Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 14th, 2006

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Google Reader is a very nice free service that allows you to receive, in one spot, the new posts from various Web sites of interest to you: like Later On, for example. It’s similar to Bloglines, but has a better interface. Check it out.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2006 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Software, Technology

Omega-3 from wild salmon oil

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Farmed salmon are bad in various ways: salmon farms are hard on the environment, escaped salmon from farms destroy wild stocks, farmed salmon are lower in omega-3 than wild salmon and higher in fat, farmed salmon are dyed in order to get the right color, etc.

So if you’re taking fish oil for omega-3 (do a blog search on “omega” to read about omega-3 benefits), the best choice is wild salmon oil. I take 4 grams a day: 2 grams with breakfast, 2 with dinner. (That’s two 1,000 mg capsules = two 1 gram capsules—for some reason, they tend to give the nutritional analysis in mg.)

Here are a couple of brands: the one I use is Vital Choice: 19¢ a capsule if you buy one bottle (of 180 for $35) and 17¢ a capsule if you buy three (3 of the 180-capsule bottles for $90). The other brand that popped up in the search is Gold Seal: 17¢ a capsule if you buy one bottle (of 120 for $19.95). Shipping costs are not computed into the prices.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2006 at 2:36 pm

Smoke alarm with mother’s voice

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Interesting finding:

Children in deep sleep awoke to recordings of their mothers’ voices — calling them by name and ordering them out of their bedrooms — even if they slept through the beeping sound a smoke alarm makes, according to a small study.

The study reaffirms previous research that shows what works for adults doesn’t always work for children, said Dr. Gary Smith, one of the co-authors.

“Clearly, the strategy that has been tried and true and used for years … fails miserably for children,” said Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children’s Hospital.

The study of 24 children ages 6 to 12 found that 23 awoke to the recorded voice of their mother saying “(Child’s first name)! (Child’s first name)! Wake up! Get out of bed! Leave the room!” Fourteen of the children also awoke to the traditional tone alarm. One child didn’t wake up to either.

The children who woke up to the voice did so at a median time of 20 seconds, compared with three minutes for those who woke up to the tone, according to the study by Columbus Children’s Hospital researchers being released Monday in Pediatrics.

Both alarms were created using a large speaker and sounds measuring 100 decibels, about four times louder than levels used in standard home alarms, Smith said. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2006 at 1:40 pm

Amazing photos of Saturn and its rings

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Via Alert Reader, this wonderful and beautiful portfolio of photos taken when Cassini was in Saturn’s shadow, making the rings even more beautiful and revealing new details, including some new (very faint) rings.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2006 at 10:25 am

Posted in Science, Technology

“Junk science” vindicated

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At least in one case. I got into a somewhat intense discussion not long ago about smoking tobacco and the harm it does, including secondhand smoke. The other gentleman was quick to label the ill effects of secondhand smoke as “junk science” (meaning mostly, I think, that he didn’t agree with the conclusions, not that he had evaluated the actual studies and their methodology). Well, more information about that:

Pub workers in Scotland breathed easier and showed better respiratory health shortly after a nationwide ban on smoking inside public places went into effect earlier this year, scientists report.

Other research had suggested that worker health improves after a smoking ban, but this is the most comprehensive study to date, says pulmonologist Daniel Menzies of the University of Dundee.

He and his colleagues identified 90 nonsmoking workers at 41 randomly chosen bars in Dundee and Perth. The researchers met each participant 1 month before the ban on smoking began in late March. The volunteers submitted to breathing tests, blood sampling, and health interviews. The researchers repeated the exams 1 month and 2 months after the ban took effect.

Before the ban, 61 of the 90 bar workers reported wheezing, shortness of breath, eye irritation, a running nose, or more than one of these symptoms. One month after the ban took effect, only 41 had such symptoms, and that number decreased slightly more in the next month, the researchers report in the Oct. 11 Journal of the American Medical Association.

In a standard lung-function test in which a person forcibly blows into a tube, the bar workers could exhale more air by 1 month after the smoking ban than they could beforehand. The quick turnaround is notable because these people had worked at the pubs for 9 years on average, Menzies says.

Two other tests measured inflammation in the workers’ bodies. One analysis showed that the workers had, on average, fewer white blood cells in their bloodstreams 2 months after the ban took effect than they did before—a sign of reduced inflammation. Another test measured the workers’ breath for nitric oxide, a gas produced by inflammation in the lungs and airways. Workers in good health showed no change after the smoking ban. But bar workers with asthma showed a 20 percent drop in expelled nitric oxide by 1 month afterward.

Previous research had established that exposure to second-hand smoke increases certain health risks. “There’s really no doubt that public policies aimed at limiting passive smoke indoors can lead to improved health,” says Mark D. Eisner, a pulmonologist at the University of California, San Francisco. The new report shows that people with chronic airway diseases might benefit the most, he says.

Although some bar and restaurant owners oppose smoking restrictions, research shows that bans don’t cut into their profits, says health economist Matthew C. Farrelly of the nonprofit research group RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C. “There’s a trend [against smoking] in some states, and my guess is that trend will continue,” Farrelly says.

Eisner notes that Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Italy, and New Zealand, as well as Scotland, have banned smoking in workplaces, as have nine Canadian provinces, parts of Australia, and 11 U.S. states.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2006 at 10:14 am

Bush, true to his philosophy

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That philosophy being, of course, “What? Me worry?” From US News, via Alert Reader:

Some Republican strategists are increasingly upset with what they consider the overconfidence of President Bush and his senior advisers about the midterm elections November 7—a concern aggravated by the president’s news conference this week.

They aren’t even planning for if they lose,” says a GOP insider who informally counsels the West Wing. If Democrats win control of the House, as many analysts expect, Republicans predict that Bush’s final two years in office will be marked by multiple congressional investigations and gridlock.

“The Bush White House has had no relationship with Congress,” said a Bush ally. “Beyond the Democrats, wait till they see how the Republicans—the ones that survive—treat them if they lose next month.” GOP insiders are upset by Bush’s seeming inability to come up with new ideas or fresh approaches. There is even a heightened sensitivity to the way Bush talks about advisers who served his father.

At the president’s news conference on Wednesday, allies of his father complained that the president seemed dismissive of former Secretary of State James Baker, who remains close to his dad and is cochairman of a bipartisan panel studying the war in Iraq.

“I think it’s good to have some of our elder statesmen—I hate to call Baker an elder statesman—but to go over there and take a look, and to come back and make recommendations,” Bush said. Baker fans felt this made the former secretary seem part of a bygone era. There is also considerable criticism of Bush for making little or no news in his 63-minute encounter with the press.

“He had nothing to say at the press conference,” says a prominent GOP insider. “My question is, why call it?”

It sounds as though the scales are starting to fall from their eyes, and they’re beginning to realize that Bush will not look at the possibility that things might not go the way he wants (he’s Bush, the president, after all, and things had damn well better fall in line), he can’t take in new information, he really is not very smart in terms of generating creative ideas, and he is in fact not all that interested in governing, just in campaigning and being adored (hence the hand-picked audience of fervent fans).

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2006 at 9:54 am

More Kiva thoughts

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I received a very nice comment to my microloan post below, and that got me thinking about things Kiva might do to increase microloan activity and loaner satisfaction. For example, their site could include, in a section titled “Giving Ideas,” things like this:

The idea earlier suggested by The Eldest, using a microloan as a gift: “I just gave a gift of $100 in Kiva credit for a Bar Mitzvah boy. He can choose how to invest his $100, and after it is paid off, he can either take the money out and buy something for himself or he can reinvest it. Parents were pleased, kid thought it was cool. A very satisfying gift.”

Another idea: As a class project, a classroom raises money and makes a microloan: first step is planning and executing the money-raising project; then a discussion of the options for the loans, possibly with reports and presentations; then actually making the loan; and then following the progress of the entrepreneur, perhaps with letters sent to him/her from the class.

I can think of many classes, in elementary through secondary school, where this would be a wonderful project: fun, real-life, and educational. And the usual foes of educational innovation—social/economic conservatives—would likely embrace the project as supporting entrepreneurship, individual initiative, etc.

Kiva can publicize and support the idea by making available a “classroom packet” that includes (say) a map of a target country (selected by the teacher from a range of options at the time the packet is requested), a teacher guide that contains a list of possible money-raising projects and templates for the plans, discussion guides for the class, and a form the teacher can use at the end to evaluate the projects and the materials and make suggestions for improvements.

Of instead of maps, Kiva could use Google Earth to locate loan candidates and recipients: click on a candidate or recipient to see their location via Google Earth.

To start the effort by creating the initial packets of materials, Kiva could seek volunteers among social studies teachers (here and in target countries).

Further: the packet itself is a series of .PDF files on the Kiva website, easily downloaded by teachers and easily updated as the comments and suggestions come back in.

Another thought: A downloadable file—e.g., a Word or Excel file—with a template that helps an individual loaner build and track a portfolio of loans on a particular theme—loans for a particular type of business, for example, or for a particular country. This sort of thing activates the collecting instinct, so that the loaner will probably add more and more examples to his portfolio, to try to “complete” it in one way or another—e.g., a loan to each province ina country.

Probably you can think of other ways that Kiva could encourage more microloans. The comments section is now open.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2006 at 9:32 am

Olive oil: more health benefits found

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I use olive oil instead of butter on my morning oat groats, and it seems now that I’m doing something even better than I thought.

Olive oil is a cornerstone of Mediterranean diets, which are renowned for being good for the heart. Many nutritionists have attributed that benefit to the oil’s high proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids. However, a European study suggests that olive oil’s fatty acid makeup is only part of the story.

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THE OIL WITH MORE. New studies indicate that trace ingredients in olive oils may fight major chronic diseases.
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The study indicates that lightly processed olive oils—the virgin types common in Mediterranean diets—offer additional ingredients with a cardiovascular advantage: abundant antioxidants known as polyphenols.

When healthy men incorporated a virgin olive oil especially rich in these polyphenols into their diets, characteristics of their blood changed in many beneficial ways. Before eating polyphenol-rich oil, the men had consumed a diet low or devoid of the olive antioxidants.

María-Isabel Covas of the Municipal Institute for Medical Research in Barcelona and her colleagues report their findings in the Sept. 5 Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers conclude that olive oil “is more than a monounsaturated fat.” The new data are “evidence to recommend the use of polyphenol-rich olive oil—that is, virgin olive oil”—beyond the benefits provided by its fatty acids.

Nor is this the only newfound benefit from olive oil. Another European research team reported this month on a test-tube study showing that compounds in oil from the skin of olives trigger the death of human-cancer cells. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

14 October 2006 at 9:17 am

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