Later On

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

Archive for December 15th, 2006

Do you ever feel our drug laws are crazy?

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For example:

The Drug War Chronicle reports that pressure is building for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to commute the sentence of Tyrone Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison for smoking pot. In 1990, when he was 17, Brown took part in a $2 robbery in which the victim was not physically injured, a crime for which he received 10 years of probation. A few weeks later, he tested positive for marijuana, and the judge not only revoked his probation but inexplicably resentenced him to a life term. Now, after local and national media attention triggered by the November Coalition, Perry has been urged to commute Brown’s sentence not only by outraged citizens but by Dallas District Attorney Bill Hill, Sheriff Louie Valdez, and even the sentencing judge, Keith Dean, who is no longer in office.

In addition to the sheer insanity of the sentence, there’s a racial angle (which proved important in Perry’s decision to release the Tulia residents nabbed for allegedly selling cocaine to discredited undercover cop Tom Coleman): The Dallas Morning News contrasted Dean’s ridiculously harsh treatment of Brown, a poor black teenager, with the lenience he showed a wealthy white guy, John Alexander Wood, who received a 10-year suspended sentence for killing a prostitute. When Wood repeatedly tested positive for cocaine, Dean did not send him to jail, let alone give him a life sentence. Instead he arranged things so Wood didn’t have to take drug tests anymore.

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 8:07 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Most detailed photo of Crab Nebula

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Crab Nebula

Click twice to see full size. Photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Details here.

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Science

Stunning discovery is good news for diabetics

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It reminds me of the discovery that ulcers are almost always caused by bacteria, not stress. Look at this:

In a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body’s nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.

Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Dr. Michael Salter, a pain expert at the Hospital for Sick Children and one of the scientists. “Mice with diabetes suddenly didn’t have diabetes any more.”

The researchers caution they have yet to confirm their findings in people, but say they expect results from human studies within a year or so. Any treatment that may emerge to help at least some patients would likely be years away from hitting the market.

But the excitement of the team from Sick Kids, whose work is being published today in the journal Cell, is almost palpable.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dr. Hans Michael Dosch, an immunologist at the hospital and a leader of the studies. “In my career, this is unique.”

Their conclusions upset conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes, the most serious form of the illness that typically first appears in childhood, was solely caused by auto-immune responses — the body’s immune system turning on itself.

They also conclude that there are far more similarities than previously thought between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and that nerves likely play a role in other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and Crohn’s disease.

The “paradigm-changing” study opens “a novel, exciting door to address one of the diseases with large societal impact,” said Dr. Christian Stohler, a leading U.S. pain specialist and dean of dentistry at the University of Maryland, who has reviewed the work.

“The treatment and diagnosis of neuropathic diseases is poised to take a dramatic leap forward because of the impressive research.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 4:40 pm

Obesity and diabetes

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Obesity is defined as a Body-Mass Index of 30 or greater. (You can compute your BMI here. A BMI calculator is also built into the Fitday program.)

Here’s a collection of Nature articles about obesity and diabetes. Contents:

Obesity and diabetes
Mechanisms linking obesity to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
Adipocytes as regulators of energy balance and glucose homeostasis
Gut hormones and the regulation of energy homeostasis
Inflammation and metabolic disorders
Sirtuins as potential targets for metabolic syndrome
Mechanisms linking obesity with cardiovascular disease
Abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

Running full-tilt down memory lane

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Running from the revenge of the toys: the ten worst toys of all time. (Guarantee: at least 5 times you’ll say to yourself, “What were they thinking?”) I bet you can guess no. 1.

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Daily life

Good back advice

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From a reader in the Netherlands:

Lie flat on your back on the floor with your knees bent & your feet also flat on the floor, hands clasped behind your head. You might want to put a blanket or something on the floor if it’s hard.

Gently flatten your back against the floor. When the tension has gone, keep your shoulders flat on the floor & gently, keeping your knees together, try to move them together all the way to the right & then to the left. As you do so, turn your head in the opposite direction.

