional medical terminology in his work Neue Forschungen auf dem Gebiet der Psychopathia sexualis ("New research in the area of Psychopathology of Sex") in 1890.

The term "Sadomasochism" has been loosely used to refer to the entire umbrella of BDSM. This is not entirely accurate as BDSM is a shorthand for the three main subdivisions of the culture: B&D (bondage and discipline), D (dominance and submission) and S&M (sadism and masochism).

Google Earth Time Lapse

Amazing The first time lapse is for Las Vegas 1984 - 2012. Interesting to see the size reduction of the lake on the right. You can type any place in the world you choose and watch the changes.  LINK 

May 14, 2013

More About Laughter

Every time someone laughs around us, our brains must interpret what it means. As German scientists have discovered, it is more complex than we thought.

A joyful belly laugh is interpreted by the brain in a completely different way from a scornful titter or the giggle from someone being tickled, a group of scientists from Tübingen in south west Germany have found.

In experiments designed to help patients with chronic anxiety disorders, they found that positive non-verbal communication, such as a joyful laugh was processed by a different part of the brain from a negative, scornful snicker.

Laughing is one of the oldest forms of non-verbal communication and is also seen in rats and apes. It could be key to helping patients with psychiatric disorders, who often are unable to correctly interpret non-verbal communication.

Humans have developed several different forms of laughter, each of which can have a complex series of meanings and intentions behind them. “Laughing is a very strong signal in social interaction. If you are laughed at with joy you feel accepted. If you are the victim of scornful laughter, you feel shut out of the group,“ said Dr. Dirk Wildgruber.

In their experiments, Wildgruber and his team played various types of recorded laughter and measured how the sounds were interpreted in the brain. They found that giggles generated when someone is being tickled stimulates areas of the brain responsible for interpreting complex acoustic signals. Happy or scornful laughter, on the other hand, stimulates completely separate brain regions usually tasked with guessing the intentions of others. From there, the laughter kick-starts connections with different parts of the brain depending on the tone - negative or positive.

The next step will be to look into how people with psychological disturbances react to different laughter signals to find out which areas of the brain could be artificially stimulated to help them, said Wildgruber.

Robot Builds Furniture

MIT has built a robot that can assemble IKEA furniture without human intervention. It can assemble flat-pack IKEA furniture all by itself. It has a specialized gripper hand that can grab the pieces and screw them together.

Humans feed the robot a design file that describes the product, such as how many pieces, what do they look like, where the screw holes are, etc. The robots do not need to be instructed how to assemble it. From knowing what the parts look like, the software can decipher how something needs to be put together.

Smart Diapers

Huggies has invented a plastic device called TweetPee that fits on diapers, senses moisture, and texts your smart phone when your baby has peed. Hmmm, this might be carrying things a bit too far.

Interesting Internet Tidbits

According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, more information now crosses the Internet every second than the entire Internet stored 20 years ago. It says, every hour Wal-Mart Stores Inc. collects 50 million filing cabinets' worth of information from its dealings with customers.

Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, process data, and run applications, rather than a local device. The services usually charge monthly fees.

Microsoft has unveiled a system that can translate what you say into Mandarin and play it back in your voice.

The Google Now personal assistant can tell you if there's a traffic jam on your regular route home and suggest an alternative.

Apple's Siri can reschedule an appointment.

IBM's Watson supercomputer can field an awkwardly worded question, figure out what you are trying to ask, and retrieve the answer for you.

May 10, 2013

Happy Friday

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Everyone is beautiful if they are having a Happy Friday!

Happy Nurses Week May 6 to 12

Nurses make it better

Humpty Dumpty

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “humpty dumpty” was first used in the 17th century and referred to brandy boiled with ale. In the 1700s, it was also a term used to describe a short, clumsy person. It has also been a nickname attributed to someone who has had too much alcohol, as in brandy boiled in ale.

The nursery rhyme is neither a bottle of alcohol nor a person, it is most likely that the nursery rhyme was intended as a riddle. The answer to the riddle is an egg. Something that, if it rolled off a wall, could not be mended by any number of people. Today, the answer is so well known that the character of Humpty Dumpty is an egg and the rhyme is not considered to be a riddle at all, but a story.

