blueollie

Medicine, cancer, the Andromeda Galaxy, deficits and resentment

The smart
Telescopes continue to improve; we now have a higher resolution look at the Andromeda Galaxy:

The Andromeda galaxy holds a particular fascination. Not just because it’s the nearest large galaxy to our own, some 2.5 million light years away, but because it shares a destiny with us. Eventually there will be no more Milky Way and Andromeda, they will merge into something that is both new and old, some 4 billion years in the future.

Until that time though, we can continue to enjoy the magnificent display of Andromeda’s trillion or so stars, a hazy conglomeration stretching across our sky (a display that would be visible in its totality to our human eyes if only they were a little more sensitive).

Now a new camera on the Japanese Subaru Telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii has captured one of the most detailed images of our galactic neighbor. This device, the Hyper Suprime-Camera (HSC), is a beast. Its 870 Mega-pixel detector is housed at the end of a lens barrel that’s 1.65 meters in length.

andromeda

Link to the full size photo.

Medicine and cancer
There might be a link between certain types of cancer and certain types of autism.

There appears to be a new target for certain types of cancer therapies: a new molecule is involved:

Melbourne researchers have identified a molecule called interleukin-11 as a potential new target for anti-cancer therapies.
Until now, the importance of interleukin-11 in cancer development has been underestimated, but researchers have recently identified this molecule as a ‘dark horse’ for the development of cancer. Their discovery suggests blocking interleukin-11 signalling could ultimately provide an exciting new approach to the treatment of bowel and stomach cancer, which are two of the most common cancers worldwide.
When a tumour develops, the normal (non-cancerous) tissues around it can become inflamed, and produce many different molecules, including the two related proteins interleukin-11 and interleukin-6. These hormone-like signalling molecules, referred to as cytokines, are thought to promote the growth and spread of cancer cells, but interleukin-11 was thought to have only a minor, if any, role during cancer development.
However Dr Tracy Putoczki and Associate Professor Matthias Ernst from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s Cell Signalling and Cell Death division have now shown that interleukin-11 is one of the most important cytokines that stimulate the growth and spread of cancers.

The dumb
People are unaware that the national deficit is shrinking rapidly, though many probably confuse the deficit with the debt. And, I am not a big fan of reducing the deficit (on purpose) during a recession.

And, well, you can leave it to social conservative leaders to inflame the feelings of victimhood of their followers. This is from Mike Huckabee’s Facebook feed:

Today, Nidal Hasan sits in a courtroom, wearing the same uniform as the soldiers he murdered. His uniform is marked by a flag that he no longer respects. He’s renounced the US military in favor of what he calls his “brothers” in the Taliban. But we go to great lengths to make sure we don’t offend his sensitivities. I want to know when we’re going to respect the sensitivities of service men and women who were murdered or wounded by that monster? When are we going to have some respect or accommodation for those who are Christian or Jewish? Look, I’m glad we find racism repulsive. We ought to stop discrimination whether it’s because of someone’s religion, ethnicity, race or beliefs. But it ought to apply to everyone, including Christians. Not everyone BUT Christians.

You have to search far and wide to find anything more cynical than that. Of course Mr. Huckabee knows darn well that Hasan is in a military trial and, because he has not been found guilty, under UCMJ rules, he is still a member of the US Army. But Mr. Huckabee deliberately manipulates the victimhood complex of his less-than-bright followers.

August 13, 2013 Posted by | astronomy, biology, economy, huckabee, political/social, science, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

DOMA, climate change and all that

Workout notes
weights: usual hip hikes, achilles, rotator cuff, ab sets (3 sets of 10: crunch, v. crunch, sit back)
squats: 4 sets of 5: 45, 75, 95, 95
pull ups: 2 sets of (4 x 5 reps (tiny rests; change grip), 1 set of 10 (burn!)
dumbbell military/row super set: 3 sets each (12 x 50 military, 10 x 65 row)
incline: 10 x 135, 5 x 155, 7 x 150
curl/pull down super set: 3 sets each: 10 x 160 pull down, 10 x 30 dumbbell curls
back, etc.

