Friday, May 29, 2015

Headline of the Day

Casual Friday: Gene Gene the Dancing Machine

Just two working days til Monday!

“I came up with a new game-show idea recently. It's called The Old Game. You got three old guys with loaded guns onstage. They look back at their lives, see who they were, what they accomplished, how close they came to realizing their dreams. The winner is the one who doesn't blow his brains out. He gets a refrigerator.” ~ Chuck Barris

I'm waiting for a clinical trial with pizza

Clinical trial. Not.
If you're a man, or you know one, you might be interested to learn that green tea appears to be a worthy opponent of prostate cancer.

Laboratory studies have shown that substances in green tea called "catechins" inhibit cancer cell growth, motility and invasion, and stimulate cancer cell death.  Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the most abundant and potent catechin found in green tea responsible for these effects.

In a recent trial, researchers used decaffeinated green tea capsules called Polyphenon E, which contained a mixture of catechins that predominantly contained EGCG at a dose of 200 mgs twice a day.
In men who had one type of cancer, HGPIN, they observed a lower rate of ASAP and prostate cancer development with Polyophenon E. ASAP is an entity that reflects a broad group of lesions in the prostate with insufficient changes in the cells to be definitively diagnosed as prostate cancer. Additionally, men on Polyphenon E had a significant decrease in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. PSA is a biomarker that in combination with other risk factors is used to screen patients for prostate cancer, and high levels signify a higher risk of prostate cancer. 
Meantime, researchers are studying diets to see if food intake has some effect on prostate cancer.
Several studies have shown that in countries where men eat a typical “Western” diet containing a large amount of meat, the incidence of prostate cancer, especially aggressive prostate cancer, is higher than in countries where plant-based foods are a primary part of the diet. Unfortunately, these studies weren’t designed to prove cause and effect.

The new study will see whether a diet that’s higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods than the typical Western diet will help control tumor growth in men with early-stage prostate cancer. 
Participants  will try to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily — significantly more than the three to four servings consumed each day by the typical American man — as well as two servings of whole grains and one serving of beans or other legumes.
I don't know. Have you ever seen a man eat like that? Most men eat whatever is at eye level in the refrigerator, especially if it's shaped like a slice of pizza.

Anyway, if you'd like to play along at home, here's what the study diet will look like.
Seems to me it's either your prostate or you mind.

Morning Rush: Fly brains, cucumbers, and more

Here and there on the Web this Friday, May 29, 2015:

Okay, zap that sucker.
Robot does brain surgery on flies 

Better start eating cucumbers 

They're coming for your s'mores 

How to protect your finances

The Kings James version is best

They say we can smell happiness

Get ready for global cooling

School choice is working

How your eyes betray you

Some black lives don't matter

They're recovering memories

The high cost of cynicism

Google does photos bigtime

Early Christians were different

Obama wants your mud puddle

We wouldn't need immigration

Dietary fiber vs diabetes

Today's Word: mediocre, ordinary, commonplace

Hahaha: Here's where the fuse box is!

This drone fits in your pocket:

St. Teresa of Avila: troubles

"For pity’s sake, don’t start meeting troubles halfway."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

This may be your Crazy Uncle Al

Uncle Al.
They found him on top of sandstone in the Burtele area of Woranso-Mille in the central Afar region of Ethiopia.

You probably know the spot.

Well, they found part of him anyway -- his jaw. That's your uncle in the photo. Here's the police report:
Later that day and the day after, two lower jaws were discovered: one was found in the Burtele area in two pieces, the other was found at a locality called Waytaleyta about two kilometers away. Based on the geology, radiometric dating, paleomagnetic data, and the rate of sediment deposition, the layer the fossils had weathered out of was between the ages of 3.3 and 3.5 million years.
None of that makes any sense to me, but it seems your uncle had three jaws.

Must have had some kind of smile.

All of this was enough for them -- whoever "them" is --  to designate Al as a new species, Australopithecus deyiremeda, from the local Afar words "deyi" meaning "close" and "remeda" for "relative" – referring to how the new species is a close relative of all later hominins.

I don't know what that means, either, but I'm guessing they think we might all have descended from your Crazy Uncle Al.

Which would explain a lot.

You want fries with that?

"Right now we are embroiled in a deeply, deeply stupid debate over whether to raise the statutory minimum wage to $15 an hour. Because everything in the economy is in reality priced relative to everything else, using the machinery of government to monkey around with the number of little green pieces of paper that attaches to an hour’s labor manning the register at 7-Eleven or taking orders at Burger King is, necessarily, an exercise in futility. 
"The underlying hierarchy of values — the relative weighting between six months’ work washing dishes and six months’ tuition at the University of Texas — is not going to change. Prices in markets are not arbitrary — they are reflections of how real people actually value certain goods and services in the real world. Arbitrarily changing the dollar numbers attached to those preferences does not change the underlying reality any more than trimming Cleveland off a map of the United States actually makes Cleveland disappear.

"Dollars are just a method of keeping count, and mandating higher wages for work that has not changed at all is, in the long run, like measuring yourself in centimeters instead of inches in order to make yourself taller, or tracking your weight in kilograms instead of pounds as a means of losing weight. The gentlemen in Washington seem to genuinely believe that if they measure their penises in picas they’ll all be Jonah Falcon — in reality, their interns won’t notice any difference."

Morning Rush: Super silk, fat is okay, and more

Here and there on the Web this Thursday, May 28, 2015:

Eats graphene, makes silk.
Silk stronger than Kevlar

Uh, eating fat is now okay

Homely men can't misbehave

Save more by knowing why

How squinting works

They're going after robocalls

Mutant bacteria test for disease

Facebook shares your location

Give your etiquette a tuneup

Daily aspiring vs emphysema

Obama doesn't get anti-Semitism

Beware online shopping ripoffs

What Hillary knew and when

Here's an anti-diabetes diet

It's the greenies vs the greenies

How To: shoot a portrait at a party

Today's Word: to deny, dispute, contradict

Hahaha: A zamboni gives birth

The world's first robotic kitchen:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bill Graham, Albert Einstein, and the journey

Billy Graham is now 96 years-old and has Parkinson's disease. In January 2000 leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favorite son to a luncheon in his honor.

Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because of his illness. But the Charlotte leaders said, "We don't expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you." So he agreed.

After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said:
"I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket , s o he reached in his trouser pockets.

"It wasn't there.  He looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it.  Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it.  "The conductor said, 'Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it.' "Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.
"The conductor rushed back and said, 'Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are;  no problem. You don't need a ticket.  I'm sure you bought one.' Einstein looked at him and said, "Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going."
Billy Graham continued.
"See the suit I'm wearing?  It's a brand new suit. My children and my grandchildren are telling me I've gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. 
"You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I'll be buried. But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want you to immediately remember the suit I'm wearing. I want you to remember this:

"I not only know who I am. I also know where I'm going."

Why our government is stupid

Americans in increasing numbers don't trust the government. They have good reason: the government doesn't work any more.

The reason is the way our brilliant leaders have set it up. Michael S. Greve, a professor at the George Mason University School of Law and the author of Federalism and the Constitution: Competition Versus Cartels, explains.
With very few exceptions (such as tax collection, Social Security, and Medicare), virtually all federal domestic programs are administered by state and local governments, often under one of over 1,100 federal funding statutes.
Consider the administration's controversial initiatives on immigration, marijuana legalization, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and Common Core academic standards, climate change and "clean power," and the implementation of Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act (ACA): What do they all have in common? They are federalism initiatives.
The stability of this system, he writes, rested on peculiar conditions: private and public affluence, tolerably homogeneous states, and a functioning Congress.
Those conditions have all ceased to operate to some extent. This predicament explains the rise of an executive and often extra-legal federalism — a federalism that is run through waivers, edicts, and transfers payments that are barely distinguishable from bribes.
"Cooperative" federalism is supposed to come from Congress and federal statutes. However, practically nothing comes from Congress these days. The legislature is notoriously divided. It lacks the financial resources to rope recalcitrant states in new federalism bargains (witness the ACA), and it cannot even revisit the bargains embedded in old statutes (such as education programs or the Clean Air Act).
Thus, to make federal programs "work" under current conditions, agencies rewrite statutes, issue expansive waivers, and negotiate deals with individual states on a one-off basis. That is how the ACA is being "administered." That is how Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell is trying to expand Medicaid. That is how No Child Left Behind is run. And that is how Environmental Protection Agency is trying to impose its Clean Power Plan: "stakeholder meetings" and assurances of regulatory forbearance for cooperating states; unveiled threats against holdout states.
For now, complaints over lawless executive behavior are the stuff of conservative agitation, he writes. However, a Republican president would be under enormous pressure to improvise federalism solutions under unworkable, obsolete, and profligate statutes. The fronts might change quite quickly, even as executive federalism continues its ascent.


Morning Rush: Tables, bragging, and more

Here and there on the Web this Wednesday, May 27, 2015:

Why is my food cold?
This table is an air conditioner 

How to brag on yourself

Frozen veggies are as good as fresh

To do math better, take a walk 

Why your tuition is so high 

These plants may treat diabetes

What a war on women looks like 

Why am I a crazy driver? 

Herpes vs skin cancer

Here's where people are moving  

Boy Scouts or garden club?

Okay, caterpillars are just weird 

A new way to find cheap flights

Wear a suit and get some respect

Control the language, control the people

Today's Word: a short, pithy, instructive saying

Hahaha: But this soldier wanted a coup!

How you are connected to the world:

John Lancaster Spalding: folly

"Leave each one his touch of folly; it helps to lighten life's burden which, if he could see himself as he is, might be too heavy to carry.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

It's bad all over

The way things are going I think I'll put on my helmet and hide in the basement.

In search of the elusive period

William Knowlton Zinsser, writer, editor, literary critic, and teacher, died on May 12. He began his career as a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune, where he worked as a feature writer, drama editor, film critic and editorial writer. He was a longtime contributor to leading magazines. His 18 books include On Writing Well.

Here are some of his instructions on writing well. See if you an spot the theme.

“Less is more.”

“Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.”

“Examine every word you put on paper. You'll find a surprising number that don't serve any purpose.” 

“Simplify, simplify.”

“I use “perpetrated” because it’s the kind of word that passive-voice writers are fond of. They prefer long words of Latin origin to short Anglo-Saxon words—which compounds their trouble and makes their sentences still more glutinous. Short is better than long.

“Most nonfiction writers have a definitiveness complex. They feel that they are under some obligation—to the subject, to their honor, to the gods of writing—to make their article the last word. It’s a commendable impulse, but there is no last word.”

“The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.” 

“Nouns now turn overnight into verbs. We target goals and we access facts. Train conductors announce that the train won’t platform. A sign on an airport door tells me that the door is alarmed. Companies are downsizing. It’s part of an ongoing effort to grow the business. “Ongoing” is a jargon word whose main use is to raise morale. We face our daily job with more zest if the boss tells us it’s an ongoing project; we give more willingly to institutions if they have targeted our funds for ongoing needs. Otherwise we might fall prey to disincentivization.” 

“Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”

“Most writers sow adjectives almost unconsciously into the soil of their prose to make it more lush and pretty, and the sentences become longer and longer as they fill up with stately elms and frisky kittens and hard-bitten detectives and sleepy lagoons.” 

“Writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it that shouldn’t be there.”

“There’s not much to be said about the period except that most writers don’t reach it soon enough.”

You can't be serious

You voted for them.
"Joe Biden — who is, incredibly, vice president of these United States — took the occasion of Memorial Day to telephone the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, for the purpose of making the political equivalent of a halftime locker-room speech: “Biden assures Iraqi prime minister of U.S. support,” reported ABC News.

"When Biden assures you of U.S. support, it is time to update your life-insurance policy and begin quietly executing whatever your Plan B is. Let’s hope he has a good real-estate agent. But let’s not blame poor feckless Joe Biden, the terrified rodential little man with the lingering hands and too much fondness for the word “literally,” the definition of which he does not seem to know.

"Yes, the vice president is an unserious man on this, as on all matters, but he is an unserious vice president who serves at the pleasure of an unserious president, who serves at the pleasure of an unserious people — us.

"Conservatives charge that President George W. Bush had effectively won the war in Iraq and that President Barack Obama subsequently lost it. This is more or less true, but some of my more hawkish friends omit the key fact: Barack Obama was elected for the express purpose of surrendering such gains as we had made in Iraq, the American people having judged the price of securing them too high.

"The electorate in 2008 was war-weary and, embarrassing as it is to admit, craven, and not only on the matter of our military campaigns. The electorate has come to take the Lyndon Johnson–Hermann Göring “guns vs. butter” rhetoric literally (n.b., Mr. Vice President!), as if through some transmutational property of politics we could convert the matériel invested in the long war with Islamic supremacists into subsidies for foodstuffs or, better yet, for health-insurance premiums. Senator Obama argued precisely that, and subsequent evidence suggests that he just may be daft enough to believe it."

Morning Rush: Super vision, olive oil, and more

Here and there on the Web this Tuesday, May 26, 2015:

What Superman wore.
You could have super human vision 

The power of your imagination

Drink olive oil, live forever

Woodward: Bush didn't lie about Iraq

Gazing at nature helps you think

They're trying to save the bats

Gas grilling is better than charcoal

Here come the new Democratic voters

The thunder god vine.
It's the weight-loss vine

Do you really need that degree?

Some research lies dormant for years 

How your diet affects your hearing

Lying about global warming

Organize and upgrade your garage

The destruction of motherhood

Is Obamacare about to implode?

Keep your kid out of pubic schools

How To: print your ideas in 3D

Today's Word: to convert to your way of thinking

Hahaha: Income inequality strikes birthday party

How your phone tracks your every move;

Jose Ortega y Gasset: excellence

"Excellence means when a man or woman asks of himself more than others do."