Techno love

You can actually buy this on Amazon. It is a USB powered fridge small enough to cool one canned beverage.

Greenland and Australia

Australia is a continent and also the largest island. Greenland is the second largest island, but not a continent.

There are several accepted factors that classify continents. These factors include tectonic independence from other continents, unique flora and fauna, cultural uniqueness, and local belief in continental status.

Australia rests on its own tectonic plate called the Australian Plate. It has its own unique flora and fauna, with native animals unlike any others in the world. Its inhabitants consider themselves to live on both an island and a continent.

Greenland rests on the North American tectonic plate along with Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It has a number of unique species of plants, but its animals, like reindeer, polar bears, and arctic foxes, can also be found elsewhere. Greenland has its own culture, but considered part of the larger North American arctic culture. Its inhabitants consider themselves islanders.

Australia is part of Britain’s Commonwealth and Greenland is officially part of Denmark.

Australia is about 3 million square miles and the sixth largest country in the world. Greenland is about 834 thousand square miles and the twelfth largest country in the world.

Eighty percent of Greenland is covered by ice. Eighteen percent of Australia is covered by deserts.

84% of Greenlanders live in urban areas and 89% of Australians live in urban areas.
Greenland's one major city is its capital, Nuuk. Inhabitants of both live mostly along the coast.

Greenland’s population is 89% Inuit and 11% Danish and Australia’s population is 92% white, 7% Asian, and 1% Aboriginal.

There are almost 6 migrants leaving Greenland per 1000 people. In Australia, there are almost 6 migrants entering the country per 1000 people.

Fingers Have No Muscles

Each finger consists of three bones called phalanges.  Tendons generally connect muscle to bone, and ligaments generally connect bone to bone. The tendons that control the bones in fingers are attached to seventeen muscles in the palm of the hand and eighteen in the forearm. Some are very small and help control each individual finger.

When rock climbers and others exercise, they are actually strengthening the muscles in hands and forearms, not fingers. The average grip strength for men ages 20 to 75 is 104.3 pounds for the right hand and 93.1 pounds for the left. Women averaged 62.8 pounds and 53.9 pounds respectively.

Several studies have shown that it is easier to handle wet objects when you have wrinkled fingers vs. smooth ones. Wrinkling skin in water is caused by constriction of blood vessels. If you sever the nerve to a specific part of your finger, that part will never again wrinkle when wet.  Now you have a handle on how fingers work.

May 7, 2013

Gene Therapy Virus

In 2012 the European union authorized UniQure to use Glybera gene therapy for commercial use. The medicine sends a virus into your body, containing the correct genetic code. The therapy, developed by UniQure uses a virus to infect muscle cells with a working copy of the gene. Once the virus infects muscle cells, the correct code overwrites the bad DNA.

Glybera is used to treat lipoprotein lipase deficiency. One in a million people have damaged copies of a gene which is essential for breaking down fats. It means fat builds up in the blood leading to abdominal pain and life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas, pancreatitis.

A few years ago, three academic groups showed that AAV2, another adeno-associated virus, can correct a rare form of inherited blindness, by targeting a certain cell type within the retina.

Russia's Caucasus

The area was recently in the news due to the Boston bombers. One interesting tidbit is that the area is responsible for people being called Caucasian.

It all began in the late 1700s when German anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach divided Homo sapiens into five distinct 'varieties' based on their physical characteristics. There was the Mongolian or yellow variety, the red American variety, the brown Malayan variety, the black Ethiopian variety, and the white Caucasian variety.

Caucasians are some or all of the populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia/Middle East, Asia Minor, and Central Asia. The name stems from the Caucasus Mountain Range, where the people who most resembled his definition came from. He did not specifically say they were just white. He described the characteristics as Color white, cheeks rosy, hair brown or chestnut-colored, head subglobular, face oval straight, its parts moderately defined, forehead smooth, nose narrow slightly hooked, and mouth small.

The term 'Caucasian race' was coined by German philosopher Christoph Meiners in 1785. In Meiners' racial classification, there were only two racial divisions, Caucasians and Mongolians.

