19 Apr 2014 04:15 pm
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*squeee*! *squeee*! *squeee*!

Following this link constitutes a minor spoiler for Captain America: Winter Soldier.

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If you have chronic pain, you do probably know these things, but it can be helpful to be reminded you're not alone. And I thought it was a very good summary for people who don't have it and want (or need) to understand better.

I particularly liked this bit:
You may have only asked your chronic pain spouse if they would like to go to a movie, but in their head they have considered if they can sit still that long, how much medication it would require, if they have the energy, if they will stay awake through the movie, how high their pain is now and how it might increase, if they go will it make getting through tomorrow harder, and most importantly, given all this, will it be any fun. They didn’t grouch at you for the fun of it, pain just makes it very hard to remember that everyone else is coming from a totally different perspective, where a movie is just, well, a movie.
And this.
You can’t do what you want to do with your time even when you try and it seems like everyone is mad or unhappy with you no matter your efforts. ...Most pain sufferers blame themselves for these failings, remembering that they used to be able to do everything. They see chronic pain as a sign of weakness or a personal defect that they should be able to overcome.
And this.
Pain causes isolation. When you’re in constant pain the last thing you want to do is attend the company party, the neighbor’s backyard barbecue, or even small gatherings with your closest friends and family. Your friends and family are still the light of your life, but the physical and mental energy it requires to go out and be social can be just too much to handle. You start to bow out of parties and cancel plans, not because you don’t want to go, but because you just can’t. Eventually people stop inviting you, calls to make plans decline, and the scary thing is you don’t mind. The pain has slowly, but surely, isolated you.
The article doesn't mention emotional/mental pain that is primary rather than a result of physical pain, but in my experience it has the same effects.

There are some excellent comments, including comments from partners/caretakers.
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Elsenet, folks were sharing our opinions of an article describing a scientific study of rats, food, and activity:
TW for fat hatred )
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There is a Wiscon friending meme over on [personal profile] were_duck's journal!
(You can also participate if you aren't coming to Wiscon this year.)
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Recycling a comment I made on a mailing list in response to someone posting this article about a possible new treatment for type 2 diabetes. Disclaimer: I'm one of those dangerous people who has had little formal science/medicine education but thinks zie knows a lot about it, and these thoughts are worth about what you paid for them.

Researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) have discovered a hormone that holds promise for a dramatically more effective treatment of type 2 diabetes...The hormone, called betatrophin, causes mice to produce insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells at up to 30 times the normal rate. The new beta cells only produce insulin when called for by the body.
Anything you see that says "we've discovered a hormone that does X in mice" is going to be 10-20 years out from becoming a human treatment. Clinical trials take a lo-o-ong time. And personally I wait another 5 years after a drug is approved before taking it. Many drugs that are approved turn out to cause more harm than benefit (Avandia, I'm looking at you).

When reading scientific articles, it's important to be able to tell which statements are coming from the scientists and which are coming from the journalist writing up the article. In the case of the article you linked, the paragraph about how type 2 is "caused by excess weight and lack of exercise" is written by the journalist, who clearly doesn't know diddly squat about type 2. He or she probably didn't get that information from the scientists, because once a scientist is deep in trying to figure out how to supercharge beta cells, they don't care any more about what causes diabetes.

I took a free online course about diabetes from UCSF last fall. One of the lecturers said that the genes associated with type 2 diabetes affect how many beta cells the pancreas has and how well they function. In other words, people who get type 2 have functioning beta cells, but they might have fewer or less efficient beta cells. And once you have type 2, your insulin production tends to go down over time, so either the existing cells stop working as well, or some of the cells die. (But not everyone has to go on insulin. Many people can manage the condition using diabetes meds their whole lives, because the cells don't stop working altogether.)

This lecturer also said that the number of beta cells a person has decreases if the body is is starved or under stress. A possibility I hear between the lines of that statement: Low calorie dieting, which is essentially starvation, could cause diabetes by reducing the number of beta cells!

At UCSF, there is research into getting stem cells to turn into functioning beta cells. They have actually made this happen, but the beta cells they made aren't as good at figuring out when they need to release insulin as the natural ones.
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Kurt Vonnegut's advice to some high school students who wrote to him 8 years ago is worth reading. My soul is too small, so I'm going to go write a poem and tear it up right now.

Surprise!!!!! Employee health programs don't encourage weight loss! (TW for mild anti-fat language.)

Sam Adams will not participate in the Boston St Patrick's Day parade, because the parade excludes LGBT organizations from participating. A number of other organizations, and some politicians, are following suit.
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In case your blood pressure is too low and you want to read about misdiagnosis of children (trigger warning for mention of child abuse)
Looking back, the most charitable interpretation I can put on the whole experience is that maybe when large bureaucracies start moving in one direction, they reach a point when they can no longer resist their own momentum."
My mom's family often used the idiom "for crying in a bucket," which I've never heard anyone else use. Did your family have idiosyncratic phrases?

Anyway, this one is about long-standing idioms/cliches in the English language. What I'd really like is to know when each of these entered the language. I expect that "tougher than a nickel steak" is older than "just saying," e.g. (The comments are also good on this one.)

Louis Armstrong was often called an Uncle Tom, but his politics were more complicated than that.
Armstrong was arrested by the Memphis Police Department in 1931. His crime? He sat next to his manager’s wife, a white woman, on a bus. Armstrong and his band were thrown in jail as policemen shouted that they needed cotton pickers in the area. Armstrong’s manager got him out in time to play his show the next evening. When he did play, Armstrong dedicated a song to the local constabulary, several of whom were in the room, then cued the band to play “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Old Rascal You.” The band stiffened, expecting another night in jail, or worse. Instead, he scatted so artfully that, afterward, the cops on duty actually thanked him. Armstrong most likely never quit smiling that night. His subversive joke was not understood by anyone except the African-Americans in his band.
The text adventure game of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy has been updated with graphics and sound, which could be horrible, but isn't. You can play it online here:
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A list of 875 free online courses from "leading universities". (Most are on iTunes)

A list of 1000 MOOCs (many offer a certificate of completion), sorted by start date

A list of free language lessons, sorted by language
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I don't know anything about this blogger except that this post includes a snark-free photo of Gabourey Sidibe and her gorgeous fuchsia lace gown from this year's Oscars.

Portraits of Boston published a very thoughtful interview with a woman who works with homeless people.
It’s absurd to say that someone chooses homelessness because given the choice for housing that’s affordable and realistic, no one would.

The same is true of saying, ‘Oh well, they choose homelessness because they are mentally ill.’ First, being mentally ill is not a choice. An individual who is mentally ill has trouble navigating everyday normal social situations, particularly if they have Axis I mental health diagnosis or even Axis II mental health diagnosis. These diagnoses make it difficult to navigate everyday life. To say that they’ve chosen homelessness would be simply to say that they’ve chosen it over trying to navigate normal society. That’s just not an answer. So, do I think people choose homelessness? Never.
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Gene editing might cure HIV (eventually)
The study has its roots in something that scientists discovered in the 1990s: A small percentage of people are resistant to H.I.V. thanks to a lucky mutation that causes their immune cells to lack CCR5, a protein that gives the virus a foothold. In people with one copy of the mutated gene, the infection progresses more slowly than in those who have normal CCR5. People who have inherited two copies of the mutated gene, one from each parent, are highly resistant to H.I.V. and may never become infected despite repeated exposure.
One man, known as “the Berlin patient,” was apparently cured of AIDS after he developed leukemia and had bone-marrow transplants in 2007 and 2008. As luck would have it, his bone-marrow donor had two copies of the mutated gene for CCR5. His immune system rebounded, the virus disappeared and he was able to stop taking antiviral drugs. But bone-marrow transplants are too arduous, risky and expensive to be used as a treatment for H.I.V.
Why a woman who was an award-winning organic chemist left science, and what we can do to support women in science. Lots of good links to follow.
Textbooks don't tell you everything. They don't tell you that organic synthesis has been a cutthroat boys’ club for a century. They don't tell you about the suicides in Nobel Laureate E. J. Corey's group. They don't tell you about flat NSF and declining NIH funding. They don't tell you that you'll never get far as an organic chemist without a PhD -- and certainly not that you'll need more stubbornness than brilliance to get one.
They don't tell you about the grind of the tenure track or the two-body problem. They don't tell you how your boss/academic adviser (your lab group’s principal investigator, or PI) can take advantage of the fact that your visa status depends on your employment to work you harder and pay you less -- that they might delay filing your paperwork as they drop hints that you’re not working hard enough, or just fire you and send you and your family back to your country of origin. They don't tell you about the common perception that a scientist should be 100% devoted to “his” work (or her work, if she is single or has a "supportive spouse," as it's usually put).
In other convalescent news, there has been binge-watching of a TV series called Arrow. I was amused to recognize John Barrowman as a recurring character.
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The surgery went well. We'll know more in two weeks when the new cochlear implant gets turned on. In the meantime, I invite you to read about the time the Dalai Lama went skiing (well OK, went to look at skiing) (via [personal profile] andrewducker):


"He cupped his hands, shouting down to the oblivious skier, “Look out for post!” He waved frantically. “Look out for post!
The skier, who had no idea that the 14th incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion was crying out to save his life, made a crisp little check as he approached the pylon, altering his line of descent, and continued expertly down the hill."
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"the act of unplugging falls somewhere between wearing vintage clothes and consuming artisanal cheese"

"It's hard to picture how a microbe evolved into a fish—the answer is that 3 billion years is a lot of time to work with."
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The DuckDuckGo search engine has exploded in popularity since Snowden. IMO, the next step is to switch from "google" to "quack" as the verb to mean "look up something on a search engine." (Isn't JFQI more fun than JFGI?)

The cruel, unusual, and ineffective punishment that is long-term solitary confinement. "no U.S. prison is willing to allow its otherwise isolated prisoners to take part in research."

Anachronistic language in the TV show Masters of Sex

The life and death of Flappy Bird, and an amusingly overwritten essay on why it's so addictive
"Flappy Bird is not amateurish nor sociopathic. Instead, it is something more unusual. It is earnest. It is exactly what it is, and it is unapologetic. Not even unapologetic—stoic, aloof. Impervious."
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Sticking a good article by Adam Hudson here for future reference.

"Slavery transferred wealth from black labor to white property owners because African slaves were not paid for their work. For centuries, slavery allowed whites - including those who did not own slaves - to amass wealth for their communities, while blacks were politically and economically oppressed. This laid the foundation for a massive wealth gap between blacks and whites that persists to this day, more than a century and a half after slavery's demise."
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Someone pored over an HD copy of 2001: A Space Odyssey and wrote an article about typefaces and company logos used therein (also contains the text of the zero gravity toilet instructions).
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or, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps doesn't work if you don't have boots

This is why people’s suggestions about how to relate to depression often strike those of us who suffer it as sententious bullshit. Praying is not going to get me off this ride. Neither is meditation, or drinking wheat grass juice. I cannot change my mind in the middle of the roller coaster track, before the plunge. No one will let me off. Praying, meditation, diet, exercise, therapy, all your suggestions may be useful tools. They may help a person keep breathing until the ride is over, for the time. But they do not eradicate the brain chemistry that makes one prone to depression in the first place.
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This articles describes how Netflix has tagged movies in such a way as to produce many very very specific subgenres:

The silly, timewasting takeaway from this article is that if you have a Netflix account you can log in and put this into your browser:


And replace "N" with a number between 1 and 93116 (that's as far up as I was able to find genres), and you'll see an impossibly specific genre of movies such as "Golden Globe Award-winning Coming-of-age Movies" or (when I entered part of my fake Internet birthdate) "Gritty Political Movies based on Books".

Some of the numbers don't work and some of them bring up a genre but there are no movies listed in it.
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Isaac Asimov predicted the technology of 2014

He knew people would be resistant to "mock-turkey" made out of algae, but he also assumed people would have no interest in being outdoors or even looking out a window. (Possibly because they would want to live in bomb shelters.)

So did The Jetsons:


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firecat (attention machine in need of calibration)

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