Later On

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

Archive for April 8th, 2011

Help sought: Graphical on-line chess server

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The Younger Grandson—no longer so young, now 8—wants to play chess with me via the Internet. I’m looking for an on-line chess server that presents a graphical interface that allows two people to play each other—the chess equivalent of the KGS Go Server, which allows you to download a Java-based client (runs on OS X and Windows and Linux) that connects to the server. You can then find your opponent by name or play a random person.

Anyone know of a chess equivalent? So far my Googling has not produced any such free services, though I’m willing to pay a modest subscription fee for TYG and myself. Some of the chess servers don’t have anything so fancy as a graphical interface: they’re still in command-line mode.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2011 at 5:44 pm

A (strange) map of the history of science-fiction

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Take a look. Apparently it will be released as a poster.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2011 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Science fiction

Cool 3-minute video on Family Dinners

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Well worth watching: 5 simple rules that make a big difference—36 seconds a rule. Not bad.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2011 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Daily life

Mark Bittman’s Raw-Beet Salad

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This sounds scrumptious, and it is extremely easy to make. I will grate the beets using the food processor, but using the grater attachment rather than pulsing them—which would quickly turn them to pulp.

I’ve read that beets in particular have more nutritional value raw than cooked. Whether true, I don’t know.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2011 at 3:33 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Apple: The TV solution

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Very interesting post by Scott Feldstein. Good ideas.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2011 at 3:23 pm

Social experiment: Get to know the neighbors

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Interesting column by Peter Lovenheim in the LA Times:

When I was growing up in upstate New York in the late 1950s and ’60s, people didn’t exercise in public the way they do now. You didn’t see adults jogging, biking or power-walking on the street.

Except one. Nearly every day, a middle-aged woman of slight build walked rapidly through our suburban neighborhood, usually with her head down. No one knew her name, so we called her the Walker. She usually wore a simple blue or yellow dress, if memory serves, and when it rained she would wear a clear plastic raincoat with a hood pulled over her head. In the winter I recall a long, cloth coat, also with a hood; in driving snow she’d cover her face with a scarf.

Forty years later, when I’d moved with my wife and children back to what had been my parents’ home, I was amazed to see the same woman still walking through the neighborhood.

Resolved, finally, to meet her, I approached her one afternoon in 2003.

“Excuse me, ” I began. “I’ve lived on this street a long time and have always noticed you walking.”

Up close, she looked older, smaller and frailer than I had imagined.

“Yes,” she said. “I’ve been walking here a long time.”

Her voice was shaky, but she spoke with a clear diction. She said she’d walked in the neighborhood almost every day since 1960.

“You’ve walked on our street every day for more than 40 years?” I asked.

“I didn’t miss many,” she said, smiling.

“In just one more year, I’ll be 90,” she added.

Her name was Grace Field.

In answer to my question, Grace said that in all the years she’d been at it, few people had stopped to speak with her.

I was, at the time, writing a book about how Americans live as neighbors and asked Grace if she’d be willing to talk with me about that. She agreed, and a few days later, I met her at her home. It turned out she lived in an apartment nearby. She’d never married, lived alone and walked each day, she said, for exercise.

Among the things I learned about Grace was that as a young woman she had studied at the Juilliard School and was an accomplished harpist and pianist.

What a waste, I thought; if only we’d gotten to know her, Grace might have made an interesting friend. Maybe she even could have given music lessons to children in the neighborhood.

I had not been particularly interested in neighborhoods until about 10 years ago when a tragedy occurred on my street: One evening, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2011 at 2:58 pm

Posted in Daily life

Anti-inflammatories to fight cancer?

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Very interesting article about anti-inflammatories and cancer. As readers know, I have for years taken 1/2 tsp turmeric in my morning hot cereal, after reading a note about its anti-inflammatory action and the effects of that. You can readily Google and find information on tumeric—here’s an article that lists 20 health benefits.

The article that prompted this post is by Giorgio Trinchieri and begins:

What if taking aspirin could reduce your risk of cancer? Researchers have debated the relationship between inflammation and cancer for many years, but recent studies have reignited the discussion with evidence that taking aspirin daily for 5 years or longer can protect against death from colorectal and other solid cancers. If this observation indeed holds true, and aspirin can stave off cancer or reduce the risk of recurrence, this familiar, age-old drug could offer a tantalizingly simple treatment.

Unfortunately, aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are not without problematic side effects, increasing the risks of liver toxicity and bleeding in the stomach and brain when taken over extended periods of time. Researchers who have been studying the molecular pathways at the intersection of cancer and inflammation hope their findings may lead to more selective ways of reducing inflammation, eliminating or minimizing aspirin’s negative effects without sacrificing its benefits.When Peter Rothwell at John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington, Oxfordshire, and colleagues analyzed individual patient data from eight randomized trials in which patients took a daily aspirin for prevention of cardiovascular diseases, they noticed the aspirin takers had a lower incidence of death from cancer than those who didn’t take the drug.1 Earlier studies had shown that daily use of aspirin and other NSAIDs over extended periods reduced the risk of colorectal cancer or polyp recurrence, but no clear evidence was previously available, at least in humans, that aspirin might also reduce the risk of other cancers. In the new study, the benefit of aspirin use was apparent after at least five years of treatment. In trials in which the patients had been taking aspirin for more than 7.5 years, the 20-year risk of cancer death (from the initiation of the trials) was reduced by approximately 30 percent for all solid cancers and by 60 percent for gastrointestinal cancers. For lung and esophageal cancer, the benefit was confined to subtypes of those cancers that originated in glandular tissue (adenocarcinomas). For colorectal cancer, the effect was high for cancer in the proximal colon but not in the distal colon.

These data clearly point to the importance of anti-inflammatory drugs in preventing the initiation and progression of both gastrointestinal and other solid organ cancers (including lung and prostate), and suggest that inflammation may be an underlying cause of cancer even in tumor types that had not been traditionally thought to originate within chronically inflamed tissues.

Inflammation and cancer genes

Although the role of inflammation in favoring carcinogenesis has generated much interest in the last 10–15 years, the Greek physician Claudius Galenus observed some similarity between cancer and inflammation almost 2 thousand years ago. Galenus originally used Hippocrates’s term “cancer” specifically to describe certain inflammatory tumors of the breast in which superficial veins appeared swollen and radiated, somewhat like the claws of a crab. Later the name was extended to include all malignant and infiltrating growths. In 1863 Rudolf Virchow noted white blood cells or leukocytes in neoplastic tissues and made a connection between inflammation and cancer. He suggested that the “lymphoreticular infiltrate” reflected the origin of cancer at sites of chronic inflammation. A seminal observation was made more than a century later, when Harold Dvorak of Harvard University noted that inflammation and cancer share some basic developmental mechanisms (angiogenesis) and tissue-infiltrating cells (lymphocytes, macrophages, and mast cells), and that tumors act like “wounds that do not heal.”

Researchers hope to find more selective ways of eliminating or minimizing aspirin’s negative effects without sacrificing its benefits.

Chronic inflammation can affect all phases of carcinogenesis, from favoring the initial genetic alterations that drive cancer formation, to acting as a tumor promoter by establishing conditions in the surrounding tissues that allow the tumor to progress and metastasize, and even triggering immunosuppressive mechanisms that prevent an effective immune response against the tumors.

In 2004 Robert Bass Jr. at the The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and colleagues showed for the first time that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2011 at 11:03 am

Evolution observed in action

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Those who deny evolution have to ignore many facts—and, as this letter illustrates, totally misunderstand the facts that have accepted. (Note also the gratuitous insults and abuse the writer uses to bulk up his argument.)

But then we see this example of evolution being observed in action. And here’s another. So a person who believes that evolution does not happen has a serious problem in his or her reality-processing mechanism.

I’ll close with a nifty video I found via PZ Myers:

UPDATE: After thinking it over, I don’t much like this film as a whole. I do like the animation a lot, but the whole thing totally fails to be persuasive because of the distractors: the obscenities. I think the intent was to amuse, but if you really want to persuade, you don’t introduce irrelevancies that distract from the message—much as most love scenes do not include farts, though flatulence is perfectly natural. The film as presented includes, in effect, flatulence in a love scene.

UPDATE 2: Another thing that bothered me as I thought about the film is the strong self-congratulatory tone. Although the narrator is right on the facts, he’s completely wrong in his arrogant, condescending, uninformative stance. (He pretends to be informative, but as shown in his “difficulty” in recalling the name “aspirin”, he’s more interested in being insulting and presenting himself as superior.) Too competitive.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2011 at 10:42 am

Posted in Evolution, Science, Video

Klar Kabinette, Joris, & Coral Skin Food

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A very nice shave indeed. Thanks to Dandaman for the pointer to Klar Kabinette. Above is the package, which arrived yesterday: two enormous bars of shaving soap with a very nice, clean fragrance. Total weight 1.1 lbs (500 g), total price $20: very economical.

I used the bar as a shave stick, though it would be easy to cut off a section and put it in a bowl—I’ll probably do that, in fact. I also tried loading the brush directly on the bar, which works fine. Excellent lather: thick, with the aforementioned clean fragrance.

Three passes with my Joris, which The Wife got for me in Paris. It carries a Swedish Gillette blade, and it did a fine job.

Finally, I ended the shave with Geo. F. Trumper’s Coral Skin Food, a very pleasant and effective shaving balm.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 April 2011 at 9:24 am

Posted in Shaving

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