Later On

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

Archive for October 28th, 2006

Another reason to avoid type 2 diabetes

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You can’t have stuff like this:

In January 1970, The Times published a recipe for brandy Alexander pie. It was an unassuming confection: a graham-cracker crust filled with a wobbly, creamy mousse and enough alcohol to raise the hair on your neck and then make your neck wobbly too. Later that year, Craig Claiborne, then the food editor, declared it one of the paper’s three most-requested dessert recipes (the other two were cheesecake and pots-de-creme) and ran it again. By rights, this should have been the recipe’s swan song.

But thanks to Dick Taeuber, a Maryland statistician, the pie lived on. Taeuber discovered that you could use a simple formula to make the pie in the flavor of almost any cocktail you wanted (3 eggs to 1 cup cream to 1/2 cup liquor). Among the ones he came up with were the Fifth Avenue (apricot brandy and brown creme de cacao), the Shady Lady (coffee-flavored brandy and triple sec) and Taeuber’s favorite, the Pink Squirrel (made with creme de almond and white creme de cacao). Each pie had a corresponding crust made with graham crackers, gingersnaps or chocolate cookies. Taeuber sent Claiborne a letter including 10 variations on the pie. By the time Claiborne responded and said he wanted to run his recipes, Taeuber was up to 20. In 1975, Claiborne renamed it Dick Taeuber’s cordial pie and published it once more, this time with all 20 variations in a chart.

Calling it a cordial pie doesn’t quite capture its punch or proof. Booze pie would be more fitting. It’s not the kind of thing you want to serve for a children’s birthday party.

”I kept going, and in 1978, I think, it was up to 50 variations,” said Taeuber, now 73 and retired. ”I mailed Craig a copy just for information. He put a note in his food column that I had copies available if anybody wanted to send me a quarter and a self-addressed envelope. The quarter was so I could pay for the postage. Everyone sent a quarter and a stamp.” The note came out on a Monday. By Friday, Taeuber had 1,200 requests.

And then the pie went into a 28-year hibernation. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Daily life, Recipes

Wow! What a nice shape!

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Take a look at this. (I think The Son in particular will be interested.)

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 7:33 pm

Posted in Art, Science

Radiation disaster waiting to happen

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In the US. And known about for decades:

Spontaneous combustion is not high on most people’s list of worries, but when it happens to materials at one of the world’s oldest and largest storage centres for weapons-grade uranium, it is a different matter.

On 22 September, the plastic wrapping around some uranium at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, burst into flames as a technician was removing it inside a glovebox. Exposed to air, the uranium had heated up and ignited the plastic.

The fire took place in a large wooden warehouse built in 1944 to help the Manhattan Project, set up to develop nuclear weapons. The warehouse is one of the facility’s main stores for its 400 tonnes of highly enriched uranium, and is now officially rated as a fire hazard, according to an assessment in 1996 by the US Department of Energy (DoE).

In this case the incident was contained, but a major fire would have catastrophic consequences. The DoE says a fire could result in uranium containers breaking open and releasing their contents in a plume of toxic, radioactive smoke. About 700,000 people live within a 160-kilometre radius of Y-12, including 174,000 in Knoxville 25 km away and 28,000 in Oak Ridge itself. In the worst case, the DoE estimates that the local population could receive radiation doses of up to 900 millisieverts, enough to cause nausea, hair loss and in some cases death. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 5:38 pm

Ecstasy as Parkinson’s treatment?

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From New Scientist:

It could be a rave result for people with Parkinson’s. It seems that ecstasy boosts the number of dopamine-producing cells in the brain – the type that decline in those with the disease. Or so rat studies suggest.

Previous human studies have suggested that ecstasy is bad for the brain because it damages serotonin signalling neurons, which play a role in memory. When Jack Lipton of the University of Cincinnati and his colleagues gave pregnant rats the drug they found no signs of damage in newborn pups.

Instead, they saw a threefold rise in the number of dopamine producing cells. These cells were also more highly branched and developed than normal, suggesting they functioned better.

Similarly, when cultured embryonic dopamine cells were exposed to ecstasy, roughly three times as many cells survived. The effect didn’t vary much with increasing concentration, although particularly high doses did kill the brain cells.

Lipton believes that ecstasy prevents the programmed cell death that normally occurs when neurons are stressed, as happens in certain degenerative diseases including Parkinson’s, and in cell cultures.

Lipton suggests that some promising new ecstasy-like drugs might one day be used to boost dopamine-producing cells in people with Parkinson’s – without damaging other neurons in the brain. The work was presented at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Atlanta, Georgia, last week.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Health, Medical, Science

Wallace’s dream state

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No, not asleep: the state still known as the Cheese State (though California may have already surpassed it in total cheese production). But Wisconsin glories in artisanal cheeses:

If you still think of Wisconsin as the state that churns out all that bland, industrially produced cheddar and mozzarella, you’re not up on your cheeseology. In the last decade the Dairy State has become home to dozens of small producers whose innovative, handmade cheeses are racking up prestigious awards and wowing cheesemongers around the country.

Recently, Murray’s Cheese Shop, one of New York’s premier purveyors, offered a class on Wisconsin specialty cheeses that featured seven selections. It could easily have included many more. “I could knock your socks off with a great [Wisconsin] cheese every day for a solid month,” says Steve Jenkins, head cheese buyer at Fairway Market, a gourmet grocer in New York. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Adopt a pine—a Wollemi pine

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You can buy a Wollemi pine [4 July 2013: Link is now dead, presumably because the offer expired. Still if you search for it you may find a source of seedlings. – LG]. Above is the surviving tiny forest of the trees:

Exclusively from National Geographic, this survivor from the age of the dinosaurs is one of the greatest living fossils discovered in the 20th century. The Wollemi pine is one of the world’s oldest and rarest tree species, belonging to a 200-million-year-old plant family thought to have been extinct for more than two million years. Previously known only from fossil records, it was presumed extinct until a single tree was found in the Wollemi National Park, Australia, in 1994. Subsequent research discovered 100 adult trees that have survived in a single canyon in this wild and rugged area.

You can assist in the conservation effort and enjoy the unique opportunity to ensure the continued survival of this rare species by giving the tree as a gift or growing your own. Suitable for indoor container gardening or as a landscape tree in certain areas of the U.S. Comes with a care manual with the full story about the discovery and fascinating history of the Wollemi pine. Comes in a brilliant red container and will be approximately 10”H when shipped. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these plants will fund ongoing conservation research.

Order information is found at the link above, along with a link to a .PDF file of growing instructions. The one you get will, of course, be just a baby:

Wollemi pine baby

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

NYC shaving sites

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Not the Paul Molé shop shown here, but rather the best stores selling shaving equipment and supplies. Thanks to Gordon, aka bernards66, we have the answer:

Pasteur’s is your best bet in terms of price. They are competitive with the best internet sources, on that score. Their selection of top shelf shave goods is quite extensive (Trumper’s, D R Harris, T&H, Taylor’s, and Coate’s). Also aftershaves like Skin Food and Harris’s Milk, and some colognes. The 61st Street and Lexington Ave. store also has Simpson brushes at VERY good prices, but the selection is limited.

That said, every serious traditional shaver owes it to himself to visit Cambridge Chemists at 21 East 65th Street. The most extensive selection of top shelf shave goods and gentlemen’s toiletries in North America. They have the largest selection of shave brushes, almost all of which are Simpson’s and Rooney’s; including unusual models of Simpsons, as well as the beautiful Rooney Finest model true Whites. Their brushes are usually branded ‘John Bull’, as has been their practice for a very long time. Ask for Scott, and tell him I sent you. Their prices are not the lowest, but the store is a must visit..

If you’d like to check out some Plisson brushes, the place is Clyde’s on Madison, in the low 70s. One of the two shops in America that stock any number of these top shelf brushes. Even if you have no intention of buying, it’s worth a look.

If you’re interested in the top of the line Omega badger brushes, Boyd’s at 968 3rd Avenue at 58th Street, has quite a selection.

Happy shopping!

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

DST comment

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From the WaPo: “Winter is on its way and so our days will start, and end, earlier.”

That seems totally wrong to me. Tomorrow, clocks will be set back one hour: what was 7:00 a.m. becomes, after the time change, 6:00 a.m. So we sleep an hour later.

Isn’t it correct to write: “Winter is on its way and so our days will start, and end, later”? For example, quitting time will be later in the day—after dark…

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 10:58 am

Posted in Daily life

News flash for Mocha-Java fans

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QED tells me: “MJ will be back in stock in about 10 days … E V E R Y B O D Y  wants a stick … Special 218 is Spruce, Blue Tansy, Frankincense … and 9 other EO’s.  A fresh outdoorsy scent … one of my personal favorites.”

My advice: when you order your Mocha-Java shaving stick, also order a tub of Special 218.

A word to the wise shaver.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 10:50 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Megs again

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Megs moving gingerly

I tend to have stacks, and cats are hard on stacks, which they flatten into tessalations—sloppy tessalations, true, but still… It seems better that way, to them. Megs is atop the stack on top of the filing cabinet, pondering how to flatten it.

But, haha, I have the organizing duo scheduled for this very room next week. No more stacks. The organizing duo are just amazing: the rooms they tackle become spotless and neat, and then I have a sort of Easter recreation of looking for where they have put things. (I still haven’t found my two sleep masks—two, because someone (I blame Megs, of course) pushed one under my chair cushion and after it was missing for a few weeks, I bought another.)

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 10:32 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

TinyMenu does work (if you know what you’re doing)

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Webmasterbyname explains the trick. See comment at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 10:25 am

Posted in Firefox, Software

Israeli weapons used in Lebanon

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Very interesting article:

Did Israel use a secret new uranium-based weapon in southern Lebanon this summer in the 34-day assault that cost more than 1,300 Lebanese lives, most of them civilians?

We know that the Israelis used American “bunker-buster” bombs on Hizbollah’s Beirut headquarters. We know that they drenched southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese civilians every week. And we now know – after it first categorically denied using such munitions – that the Israeli army also used phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor the United States have signed.

But scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel’s weapons inventory – and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed “elevated radiation signatures”. Both have been forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry – used by the Ministry of Defence – which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples.

Dr Busby’s initial report states that there are two possible reasons for the contamination. “The first is that the weapon was some novel small experimental nuclear fission device or other experimental weapon (eg, a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium oxidation flash … The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium rather than depleted uranium.” A photograph of the explosion of the first bomb shows large clouds of black smoke that might result from burning uranium.

Enriched uranium is produced from natural uranium ore and is used as fuel for nuclear reactors. A waste productof the enrichment process is depleted uranium, it is an extremely hard metal used in anti-tank missiles for penetrating armour. Depleted uranium is less radioactive than natural uranium, which is less radioactive than enriched uranium.

Israel has a poor reputation for telling the truth about its use of weapons in Lebanon. In 1982, it denied using phosphorous munitions on civilian areas – until journalists discovered dying and dead civilians whose wounds caught fire when exposed to air.

I saw two dead babies who, when taken from a mortuary drawer in West Beirut during the Israeli siege of the city, suddenly burst back into flames. Israel officially denied using phosphorous again in Lebanon during the summer – except for “marking” targets – even after civilians were photographed in Lebanese hospitals with burn wounds consistent with phosphorous munitions.

Then on Sunday, Israel suddenly admitted that it had not been telling the truth. Jacob Edery, the Israeli minister in charge of government-parliament relations, confirmed that phosphorous shells were used in direct attacks against Hizbollah, adding that “according to international law, the use of phosphorous munitions is authorised and the (Israeli) army keeps to the rules of international norms”. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 9:07 am

A good comment on the GOP negative ads

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It’s hard to find someone in the regular press acknowledging the grotesque lies and distortions carried in the GOP smear ads, much less acknowledging that this tactic is limited to the GOP. Billmon has a good comment:

The corporate media have finally noticed that a very large, very rabid skunk is busy spraying its caustic stink all over the 2006 election campaign. Some journalists, like the Washington Post‘s Michael Grunwald, are even acknowledging — oh-so-gently — that the varmint has a name:

While negative campaigning is a tradition in American politics, this year’s version in many races has an eccentric shade, filled with allegations of moral bankruptcy and sexual perversion . . The result has been a carnival of ugly, especially on the GOP side, where operatives are trying to counter what polls show is a hostile political environment by casting opponents as fatally flawed characters.

It’s an improvement, at least, over the spin being put on the story at ABC News, where Mark Halperin is taking his promise to keep conservatives happy this November literally, and blaming the Democrats for ads they haven’t run yet.

But no one in the corporate media, to my knowledge, have even come close to putting an accurate lead on the story — which would look something like this:

Faced with the likely loss of one if not both houses of Congress, the Republican Party has embarked on a massive, last-ditch effort to smear Democratic challengers in competitive districts across the country.The resulting campaign has completely demolished whatever minor restraints remained on the use of lies and distortions in political attack ads, and has pushed the already debased American political process to a new low.

A “straight” journalist couldn’t possibly write a lead like that and expect to get it past his/her editor — even though the Republicans themselves revealed their intentions quite clearly some weeks ago:

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.Opposition research is power,” said Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (N.Y.), the NRCC chairman. “Opposition research is the key to defining untested opponents.”

The only fresh “news” is that the resulting ads are even fouler and more despicable than any the Rovian machine has unleashed in the past — to the point where some of them would probably have made Joseph Goebbels himself blush. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 9:00 am

Another reason not to be fat: cancer

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Being fat not only contributes to becoming a type 2 diabetic, but it also increases the odds that you would lose in a fight with cancer:

Fatty tissue secretes substances that make it harder for the body to battle cancer, a study in mice suggests.

Previous studies showed that obese people have excess risk of getting cancers such as those of the breast and colon. However, obesity changes many aspects of a person’s overall health, so scientists aren’t sure what facet of obesity is responsible for the increased cancer risk.

Several years ago, Allan Conney of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., and his colleagues noticed that when lab mice were exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light and then given caffeine or encouraged to exercise regularly on a running wheel, they were less likely to get skin cancer than were UV–exposed mice that didn’t receive these interventions. Since both caffeine and exercise decreased the animals’ body fat, the researchers wondered whether fat itself might be the deciding factor in cancer susceptibility.

In a new experiment, Conney’s team separated mice into two groups. Only one group of animals was placed in cages with exercise wheels.

After 2 weeks, all the animals were similar weights, but those in the running group had significantly more muscle and less body fat than the non-exercisers did.

After researchers exposed the animals’ skin to UV light, lab tests showed that the light-damaged cells in the runners were twice as likely to die as were cells in the non-exercisers. This cell death stopped the majority of damaged cells from developing into tumors.

Working with some mice that had formed tumors, Conney’s team found a similar effect: Tumor cells in exercisers were more likely to die spontaneously than were tumor cells in sedentary mice.

To make sure that these effects weren’t purely due to physical activity, the researchers surgically removed a layer of fat from the bellies of some non-exercising mice, and then exposed them and other non-exercisers to UV. Twice as many UV–damaged cells and tumor cells died in the surgically lean animals as in the animals that had retained the fat. The team reports its findings online Oct. 23 and in an upcoming Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Conney and his colleagues suggest that body fat might be leaching some substance that keeps damaged and cancerous cells alive. “Fat secretes a lot of different substances—it’s not an inert tissue,” says Conney.

Jens Bülow, who studies obesity at Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen, finds the researchers’ speculation plausible. He notes that if further studies can track down the cancer-supporting substance, researchers might be able to develop drugs to block its action.

In the meantime, Bülow advises cancer patients not to try to lose weight. “It’s weight loss induced by cancer that often kills these patients,” he says.

Interesting: once you have cancer, it’s too late to lose the fat.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2006 at 7:44 am

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