Friday, 25 December 2015

self-awareness among insects?

As we discover more about the animal kingdom,
some amazing things pop up.

What would you say to an insect that had , on its
wings, a picture of an enemy of its predator?
Would you say that the insect willed itself
(its genes) to have an "antidote" to being

Is it in the same vein as the poison that some
prey have somehow "developed" that makes
them inedible, and thus safe?

Anyway, it blows the mind.

It is also related to what they call in humans
"epigenetics", or how individuals differ from
the genetic norm. Is it willpower?

checkit:  Gizmodo

This amazing fruit fly evolved to have pictures of ants on its wings
This is unbelievable, but the fruit fly G tridens has somehow evolved to have what looks like pictures of ants on its wings. Seriously, its transparent wings have an ant design on them complete with "six legs, two antennae, a head, thorax and tapered abdomen." It's nature's evolutionary art painted on a fly's wings.
Recently spotted by the New York Times, the fruit fly is just incredible. Other flies in its family of 5,000 species have other type of markings on its wings but it's the G tridens that has something so intricate and so specific.
The idea of the ant design, as explained to The National by Dr Brigitte Howarth of Zayed University who first discovered G tridens in the UAE, is that these flies use their wings to ward off predators. The fly flashes it wings back and forth to make it seem as if the ants are moving around and that movement would confuse the predator. Nature's version of a tattoo, I guess.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Sugar -coated liver disease with a side of Alzheimers

We now know that sugar, in all its forms, is a fairly
deadly chemical. It's found in everything from
pasta to soft drinks.

Research is beginning to show how it is destroying
our livers, and may even contribute to Alzheimers.

Of course, we're not talking about wholesome
home-cooked pies and sweats. The real culprits
are the factory-made cheap-ass high-fructose
corn-syrup Ho-hos and Binkies.

Radical obesity has sky-rocketed. Thanks to
research from the last 5 years, we now know
that sugar is one great factor. It starts with a
little Cola and ends up with massive obesity.

Here are some stats on obesity that show
the change from the time before high-fructose
corn syrup and after, in the US. The difference
between 1985 (first map) and 2009 (second map)
shows the kind of epidemic I'm talking about.

Then there's a great BBC documentary on
the silent killer that is sugar.

I've personally cut sugar consumption
by 90% since September of last year,
and have slimmed my waistline, while
not having lost much weight. I feel
stronger and more lithe.

Lastly, there's a review of research from
a non-scientific website (so I can't vouch
for all of it, but it's on the right track).

checkit: Reset me

Is Your Memory Shaky? Might Not Be Your Age, But All That Sugar Ruining Your Liver
by Ari LeVaux
on April 9, 2015
We know foods like donuts and soda can make you fat, but the effects of sugar on the liver and brain are less well known. Dietary sugar can fry your liver in much the same way alcohol can. This in turn can hurt your brain, leaving you with dementia-like symptoms decades too soon.
Most people associate liver disease with alcohol abuse or hepatitis. But another type, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which barely existed three decades ago, has quickly become the most common liver disease in America. NAFLD isn’t caused by booze or a nasty virus, but dietary sugar, which causes a buildup of fat in your liver. Overweight people are likely candidates for NAFLD. Memory loss and diminished cognitive function are often the first symptoms, as the liver loses its ability to filter toxins that compromise the brain.
According to the American Liver Foundation, at least a quarter of the U.S. population now suffers from NAFLD, and that number is expected to swell to 40 percent by 2030, apace with an accompanying swelling of the American body, thanks to the insatiable American sweet tooth and the corporate interests that feed it. A study published March 25 further solidified the connection between sugar and NAFLD, finding that even moderate amounts of sugary drinks will stimulate the production of enzymes that deposit fat in the liver.
These are sour times at the Sugar Association, a DC-based trade group with a mission that appears increasingly impossible: “to promote the consumption of sugar through sound scientific principles.”
Alas for Big Sugar, it’s becoming ever more difficult to use even the most convoluted scientific principles to promote sugar consumption, much less defend it.
The Sugar Association once touted sugar as “a sensible approach to weight control,” something we now know is roughly the polar opposite of the truth. In addition to non-alcohol fatty liver disease, sugar promotes a variety of other ailments, including heart disease, tooth decay, and diabetes. Meanwhile, new research is mounting that suggests sugar is behind Alzheimer’s disease, which has been dubbed Type 3 Diabetes, a.k.a. diabetes of the brain.
The case against sugar has grown steadily but quietly in the last four decades, in the shadow of dietary fat, which has widely been blamed for these ailments. Meanwhile, the Sugar Association has engaged in tactics reminiscent of the tobacco industry during the height of its denial, including the funding of sugar-friendly research, the installation of sugar-friendly (and sugar-funded) scientists on government advisory panels, and even threats to scientists and politicians who question the place of sugar in a healthy diet.
The Sugar Association’s general response to the circling wagons of anti-sugar has been to claim a lack of consensus and inconclusive results. But despite these efforts, as with tobacco, this cat is proving too big for the bag.
In February, the recommendations of USDA’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) were published. They include several significant sugar-related proposals, including a sugar tax. The recommendations take specific aim at added sugars, suggesting they be labelled as such, and kept below 10 percent of total caloric intake.
Identifying added sugar would distinguish it from sugar that’s naturally in a food product. For example, a six-ounce container of plain yogurt has 7 grams of the sugar lactose, while a pomegranate yogurt has 19 grams of sugar, including 12 grams of added sugar, explains Robert Lustig, a specialist in pediatric obesity, in a March 20 op-ed in the LA Times.
The yogurt example hits home to me. My dad is diabetic, and used to eat sweetened yogurt daily. My son would eat sweetened yogurt every day, if left to his own devices.
Added sugar is another way of saying “Big Sugar’s bottom line,” and on March 24 the Sugar Association requested that the added sugar recommendations be removed. In a bitter irony, its letter to DGAC complained that the committee, “selected science to support its predetermined conclusions.”
In his op-ed, Lustig compared Big Sugar to a wild animal that has been cornered, and will fight with everything it has. But as with tobacco, the evidence against it is just too damning.
“Sugar starts to fry your liver at about 35 pounds per year, just like alcohol would at the same dosage. This is because fructose — the sweet molecule of sugar — is metabolized in the liver just like alcohol.” Americans, Lustig notes, consume an average of 100 pounds of sugar per year. “That is why children now get the diseases of alcohol consumption — type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease — without ever drinking alcohol.”
Big Sugar’s last chance, he says, is intra-agency dysfunction. “There are 51 separate agencies in charge of our food supply. That suits the food industry just fine. Their strategy is to divide and conquer. It’s time for us to unite to tame this wild animal before it can sicken another generation of children. “
While this power struggle runs its course, we have a choice between limiting sugar consumption, or dealing with its consequences by pumping children full of insulin, lipo-sucking excess fat from teens, and swapping out the livers of absent-minded middle-agers.
While the dust settles and sugar consumption and labeling guidelines are inevitably restructured, you don’t have to wait for any final word from government agencies. You can use your common sense, though willpower might be more of an issue.
Sugar craving is widely considered an addiction that’s complicated by the fact that eating sugar is entangled with the healthy, necessary act of eating. But research at MIT, published in January, suggests that compulsive sugar consumption follows a different neural pathway than healthy eating.
These findings open the door to more research into dealing with sugar addiction. Meanwhile, it’s encouraging that your brain’s sweet tooth can be retrained, before your memory deteriorates to the point that you forget where you stashed the gummy bears.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

London coats, your lungs with NO2

I have in the past been a resident of the Big Smoke,
London. It is an exciting town. So exciting that
you forget that the air is killing you.

I lived in the East end, and not near any factories.
Still, I would go running in a green park, and
never near cars (I had learned that, but I see
folks every day running in traffic- I equate it
to smoking).

Still, I would find my health getting worse
after jogging and not better. I knew something
was wrong. I find that my nose gets irritated
in big cities too, like Athens. It just can't take
the exhaust stink. Well London doesn't stink
like that , but its air is still a soup.

I have chats with people who are interested
in the air pollution in London, and these people
are having an effect on the posh mayor Boris.
He has had his world rocked by the data. The
story changed overnight once even he could
not ignore the stats.

Still, these are not the pro-cyclist lobby. The
cyclists are still trying not to get killed. They
have no time to worry about smog, but they
are in the thick of it, with their lungs fully
open. They must be shortening their lives
with every day. Watch this:

This guy talks about his search for biking masks.
He is not a cycling freak. He realises the
damage to his lungs.
He claims that cars have air filters for the A/C so drivers are safe, plus he gives stats on the amount of air taken in during activity is 4 times as much as the sedentary driver. Cyclists are brave and/or crazy.

So, Oxford Street is the big toney shopping
area for the rich and the great unwashed,
cheek to cheek. I find myself getting butt-
checked by fat rich broads.

Apparently it's the worst most polluted
main street on the planet. It's worse than
Beijing where they wear masks.

Look for the Clean Air sign turning black.
You see that we have taken most industry
out of cities but since then, we have  let
the rich decide how to take debt and make
our cities in their image, without any concern
for the cockroach-like people that make
the city tick. Us.

checkit: The Guardian

Welcome to London – the most toxic town on the planet
Oxford Street's more polluted than Beijing and the sky's alive with cranes. Just what kind of city is Boris Johnson creating?

Zoe Williams
Tuesday 8 July 2014 18.55 BST
Emissions research from King's College London has found nitrogen dioxide concentrations on Oxford Street to be worse than they are anywhere else on Earth, in the history of air pollution. David Carslaw, who led the research, said: "To my knowledge this is the highest in the world in terms of both hourly and annual mean." That's higher than Beijing and Dhaka, higher than anywhere where face masks are the norm and the streets seem to throng with lost medics, and more than 11 times the EU limit.
A spokesman for the mayor of London called the figures "misleading", and said that the capital's air pollution was lower than that in many world cities. The fact is, there is too much stop-start traffic, too many tall buildings, too much nitrogen dioxide. But if you were more interested in winning a debate than you are in the air your fellow Londoners were breathing, you could see this as room for manoeuvre.
I met a consultant for Transport for London recently who was very keen on this art project: a clean white canvas, with "fresh air" painted in a light glue across the middle of it. You'd stick it up in Vauxhall Cross, in central London, and over time the "fresh air" would go completely black. I wasn't wild about the idea, on the grounds of urban morale. What are you going to do, as you watch your local canvas get darker and darker, and imagine what that is doing to your internal workings? How will that help?
And yet, arrested by these figures, although unsurprised by them – having cycled down Oxford Street often enough to have seen the diesel fumes shimmering in the sun – I think there probably are things we can do.
. We would have a 20mph speed limit across every conurbation, calming all traffic and reducing the braking and rapid acceleration that have made nitrogen dioxide levels as high as they are. We would consolidate loads on the outskirts of the capital, and drive them in only overnight. If we were serious, in other words, we would make a concerted effort to make all our cities liveable, and stop splitting hairs about which was really damaging our health, between doing no exercise and creating cities in which exercise was undoable.
Third, at some point, we're surely allowed to ask some deeper questions about what this picture tells us. If we have the most polluted main street on the planet, then it is likely that we are taking on characteristics of developing nations: rapid development and urbanisation with insufficient regard for people who live around it, who most probably won't ever benefit from it. In London, the skyline is alive with cranes: the financial services group Deloitte uses words such as "in full swing", but to me the cranes look more predatory than creative. I don't get the sense, when I see another tower of glass, that sometime soon it's going to look like a thriving, mixed community.
We've become so accustomed to the mantra that businesses and developers are king that we've ceased to even make the demand for some kind of equity between their interests and ours….

Monday, 25 August 2014

I let companies decide what's healthy for me

That's a lie.  It takes a long time, even for a
bad, counter-culture cynic like me to believe
that our governments would let companies
pollute our bodies with untested chemicals
that they think will work , that make them
happier with their products that are made
smoother, because of an oil slick of

If you believe that fluoride is just a chemical
runoff that companies bottled and foisted on
us, with bribing of politicians under the
banner of tooth enamel protection, then
this story is for you.

Couple it with the Zerohedge story on how
the US is getting stupider:

checkit: Collective evolution

Harvard Research Finds Link Between Fluoridated Water, ADHD & Mental Disorders
March 5, 2014 by Joe Martino. 8 Comments.
New research published in The Lancet by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) found that various chemicals that many children are exposed to are having a direct effect on the creation of disorders labelled under the name ADHD as well as other mental disorders. One of the chemicals said to be having an effect is fluoride, or variations of fluoride. Governments have been performing artificial fluoridation for a number of years regardless of the lack of effectiveness it has in preventing tooth decay.
The research began in a study published in 2006 which initially looked at the effects of various industrial chemicals on neuro-development.[1] The research continued with an analysis of more industrial chemicals including fluoride. 27 additional studies, including one that linked fluoride to the lowering of IQ in children, clearly illustrated the fact that fluoride is detrimental to brain development and can lead to autism spectrum disorders and other mental issues. The issue is being coined “a silent epidemic” and most health authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the issue.
 The two main researchers involved in the study, Philippe Grandjean from HSPH and Philip Landrigan, both agree that the reason for the increase in incidences of chemical-related neuro-developmental disorders is due to the increasing number of untested chemicals that are being approved without proper testing. The public is also not fully being told of the dangers which is causing many to perform independent research to find out the true effects. The issue is not just in water fluoridation, but also in the vaccination of our children.
“Since 2006, the number of chemicals known to damage the human brain more generally, but that are not regulated to protect children’s health, had increased from 202 to 214,” writes Julia Medew for The Sydney Morning Herald. “The pair said this could be the tip of the iceberg because the vast majority of the more than 80,000 industrial chemicals widely used in the United States have never been tested for their toxic effects on the developing fetus or child.”
 The fact is, fluoride is a known developmental neurotoxin and practices of water fluoridation have long been proven to be ineffective. If individuals choose to use fluoridated tooth paste or choose fluoride treatments at their dental office, that is acceptable but two things should happen:
 1. People should be taught about the harmful effects of fluoride and the damage it can cause to your teeth and your body.
 2. Water fluoridation should be stopped everywhere immediately as it is nothing more than a legal way for chemical companies to get rid of toxic waste while profiting.
 Fluoride accumulates in the body over time, so even though the amounts being ingested might be small each time, it builds up over years and can cause serious health issues. Research has found that fluoride affects normal endocrine function, causes kidney disease, bone weakness, dental fluorosis, cancer, lowering of IQ, calcification of the pineal gland, arthritis, immune deficiencies, skeletal fluorosis and much more.
2 ZH
Dumb & Dumber - Scientific Proof That People Are Getting 'Stupider'
Submitted by Tyler Durden
on 08/25/2014 15:23 -0400
Submitted by Michael Snyder of The American Dream blog, Are people dumber than they used to be? Were previous generations mentally sharper than us? You may have suspected that people are getting stupider for quite some time, but now we actually have scientific evidence that this is the case. As you will read about below, average IQs are dropping all over the globe, SAT scores in the U.S. have been declining for decades, and scientists have even discovered that our brains have been getting smaller over time. So if it seems on some days like you woke up in the middle of the movie “Idiocracy”, you might not be too far off. Much of the stuff that they put in our junk food is not good for brain development, our education system is a total joke and most Americans are absolutely addicted to mindless entertainment. Fortunately we have a lot of technology that does much of our thinking for us these days, because if we had to depend on our own mental capabilities most of us would be in a tremendous amount of trouble. Sadly, this appears to be a phenomenon that is happening all over the planet. As a recent Daily Mail article explained, IQ scores are falling in country after country… Richard Lynn, a psychologist at the University of Ulster, calculated the decline in humans’ genetic potential. He used data on average IQs around the world in 1950 and 2000 to discover that our collective intelligence has dropped by one IQ point. Dr Lynn predicts that if this trend continues, we could lose another 1.3 IQ points by 2050. One IQ point does not sound like a lot, but when you go back even further in time the declines become a lot more dramatic. For example, a psychology professor at the University of Amsterdam named Jan te Nijenhuis has calculated that we have lost a total of 14 IQ points on average since the Victorian Era. And we don’t need a professor to tell us that this is true. Just go back and read some of the literature from that time period. Much of it is written at such a high level that I can barely even understand it. There is other evidence that people are getting stupider as well. For instance, SAT scores in the United States have fallen significantly in recent years… There appears to be a disturbing trend in American high schools. If we judge the quality of education by the scores that students get on their SATs, then it appears that things are getting worse. Since 2006, the overall average SAT score has fallen by 20 points, dropping from 1518 to 1498 in 2012. Scores are also down in each of the three categories tested, with reading dropping 9 points, mathematics dropping 4 points, and writing falling 9 points. It’s a fair bet that students aren’t becoming less intelligent, so exactly what is going on? And this decline in SAT scores is not just limited to the past few years. As the following chart from Zero Hedge demonstrates, SAT scores have been declining in America for decades…

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Edible cars

If you have a dog with teething problems, why not give
the poor quadruped a car to chew on?

Either that, or the dog will do it of its own volition.

How was the Doggie daddy to know that his car
was edible? He paid £80 K for an Aston Martin
to show how cool he is, and now he's got even
more cooling, from nature.
His car's missing a front bumper.

How is it the rich guys are always ahead of the
curve with new car ideas? While we shiver,
upright, jammed up against the steering wheel,
pumping our feet to change gears, they
sit back and use paddles.

Their cars can park for them, or show them
the way with cameras so they don't have to
turn their lordly heads. We gotta risk pinched
nerves on a daily basis.

Aston La Vista , baby [yahoo news]

 The dog's name is Chew-baka. [yahoo news]

Friday, 7 February 2014

computers were invented for currency traders

I need to acknowledge the obvious or else I go crazy.

When people are trading currencies, it means that
they see some value in those currencies and those
values shift. Actually, that would be nice.

The truth is, bankers send orders whizzing around
the planet, making trades simply to get the fees.

I had this figured out as a kid. There's no rhyme
or season to this crap.

So, the world needs bankers to trade 5 trillion
dollars worth of currencies every day.
I repeat. this is bullsh*t!


The rise of money trading has made our economy all mud and no brick
Trillions of dollars change hands every day in the foreign exchange markets. Yet this vast industry profits from peaks and troughs – it has no interest in a stable economy
        Alex Andreou  
        Wednesday 20 November 2013 16.55 GMT 
By far the most destructive sentence, in terms of political engagement, is "this is too complex for you to understand". Occasionally, I stand in front of what I've learned on a subject, like an ant looking up at the Great Wall of China, thinking "how do I begin to explain this to another ant?" But it is just stone on top of stone, brick on top of brick, with a bit of mud in between to hold them together; it is like any other wall, just a lot bigger.
We all understand currency exchange – one national currency can be exchanged for another based on an agreed rate. Most of us have seen it in action at one time or another, before a holiday or when paying for a DVD on eBay from a seller based in another country. The global foreign exchange market consists of two elements. The first is business conducted in the real economy – buying that DVD, providing a service to a foreign company, importing oil. The second is speculation; the buying and selling of currency purely in order to make a profit from its changing value.
According to the economist Bernard Lietaer, author of The Future of Money, as recently as 1975 roughly 80% of foreign exchange transactions involved the real trading of a product or a service. The remaining 20% were speculative; bets made on the value of currencies going up or down – buy it before it rises, dump it before it drops. By the late 90s that ratio had changed dramatically. In 1997 the percentage of foreign exchange which involved transactions in the real economy was only 2.5%.
Today, the picture is even starker. According to the Global Policy Forum, in 2011 only 0.6% of foreign exchange could be traced to genuine international trade in goods and services. Of the rest, a minimum of 80% was directly attributable to exchange rate speculation. The ratio of mud to brick has reversed entirely.
Let me now give you an idea of the size of the wall. An estimated $5.3tn changes hands every day in the foreign exchange markets. That is an entire year's worth of the European Union's GDP, gambled every three days. More than 40% of these trades happen in the UK. On a daily basis, the financial institutions of the City of London make speculative currency trades worth nearly as much as the entire nation's GDP for a whole year.
Some of the foreign exchange sub-markets (like the $2tn spot market) are controlled by fewer than 100 individuals, working for a dozen large banks. Add into this mix the fact that regulatory authorities last week launched investigations into at least 15 global banks for alleged manipulation of these vast markets and the need to reconsider and redesign this warped system becomes even more urgent.
Five thousand years ago, a shekel was a unit of weight – usually barley. I want some eggs; I will give you these two standard bags of barley for them. Then someone thought "wouldn't it be better to have something small and easy to carry that just represented bags of barley?" And so, around 650BC, the Lydians created the first few coins. Money developed explicitly as a tool to make our lives easier, our trades less onerous.
"Money," wrote Ayn Rand, "is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them." This is no longer true. Money itself has become the thing most traded. It is critical to understand the size and nature of this behemoth industry in order to dispel the myth that as a country (and globally) we are united in a process of restoring economic stability. We are not. The money is made in predicting the peaks and troughs. No peaks and troughs, no profit.