Vegetable oil? Drive it away.

TRANS fats, used to cook foods like French fries and found in biscuits, dramatically increase a woman’s risk of becoming infertile, according to new research.

Scientists found that for every two per cent increase in the number of calories a woman got from trans fats instead of carbohydrates, her risk of infertility increased by 73 per cent.

Scientists believe trans fats – found mostly in processed vegetable oils – interfere with cells that play a vital role in ovulation.

Harvard School of Public Health
18,555 healthy women

Story at the Scotsman, with goodly doric wry, ey?
Whit ah want tae know is….aw thae hormones in ma pill that ah pee doon the bog and flush away intae the sea…thit are turnin the fish hermaphrodite…well is anybody taking a census here o’ how much hormonal activity is bouncin aboot in the sea n’ bein absorbed by yir dinner? Cos ye know….thirs quite a few o’ us wimmin swallowing these wee pills, and thirs quite a few o’ us wimmin eatin fish as well……and guys of course.

Vegetable oil? Drive it away.

Walking along

Aside of me

Just take a tiny moment, and take a small dream;
just have a wondrous hour and take a strong love,
and there you’ll be,
and there you’ll be,
aside of me.

Just call a grand forgiveness and wake forevermore,
and there you’ll be,
and there you’ll be,
aside of me.

If I could a walk a longer mile;
If I could talk a wider smile;
If I could bring a heavy weight to gravity;
If I could find a deeper gold;
If I could gild a finer bold;
If I could…
there you’ll be,
aside of me.

Walking with the eagle

The herald of society rises slowly.

And often from surprising corners. This is the fabric of history itself. Even the most tense social order is always on the verge of surprise.

Here, where surprise is most profound, liquid cultures are absorbing the incessant passions of humanity and do so best by ingeniously recognizing tensions between individual and collective sovereignty. It is the application of this ingenuity that presses the wise.

What is clearer today though is the effect of inaction. The ideal can be lost. We can be losing individuals in a crowd of individualists. This is the lesson of nihilist utopianists.The individual’s talent, the individual’s spirit of reliance upon change, is a response to the potential of the whole, not to the arrangement of the immediate.

The simultaneous fostering of the individual within the whole of society is the crucible of our imagination and the growth of a free society. The realization of this moral cooperation is the transcendent victory of all humanity. This victory is our new constant.

The Best We wins

I’m walking today,
whistles on the eagle’s wing,
while watching
sweet liberty,
vast horizon,
joined among the season;
the good we of us;

whistl’e whiszles
whistles on the eagle’s wing,

Bill Moyers warns of brandwashing

a Marge Piercy poem:

The low road

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

…the agriculture of agglomeration, the technocracy of econometrics, the arrogance of opportunism, the cowering of publicans, the architecture of unstudied power, and the weak thing of democracy. What’s the weak thing?

this country is going to die of too many lies

Predictive markets pioneer

Quite awhile ago Tom Wright, whom I know to be a very good fellow, built a quantitative analysis firm involved in implementing innovative computer driven, non-linear, dynamical, adaptive trade timing models using emerging and proven predictive technologies for world financial markets.

Applied Market Analytics, Inc.

Tom is the chief architect of an advanced exploratory quantitative analysis platform and meta-language for developing computer based trading systems.

The platform facilitates using mathematical time series transformations, sophisticated statistical and mathematical analysis, portfolio analysis, market indicator and model synthesis, signal generation, non-linear optimization, and trader support.

The system allows market analysts to explore market dynamics heuristically, build indicators, and model trading systems without programming, while using advanced vector and array processing techniques.

Tom’s models are constructed in such a way that parameters adapt — something much more than mere analysis.

Wired reports a twist on being ‘wired’

TeleSex. Twenty-five years ago I also called it “Techsex” and “Telegasm” – remote-responsive and media-responsive electronic stimulation.

Consumer-level net sex:
Wired calls it Teledildonics – a product suite from Japan:

“Unlike HighJoy and Sinulator which connect two people’s sex toys in real time over the internet, the Segment system combines video and tactile input into a single file that your fans — or your lovers — can play back at their leisure.”

Don’t forget about biodiesel

Ethanol is big bucks for agri-biz
Ethanol production will continue to expand as fast as private-sector funding can construct capacity. The Energy Policy Act mandates a goal of seven billions gallons of domestic ethanol use by 2010.

But diversion of corn to ethanol production is having a big impact on the meat and poultry industries. Heavily subsidized, highly centralized ethanol production plants may introduce damaging increases in the price of corn and soybeans. Corn prices are now $4.20 a bushel up from $2.19 in September.

Cattle feedlots and poultry houses are in a hurry to make use of the lower priced waste of ethanol production, the leftover material known as dried distillers grain, to hedge against the price increases as crops are diverted toward ethanol. The high fat content of distillers grains may introduce a challenging nutritional frontier around the world.

Biodiesel is smaller scale
Although less attention is being paid to lower-tech, smaller scale decentralized energy production from vegetable oils, biodiesel has a role to play as well – as much as one billion gallons by 2012. Oil grain farmers are speeding to install fuel production equipment to add value and profit to their oil crops.

Many smaller scale operations that convert manure into fuel are already under construction. Plus biodiesel demand will directly benefit packers and processors. Animal fat fuel stocks from tallow and rendered chicken fat could account for one-half of the biodiesel volume.

Move over Big Oil
This is a fully automatic biofuel plant — in a shipping container — made by BioKing in Holland which is now shipping about 25 farm-sized biodiesel manufacturing units a week. BioKing proudly asserts they will be a world leader in biofuel production machinery.

Dan Murphy at reports,
“Ethanol production delivers less net energy than biodiesel, compromises the economics of feed production and would require hugely expensive conversion to and/or manufacturing of millions of flex fuel automobiles to fully rationalize its usage.

On the other hand, biodiesel arguably has a greater positive impact on air quality and can be deployed not only across the entire transportation sector but in construction and manufacturing as well.

Most importantly, biodiesel helps not hurts industry’s bottom line. It affords a new technology to sustain renewable, domestic energy production and support small-scale businesses that would strengthen the viability of the agricultural areas and rural communities upon which meat and poultry production depends.”

Is Kitchen Table Fuel next?

ETruk small biodiesal reactorEcotec Resources UK announced the launch of small scale biodiesel reactors known as the ETRUK. How much fat to fuel your SUV?

Risk of higher prices and inflation

Downstream are rising consumer prices for soap, shampoo, cosmetics, processed food, ‘fast food’, even ‘instant noodles’, folding higher costs throughout the global economy.

Converting the infrastructure of energy…
now that’s economic backbone!

Ethanol may fuel inflation too

There are many predictions, often using data we are not yet able to collect, but it seems that costs are rising and that there will be substantial losses in North American animal agriculture in order to adjust to higher grain costs.

Preliminary figures for 2006 indicate the US ethanol industry used 1. 7 billion bushels of corn, or about ten percent of total production, and by 2010 that figure could double. Corn prices are rising. Now $4. 20 a bushel in the US up from $2. 19 in September

Brain pathways of entrenched ideology

Pointing to a review at American Scientist, Mind Hacks succinctly summarizes this point from the book “Brain and Culture: Neurobiology, Ideology, and Social Change.”

Fearing the unfamiliar:
The reason that the distrust of people with a different skin color, different values or a different ideology is so prevalent is because the early development of crucial brain pathways makes it hard for people to accept new and unfamiliar experiences.

Bruce Wexler argues that when people are faced with information that does not agree with their internal structures, they deny, discredit, reinterpret or forget that information.

When changes in the environment are great, corresponding internal changes are accompanied by distress and dysfunction. The inability to reconcile differences between strange others and ingrained notions of “humanness” can culminate in violence.

The neurobiological imperative to maintain a balance between internal structures and external reality fuels this struggle for control, which contributes to making the contact zone a place of intractable conflict.

Anonymous free speech

The Importance Of Protecting Anonymous Speech Online

There tends to be this feeling of entitlement that anything someone doesn’t like must somehow be “illegal.” This is especially true when it comes to anonymous speech — even more so when it’s anonymous speech that’s “critical” of someone or some organization. The EFF is discussing an interesting case where the publisher of a newspaper is trying to uncover the identity of an anonymous blogger who runs a blog that has had several critical posts of the newspaper’s strategy to stop its employees from unionizing.

Anonymity can be messy, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be protected.

Color me sucker

We will live out our years in poverty if we don’t buy mutual funds.

“Yup”, says me. “Thus Enron, Tyco, Cisco, HP and Microsoft and a couple similar dozen clipped nearly $250,000 out of my pocket in Spring 2000, would now be a loss near $700,000 and I have nothing. Companies and governments prey; prey on us. Little firms too, selling false cures, diets, land, work and money hustles. We are becoming less a people and more an agriculture.”

Though with a Canadian bent, this CBC column will give you a short knock on the head, a new focus:

Fear sells.
Scaring the money right out of our pockets

  • the war on terror comes with its own set of scary images, and the intention of persuading us not to question the government when it spends our money…
  • Pharmaceutical companies are in a class by themselves, as they wield the ultimate threat: Buy our product or you will die…

Assuring nicotine addiction

Something else Congress and States failed to manage:

A reanalysis of nicotine yield from major brand name cigarettes sold in Massachusetts from 1997 to 2005 has confirmed that manufacturers have steadily increased the levels… in smoke nicotine yield per cigarette averaged 1.6 percent each year, or about 11 percent over a seven-year period…

[link through Science blog]

Jealous of the loveable

Oh, woe.
Men don’t like men that are liked by women.

”…competition promotes negative attitudes towards men who are the target of positive interest from women…”

“Men rated men who had been smiled at as less attractive.”

New Scientist

“Women rate a man as more attractive after they’ve seen another woman smiling at him.”

Doomed slums of the world

by Ian Morley

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability
of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition was written 20 years ago in the Brundtland Report, commissioned by the United Nations.

Since then, the goal of sustainable urban development has been embraced, in theory, by many officials and design professionals all over the world. But examples of meeting today’s needs seem limited to the more prosperous segments of society.

“Living conditions today in the slums of many of the world’s largest cities are appalling, and not improving.” – Editor, Architecture Week

Interesting rant post here as well:
“…if people did take a look at how complicated poverty is, it might (guess what!) implicate YOU.”

Giant gold deposits

Historically, there has been scientific debate on the source of metals in the gold-copper mines of the Pacific Rim. Were the metals derived from the crust or the mantle? New work has shown that the metals are coming from the mantle, and that the crust does not play a significant role in contributing metals during ore formation.

Gold deposits are associated with volcanoes formed where portions of oceanic crust are being pulled deep into the Earth (subducted). Operating like a giant conveyor belt, these plates transport water and oxygen from the surface down into the mantle.

Water-bearing minerals in the subducted crust dehydrate, generating a plume of fluid that rises through the mantle. The fluid scavenges gold and copper from the deep mantle, transporting metals to the upper mantle where they are deposited in sulfide-rich veins. Melting of these vein-rich portions of the upper mantle creates batches of magma enriched in copper and gold, and when these fertile magmas reach the crust they are prone to produce gold-copper deposits. [ CSIRO Exploration, Australia]

Representing a new style of mineralization on the modern sea floor, large gold-rich veins have been recovered – a minimum of 600mt Au – from the top of Conical seamount, a shallow (1,050-m water depth) submarine volcano located south of Lihir island, Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea hosts several giant gold ore bodies.

Over half of the world’s known gold deposits have been formed in hydrothermal areas. Gold dissolves in water heated in the earth to temperatures over 200°C. As the water moves through channels in the rock and cools, the gold is precipitated out to form the deposit. A University of Auckland study show it only takes a blink of a geological eye for giant gold deposits to form; about 55,000 years, the same as the life expectancy of an active volcano. [sampling active gold deposition areas]

Memory in the womb

Mind Hacks reports:

It turns out that studies done on young babies, even babies in the womb, have shown that infants have got surprisingly good memory.

As reviewed by Hayne, 3-day-old infants were capable of distinguishing a particular passage (from Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in the Hat”) that had been read to them twice daily for the last 6 weeks of gestation from similar passages (matched for word count, length, and prosody).

What’s more, these infants preferred the familiar passage even if spoken by someone other than their mother, strongly suggesting that they had encoded (and retained) a relatively high-level representation of the passage’s auditory content.

Link to ‘The Myth of Infantile Amnesia’.

An archeology of a deadly virus

The 1918 flu virus has been reconstructed using genes from the tissues of victims of the great pandemic in a reverse genetics process that enables scientists to make fully functioning viruses.

The 1918 virus was indeed different from other known flu viruses.

The virus does something early in infection to trigger a devastating immune response that destroys the lungs in a matter of days. The 1918 virus is also what we see with H5N1 viruses requiring antiviral strategies to both outwit the virus and moderate the host immune response. [story]

Cap’n Crunch at age 63

“Cap’n Crunch,” part of an aging community of high-tech wunderkinds. Once tolerated, even embraced, for his eccentricities, Mr. John Draper now lives on the margins of this affluent world, still striving to carve out a role in the business mainstream. Although his appearance and hand-to-mouth existence belie it, Mr. Draper developed one of the first word-processing programs as well as the technology that made possible voice-activated telephone menus.

Draper – who wrote Apple’s first word-processing program – showed Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak and a friend, Mr. Jobs, how to build a device that could produce telephone tones. The pair turned the knowledge into a small business on the Berkeley campus, their first collaboration before founding Apple a few years later.

Mr. Wozniak employed Mr. Draper at Apple, where as a contractor in 1977 he designed a device that could immediately identify phone signals and lines — such as ones that made free calls — something modems were not able to do for a decade. The technology would later be used for tone-activated calling menus, voice mail and other purposes.

Other wayfaring pioneers:
John Draper calls aging veterans like himself part of an “off-the-grid” community. Steve Inness, 47, helped develop touch-screen cellphone technology and does programming work for startups. In recent years, he’s lived on the floors and couches of employers; he was last seen hitchhiking in the desert outside Las Vegas. Roy Kaylor, 68, built one of the first electric cars in the early 1970s and contributed to a government-supported effort to develop the technology. He lives in a trailer without electricity in the Santa Cruz mountains. Mr. Draper’s recent lunch host, Mr. Bengel, 61, designed an electrohydraulic machine tool and says he has worked for several Silicon Valley companies.

free article at the Wall Street Journal

Feeling sad at night?

Pete is not alone in his loneliness – millions of aging adults find themselves in similar situations. But, exactly how does being sad or lonely or overwhelmed affect us physically?

Researchers at Northwestern University recently found the body “knows” when you’re feeling sad at night and compensates the following morning by increasing the amount of cortisol in your system.

Cortisol is the stress hormone that regulates the body’s response to both physical and psychological stressors. Produced by the adrenal cortex, cortisol is critical in the regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The body also secretes additional cortisol to deal with short-term needs, as in the fight or flight response.

In the case of loneliness and other negative emotional experiences, scientists suggest the additional boost of cortisol in the morning prepares both the body and the mind to meet the challenges of a new day. Though not yet fully understood, it appears cortisol and emotional experiences interact in a unique interplay. Negative emotions result in higher levels of cortisol the following day – the higher levels of cortisol ease the stress and, as a result, the cortisol levels fall. The following day, the interplay begins anew.

Researchers hope their studies will offer insight into the impact of emotions on physical wellbeing.

A rare look at the physiological, social and emotional dynamics of day-to-day experiences in real-life settings shows that when older adults go to bed lonely, sad or overwhelmed, they have elevated levels of cortisol shortly after waking the next morning.

What holiday?

Seth Godin on MLK Day
“You don’t have to experience the emotion in order to be able to respect someone who has.

Slavery was the greatest crime of the millenium. Why does it surprise marketers (politicians and otherwise) when so many people have a worldview that has been permanently altered by the legacy of abuse? It’s a worldview that doesn’t ask for charity for the individual, but one that demands respect.”

Daylight remains dark

Anyone who seeks to influence legislation by lavishing campaign contributions on members of Congress is now on notice that he stands [they stand] naked before the world.

Unfortunately, the influence industry adapted brilliantly to this new environment.

When Sunlight Doesn’t Disinfect, at Slate

Religion’s consequences

More people in Britain think religion causes harm than believe it does good… an overwhelming majority see religion as a cause of division and tension – greatly outnumbering the smaller majority who also believe that it can be a force for good.

82% of those questioned say they see religion as a cause of division and tension between people.