Monday, May 25, 2015


That was Bishop

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Luke Murphy served two tours with the 101st Airborne Division's 187th Infantry Regiment. He was catastrophically wounded in 2006, when a roadside bomb blast resulted in the amputation of his right leg. He is the author of "Blasted by Adversity: the Making of a Wounded Warrior." Find him at

Service members like me think about the soldiers we lost pretty often.

I remember when they were alive, all the stuff we did -- the training, combat and even just hanging out together off duty. Then my mind usually goes to the day of their deaths. I remember where I was when I heard about it, or what it felt like to see him catastrophically wounded. I picture their faces. They're young; they never get old.

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Bishop and some of us guys used to work on our vehicles together on weekends while in the States. He was a couple of ranks higher than we were, so technically we shouldn't have been hanging out. But Bishop had a garage, the right tools and the knowledge. I knew his wife and I can picture him holding his two-year-old son. I look at my old jeep now and remember who did the work on it.

New Year's Day in 2006, I was on my second tour. I had walked up to our battalion to harass the guy in charge of paperwork about my promotion.

When I got there, I started ragging the sergeant, but he dropped his head and wouldn't look at me. "Murph, now's just not a good time."

I saw that he was serious.

"Did you hear that blast earlier?" We were in Iraq; we heard blasts all the time. But, yeah, I knew what he was talking about because it had blown open the door of the trailer where I was working, even from a mile away.

Three vehicle-borne IEDs, suicide bombers, were in the city. An Apache helicopter had located two and eliminated the threat. They put a roadblock in place to catch the third, and that's where Bishop was working. The bomber tried to run it, but Bishop stood his ground. He shot the driver, so the vehicle exploded early, which meant fewer deaths and injuries.

"That was Bishop," the sergeant said to me. "Bishop's dead."

Luke Murphy suggests: If they felt moved, people could go to a website like Homes for Our Troops and make a donation. Or find a nonprofit that takes care of the fallen service members' families, like Gold Star organizations

Just a common soldier

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Today's elephant post

Vespers: Veni Creator Spiritus

These are students of Schola Cantorum of Amsterdam performing "Veni Creator Spiritus" ("Come Creator Spirit").

This hymn, one of the oldest in Christianity, is believed to have been written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. When the original Latin text is used, it is normally sung in Gregorian Chant. As an invocation of the Holy Spirit, in the practice of the Roman Catholic Church it is sung during the liturgical celebration of the feast of Pentecost (at both Terce and Vespers). 

It is also sung at occasions such as the entrance of Cardinals to the Sistine Chapel, when electing a new pope, as well as at the consecration of bishops, the ordination of priests, when celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation, the dedication of churches, the celebration of synods or councils, the coronation of kings, the profession of members of religious institutes and other similar solemn events.

Rabanus Maurus Magnentius (780 - 856)was a Frankish Benedictine monk, the archbishop of Mainz in Germany and a theologian. He was the author of the encyclopaedia De rerum naturis ("On the Natures of Things" or "On the Universe"). He also wrote treatises on education and grammar and commentaries on the Bible.

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our hearts take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heav'nly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O Comforter, to Thee we cry,
Thou heav'nly gift of God most high,
Thou Fount of life, and Fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

O Finger of the hand divine,
the sevenfold gifts of grace are thine;
true promise of the Father thou,
who dost the tongue with power endow.

Thy light to every sense impart,
and shed thy love in every heart;
thine own unfailing might supply
to strengthen our infirmity.

Drive far away our ghostly foe,
and thine abiding peace bestow;
if thou be our preventing Guide,
no evil can our steps betide.

Praise we the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit with them One;
and may the Son on us bestow
the gifts that from the Spirit flow.

The art of geniune charity

"Faith, religion and charity are central to living a full and meaningful life. Genuine faith leads to deeper spirituality, which leads to authentic charity.

"Too often 'faith' is nothing more than a codified list of beliefs, when its truest form resides in the silence of a believer’s heart. Too often 'spirituality' is watered down into something that means everything and nothing. And too often 'charity' is little more than a pragmatic, well-timed transfer of funds that has no connection at all to generosity or caring."

And suddenly from heaven

From The Lectionary:

Acts 2:1-21

2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

2:2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

2:5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.

2:6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

2:7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

2:8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

2:11 Cretans and Arabs--in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power."

2:12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"

2:13 But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."

2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.

2:15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning.

2:16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

2:17 'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

2:18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

2:19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.

2:20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.

2:21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

Robert Bresson: unique

"Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen."