bunrab: (Default)
I decided to do another pass through a bookshelf I haven't closely inspected in a while. Anyone want the paperback Son of Origins of Marvel Comics (1975)? Used copies currently selling on Amazon for $12, yours for the cost of postage, about $3 via media mail. (Greg, is this something that would interest you?) Anyone want the very last Sears Wishbook, 1992, currently selling on eBay for $10-15, for the cost of postage, probably about $4-5 because since it's ads it can't go media mail? What they would sell for is just not enough to be worth the hassle of dealing with eBay. Last but not least, you'll never guess what I found: that's right, another one of Steve's college textbooks! _Die Energie_ - it's a physics textbook. In German. From 50+ years ago. Nobody in their right mind wants that, do they? Anyway, let me know if any of the above interests you.

Also have a 1963 issue of Film Culture magazine, an autographed concert program from Al Hirt, and two issues of Life magazine - ask me for details if you collect any of those kinds of things!
bunrab: (Default)
and now they go past yours via Twitter:

  • 21:45 @caviaporcell I,m so sorry to hear about Chico. Not unexpected, but still. He had a wonderful life with you. #
  • 21:48 @caviaporcell I miss Bob. I'm glad they'll be together. #
  • 21:54 Rigoletto in 6 words: Hunchback versus Duke; just add women. #
  • 21:58 I Pagliacci in 6 words: Evil clowns! Run for your lives! #
  • 22:57 New Yorker Style #
  • 22:58 New Yorker "Style" issue boring, except for Roz Chast cartoon. #
  • 23:26 Also in the New Yorker: article about the latest annotated edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Done almost completely without reference to... #
  • 23:28 ...the place of vampires in modern fantasy. Mentions only Twilight series (roamnce, really,not vampire) and The Sookie Stackhouse series. #
  • 01:32 At least no one's going to complain about your spelling if you limit yourself to TLAs. OMG! #
  • 02:49 @EmperorNorton That goes with the territory! You should see when pushy rabbits all pile in for some dried fruit! #
  • 15:49 books being returned to library: Virtual Evil and Madman's Dance - 2nd & 3rd Time Rovers. More about those later. #
  • 15:51 also Death of the New Gods - comic book blech. Almost no plot, just complications without a plot. Unsuccessfully "dark." Only good part... #
  • 15:53 ...was Superman. Most of dialog was "prepare to die!" and "Wait, it was you all along!" Nice drawing, though. #
  • 15:54 also being returned - several episodes of Twilight Zone done as graphic novels, which works Ok. And handful of usual murder mysteries. #
  • 15:56 OK, one doesn't see that many tractor_trailer cabs painted lilac. #
  • 16:11 ah, the WashPost as local paper for the Pentagon. Today, a full-page ad for the "combat-ready Super Hornet Block II" fighter plane. #
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bunrab: (bunearsword)
1. [livejournal.com profile] angevin2, have you seen this cartoon in the Jan. 26 New Yorker? Roz Chast cartoon entitled "Grad-School Parent-Teacher Conference" shows somewhat older couple sitting in front of desk of frizzy-haired, tweed-jacket type, who is saying "Barbara is very mature for a 28-year-old." and (next balloon) "And she certainly isn't drinking as much as she used to!"

2. Ad in the January 2009 The Progressive for this t-shirt and other items with slogans such as "Future Librarian" and "Knitting is Knotty."

3. I seem to have saved a page from the Nov 08 issue of Metropolitan Home, showing the new Long Center in Austin, built on the skeleton of the old Mueller Auditorium. Says the old roof tiles, hail dents and all, now line the elevators and lobby walls. I haven't been there since it was finished; what kind of effect is that, really, someone?

4. I got the subscription for free, that's why I get Metropolitan Home. I am not normally in the market for $5000 furniture and $1000 bedside lamps, though some of them are cute. It is interesting to look at the ads for the latest in sleek, modern Murphy beds.

5. An interesting article from the July 2008 issue of Discover (that shows you how long this pile of magazines has been sitting next to my computer) about Laughing. Refers back to the essay "The Laughter of Copernicus" by Jim Holt in the book Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge edited by Damien Broderick. I believe I meant to make a note to myself to look for this book and Holt's Stop Me If You've Heard This. Is that what I meant?

Yes, I have a huge stack of recent reading, and a report from the Tuba-Euphonium Conference, and numerous other things to tell. Perhaps I shall manage a post after rehearsal tonight.


Jan. 17th, 2008 01:13 am
bunrab: (alien reading)
A couple of knitting books. (One reviewed at Amazon.com here.)

A Larry-Niven-and-somebody collaboration that was supposed to fill in some of the gaps in Known Space - "200 years before Ringworld!" - it was so full of clumsy retconning and had so many distortions of Nessus' personality, along with some improbable captive-bred humans, that I didn't finish it.

Charles Stross - Halting States. Um, cyberpunk murder mystery gamer fantasy spy thriller. A little heavy on the gamer stuff, but not unintelligibly so. [livejournal.com profile] fadethecat, you may want to give this one a peek. Our heroes are a Python programmer with a checkered past, a forensic accountant (female) with a serious sword habit, and a lesbian Detective Sargeant with a strong enough Scottish accent that I had some trouble interpreting at first.

Um, a bunch of back issues of Ellery Queen mystery magazine.

Oh, Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class by Robert Frank. Liberal economist, those who like Juliet Schor should like Frank also; makes a case for a progressive consumption tax which he rounds up some conservative support for also. A book that gives one something to think about, without being so heavy or academic that you give up with a sneer about economists.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Some interesting websites, courtesy of New Scientist:
How to evolve a watch (answering the creationists): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcAq9bmCeR0
Physics illustrates bizarre human decisions: http://www.researchchannel.org/prog/displayevent.aspx?rID=17528&fID=4269
A synchronized swimming team demonstrates mitosis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFuCE22agyM
The Late Alex G. Parrot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6KvPN_Wt8l
Don't try this at home - magnesium: http://www.science-tube.com/index.php?c=chemie§ion=002
LSD tested on British soldiers: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=517198059628627413
First episode of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos": http://www.guba.com/watch/3000082657
British comedian Ali G interviews a panel of scientists: http://chime.tv/#v/j0fs
Statistics, lots of them: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/92
bunrab: (alien reading)
It's the end of the month; I might as well try to clear off the big stack o' magazines that's piled on my desk. Some of it will just be recipes to tear out, but there's a few things of general interest, I think.

Let's see. The Economist, 18th August, has a review of a book called A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World which sounds interesting - the E's headline for the review is "The merits of genteel poverty." Basic thesis seems to be that in pre-industrial-revolution England, the rich had more surviving children than the poor, and that spread middle-class attributes such as patience, hard work, and education to the middle and lower classes; in other societies at the time, the rich had fewer children. Thus Britain was positioned to take advantage of the capitalist/industrial revolution. If our library gets that one, I definitely want to look more closely at it.

The July/August issue of Washington Monthly has a review of a book entitled Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America by Cullen Murphy. This one sounds like fun, too - "post-9/11 geopolitics served up with a heavy dose of ancient arcana." A quote: "America is increasingly turning to its own outside sources - not the Visigothi and the Ostrogothae, but the Halliburtoni and the Wackenhuti."

OK, here's one that got me worked up: an article in New Scientist, 11 August, about a system that the US gov't is developing to try and stop terrorists by picking up "involuntary signs of hostility" on security cameras and have them analyzed by computer. I can barely begin to say how stupid an idea this is. Identifying microexpressions, gait, and perspiration rates that are characteristic of hositlity or the desire to deceive. Let's see. That would catch every guy who hasn't told his wife how much those golf clubs he's swinging into the scanner cost, and every wife who hasn't told her husband how much the shoes cost, and every college student who's lied to his/her parents about where they're going on spring break, and every spouse headed off for an adulterous liaison, and everyone who hates flying and airlines in general but has to do it, and all the people angry because someone else paid less for a ticket than they did, and... and then, looking for people who are "trying to hide their emotions" you'd get everyone who's had Botox or other cosmetic surgery on their face, everyone with heavy makeup or hair hanging down in their eyes, anyone with a medication or an illness that has flattening of the affect as a side effect... by the time you catch everyone who is either concealing their emotions or expressing hostility or deceit, is ANYONE going to get through airport security besides children under 8 years old and maybe the Dalai Lama?

Another issue of New Scientist, this time 28 July, has an article about pack-hunting squid. Somehow, I feel as though I've mentioned this already. But in case I haven't. Normally solitary, now jumbo Humboldt squid are forming predatory packs in Monterey Bay.

An article in Scientific American, August issue, about "race-based medicine," particularly the heart-failure drug Bidil. And a humor article about the taxonomy of "Artificial Plantae: the Taxonomy, Ecology, and Ethnobotany of the Simulacrae." Yes, taxonomizing plastic plants. Part of the original article, in the journal "Ethnobotany Research and Applications," was written in Pig Latin.

Oh, and a rather peculiar ad from that same issue - an ad from the "New York Mint" which is not a US mint at all, of course, selling gold liberty coins - so far, sounds like the usual not-quite-a-scam, right? But here's the interesting part: the ad claims that "since 1999, the number of coin collectors has sharply risen from 3 million to 130 million..." Oh, really? They're claiming that over 1/3 of every man, woman, and child in the US is a coin collector? And that this sudden hobby fad has arisen in the last few years - somehow unremarked by any other source of news? Uh huh.

Next up, the August issue of Discover - which I determined was August only by looking at the "Save the Date" listing inside it; they don't mention the month or issue number on the cover, the inside cover, the table of contents, or the editorial listing pages, nor at the bottom of odd-numbered pages. Sorta creepy. Anyway. A new species of bee fly, from the genus Phthiria, has been named Phthiria relativitae. Yes, that's pronounce "theory o' relativity."

The rest seems to be recipes and yarn ads.
bunrab: (guinea pigs)
I was reading an article in the 6/25/07 New Yorker, which was about the new books written about Princess Diana. It mentioned that she left prep school with an award for the best-kept guinea pig. I thought people ought to know that.

Prevention magazine mentions that Haagen-Dazs has new flavors including Pomegranate Chip and Coconut Sesame Brittle.

I have more magazines piled here, which I will get around to soon.
bunrab: (saxophone)
We're home. Lessee. The Austin Symphonic Band concert on Saturday night was great, the party was fun. All sorts of people who played with the band at one time or another were invited, so there were people there who hadn't played with the band in 20 years. One guy who had apparently played with the band for a few months in the 80's, who I didn't remember *at all*, apparently remembered [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet and I really, really well, because he cornered us for a while to talk to us about our pet rabbits! It was fun seeing all those people.

Jerry knows us really well. Sunday morning, it was iffy about us waking up in time to get to the airport in time to return the car and check a bag and go through security (remember, I have to get the fun hand pat-down), so Jerry had just the solution: put a recording of a band playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the stereo and crank the volume up. Yep, that got us out of bed! Jerry and Kathy, thank you SO much for your hospitality this past week!

More of the week than we expected was taken up by visiting w/ Steve's family and by band stuff, so there's still people we didn't get to see. It's funny how much of the week seemed to have something to do with tea. We gave Kathy a hostess gift of a sampler of decaf teas from Upton; Jeanne and Larry gave us a gift of samples of tea from a new tea shop that opened in Round Rock.

We made it back safely, and in time even to take a short nap before having to wash up and change for the concert we played in Sunday evening, in Perry Hall. The concert went pretty well, although there were several places where I missed cues because I was squinting, the lighting being aimed directly into my eyes and those of the two trumpets who sit nearest me. We did not have fun with those lights. The tenor sax did not show up for the concert. I have a few words for him...

One of the things Dick Floyd said at the ASB concert was something he had heard from someone else, to the effect that "Any band conductor who doesn't end a concert with a march doesn't love his mother." The ASB concert ended with "Washington Post." The Baltimore Symphonic Band concert ended with the band arrangement from "Les Miserables" that everyone plays, but as it happens, that arrangement does end with the rousing march, "Do You Hear The People Sing?" so that was OK. Monday night was Bel Air band rehearsal; that concert, next Sunday, will end with "Barnum & Bailey's Favorite." All the conductors we know love their mothers. Judging by what people say at rehearsal, I am not playing the bari sax LOUD ENOUGH on the contra-alto clarinet part; I'll have to try to fix that at dress rehearsal, which is way too early Saturday morning. Being on stage instead of in band room, the whole seating arrangement will be different, so it may fix itself.

I have tons of mail to go through, of course. And I haven't read anything but magazines all this past week, and I have a stack of library books to go through sometime soon.

Sort of odd being back in our plain "Pebble Ash" colored car after a week with the Tomato Express.

The new issue of The Progressive has an interesting poem, called "Bird Seed," by Kathleen Aguero, which uses birds squabbling at a bird feeder as a metaphor for the current war, and uses quotations from Robert Fagle's recent translation of The Iliad. If you like poetry you might want to get this issue. Assuming, of course, that you are someone who would buy a magazine called The Progressive - one of many liberal mags I subscribe to.

OK, that's enough for one post. I'm sure I'll think of more later.
bunrab: (Default)
Without looking it up on the web, when I quote from the following description, from Time magazine, of a new movie, how many of you recognize the original short story and know the author, before the first sentence is finished? (If you really want your nickel, send me your address and I'll send it to you. This offer excludes Sam, and my spouse, who undoubtedly recognized this even more quickly than I did.) Here's the excerpt from Time, in an interview with Rainn Wilson:
The Last Mimzy is kind of complicated. Can you explain it? RW: Some children find a box of toys from the future. The toys start to teach them...

some spoilers here, based on the movie's web site )

Oh yeah, and what kind of a name is Rainn? Does he have a sister named Sunnshinne?
bunrab: (Default)
Science News from 20 January: hamsters and other pet rodents are likely spreaders of salmonella. Wash your hands after you snorgle your hamsters. Also from same issue, note to self, gene variant shapes beta-blocker's effectiveness, and the beta-blocker in question is carvedilol, which is one of the drugs I take; unknown exactly when cheap testing for this gene will be available, but the note to myself is that I might be one of the people it's not effective on, which would explain some.

Clipping of ad as note to self: look for in library, Adam Gopnik's The King in the Window as ad makes it sound like an interesting kid's fantasy.

Clipping of ad for a yarn company, of interest only to yarn freaks, except that this one is notable for its tag line, "Yarns for which to dye!" which is just a really silly example of how people have bought into the "don't end a sentence with a preposition" nonsense.

Book review (short) in Science News of 21 October 2006 (yes, it's been a while since I last cleared the stack of magazines off my nightstand; why do you ask?) for a book called Creatures of Accident: The Rise of the Animal Kingdom by Wallace Arthur, sounds interesting.

Current issue of Skeptical Inquirer (Vol. 31, No. 2) is mostly articles on science and religion. Odd little poem by Alan Dean Foster, who should leave the atheist-poetry-writing field to Philip Appleman, who does it much better. What I did make a note of in this issue, however, is a letter to the editor about an article in a previous issue. Here's the letter:in full )
3 February issue of New Scientist also has a letter in it, and again I will give you the entire letter:here ) The issue also has a review of The Last Human by Esteban Sarmiento et al., which also sounds interesting - discusses as much as we know about the daily life of each species of hominid, sort of a family album, of which we humans are the last living member.

Some dog-eared pages from the November 2006 issue of Prevention; I have no idea why. Oh wait, this little bit at the end of a paragraph might be it: if you are taking zinc to stave off/reduce a cold (mixed research on whether it accomplishes anything), don't take flavored ones, since if the zinc does have any effect, it's stunted by citric acid and tartaric acid, common in flavorings.

A rundown of stuff happening during March, in the March issue of Discover, oncludes the lunar eclipse on the 3rd - you all knew about that already - but also mentions that March 31 is Bunsen Burner Day. "Yes, there's a day for that." - their words.

There, that clears off a BIG stack of magazines from my desk. Maybe now I can spread out my music.


Feb. 26th, 2007 09:27 pm
bunrab: (Default)
Ellery Queen's Mystery
Asimov's Science Fiction
Mother Jones
The American Prospect

Catalogs: nothing memorable.

Books read recently: not many (see "food poisoning"), but I did finish an anthology of mystery stories with supernatural features, called Powers of Detection.

Apparently, this is some sort of communicable virus, rather than exactly food poisoning, 'cause just within the last few hours, [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet seems to have been hit with it. We left rehearsal early, with me driving - and you may recall, I can't see at night. If you are ever mad at someone who is sitting in the right lane doing 5 miles an hour under the speed limit and refusing to budge, you might keep in mind that there are all sorts of stories in the city, that the driver has no way to communicate to you; there's not time to use the 4-way flashers in Morse code to explain it all, and while there may be naval signal flags that mean something equivalent to "driver is fairly unfamiliar with vehicle" I'm pretty sure that there aren't any that mean "passenger, who is usual driver of the vehicle, is busy throwing up" and "I can't see at night but we have no other damn choice and I'm doing the best I can to get us home, damn it!" I try to give others that same benefit of the doubt and not accuse them of being jerks until I actually see the cell phones in their grubby hands.

I am still rather shaky in recovering; TMI )

Well, all the animals are doing fine, the heat works, the snow has mostly melted safely, we DID get home safely, and we are sipping weak lukewarm ginger tea, and we live in a world where we were able to expect to find ginger tea in the pantry and have the facilities to prepare it. So I will stop whining and remember those things.
bunrab: (bunnies)
Let's see, magazines: the usual 6 weekly suspects, plus monthlies Harpers, In These Times and Washington Monthly, plus somewhere-between-a-newsletter-and-a-magazine Freethought Bulletin, plus just-a-small-newsletter local Mensa chapter newsletter. Catalogs: not many at all, just a couple different Herrschner's needlework thingies.

The snow has melted almost completely.

My brother G has some sort of share or something like that in a resort house down in Chincoteague, on the Delmarva peninsula, so tomorrow we're gonna drive down there and visit with them for a day and a half or so. Can't stay through to Sunday, because (a) there are hungry bunnies who will go on a rampage if we don't feed them, not to mention their shedding fur will grow to block the doorway, and (b) we have tickets to the Chieftains for Sunday! Yay!
bunrab: (chinchillas)
Let's see. Another magazine received, Skeptical Inquirer. (And all the usual weekly suspects.) Another catalog: Rejuvenation. Which, even though we don't own an old house any more, is still a gorgeous catalog full of stuff I'd love to have. (http://www.rejuvenation.com/ , for those of you who want the lure of Arts-and-Crafts chandeliers.)

We had lunch Saturday with the Mature Mensans, a monthly event. One of the guys, on the younger end of "mature" (those of us between 50 and 60, rather than over 60), has brought his teenage daughter to lunch in the past, and brought both her and his slightly younger son; both are nice kids, well-educated, literate, and properly appreciative of old farts who insist on telling them about how it used to be.

Saturday evening we drove down to Fairfax to hear the City of Fairfax Band, a community band about as large as the one we left in Austin, a good 90 players or so - and an extremely well funded band it seems to be. It was quite a good concert, though the trumpet soloist, the first chair from their trumpet section, seemed rather ordinary to us; there are a couple of players in the Montgomery Village Community Band who could have done Reed's "Ode for Trumpet" better. (The whole concert was a tribute to Alfred Reed.) A nice selection of music, and a rousing job on Reed's "Armenian Dances."

Today I finally got a bunch of the Elfa shelving up on one of the basement walls, and got a dozen or so boxes of fabric unpacked onto said shelves - not quite half filling them. How long have we been in this house? 15 months? 'Bout damned time. Anyway, the basement is already beginning to look clearer; those dozen boxes cleared up some walking space. By re-arranging the cats' accessories, then the big desk, we will clear up some more space, and can then start unpacking a bunch of the boxes labelled "desk stuff." (All those who think we're going to get that much more done immediately, I have a bridge to sell you.)

And tonight I made a casserole out of macaroni, shredded and grated cheese, and leftover meatloaf. It came out surprisingly edible. It may be a truism that enough grated Parmesan cheese will make almost any entree edible.

Oh yeah, did I mention additional book read? Dana Stabenow's A Deeper Sleep, latest in her Kate Shugak series. Good series, although reading about Alaska while it's winter here tends to make one need a throw or wrap for the armchair...

I think my favorite chapter in Trilobites! is the one about the eyes. Trilobite eyes are so cool.
bunrab: (saxophone)
Today's magazine in the mail: Ladies Home Journal.
Today's catalog, yes, only one: Mary Maxim (inexpensive needlecrafts)
Today's supper: canned tuna that's supposedly smoked and marinated in ginger, but didn't taste like it, and a rice-quinoa mix in a bag. Total time to microwave: 3 minutes.

Yep, that's about as exciting as it gets. Rehearsal cancelled due to 1" of snow.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
Weather report:
The ground is damp,
There's been some drizzle,
But so far the storm
Has just been fizzle.

What I'm reading to celebrate Darwin Day:
Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People by Joan Roughgarden - interesting, but she really tortures the rainbow metaphor to death in some places.
and I'm re-reading Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution by Richard Fortey, which is very funny, while also being fascinating.

Magazines in today's mail:
Scientific American
The Nation
Science News

Catalogs in today's mail:
Blair (inexpensive clothing)
Home Decorators - furniture and rugs, mostly good bargains - we've purchased several things from them in the past, including our revolving CD rack that holds over 1000 CDs with only a 19" square footprint.
Domestications (sheets and towels)
J&P Cycles - I'm not sure what gave them the impression that I'm their kind of biker...
bunrab: (alien reading)
Magazines received this week:
Consumer Reports
Fantasy & Science Fiction
Natural History
Mensa Bulletin
The Nation
The Economist
Science News
New Scientist
The New Yorker

Not many catalogs this week - the after-Christmas pall, I guess. Only Colorful Images (address labels) and WinterSilks (which includes, among other things, the silk glove liners I use for extra layers under my motorcycle gloves, and on their own for playing Christmas-tree-lighting gigs when bare hands would freeze but regular gloves make it impossible to feel the keys.) An area coupon-clipper pamphlet, with coupons for a couple restaurants I'd actually like to try in Ellicott City and vacinity. (Remember, even though we're in Baltimore County inside the Balto. Beltway, we are only about 2 miles from the Howard County line and Ellicott City.)

Music nerd stuff )
bunrab: (Default)
The torn-out pages from magazines are not overwhelming, but the pile is big enough that I might as well feed y'all the scraps, so I can recycle some paper. Let me note that Discover's format changes during 2006 have made it annoyingly difficult to determine what issue one is looking at.

From the December 2006 issue of Discover: the essential all-time reading list, the 25 greatest science books ever written, at least in their opinion:
list )

The last page of that same issue is "20 Things You Didn't Know About Rats" including the facts that rats don't have gallbladders or tonsils. Also, rats do not sweat. They regulate their temperature by constricting or expanding blood vessels in their tails.

For some reason I've saved the 2 September 2006 issue of Science News, open to an article about new treatments for tuberculosis, but I have no idea of why.

9 December 2006 issue of Science News: the tube-lipped nectar bat, a small bat from the Andes, can stick its tongue out one and a half times its body length, the most of any mammal, and exceeded only by the chameleons, who can stick theirs out the most of any vertebrate.

Most of the rest of the pile seems to be articles about heart failure for my other blog, and book reviews for me to jot down titles to look for in the library. So I won't bore you with those.

We went to a Navy Band (not Marine Band) concert tonight; they were, of course, excellent. They had a vocalist, who was also the announcer, who sang a very nice tenor and an excellent bass - quite a range. Featured a clarinet soloist on one piece. The lights on stage went out during the middle of one number, and they had to stop until the lights flickeringly came back on. All in all, if part of the point of the concert was to prove that Balto. County school district needs to allocate some money to renovating Randallstown High, they succeeded in that point admirably: besides the wonky electrical system in the auditorium, there was totally inadequate handicapped access; as we were leaving, one lady's wheel chair fell completely over when she went over the curb (no ramp; luckily, no injuries, either), which was exacerbated by the inadequate lighting in the parking lot and the broad cracks in the pavement of the parking lot. (Does it surprise anyone to hear that Randallstown High is about 90% black, and that the "whiter" schools in the county are in better shape? One would think that in a county with this high a black population that there wouldn't be quite so obvious inequalities, but there you are.)
bunrab: (alien reading)
I've got a stack of magazine articles dog-eared to share, time to clear them off the desk!

First, in New Scientist from 20 October, an article entitled "Alzheimer's alert over anesthetics." (Well, it actually uses the British spelling, anaesthetics.) Last month at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in Atlanta,a medical researcher said that the inhaled anesthetics halothane and isoflurane encourage clumping of beta amyloid protein, as does the common IV anesthetic propofol. This protein clumping is similar to that seen in Alzheimer's cases, and may account for the memory and attention problems many patients have after surgery. ("There are plenty of anecdotal reports about elderly relatives never being quite the same after going in for surgery.")

Why this is important to us: the inhaled anesthetics are not commonly used on people in the US or Europe, more in Asia and Africa, but isoflurane *is* commonly used in the US for pets - in fact, it's about the most common anesthetic in use for small and exotic pets, because it has so few of the side effects of more traditional anesthetics such as nausea and lack of appetite. Anyone who has had their rabbit neutered, or their guinea pig's rear molars treated, the pet probably had isoflurane as the anesthetic. So, since these studies were on animals, we can assume that the brain protein clumping definitely applies to them. The upshot seems to be that exposure to isoflurane (and the others) is more likely to cause the problem if you are exposed repeatedly, and/or if you are elderly. Which means, I think, that if you are deciding whether to put an elderly pet through surgery for something, and considering the benefits vs. the risks, this is another factor to take into account.

I could swear I already mentioned the article in the September 30 issue of Science News, about penguins that nest in cactus. Why is it still on my desk?

Let's see, an article from Woman's Day about heart failure - that belongs on my other blog.

And from Science News, August 12, "Scientists find midnight-snack center in brain." The article is more technical, and is about studies on mice, but isn't that a great headline?

Non-science related: the October issue of In These Times recommends a book called Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, by Jeff Cohen. Says it's a fun read, not as dry as most media criticism.

That leaves another 3 magazines with no pages tabbed down, still sitting on my desk. Why did I put them here?
bunrab: (geek)
I was feeling too low-energy today to go down to Washington DC for the Green Festival (which was sorta vaguely what I had in mind for today) but so that this won't be a complete waste of a day, let me get some of the stack of science thingies off the desk here.

Natural History's October issue has an article about great white sharks. They are apparently sociable creatures. They occasionally leap into the air like dolphins. And they have splash fights with each other: when they're arguing over who gets a piece of food, rather than the attacks you might imagine, they splash each other with their tails several times, and the one who splashes the greatest volume of water wins.

Yesterday's Baltimore Sun science section (yes, you Austinites stuck with the Statesman, I'm in a city that has a regular entire section of the paper devoted to science! It's not quite the New York Times but hey) has another of those articles about finger length. Apparently, women with long ring fingers compared to index fingers are more likely to be athletic, and better athletes in the sports they participate in, than other women. ::SNORT:: (Quick poll: those of you who know me: would "athletic" ever be in the first 100 words you might think of to describe me? The first 1000 words?)

However, far more interesting, the Sun has an article about a new invention: a way to give elephants vasectomies. Apparently, Africa has an elephant overpopulation problem... as do some American zoos. Oh-kaaaay...

New Scientist of 23 September has "qiviut" as their word of the week. Those of us who knit have known about qiviut long since, but apparently your average science reader hasn't. The column does discuss the dangers to animals of refusing to become domesticated, and the near-extinction of the guanaco, compared to their cousins the vicuña and alpaca which have had the good sense to allow themselves to become domesticated.

Same issue also has an article pointing out that conservation journals which are supposed to be scientific in orientation in fact are very short of evidence-based research, and lacking in systematic reviews, analysis, and meta-analysis.

Oh, and the benefits of using ethanol (partly or wholly in place of gasoline/petrol) are offset by the hazards of using ever more agricultural land to produce cheap corn, something those of us who have been reading Omnivore's Dilemma already suspected. More intensive cultivation of corn means more chemical inputs (fertilizer) and increasing energy consumption and greenhouse emissions per ton of corn. Also, clearing and plowing hitherto unused land to plant more corn will release farm more CO2, further increasing greenhouse emissions.

Onward. Prevention magazine (which ranges from flaky New Age alternative "medicine" to sensible stuff) for October has an article about the hype and the truth of various food fear factors - foods where there's been some huge scare that it's bad for you. Eggs, for example, and cholesterol. Fish and mercury pollution. Pertinent here is the reference to "How Many Meals of This Can I Safely Eat Per Month?," a list produced at http://www.oceansalive.org - check it out.

There, that gets several things clear to go into the paper recycling bin. Happy weekend!
bunrab: (bunnies)
There's an article in this week's Time about parents who let their kids play poker for money. Much of the article is spent on people who are sure that this will lead kids to become problem gamblers, addicted gamblers, and, of course, quite possibly, sinners. There's a quote from an "addiction counselor" who says that exposing kids to gambling before they are supposedly developmentally ready for it (how do you determine when someone is developmentally "ready" to play cards for money?) will lead them astray because "Younger children lack abstract thinking, so they believe that if they win, it's because they're special or because God loves them." Excuse me, but don't people give prizes and throw awards banquets for competitive sports winners in school to teach them exactly that? If playing poker for pennies in one's own back yard with parents supervising nearby is dangerous because it gives kids that impression, then shouldn't we be taking a cold, hard look at school football? No, of course not, that's different.

When I was a kid, we played gin rummy, rather than poker. In my memory, it's often associated with holidays - we gambled for Easter jelly beans and chocolate eggs, Halloween candy, Chanukah gelt (the gold-foil-wrapped chocolate "coins"), and the whole walnuts and almonds that were in our Christmas stockings. Oddly enough, when we played dreidel, the spinning top game associated with Chanukah, it wasn't for Chanukah gelt, it was either for pennies or for, of all things, cowrie shells. Why did my cousins and friends and I have so many cowrie shells? Anyway, it's an indication that I've always been an "autumn" person that I can remember usually losing all my jelly beans, but winning lots of Halloween candy. (Did I ever mention that I had an eclectic upbringing?) And as far as I know, none of us ever became addicted to gin rummy, or gambling on cards - or tops - in general, although some of us did become addicted to chocolate candy.

I think it's just another case of the abstinence-only, Harry-Potter-is-evil, let's-not-teach-kids-too-much-math-or-science-or-they-might-learn-to-think-for-themselves, folks who are against anything that's fun and secular, myself. [/cranky geezer]


bunrab: (Default)

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