Posts
See a butterfly that appears to be right side up when it is actually upside down; this fools predators.

President Obama’s climate change battle plan: involves executive orders and science. Here is a short Scientific American write up:

The plan, which consists of a long list of actions the executive branch can take with no help or hindrance from Congress, has three “pillars.” One is to cut carbon dioxide emissions, two is to “prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change,” and three is lead international efforts to achieve the same two goals.

Many of the preview stories streaming across the media focus on the first goal, which includes a reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions of 17 percent by 2020, below 2005 levels. The big provisions there are to have the Environmental Protection Agency limit CO2 emissions from power plants, especially coal-fired plants, and from heavy trucks, buses and vans. But little is being written about how the plan intends to reduce death and destruction from the ravages of climate change, including heat waves, more severe storms, storm surges and sea level rise—what Obama calls “American’s climate resilience.”

The plan, released to the media before the speech, calls for conserving land and water, making agriculture more sustainable, reducing the effects of drought and wildfires, improving flood protection, and hardening power plants, hospitals and fuel-supply channels against extreme weather of all kinds. The key to all of that, the plan notes in surprising detail, is more science.

For example, to ensure that flood barriers provide protection long-term, federal agencies will update their standards to account “for sea-level rise and other factors affecting flood risk. This effort will incorporate the most recent science on expected rates of sea-level rise (which vary by region)…” Another example: The Department of Agriculture will create seven new “regional climate hubs” to deliver “tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.”

[...]

Weather: we seem to be getting pounded unusually often by lines of thunderstorms. The cause: unusual sinusoidal path of the jet stream. Instead of staying on more or less the same latitude, it is dipping and rising in a circular wave pattern.

20130226_nasa_629341main_earth_jet_stream

Yes, the loss of Arctic sea ice is affecting the path of the jet stream, and did last year (felt mostly in Europe).

Social/Political Issues
No, Keynesianism doesn’t mean “always run deficits” and “always spend”. “Spending for the bust, austerity for the boom”, is the motto.

Gay Marriage: the SCOTUS decision is good news:

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

He said the law was motivated by a desire to harm gay and lesbian couples and their families, demeaning the “moral and sexual choices” of such couples and humiliating “tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.”

The constitutional basis for striking down the law was not entirely clear, as it had elements of federalism, equal protection and due process. Justice Kennedy said the law’s basic flaw was in its “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

He added that the ruling applied only to marriages in states that allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The part of DOMA that says that states don’t have to recognize same sex marriages made in other states was allowed to stand:

The decision leaves in place another provision in the law that says no state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in any other state. That provision was not under challenge.

Still, we need to pass gay marriage in Illinois; the roadblock is the Democratically controlled State House (it has passed the State Senate and the Governor said he’d sign it); the churches are the fly in the ointment.

Of course, some are throwing a tantrum:

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 10.36.06 AM

Sorry, but religions that posit a deity that has “a will” ARE dangerous. Imagine: policy is being decided, in part, by what someone thinks that their imaginary entity thinks.

June 27, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, climate change, economics, economy, evolution, huckabee, human sexuality, science, social/political, Spineless Democrats, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Stomach Turning Delusion…

I’ll probably leave for my run in about half an hour; the day looks good for a run. But I am still recovering from two tough (but fun) weekends so the run will be moderate (perhaps 5-6 miles).

As far as amount to run: remember that training to run well is different than training for health. The trick for me is to train enough to reach my current potential but not so much that I end up injured.

After this marathon is over, I’ll probably run a bit less and walk and swim more: running: probably 8, 6, weekend race OR 10-14 miles,
walking: 4 and a 10-14, swim: twice a week, weights: 3 times a week (like now).

Posts
Rachel Maddow has a nice piece on conspiracy theories. I know that there will ALWAYS be cranks and woos; the problem is that some of these theories are finding an ear in the US Congress. She also has a few good books to recommend (about 9-11); I might get the Popular Mechanics one.

And yes, this is apolitical; there are liberal conspiracy cranks too.

