Later On

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

Archive for August 10th, 2008

Obesity: another contributing factor

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Again, it’s not so simple as some would have it. The finding:

A study of 228 women has revealed genetic variants responsible for body shape. Based on work in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, research published today in the open access journal BMC Genetics identifies natural variation in the human LAMA5 gene as a key determinant of weight. As the prevalence of obesity and related health problems continues to increase worldwide, there is considerable effort being devoted to identify genetic mechanisms that control fat storage. Maria De Luca led a team from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA, who identified candidate genes using different strains of Drosophila.

On the basis of the results of these fly experiments, the research team then tested three common variations in the human LAMA5 gene and discovered two gene variants that were associated with body shape, one in women of European American descent and the other affecting women of American African descent. As De Luca reports, “We found one variant to be associated with weight and lean mass in both ethnic groups. This variant was also associated with height, total fat mass and HDL-cholesterol, but only in European American women. A different variant was associated with triglyceride levels and HDL-cholesterol in African American women.”

The use of flies in a study of human obesity may seem strange, but according to De Luca “Insects store fat like mammals do, as lipid droplets accumulated in the fat body, the functional equivalent of both mammalian liver and white adipose tissue”. She adds that, “Drosophila share many components of fat biosynthesis, degradation and regulation with humans, including many of those implicated in diabetes and obesity”.

Source: BioMed Central

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

How To Make Sushi Rice

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "How To Make Sushi Rice", posted with vodpod

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Daily life

What’s happening to police departments?

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You have read about the SWAT raid on a mayor’s home that included shooting his two Labrador retrievers. And you say the video of the policeman knocking the guy off his bike. The Rodney King video is famous. And now this summary of additional events, which includes another video.

Is it that many policeman have become more aggressive? Or is it that cameras are more ubiquitous and the Web allows stories to be reported beyond the local and national mainstream media? Or both? Or what?

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 12:21 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

Weird magic sand

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Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

When politicians “lie”

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Interesting point about the very restricted area in which the mainstream media allows itself to say that a politician is “lying”:

… We just heard Brian Williams on NBC news ask, “Why did John Edwards lie?” Fair question. But what really jumped out at us was the fact that Brian Williams and the rest of the MSM (mainstream media) rarely accuse prominent politicians of “lying” when sex isn’t the issue. Sure, Bill Clinton “lied” about his affair, but the word seems to be verboten when talking about whether or not he misled workers when pushing for NAFTA or other questions of actual policy. We get awkward constructions like, “Bush may have led the nation to war based upon false intelligence estimates,” or “Some question McCain’s assertion that Obama refused to visit the troops because cameras wouldn’t be allowed,” when “lie” would clearly be the best word for these occasions. Why can’t we call a lie a lie — even, or especially, when it’s not about sex?

Back to Brian’s question, “Why did he lie?” Obviously, he lied because he knew the truth would sink his political ambitions. But why would it sink his political ambitions? Because he lied. Does anyone else notice the snake-eating-its-own-tail nature of this reasoning? What if a politician’s private life were private? Assuming no laws are being broken and no shameless hypocrisy is being enacted (like secretly gay politicians working hard to prevent gay people from having the right to marry [we’re talking to you, Senator Craig], or smarmy morality enforcers secretly dressing up in diapers with prostitutes [talking to you, Senator Vitter]), why, precisely is this our business? If a politician has a live-and-let-live approach to the private matters of private individuals, why shouldn’t they benefit from the same discretion? A character issue? Hmm. Seems to us, hypocrites passing laws that restrict other’s rights have character issues worth public discussion. Adulterers who don’t poke their noses into other people’s sex lives generally aren’t worth talking about in the public arena. The gay community seems to have settled on a policy of not outing secretly gay politicians unless they are actively working against gay rights. We’re in favor of adopting this same policy for heterosexuals. Politicians who respect our privacy deserve to have their own. Those who don’t, don’t. …

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 12:08 pm

Huh! More complicated than “eat less, exercise more”

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Who knew? So many people have convinced themselves that weight loss is trivial: small portions of food, larger portions of exercise. And yet we have findings like this:

Controlling body weight is a complicated process, as any frustrated dieter might attest. But as scientists continue to investigate the brain’s intricate neurocircuitry and its role in maintaining energy balance, they are forming a clearer picture of the myriad events that lead to weight gain and weight loss. In the August 10 on-line issue of Nature Neuroscience, a study led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) identifies another piece of this complex puzzle, demonstrating that the neurotransmitter GABA –one of the master communicators among neurons – plays a role in controlling energy balance.

“Body weight maintenance is made up of three basic stages,” explains the paper’s senior author Bradford Lowell, MD, PhD, an investigator in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at BIDMC whose laboratory is working to identify the specific neurocircuits responsible for controlling food intake and/or energy through functional neuroanatomical mapping studies.

“In the first stage, the brain receives sensory input from the body [including information provided by circulating hormones such as leptin and ghrelin and from fuels such as glucose and fatty acids],” says Lowell, who is also a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

In the second stage, he adds, the brain integrates this sensory information with cues it has received from the environment (such as aromas and other enticements) along with information gathered from the organism’s emotional state. Then, in the final stage, the brain’s neurocircuitry takes over, enabling the brain to make appropriate alterations in food intake and energy expenditure in order to maintain energy balance – and prevent weight gain and obesity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 11:58 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

My old stand-by Poor Man’s Caviar

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From the Time-Life cookbook series Russian Cooking, with minor changes (e.g., not using a separate mixing bowl at one point).

Poor Man’s Caviar (Baklazhannaia Ikra)

To make about 3 cups

1 large eggplant (about two pounds)
1 cup finely chopped onions and scallions
6 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Added at end: 2-3 Tbs lemon juice

Serve with dark rye or pumpernickel bread or sesame seed crackers

Preheat oven to 425º. Bake the eggplant on a rack in the center of the oven for about an hour, turning it over once or twice until it is soft and ts skin is charred and blistered.

Meanwhile, cook the onions in 4 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat for 6 to 8 minutes until they are soft but not brown. Stir in the green pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes longer.

Remove the skin from the baked eggplant with a small, sharp knife, then chop the eggplant pulp finely, almost to a purée. Add it to the sauté pan with the onion mixture and stir in the tomatoes, sugar, salt, and a few grindings of black pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil to the sauté pan and cook over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then turn the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for an hour.

Remove the cover and cook an additional half hour, stirring from time to time, until all the moisture in the pan has evaporated and the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape in a spoon.

Stir in 2 Tbs of lemon juice and taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to serve.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 10:51 am

Extremely strange: marriage in Massachusetts in good shape

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It’s hard to believe, but the institution of marriage in Massachusetts is NOT crumbling due to allowing gay marriage. In fact, there are more marriages than before, and Massachusetts continues to have the lowest rate of divorce in the nation. Could it be that gay marriage is GOOD for the institution of marriage?

Heartwarming story here. It begins:

When Michele Frost and Mary Helen Walker enrolled their 3-year-old daughter, Shea, in preschool, it required a change in the school application form. But it was no big deal: Officials simply substituted the words “mother” and “father” with “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.”

When they got their marriage license, city employees behind the counter were more interested in the child than they were in questioning the two lesbians about their relationship.

“We have been greeted so warmly,” said Frost, 42, who moved three years ago from Chicago to Quincy, Mass., just south of Boston. “We’ve just had a great experience.”

Nearly five years after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, the vitriolic battle that brought international attention and apocalyptic fears to Massachusetts is all but dead. Since the first marriages on May 17, 2004, more than 11,000 couples have tied the knot. They’re busy mowing lawns and hauling kids to soccer practice, and the sky has not fallen.

Polls have shown consistent public support for gay couples. And with overwhelming support for gay marriage in the state legislature — the last effort to put it on the ballot failed 151-45 — the opposition has, for the most part, packed its bags and gone home.

“The biggest surprise about the whole thing is that there really has been no surprise,” Republican state Rep. Paul Loscocco said. “It’s been fairly much a nonevent.”

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 9:45 am

Posted in Daily life

The future of the Web

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Very interesting set of videos setting out one vision of how the Web will work in the future.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 9:37 am

US policy on Native Americans

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The Bureau of Indian Affairs has a long and ugly history. Ostensibly to support Native Americans, it has mainly worked to cheat and oppress them. Current status here.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 9:36 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

US policy in the Korean War

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As a matter of policy, the US fired on South Korean refugees in the Korean War, with several civilian massacres as a result. More here. The Army just lies and lies and lies.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 9:30 am

Conference on Timaeus

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I blogged in passing the Platonic dialogue Timaeus, and now, through this post, I discover a 2007 conference on it. The abstracts of the presentations make it sound quite interesting. Maybe it’s time to reread it. But first to finish the Aubrey/Maturin series—just finished The Thirteen-Gun Salute last night (or, rather, this morning).

Here’s the text of the dialogue, if you’re interested. I mentioned before that one point of the dialogue is that the universe is ultimately mathematical objects, and notice the opening words of the dialogue.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 9:17 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Chandler 1.0 released

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James Fallows notes this morning that Chandler 1.0 has been released and reminiscences about the journey of its development. The three-minute video above gives you an idea of its capabilities. The YouTube entry includes:

Hi-res version:

Chandler is a note-to-self organizer that integrates personal work and small-group task management and calendaring.

Chandler features a cross-platform Desktop application and Chandler Hub: a free, hosted service for personal back-up, sharing and web access. You can also download and run your own service with Chandler Server.

Chandler is available in English, French, Finnish, and German.

Chandler interoperates with Apple iCal, Google Calendar, Mozilla Lightning/Sunbird and Evolution via the iCalendar and CalDAV standards.

From the Fallows post:

Another testimonial here, with this payoff point: “”The single greatest thing about [Chandler] is the core idea of the confluence of tasks, emails, and appointments as simple items which can interact and be managed with one other. It is SO TRUE that separating these items into hard categories with totally different interfaces makes organization more, not less, difficult. Allowing them to be listed and managed together is a huge leap forward.”

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 9:00 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

Culinary notes

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Last night I made the Salmon Provençal and it was excellent! A few minor changes: I didn’t peel or core the Roma tomatoes, though I did seed them. I also added some pitted Saracena olives to the tomato mixture—it did seem appropriate for “Provençal”, at least to me. The topping, with the fresh tarragon, basil, and chives and the mix of lemon juice and balsamic vinegar, was heavenly, and the fresh sockeye salmon fillet was excellent.

We also had this wild-rice salad. Extremely tasty. I had no green onions (scallions) and so substituted finely chopped red onion.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 8:53 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Gardenia and the Emperor

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I used the Honeybee Spa Gardenia shave stick this morning and the Simpsons Emperor 3 Super, which I’m finding quite pleasant again. The Apollo Mikron with its well used Wilkinson blade—a little too well used, I decided, and I swapped it out at the end of the shave for a new Treet Classic for next time. As I experiment, I went with a two-pass shave: across the grain and against the grain. It worked reasonably well, though of course it deprives me of one pass. Still, a smooth, pleasant, and nick-free shave, not quite so effortless as one would want. Paul Sebastian for the aftershave.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2008 at 8:47 am

Posted in Shaving

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