Again, flat on your back with knees drawn up & feet on the floor, pull first one knee up to your chest, then lower it, & repeat with the other leg. Ten times, each leg. When you lower your leg, it should go back to the original position: foot flat on the floor. Stretching your legs all the way straight out is not a good idea; don’t do it. Now pull both knees up to your chest & hold them their for 10 or so seconds; repeat, after putting feet back on the floor for 10 seconds, 5 times.

Cross your arms over your chest & then raise your head & shoulders as far up as you can. Repeat 10 times to start with. As you gain strength, you can up the count.

Now with hands clasped behind your head, raise your knees, legs still bent, as high as you can & lower them gently. Repeat 10 times to begin with. Again, the legs are bent & the feet go flat on the floor.

Finish off by moving your knees together to the side as close to the floor as you can, with shoulders flat on the floor & head turned in the other direction.

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Daily life

Kitty yawns

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I like it when Megs gives such a big yawn her ears touch behind her head.

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Cats, Megs

Seven-hour leg of lamb

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I have to say that this recipe (PDF file) sounds terrific. Note that the actual work involved in less than an hour—most of the time the lamb quietly cooks in the oven at low heat. And, with the young lamb you buy in a store, it will cook only five or six hours.

Think of a snowy weekend day when you are staying home, reading quietly and smelling the increasingly appetizing aromas from the kitchen…

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 9:18 am

A couple of personal notes

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My back hurts. I’ve never in my life had back problems, but now… I had the first bad back spasm after taking my old 27″ TV (traditional tube) to the dump: I had to carry it in the trunk of the car (leaning forward to put it in and take it out, thinking at the time, “This is not good for my back.”). Since then, I’ve had back spasms off and on, and this morning, after really having done nothing with my back and still it hurts, I decided it must be the old foam mattress. So today I go mattress shopping, more or less as an emergency.

Also, though I’m scheduled to weigh tomorrow, I sneaked onto the scales this morning—I’ve gained two pounds. I knew that 2500 calories-per-day figure was wrong. Checking my old Fitday file, I see that I had tailored my daily calorie target to 1,777. That makes more sense. I’ll cut it back to that and next week should be better.

I do note that it’s hard to squeeze fat down to an appropriate percentage of calories, but last night’s meal turned out well and had little fat: a 1-lb bag of mixed Southern greens (mustard, turnip, collards, and spinach—spinach really should be kale, IMHO) from TJ’s and a chopped chicken breast, well peppered, cooked in chicken stock for 15 minutes, then some elbow macaroni added and cooked 15 minutes more. I initially tried 2 oz of macaroni (in doing the Fitday planning), but that wasn’t enough carb, so went with 3 oz. It was really tasty. The second bowl I had with some non-fat cottage cheese (trying to increase calcium intake).

So some setbacks. OTOH, I shaved using the D.R. Harris Almond shaving cream and the Simpson Harvard 3 brush. Really great lather. I ended up sort of playing with the lather on my face. 🙂 I used the Futur, and you get a great sound from it: distinct notes as stubble is cut.

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 8:16 am

Posted in Daily life

CC has kittens

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CC—Copy Cat—was the first cloned cat. Now she’s a mom. The kittens’ dad is a gray tabby. Three kittens: two girls and a boy. Very cute—well, they’re kittens.

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 7:19 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life

Megs & her catnip banana

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Gabe and Lapis sent Megs a little Christmas present which she, impatient girl, has already opened: a catnip banana, the best of all treats.

Megs and banana Megs with banan Megs and string Megs with toys

Here you see her rolling about with the banana, getting distracted by the fish’s string, and finally sitting happily among her toys.

Stella had a little catnip pillow that she was very fond of—smelling it and drooling on it. Stella was affectionate toward all her toys. Her little leather mouse was carried tenderly here and there, and she would hug her sisal fish. She also had a little round compartment with a small entrance, the idea being that she could lie comfortably hidden in the compartment and peek out through the entrance. The Wife, though, noticed that Stella was sitting for long periods outside the compartment, with her head stuck in through the hole—sort of the opposite of what one would expect. Still, Stella seemed happy enough, just sitting there. Then Louise was observed doing the same thing: sitting outside the compartment, her head stuck inside. Finally The Wife investigated. The little catnip pillow was just inside the compartment, apparently now serving as a big bong.

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2006 at 6:41 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

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