Martial Arts and woo
I’ve chuckled over this:

And when this master fought an outside fighter it didn’t go so well for him:

But the question is: HOW did such delusions take root? I was puzzled; my experience with martial arts involved boxing, wrestling and judo. You practiced competition in practice; I knew full well what throws, holds, and punches felt like. But in some forms of martial arts: well you can’t practice real knife fighting or really poking someone eyes out. Sam Harris explains:

It’s a little hard to see how Yanagi’s delusion got up and running, but once everyone began falling all over themselves, it is easy to see how it was maintained. Imagine it from his point of view: if you thought you might be able to knock people down at a distance, and then your students complied and fell down on cue, year after year, you might begin to believe that you really had these powers. To a lesser extent, this is a problem in many martial arts: because to train most techniques without getting hurt, you have to allow little elements of fantasy to creep in. Does poking someone in the eye really end a fight? People who have done this in combat probably know, but millions of martial artists pretend to poke each other in the eyes throughout their training, without ever knowing what would happen if they tried it for real. You can’t train with real knives, because you’d get killed on the first day. So you train with plastic or rubber knives, and you begin to lose sight of just how far you’ve departed from realism. This happens to some degree no matter how tactically sound the instruction is.

Of course, in Yanagi’s case, it is harder to see how a new student would suddenly get knocked off his feet based by virtue of his own self-deception. But there’s so much social pressure to confirm the stated dogma. It’s not that people need to fake these things consciously. They can be led by a stepwise process to fake it without ever having to confront the fact that they’re faking. It is like faith healing or speaking in tongues. A person can be inducted into a performance by the performances of others.

So what about common, day-to-day delusions? Well, Mike Huckabee posted a note about a medical team saving the life and limbs of one of the wounded Boston Bombing victims:

The Boston police who faced bullets and explosions to track down the Boston Marathon bombing suspects are undeniably heroes. Especially Officer Dick Donohue Jr., who exchanged fire with the suspects while trying to aid another officer they’d shot and killed. But let’s also extend the honor of heroes to the EMTs and doctors who took truly heroic measures to save Officer Donohue’s life. In the firefight, he was struck by a bullet in the thigh that severed his femoral artery. By the time he reached the hospital, he had lost all the blood in his body. He was given CPR, transfusions and emergency surgery. During that time, his heart completely stopped. It took the surgeons 45 minutes to get his pulse restarted. But they not only saved his leg, they’re cautiously optimistic that he will make a full recovery and walk again. He will live to see his six-month-old son Richie grow up, and to tell him all about the time his dad was dead for 45 minutes. But the heroic surgical team at Mt. Auburn Hospital refused to let him go.

So far, so good. Nice post..I like it.

But then came the predictable reactions:

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 6.57.29 AM

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 6.58.07 AM

Never mind the problems with a deity that is focused on a tiny part of a multi-billion galaxy universe. Now you have “god guiding the hands of the surgeons”???? (how? with what mechanism?)

Seriously, why rely on medical teams and science? If “god can work through…x, y, z”, then why not trust their deity to work through, say, Honey Boo Boo to do the operation?

Note: I am NOT talking about people who use their religion to calm themselves and do a better job; I am talking about the notion of some puppet master pulling strings.

Seriously, I wish that individuals that believed this crap would be ineligible to receive treatment derived from skill and modern science. Ok, I don’t, but it is frustrating to live with a times. It is almost as if we are 3′rd world nation with better technology, thanks to….science.

April 25, 2013 Posted by | huckabee, moron, morons, religion, running, science, superstition | , , | Leave a comment

Yin/Yang…running and economic negotiations

Workout notes
8 mile run eastpeoriatrail

I felt a bit run down (mild cough for the past 4-5 days) and not that peppy so I decided to only run 8 miles (shoot for 12 this weekend); I slogged to 42:03 at the turn around and did the second half in 35:21 (not that bad). It was 37 F and mostly calm; I encountered a few walkers and one “escaped dog” (playful).

But when I finished, I went to stretch and some old guy went to check on me; evidently I didn’t look too hot when I finished. I admit that I pushed the last mile in 8:10 (hard for me) and was bent over from the waist when I stopped to catch my breath. I didn’t FEEL that bad though; the stretching made me feel loose and I was able to stop at the grocery store on the way home.

We haven’t had snow yet (some is coming tomorrow) and we’ve had only a bit of cold weather. I admit that I don’t like it, but well..

1327735729-voy-wtwe88gsd-(2)

The yin: it is frustrating that I am not fast enough to catch up to get a better look.
The yang: it speeds me up thereby giving me better workout that I would have ordinarily had.

Fiscal Cliff
Paul Krugman is worried about the negotiations; it appears to him that President Obama is in the process of doing all of the giving. To those who are worried: I recommend David Corn’s book Showdown; it describes how President Obama negotiates. He is shrewder than he might appear. In a nutshell: he does the calculation: “do the disadvantaged classes/people who need it the most get as much as reasonably possible”? If so, he’ll make the deal, even if it might appear that he got “rolled”. It took me some time to finish that book, but I can recommend it.

Huckabee is still clueless

Mr. Huckabee: there is no evidence that religion reduces homicide, either in the United States or in the world. No, these statistics won’t convince the fundamentalists but hopefully these will show that evidence for the conjecture “becoming more religious reduces homicide in a society” is simply not there; it fact it suggest that the reverse “might” be the case (data is too noisy to be convincing).

December 19, 2012 Posted by | Barack Obama, big butts, books, economy, huckabee, politics, politics/social, running, sickness, social/political, spandex | , , , | Leave a comment

With all due respect Mr. Huckabee: STFU

What is with these superstitious morons?

December 15, 2012 Posted by | huckabee, politics/social, religion, social/political | , | Leave a comment

30 August 2012: 53′rd year and…

Workout notes
AM: 52:23 for my Cornstalk 5 miler; 9:22 last mile (picked it up from Main to the house). Saw Melody; couldn’t catch up to her.
PM: weights. Felt stronger on the bench (4 x 175, 3 x 175, 8 x 155) and pull ups (4 sets of 10 were easy). I used the pulley for curls and used 60 pound dumbbells for my rows. Machine for the military (3 sets of 10 with 90) and skipped the incline press. I did vertical lifts and crunches for my abs and a bit of headstand and stretches.

Afterward I did my PT, and I started doing squats to loosen up. It really, really helps. I only do 2-3 sets of 5, but I go all of the way down (as far as I can go anyway):

I know; that isn’t much, but it has taken me TWO YEARS to get down this far.

Next: get down all the way, and straighten all the way.

Other stuff
A female friend thought (correctly) that I’d like this photo. Why? :)

This was taken during a very long relay race that had a walking division, which they won.

Politics
Yes, Mike Huckabee recovered from morbid obesity to run a marathon:

From the marathon:

Respectable time too!

But now…

Come on Mr. Huckabee! Less Chick-Fil-A and more running! Or…walk. Walking a marathon is a good thing to do too. Or…walk a half marathon instead.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, big butts, huckabee, injury, knee rehabilitation, racewalking, running, spandex, training, weight training | Leave a comment

Off to bed…enough of the Clown-fest

Early day tomorrow.

My goodness, it appears that Mr. Huckabee has eaten too much Chick-Fil-A. He is starting to resemble Chris Christie.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, huckabee, ranting, republicans | Leave a comment

Exodus, Broken Toes, Teaching the Controversy, Budget Hocus-Pocus, etc.

Workout notes part II
Weights: due to crowding I did the bench/incline presses last, and they didn’t go so well: 10 x 135, 3 x 175, 5 x 160, 5 x 160 bench, 2 sets of 5 x 135 on the incline. The stuff prior: pull ups, rotator cuff, rows, pull downs, curls, military presses (machine); all of these went really well. I also only did 4 sets of 10 sit ups (varied incline) and lots of different types of stomach crunches; my back has been chronically sore.

I am willing to work to improve athletically. But I am NOT willing to do this:

Would you break your own toe to win a Paralympic medal? Would you sit on a sharp object or strangulate your testicles? It’s cheating, but a scientist who will be monitoring athletes at the Paralympic Games says a third of competitors with spinal injuries may be harming themselves to boost their performance.

The practice, called “boosting”, is designed to increase blood pressure and enhance performance.

It’s banned by the International Paralympics Committee (IPC), but some researchers say these are the desperate acts of athletes trying to compete on a level playing field.

“There have been times where I would specifically give my leg or my toe a couple of really good electric shocks” says Brad Zdanivsky, a 36-year-old Canadian quadriplegic climber who has experimented with boosting in the gym.
Continue reading the main story
Common boosting techniques

Overfilling the bladder, by clamping a catheter
Sitting on a drawing pin
Use of tight leg straps
Twisting and/or sitting on the scrotum
Cracking or breaking a bone

“That would make my blood pressure jump up and I could do more weights and cycle harder – it is effective.”

One British journalist with years of experience covering the Paralympics says he has heard of athletes using small hammers to crack or break a toe.

The point of these activities is to raise the athlete’s blood pressure and heart rate.

High blood pressure causes millions of deaths each year around the world, so it may come as a surprise to hear of athletes deliberately “boosting” theirs.

But a raised heart rate and blood pressure are advantages during exercise, as they help deliver more oxygen to hard-working muscles, enabling the athlete to keep going.

For most people, heart rate and blood pressure rise naturally when physical activity increases. But this is not always the case after a spinal cord injury, meaning competitors could tire sooner.

In the world of elite sports, “boosting” could make the difference between winning and losing. But it also boosts the chance of a heart attack or stroke.

When able-bodied competitors engage in hard physical activities like running or swimming, blood pressure and heart rate increase automatically. Athletes with spinal injuries do not get that response.

Yikes! I suppose the way that I could “cheat” would be to take performance enhancing drugs ….but why? Improvement for means placing 1853′rd instead of 2014′th. Big whoop. It is times like this that I am glad that I suck! :)

Images

This is interesting and true…

So does this means that the the exodus story is pure fiction? Of course the woo-woo stuff was, but was there any truth to it at all? This scholarly paper (PDF) deals with this question.

Unfortunately, I lack the historical knowledge to have an informed opinion; my “gut” tells me that there may have been some kernel of truth somewhere…but that is uninformed, untrained intuition.

Politics
A guy who later became President of Ireland OWNS a tea party type:

Liberal Hollywood? Rambo think “not”. :)
Sure, you CAN find liberal-leaning movies but they are hardly the norm, especially for the big box office draws.

Texas Judge: wants to raise taxes to oppose President Obama’s One World Government. No, I am NOT quoting The Onion or some other satirical site.

Mike Huckabee: doesn’t understand why some Republicans have told Todd Akin to stand down.

I want to drive this home: these idiotic responses are coming from TOP Republican officials and spokespersons and not from fringe bloggers. Why a Republican wouldn’t die of embarrassment is beyond me.

So, I suppose that Paul Ryan is “more serious” by comparison, though his budget proposals are fraudulent. Heck, even I could propose a budget that eliminates the debt and lowers taxes if I don’t specify how I am going to do that!

August 24, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Barack Obama, creationism, economy, huckabee, moron, morons, political humor, political/social, politics, republicans, sports, weight training | Leave a comment

So now I hate heterosexuals?

(from here)

Hmmm, because I refuse to patronize a place that is owned by someone who is actively trying to take away the rights of some of my friends and neighbors, *I* am the bigot?????

What’s next: an anti-KKK defamation league?

These people are idiots.

But, hey, look at the good side:

1. These people won’t be eating at the places that I eat.
2. Eventually, they’ll subsidize heart surgeons, cholesterol medicine companies, the “big and tall” stores and the like.

You’d think that Mr. Huckabee would know better given that he was once morbidly obese but, given the number of Chick-Fil-A posts on his facebook page, he is being paid by them.

August 1, 2012 Posted by | huckabee, morons, political/social, social/political | Leave a comment

Mike Huckabee is a moron

Hmmm, having your boss grope you and threatening to fire you if you complain is the same as being called “sweetie” at a restaurant.

November 9, 2011 Posted by | huckabee, political/social, Republican, republicans | 1 Comment

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