Later On

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

Archive for August 2019

Remembering “Time Out” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet

leave a comment »

This is via an Open Culture post that’s worth reading in its entirety.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2019 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Jazz, Music, Video

Mediterranean Power Squash reprise, with peppers

leave a comment »

I made this recipe just now, but instead of red pepper flakes, I added:

1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Hungarian purple pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Hungarian pale green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 red habanero, seeded and chopped

with the garlic, leek/scallions, squash, and zucchini.

Very tasty. Recipe at the link has been updated.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2019 at 3:23 pm

Exercise Changes Our Gut Microbes, But How Isn’t Yet Clear

with one comment

Ashley Yeager writes in The Scientist:

When Sara Campbell first typed “exercise and microbiome” into PubMed in 2010 and hit enter, “the search literally said zero,” she tells The Scientist. Campbell was just beginning an assistant professorship in exercise science at Rutgers University. Being an athlete herself and having studied cholesterol metabolism and exercise and diet during her PhD and postdoc, she started to wonder if exercise could influence the microbes in the gut.

“We know that exercise does all of these incredible things,” Campbell says, such as keeping inflammation down and enhancing antioxidant defenses. And so she thought, “well, if there’s symbiosis and mutualism that go on between the host and the microbes, there has to be something going on . . . something changing about the microbes” during exercise. When her PubMed search came up empty, she decided: “I’ve got to study this.”

Teaming up with microbiologists and toxicologists from Rutgers and a pathologist from Oklahoma City, Campbell designed an experiment to analyze fecal samples of male mice fed a normal or high-fat diet for 12 weeks. Some of the mice in each group were allowed to exercise, while the others remained sedentary. Physical activity, the results showed, generated a unique microbiome in the guts of the mice, independent of the animals’ diet: specifically, the mice that exercised hosted FaecalibacteriumClostridium, and Allobaculum, while the sedentary mice did not. The high-fat diet also caused inflammation in the guts of the sedentary mice, which was not seen in the mice that ate the fatty diet and exercised.

Published in March 2016, the results bolstered findings that came out a few years before showing that exercise prevented weight gain and altered the gut microbes in mice that became obese eating a high-fat diet. They also aligned nicely with a longitudinal study in humans published in 2018 that found lean, sedentary people who exercised for six weeks also developed higher levels of ClostridialesLachnospiraRoseburia, and Faecalibacterium in their guts, but those microbes returned to baseline levels when the individuals stopped exercising. Obese individuals who started exercising had changes to their gut microbes too, but those changes were different than what was seen in lean individuals.

While the reasons for the difference in changes between lean and obese individuals aren’t understood yet, the results make it clear that exercise, regardless of diet or body composition, change the gut microbiota of humans, says Jeffrey Woods, a researcher at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a coauthor of the 2018 paper.

“This is a fairly new field in general and definitely a new field of exercise science,” he says, explaining that while the connection between exercise and gut microbe changes has been established, “how exercise changes the microbes, we do not know.” It’s also not yet clear whether the changes are beneficial to health, but there are clues that they might be.

Clues to the exercise-gut connection

One of the leading ideas in the field of exercise’s influence on the microbiome is that working out boosts the levels of gut microbes that produce butyrate—a short chain fatty acid that has a whole host of health benefits in humans, from producing satiety hormones that curb hunger to playing a role in supporting the survival of existing neurons and promoting the growth of new ones.

See “The Microbiome and Human Health

Faecalibacterium, along with other bacteria, such as Lachnospiraceae, that appear to increase in abundance in the gut after exercise, typically produce short chain fatty acids in response to the digestion of dietary fiber. In a review of animal and human experiments on physical activity and gut microbiome composition published in Exercise and Sport Science Reviews in April, Woods and colleagues propose that exercise might alter the gene expression of immune cells in the tissues of the gut, leading to the production of fewer pro-inflammatory cell-signaling proteins and more anti-inflammatory ones, as well as antioxidant enzymes. The immune cells sit near the microbial communities in the gut and could produce antimicrobial compounds that tamp down certain taxa while bolstering the growth of butyrate-producing bacteria. Exercise might also change the composition of mucus in the gut, which would affect bacterial species that live there, such as Akkermansia muciniphila—a bacterium with anti-inflammatory properties that appears to increase in abundance in response to exercise.

See “Commensal Bacterium Reduces ALS Symptoms in Mice

Exercise also raises a person’s core temperature and reduces blood flow to the intestines, which could lead to more direct contact between gut microbes and immune cells in the mucus of the gut—and has the potential to shift microbial composition. The circulation of bile acids, which can alter the microbial community of the gut, also increases during exercise, as does lactate, which might change the pH of the gut, shifting the diversity of the microbial community. “Those are some possible mechanisms we could test,” Woods says, “but they are not easy to test because it’s hard to isolate any one of them.”

Exercise, microbes, and bowel health

These potential mechanisms help explain some connections scientists have observed between the microbiome and bowel health. For example, colorectal cancer patients have a reduced abundance of butyrate-producing bacteria such as Roseburia and Lachnospiraceae. Butyrate in healthy cells spurs epigenetic modifications that lead to cell turnover and cell proliferation, while in colon cancer cells the fatty acids work through epigenetics to suppress cell proliferation and promote cell death, suggesting a benefit to colon cancer patients who exercise.

To measure the benefit of exercise against inflammation in the gut, Woods and colleagues performed the first  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2019 at 1:16 pm

Inexpensive prescription drugs

leave a comment »

From the newsletter Recomendo:

Sometimes you can purchase a prescription drug yourself for less money than paying your insurance co-pay. And when you buy, drug prices vary wildly between retailers. Go to GoodRx website to find the cheapest source for a drug, including online pharmacies. They also supply coupons at steeply discounted prices, up to 80% off (their biz model).  It’s free, no account or personal info required. — KK

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2019 at 5:41 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical

Free and confidential crisis line

leave a comment »

From the newsletter Recomendo:

If you’re in the United States and need someone to talk to you can text 741741 any hour of the day and be connected with a crisis counselor (For Canada text 686868, and for UK text 85258). My sister-in-law volunteers for the Crisis Text Line, and she said counselors go through continuous training and are always supervised by mental health professionals. I tested it out to make sure it works and the first text was automated, but I was connected with a live person in less than 2 minutes. I hope I don’t need it, but I’m relieved to know that it’s there. For more info check out their website: crisistextline.org

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2019 at 5:35 am

Identify nature app

leave a comment »

From Recomendo a newsletter I get:

Identify nature app

There is utility and pleasure in being able to identify wild creatures and plants. But it’s a steep learning curve. The fastest way I found to learn is via the iOS app Seek, which will identify flowers, plants, fungi, animals, bugs instantly. It’s kind of magical. You point your phone at the specimen and it tells you the species about 95% of the time (in North America). The other 5% it can often identify the family. Someone called it Shazam for nature. The app is patient; you can keep asking it to ID the same thing you asked about before and it will will answer again with no judgement. Seek is free; it was developed by folks who did iNaturalist, an app that uses crowdsourcing to identify species, but Seek uses machine learning to render the ID instantly. I’ve been impressed by how well this magic works. Kids and teachers love it. It gives them a superpower to name everything around them.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2019 at 5:29 am

If Trump Were an Airline Pilot

leave a comment »

James Fallows writes in the Atlantic:

Through the 2016 campaign, I posted a series called “Trump Time Capsule” in this space. The idea was to record, in real time, what was known about Donald Trump’s fitness for office—and to do so not when people were looking back on our era but while the Republican Party was deciding whether to line up behind him and voters were preparing to make their choice.

The series reached 152 installments by election day. I argued that even then there was no doubt of Trump’s mental, emotional, civic, and ethical unfitness for national leadership. If you’re hazy on the details, the series is (once again) here.

That background has equipped me to view Trump’s performance in office as consistently shocking but rarely surprising. He lied on the campaign trail, and he lies in office. He insulted women, minorities, “the other” as a candidate, and he does it as a president. He led “lock her up!” cheers at the Republican National Convention and he smiles at “send them back!” cheers now. He did not know how the “nuclear triad” worked then, and he does not know how tariffs work now. He flared at perceived personal slights when they came from Senator John McCain, and he does so when they come from the Prime Minister of Denmark. He is who he was.

The Atlantic editorial staff, in a project I played no part in, reached a similar conclusion. Its editorial urging a vote against Trump was obviously written before the election but stands up well three years later:

He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar. He is spectacularly unfit for office, and voters—the statesmen and thinkers of the ballot box—should act in defense of American democracy and elect his opponent


The one thing I avoided in that Time Capsule series was “medicalizing” Trump’s personality and behavior. That is, moving from description of his behavior to speculation about its cause. Was Trump’s abysmal ignorance—“Most people don’t know President Lincoln was a Republican!”—a sign of dementia, or of some other cognitive decline? Or was it just more evidence that he had never read a book? Was his braggadocio and self-centeredness a textbook case of narcissistic personality disorder? (Whose symptoms include “an exaggerated sense of self-importance” and “a sense of entitlement and require[s] constant, excessive admiration.”) Or just that he is an entitled jerk? On these and other points I didn’t, and don’t, know.

Like many people in the journalistic world, I received a steady stream of mail from mental-health professionals arguing for the “medicalized” approach. Several times I mentioned the parallel between Trump’s behavior and the check-list symptoms of narcissism. But I steered away from “this man is sick”—naming the cause rather than listing the signs—for two reasons.

The minor reason was the medical-world taboo against public speculation about people a doctor had not examined personally. There is a Catch-22 circularity to this stricture (which dates to the Goldwater-LBJ race in 1964). Doctors who have not treated a patient can’t say anything about the patient’s condition, because that would be “irresponsible”—but neither can doctors who have, because they’d be violating confidences.

Also, a flat ban on at-a-distance diagnosis doesn’t really meet the common-sense test. Medical professionals have spent decades observing symptoms, syndromes, and more-or-less probable explanations for behavior. We take it for granted that an ex-quarterback like Tony Romo can look at an offensive lineup just before the snap and say, “This is going to be a screen pass.” But it’s considered a wild overstep for a doctor or therapist to reach conclusions based on hundreds of hours of exposure to Trump on TV.

My dad was a small-town internist and diagnostician. Back in the 1990s he saw someone I knew, on a TV interview show, and he called me to say: “I think your friend has [a neurological disease]. He should have it checked out, if he hasn’t already.” It was because my dad had seen a certain pattern—of expression, and movement, and facial detail—so many times in the past, that he saw familiar signs, and knew from experience what the cause usually was. (He was right in this case.) Similarly, he could walk down the street, or through an airline terminal, and tell by people’s gait or breathing patterns who needed to have knee or hip surgery, who had just had that surgery, who was starting to have heart problems, et cetera. (I avoided asking him what he was observing about me.)

Recognizing patterns is the heart of most professional skills, and mental health professionals usually know less about an individual patient than all of us now know about Donald Trump. And on that basis, Dr. Bandy Lee of Yale and others associated with the World Mental Health Coalition have been sounding the alarm about Trump’s mental state (including with a special analysis of the Mueller report). Another organization of mental health professionals is the “Duty to Warn” movement.

But the diagnosis-at-a-distance issue wasn’t the real reason I avoided “medicalization.” The main reason I didn’t go down this road was my assessment that it wouldn’t make a difference. People who opposed Donald Trump already opposed him, and didn’t need some medical hypothesis to dislike his behavior. And people who supported him had already shown that they would continue to swallow anything, from “Grab ‘em by … ”  to “I like people who weren’t captured.” The Vichy Republicans of the campaign dutifully lined up behind the man they had denounced during the primaries, and the Republicans of the Senate have followed in that tradition.


But now we’ve had something we didn’t see so clearly during the campaign. These are episodes of what would be called outright lunacy, if they occurred in any other setting: An actually consequential rift with a small but important NATO ally, arising from the idea that the U.S. would “buy Greenland.” Trump’s self-description as “the Chosen One,” and his embrace of a supporter’s description of him as the “second coming of God” and the “King of Israel.” His logorrhea, drift, and fantastical claims in public rallies, and his flashes of belligerence at the slightest challenge in question sessions on the White House lawn. His utter lack of affect or empathy when personally meeting the most recent shooting victims, in Dayton and El Paso. His reduction of any event, whatsoever, into what people are saying about him.

Obviously I have no standing to say what medical pattern we are seeing, and where exactly it might lead. But just from life I know this:

  • If an airline learned that a pilot was talking publicly about being “the Chosen One” or “the King of Israel” (or Scotland or whatever), the airline would be looking carefully into whether this person should be in the cockpit.
  • If a hospital had a senior surgeon behaving as Trump now does, other doctors and nurses would be talking with administrators and lawyers before giving that surgeon the scalpel again.
  • If a public company knew that a CEO was making costly strategic decisions on personal impulse or from personal vanity or slight, and was doing so more and more frequently, the board would be starting to act. (See: Uber, management history of.)
  • If a university, museum, or other public institution had a leader who routinely insulted large parts of its constituency—racial or religious minorities, immigrants or international allies, women—the board would be starting to act.
  • If the U.S. Navy knew that one of its commanders was routinely lying about important operational details, plus lashing out under criticism, plus talking in “Chosen One” terms, the Navy would not want that person in charge of, say, a nuclear-missile submarine. (See: The Queeg saga in The Caine Mutiny, which would make ideal late-summer reading or viewing for members of the White House staff.)

Yet now such a  person is in charge not of one nuclear-missile submarine but all of them—and the bombers and ICBMs, and diplomatic military agreements, and the countless other ramifications of executive power.

If Donald Trump were in virtually any other position of responsibility, action would already be under way to remove him from that role. The board at . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2019 at 7:32 pm

%d bloggers like this: