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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Does Drinking Slow Or Fast Dementia?

Anyone who reads a daily paper could be forgiven for wondering how carbs, alcohol, fats — a whole host of things, really — can be reported as healthy one day and unhealthy the next. Of the conflicted bunch, however, alcohol just might be most enduringly confusing: scientific studies proclaim that it protects against heart attack and stroke, while others suggest it promotes violent tendencies or destroys the liver. Why the mixed messages? A new study demonstrates what can go wrong.

The latest in a long line of research on alcohol's benefits — sure to cause a stir — is a paper by geriatrics researchers at the University of Bari in Italy appearing in the May 22 issue of Neurology, revealing that the progression of dementia may be slower in people who drink moderately than in teetotalers. A survey of elderly Italians — 1,445 of whom had no cognitive impairment and 121 who suffered mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — found that, over 3.5 years, those with MCI who drank less than one drink a day progressed to dementia at a rate 85% slower than those who drank nothing. Drinking more did not seem to be better than drinking nothing. Expect big headlines to follow: "Booze boosts the brain"; "A drink a day keeps dementia away."

The problem is, of course, that that's not what the Bari scientists actually wrote in their paper. They said only that a drink a day may keep dementia away. Like so many studies of this kind, where researchers follow a large group without making any interventions of their own, it can be hard to distinguish the effects of alcohol from the effects of other lifestyle factors. As the Neurology article plainly states: "It is... possible that moderate lifestyles in general, which obviously vary according to different cultural environments, protect from cognitive impairment. Thus it may not be the direct effect of alcohol or specific substances in alcoholic drinks that provide the protection."

In other words, common sense and your own personal experience might explain just as much of the association between drinking and delayed mental decay as can be explained by neurology.
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Posted by Ajay :: 9:27 AM :: 0 comments

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If Death Dance!

The long kiss goodnight. The big dirt nap. Buying the farm. 187. There are many names for death, and it is an inevitability we can only postpone. So, when we see someone “eat it” in the movies, it better be good. But this is a bit of an oxymoron isn’t it? A “death” being good? Seems a bit morbid to me.

Yet, it's not. We want our deaths real and we want them gruesome and, most of the time, Hollywood delivers. Here are some of the best “worst” ways characters in movies have been put out of their misery.
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Posted by Ajay :: 9:23 AM :: 0 comments

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Power Struggle

How do you keep track of the bubbling mass of information that is Wikipedia? This chaotic-looking mosaic is one attempt to show which topics are contained in the online encyclopedia, and those most hotly contested.

It's a mind-boggling task. About 4 million "Wikipedians" have made over 130 million edits, and the English-language version alone contains 1.7 million articles. Every second a new edit is made, and every day 2000 new articles spring up.

To make sense of it all, Bruce Herr and Todd Holloway of Indiana University, Bloomington, created clusters of 300 or so articles that touch on a related topic, such as a religion or a famous person. For each cluster they took one picture from the most popular article and laid them out in a circular grid.

Atop the grid are coloured dots showing how often and how recently each article has been edited. The larger, darker dots mean more intense activity. The list of blitzed articles reveals the idiosyncratic priorities of Wikipedians: Jesus, Adolf Hitler, Nintendo, Hurricane Katrina, Britney Spears and Albert Einstein.

Updating the image in real time would allow Wikipedia's administrators to spot where arguments are taking place, Herr suggests.
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Posted by Ajay :: 9:18 AM :: 0 comments

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Naked Olympics?

One of the many important life lessons we have learned from “Seinfeld” is that, contrary to popular belief, not all nudity is good nudity. I was reminded of this recently when my thoughts drifted towards the impending orgy of corporate branding known to the less cynical as the Olympic Games. Even if you remove the distasteful whore-mongering of amateur athletes, the Games have lost most of their relevance and allure they once had… remember when you and the folks gathered around the TV set to watch gymnastics? This compelled me to think of ways of making the events more entertaining. Without hesitation, the answer slipped into my head like a stripper down a pole; the magic elixir the Olympics so desperately need is that which turns even the dullest of ventures into a mesmerizing event.

While the notion of an all-nude Olympiad may seem far-fetched, let’s not forget the original Olympics included male athletes that rolled around naked with other men so often they would have made Richard Simmons look like Rambo (although these days the two are looking an awful lot alike anyways). Due to the fact that roughly 98% of the readers, including myself, would rather watch an 18-hour Golden Girls marathon than see naked dudes in action, this exercise will focus entirely on events featuring those of the feminine persuasion. But let’s get this straight; the purpose of this article is not only to breakdown which events contain good nudity versus bad nudity, but more importantly to reveal which spandex-free endeavors would be the cream (so to speak) of the crop…were they to exist. I also hope to smash the record for most euphemisms for vagina in one article. Here goes nothin’.
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Posted by Ajay :: 9:13 AM :: 0 comments

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When Teacher Says "Go Have Sex And Drugs"

A guest speaker at an assembly at Boulder High School in Colorado has told students as young as 14 to go have sex and use drugs, prompting school officials to say they will investigate.

The instructions came from Joel Becker, an associate clinical professor of psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles.

"I am going to encourage you to have sex and encourage you to use drugs appropriately," Becker said during his appearance at the school as part of a recent panel sponsored by the University of Colorado's Conference on World Affairs.

"Why I am going to take that position is because you are going to do it anyway," he continued. "I think as a psychologist and health educator, it is more important to educate you in a direction that you might actually stick to. So, I am going to stay mostly on with the sex side because that is the area I know more about. I want to encourage you to all have healthy, sexual behavior."

WND also has reported on similar assemblies that have been used by schools to promote homosexuality, including one where parents were banned from the event, and a second where WND reported school officials ordered their 14-year-old freshman class into a "gay" indoctrination seminar after having them sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to tell their parents.

The Boulder school review promise came from board members who were confronted by Boulder High sophomore Daphne White and her mother, Priscilla White, with their complaint about the event.

Priscilla White told board members it's inappropriate for such a message to be delivered by a public school. She was reading excerpts of the presentation to the board when board President Helayne Jones told her to stop, because the language was inappropriate.

"The panel discussion was a completely irresponsible and dangerous invitation to Boulder High students to have sex and take drugs," her daughter, Daphne, told the board.

No student should have been forced to be at that panel discussion, incoming Boulder Valley Supt. Chris King agreed.

The panel included Becker; Andree Gerhardt, a community engagement leader with Ernst & Young; Antonio Sacre, an LA-based performing artist, and Sanho Tree, of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.

They were assembled for the discussion as part of the university's Conference on World Affairs, which has been described as a forum for anything.

Conference leaders issued a statement, signed by conference director Jim Palmer and others, saying the panel members talked "candidly and sensibly to the high school audience, providing cautionary information about alcohol consumption, drugs, sexual issues and teens."

The sophomore, Daphne, had been required to attend the panel called "STDs: Sex, Teens and Drugs," and accused panel members of presenting one-sided views and discrediting abstinence.

The White family said the conference statement wasn't even accurate.

"The panelists irresponsibly advised Boulder High students to have sex and use drugs," the family responded. "Teenage abstinence was dismissed as an unwise choice and indicative of religious hang-ups."

"It may be true that the Conference on World Affairs generally 'fosters awareness of local, national and global citizenship and celebrates intellectual discussion and excellence.' It did not in this case," the family continued. "As Daphne suggested at the [recent] school board meeting, Boulder High School, the school district and the CWA should host an assembly at Boulder High for the student body. Hopefully the principal, the deputy superintendent, the board president and the director of the CWA would use the opportunity to offer Boulder High students some sound advice that is more consistent with what teens should hear from adults. They need to do it quickly, graduation is June 2."

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said Boulder already is known as a "far left" town.

He played a recording of an "unidentified male" saying: "We all experiment. It's very natural for young people to experiment with same sex relationships. When you are 13, 12, 13, 14 certainly probably one of the most appropriate sexual behaviors would be masturbation. Even today, there are psychiatrists who will do sessions under the influence of ecstasy. If I had some maybe I'd do it with someone, but you know."

The transcript obtained by WND showed those comments also were from Becker.

Dan Caplis, a lawyer and radio talk-show host on KHOW Radio, said the principal should have been fired, but wasn't.

"We had the president of the school board on, as well as the head of the school district. And they just kept dodging us. Finally, we pinned them down and we said don't you agree this was harmful, this was dangerous? Finally, they agreed to that," Caplis reported.

"These experts came in to undermine and contradict everything most parents at that school are trying to teach their kids about sex and drugs. And I believe that a lot of those parents are ready to fight back. But we'll find out in the next few days," Caplis said.
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Posted by Ajay :: 9:09 AM :: 0 comments

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