Currently Caucasian lacks any real scientific meaning, but is commonly used, especially on TV cop shows, as a blanket term, for white/European people. Caucasoid is the new term anthropologists use.

The US court, in Ozawa v. United States declared skin color was irrelevant in determining whether or not a person could be classified as "white" and instead emphasized ancestry. The United States National Library of Medicine discontinued using Caucasian in favor of the geographical term "European", which traditionally only applied to a subset of Caucasoids.

Bottom line - the terms used for race, 'variety', ethnicity, and other characteristics of humans is not currently universally agreed to. I tend to agree with Shakespeare view, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

Poor Americans

In American today, those classified as poor*:
99% have electricity, flushing toilets and refrigerator
95% have a television
88% have mobile phones
70% have car and air conditioning
*from TiE Entrepreneurial Summit 2012


This is a figure of speech similar to garden-path sentences in that both feature a sort of linguistic “twist” partway through. Paraprosdokians differ, though, in that the grammar is not usually confusing; rather, the end of the sentence ends up being surprising or disorienting. Henny Youngman’s famous line “Take my wife - please!” is a prime example of a sentence whose final word ramps up the tension of the previous phrase, and provides unexpected humor to the listener.

Comedians use Paraprosdokians all the time as a means of keeping an audience off-guard. A few more examples:
“I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.” (Groucho Marx)
Your argument is sound, lots of sound.
“I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too long.” (Mitch Hedberg)
"I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat." (Will Rogers)
“If I’m reading this graph correctly, I’d be surprised.” (Stephen Colbert)
“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing . . . after they have tried everything else.” (Winston Churchill)

May 3, 2013

Happy Friday

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”  Marilyn Monroe

I plan to have an absolutely ridiculously fabulous Happy Friday!

How Fingerprints are Formed

By the 17th week of pregnancy, the fingerprints of a fetus are set. The uniqueness of fingerprints has been recognized and studied scientifically for two centuries, but researchers have not been able to explain exactly how they form. A new theoretical computer model describes how the patterns are likely created, beginning in the 10th week of gestation, when a fetus is about 3 inches (80 mm) long.

Researchers at the University of Arizona found that creation of the patterns involves stresses in a sandwiched sheet of skin called the basal layer. In a fetus, the basal layer grows faster than surrounding layers, the outer epidermis and the inner dermis. The basal layer buckles and folds in several directions, forcing complex shapes. Stresses are created at skin boundaries, including fingernails and knuckle creases, as well as around shrinking fingertip pads.

The fingerprint pattern is coded underneath the skin surface, does not change as we age, and the pattern cannot be destroyed by superficial skin injuries.

General characteristics of fingerprints can be inherited, so family members do tend have similar, but still unique fingerprint patterns. Even Siamese twins and identical twins have varying fingerprints.

Fingerprints are impressions made by the ridges on the ends of the fingers and thumbs. These ridges provide friction, or traction, when we grasp objects so that those objects do not slip through our fingers. Fingerprints are on the fingers and palms, but not on any other places of the skin. Scientists also believe that they may enhance our sense of touch.

Koalas have ridges on their fingers which create fingerprints very much like those of human beings.


CANON is a synonym for ORDINANCE, and CANNON is a synonym for ORDNANCE.

Performing the Valsalva Maneuver

It is the act of exhaling forcibly while keeping the respiratory tract closed. You might have performed the Valsalva maneuver the last time you flew; it is easily done by pinching your nose shut, sealing your lips, and trying sharply to blow the air out of your lungs. This process builds pressure in various parts of the body, including the abdomen, which is why you might also engage in a version of the Valsalva maneuver on the toilet. The technique provides relief from the blocking sensation caused by high external air pressures in an aircraft cabin.

The Valsalva maneuver is a diagnostic tool for detecting certain kinds of cardiac abnormalities, as it changes venous and arterial pressure in ways that reliably affect the intensity of various heart murmurs. In some cases, it is also a medical intervention; it often halts episodes of tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate).

Named after the 18th-century Italian anatomist Antonio Maria Valsalva, who offered the first formal description of the maneuver.