Later On

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

Archive for December 16th, 2007

Intriguing treatment for addiction

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Including, apparently, addiction to gambling. Wonder what it does for acquisition of shaving equipment—or handbags.

University of Minnesota researchers have discovered that a common amino acid, sold as a natural immune-system booster at health food stores, may help curb pathological gamblers’ addiction.

In a recent eight-week trial, 27 people were given increasing doses of the amino acid N-acetyl cysteine, which has an impact on the chemical glutamate—often associated with reward in the brain. At the end of the trial, 60 percent of the participants reported fewer urges to gamble. The research will be published in the September 15 issue of Biological Psychiatry.

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Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 8:11 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Sunday evening wrapup

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A few changes in the column of info at the right. I finally understand the use of different pages and was able to put some info there: readily accessible, but not in your face.

And Within Your Means has now had more than 13,000 downloads. I’m hoping it will give people a good start in the new year.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 6:31 pm

Posted in Daily life

Diabetics: watch those postmeal blood glucose levels

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Especially during the holiday season with its typical offerings of diabetic-unfriendly foods. The problem:

New research led by the University of Warwick’s Medical School says that people with diabetes need to pay attention to the dangers of a neglected post meal peak in blood glucose. Indeed the research shows that this post meal peak can do even more damage than a more sustained rise in blood sugar.

Until recently, the main focus of therapy for people with diabetes has been on lowering blood sugar or glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, with a strong emphasis on fasting plasma glucose. People with diabetes are now extremely proficient at maintaining the best overall blood glucose levels. However this new study shows that that is insufficient in itself to obtain optimal glycaemic control.

The research report entitled “Guideline for management of Postmeal Glucose” was carried out for The International Diabetes Federation by an international panel of diabetes specialists chaired by Professor Antonio Ceriello of Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick.

The Warwick Medical School researchers looked at a range of studies that examined in particular the two hour post meal peak in blood sugars and found a substantial body of evidence that reducing postmeal plasma glucose is as important, perhaps even more important for achieving overall optimum HbA1c levels.

Postmeal plasma glucose levels seldom rise above 7.8 mmol/l (minimoles per litre) in people with normal glucose tolerance and typically return to normal levels two to three hours after food ingestion. Therefore it would be best to ensure that the two-hour postmeal plasma glucose levels in people with diabetes should also not exceed 7.8 mmol/l as long as hypoglycaemia is avoided.

However the Warwick Medical School researchers found a number of studies in which this was not the case. In one cross-sectional study of 443 individuals with type 2 diabetes, 71% of those studied had a mean two hour post meal plasma glucose of greater then 14 mmol/l. Another study looking at daily plasma glucose profiles from 3,284 people with non-insulin-treated type 2 diabetes showed that post meal plasma glucose values of greater than 8.9 mmol (160 mg/dl) were recorded at least once in 84% of those studied.

The researchers also found a number of studies that suggested that the intensity of these post meal blood sugar peaks (and the obvious increased variability they bring to people’s glucose levels) can sometimes do even more damage than sustained high blood sugar levels.

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Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

Happiness vs. relationships, money

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Interesting:

A new study carried out by Oishi, Diener and Diener (2007) who have analysed an impressive amount of data. Thousands of people in almost 100 countries answered questions about their happiness, income levels and relationships over decades of their lives.

To give you an idea of where the data came from, in one dataset freshman students were asked how cheerful they were at the start of their courses. Nineteen years later they reported their income. Other similar datasets were obtained in Australia, Germany and the UK.

Across all the studies, the data revealed two very interesting findings:

1. Happiness and income
Overall, higher levels of income and education were associated with higher levels of happiness, but with one important exception. At the highest levels of happiness, educational attainment and income started to decrease.

In fact the relationship between achievement and happiness is curvilinear – the graph looks like a hill with the peak at about ‘7’ or ‘8’ on a scale of 1 to 10 where ‘1’ is very dissatisfied and ’10’ is very satisfied. Up around 10, where people report the highest levels of satisfaction, their income and education have significantly dropped compared to those who peg it at 7 or 8.

This could mean that, above a certain point, having more income undermines happiness—or it might mean that people who are extremely happy tend to be satisfied with their jobs, while those who are not so happy strive for more in the hopes that it will make them happier.

2. Happiness and relationships
There’s a subtly different story for satisfaction with relationships. Instead of seeing a curve there is a straight line. So the happier we are, the more likely we are to be satisfied with our relationships. Those scoring a ’10’ on the happiness scale are also the most satisfied with their relationships.

And the causation could go either way—or be mutually reinforcing.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 11:57 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Nice design: thumb calendar

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The thumb calendar is called that because you cover with your thumbs the irrelevant columns: a one-year calendar that fits on a business card (both sides) that you can readily read. See it here, and check back for PDF.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 11:48 am

Posted in Daily life

And more perversions of our country

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The Bush Administration gained complete partisan control of the Department of Justice, and now it’s working to get control of military lawyers. In this new country all must conform to the dictates of the party. Those who do not will be punished. It’s happening now. You’re a witness to your country’s destruction. Authoritarianism reigns.

The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House’s policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.

The administration has proposed a regulation requiring “coordination” with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate General corps – the military’s 4,000-member uniformed legal force – can be promoted.

A Pentagon spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the reasoning behind the proposed regulations. But the requirement of coordination – which many former JAGs say would give the administration veto power over any JAG promotion or appointment – is consistent with past administration efforts to impose greater control over the military lawyers.

The former JAG officers say the regulation would end the uniformed lawyers’ role as a check-and-balance on presidential power, because politically appointed lawyers could block the promotion of JAGs who they believe would speak up if they think a White House policy is illegal.

Retired Major General Thomas Romig, the Army’s top JAG from 2001 to 2005, called the proposal an attempt “to control the military JAGs” by sending a message that if they want to be promoted, they should be “team players” who “bow to their political masters on legal advice.”

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Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 11:24 am

Why do the alarms not sound?

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It’s eerie how readily the mainstream media, the beltway pundits, the leaders of both political parties, and big business have accepted the transition of the US into a society whose citizens are under constant government surveillance. I suppose we’ll have to wait until more citizens are disappeared before people start vociferously to object (too late) to what the country has become. Greenwald spells out clearly the issue, and his column today is so important I’m posting the whole thing here.

The Lawless Surveillance State

There are several vital points raised by the new revelations in The New York Times that “the N.S.A.’s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before” and includes both pre-9/11 efforts to tap without warrants into the nation’s domestic communications network as well as the collection of vast telephone records of American citizens in the name of the War on Drugs. The Executive Branch and the largest telecommunications companies work in virtually complete secrecy — with no oversight and no notion of legal limits — to spy on Americans, on our own soil, at will.

More than anything else, what these revelations highlight — yet again — is that the U.S. has become precisely the kind of surveillance state that we were always told was the hallmark of tyrannical societies, with literally no limits on the government’s ability or willingness to spy on its own citizens and to maintain vast dossiers on those activities. The vast bulk of those on whom the Government spies have never been accused, let alone convicted, of having done anything wrong. One can dismiss those observations as hyperbole if one likes — people want to believe that their own government is basically benevolent and “tyranny” is something that happens somewhere else — but publicly available facts simply compel the conclusion that, by definition, we live in a lawless surveillance state, and most of our political officials are indifferent to, if not supportive of, that development.

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Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 11:19 am

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum

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I came across a reference to this museum while reading Paul Krugman’s The Conscience of a Liberal. It sounds worth a visit.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 11:10 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Education

TED talk by Murray Gell-Mann

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Murray Gell-Mann won a Nobel prize for the quarks, even though they are quite small. Here he gives a TED talk on beauty and truth in physics.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 11:07 am

Posted in Science

Nifty idea for power strip

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A surge-protector/power strip that cuts current to the switched outlets once the device plugged into the control outlet is turned off: for example, plug your computer into the control outlet, and the printer and monitor into switched outlets. (Turn on the computer, and they get current again.) Four outlets are always on, and thus are not switched off from the control outlet.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 11:03 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Very nice teapots

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Is it time for tea? Look at these cool teapots from YiXing.com.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 10:46 am

Posted in Caffeine

12 days a new way

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Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 10:43 am

Posted in Music, Video

Mundanities

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My Sunbeam Hot Shot—a pint of boiling hot water in less than 2 minutes—is dying: the “on” switch grows daily more reluctant to click on. While I have a certain amount of empathy, still… it’s only 18 months old. I asked The Wife if it could really be time to replace it, and she said, “How much was it?” $20 “How much do you use it?” Twice a day, every day. “Yes.”

Still: it should last longer than that, right? If Sunbeam had specified the 3¢ switch part instead of the 1.5¢ switch part, it would probably last for 50 years, the skunks.

I finished Season 4 of The Wire. This was another good season but it seemed sketchier to me, as if it were trying to juggle too many stories. And way too many loose ends for my taste.

Mark Bittman has several different cookbooks with the same title (always a bad idea, IMHO), differing only in the subtitle: (1) Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Meals, (2) Simple Recipes for Great Food, (3) The Basics, (4) Quick Cooking, (5) Easy Weekend Cooking, (6) Holiday Cooking, (7) 55 Recipe Cards, (8) Calendar, (9) Vegetarian Cooking [not the same book as (1)], and (10) Bittman Takes on America’s Chefs. Ten books with the same title—bad idea, since people generally don’t remember the subtitle. Moreover the title is, of all things, How to Cook Everything. How can you have more than one book with that title? As I note in Cooking Compendium, it reminds me of the cartoon sailboat whose name, painted on the transom, was Never Again II.

Written by Leisureguy

16 December 2007 at 10:14 am

Posted in Daily life

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