December 4, 2013
Health roundup: Aspirin, health-care apps, hangovers, arthritis and the 13 health benefits of coffee
Could an eye test be used to diagnosed Alzheimer's? Study shows disease kills eye cells as well as brain cells
Currently Alzheimer's disease can only be diagnosed for certain by studying a patient's brain after their death - other techniques involve memory tests
Layers of the retina are 49% thinner in mice with Alzheimer's disease which suggests processes occurring in a brain with dementia also occur in the eye
If the same is true in humans, an eye test could indicate if a person has dementia and whether drug treatments are working
WSJ Health-Care Apps That Doctors Use Programs range from diagnostics to hand-washing trackers.
Take your aspirin before you go to bed. Bedtime aspirin 'wards off heart attacks': Blood cells least likely to bind dangerously together if taking drug in the evening
Drinking After 40: Why Hangovers Hit Harder The Reasons Moderate Alcohol Consumption Gets More Complicated in Middle Age.
"A lot of older people are borderline dehydrated. They have less body water just from the natural effects of aging," Dr. Blackwelder says. It helps to drink water and have a full stomach when knocking one back.
The majority of alcohol is metabolized by the liver, which changes when people hit their 50s. (A small amount is metabolized in the stomach and mouth.) The liver gets bigger as people get older, but the organ becomes less efficient. Blood flow decreases, as do the number of hepatocytes, the liver's functional cells,
Certain enzyme levels dip, too, including one type of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol. Women of all ages tend to have lower levels of this enzyme in the stomach. But between the ages of 50 and 60, men see their levels slide, too.
Particularly beginning in the 50s and 60s, the brain is more sensitive to alcohol. Booze basically enhances normal age-related cognitive decline. Neurons lose speed. Specifically, the insulating myelin sheaths around the axons of neurons—the parts responsible for transmitting information to other neurons—get smaller. As people age, "neurons are not as efficient. So you impair them with a little bit of alcohol, they are that much more inefficient,"
Older people are also more affected by alcohol's impact on sleep, a fact that can turn a mild hangover into a must-stay-in-bed-all-day affair. "Alcohol in all ages wrecks our REM sleep,"
Scientists carried out a year-long study on 1,200 patients with active, moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis, who have not benefited from or been able to tolerate the side effects of current frontline treatment methotrexate. They found Sarilumba improved their condition by up to 20 per cent.
Developed by French drugmaker Sanofi and Regeneron, the new drug works by blocking an inflammation-causing protein called interleukin 6.
Patients given a 200 mg dose of Sarilumba every other week - on top of methotrexate - saw a 66 percent improvement in the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis after six months.
1. Coffee Can Improve Energy Levels and Make You Smarter
2. Coffee Can Help You Burn Fat
3. The Caffeine Can Drastically Improve Physical Performance
4. There Are Essential Nutrients in Coffee
5. Coffee May Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes
6. Coffee May Protect You From Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
7. Caffeine May Lower The Risk of Parkinson’s
8. Coffee Appears to Have Protective Effects on The Liver
9. Coffee Can Fight Depression and Make You Happier
10. Coffee Drinkers Have a Lower Risk of Some Types of Cancer
11. Coffee Does Not Cause Heart Disease and May Lower The Risk of Stroke
12. Coffee May Help You Live Longer
13. Coffee is The Biggest Source of Antioxidants in The Western Diet
December 3, 2013
Security at the HealthCare.gov website is worse than before
With less than three weeks to sign up for insurance or pay a penalty, problems with the healthcare.gov website are still unresolved. It is impossible to imagine the anxiety and suffering of the millions who lost their health care policies and who don't want to put their identities at risk by going online to healthcare.gov.
“It doesn’t appear that any security fixes were done at all,” David Kennedy, CEO of the online security firm TrustedSec, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Kennedy said fundamental safeguards missing from Healthcare.gov that were identified by his company more than a month ago have yet to be put in place.
After warning Americans when testifying before Congress on Nov. 19 to stay away from Healthcare.gov, Kennedy now says the situation is even worse.
“They said they implemented over 400 bug fixes,” he said. “When you recode the application to fix these 400 bugs—they were rushing this out of the door to get the site at least so it can work a little bit—you’re introducing more security flaws as you go along with it because you don’t even check that code.”
Get this. The Federal Government doesn't have to notify anyone if the site is hacked.
“States are required to notify in the event of a breach, the federal government is not,” he added. “So in the event that Healthcare.gov gets compromised and all their information gets taken out of it they don’t have to notify anybody.”
Kennedy said the team working on Healthcare.gov is more likely to hide its security flaws than address them. When it was revealed that the most popular searches on the website were hack attempts—confirmed by entering a semicolon in the search bar—the website simply removed the tool.
The White House won't even give classified briefings to Congress about the security problems of healthcare.gov. Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers said,
“They could not even provide someone — CMS and HHS, the two folks responsible for the HealthCare.gov website — in a classified setting to come up and talk about the breaches that they know have happened. That’s just unconscionable.”
He warned that there is currently no coordinated effort within the administration to test the website’s newly-written code which was completed over the past two months of repairs, leaving it vulnerable to breaches. “You’re encouraging people to go to a site that our own government knows doesn’t meet safety standards when it comes to security of private information.”
The latest IBD/TIPP Poll finds that 78% say Americans should be worried about the security of the ObamaCare exchange website, and 53% say they should be "very concerned." This view was shared across parties, with 69% of Democrats saying security concerns are warranted.
More worrisome for the law's success, 82% of those aged 18-24 say concern is justified. These are among the people ObamaCare most desperately needs to enroll to keep overall premiums from spiraling out of control.
John Podhoretz writes in Commentary, No, Healthcare.Gov Isn’t Working. Much of the backend hasn't been constructed yet.
There is no such thing as a functioning website if the “back end” isn’t working. The “back end” is the catchall phrase for everything you don’t see when you visit a website. It refers to the software that translates pictures and words into what you see here. It refers to the software that mediates the relationship between 1) users who enter information, 2) the servers that store the website’s information, and 3) third parties hired to take some (but not all) of the information and process it on their servers and computers. It refers to the security systems put in place so that the website cannot be disabled by an outside attack and so that the data entered cannot be stolen or otherwise compromised.
In other words, the back end is the website. What many people are seeing now at healthcare.gov is a visual demonstration of a sign-in. If the sign-in data are not transferred to a database, nothing has happened. It’s like taking a practice test; it’s not scored and it’s not registered and it means nothing.
Obama administration officials acknowledged today that some of the roughly 126,000 Americans who completed the torturous online enrollment process in October and November might not be officially signed up with their selected issuer, even if the website has told them they are.
While the front-end of the website has been vastly improved, the back-end glitches remain a serious concern, IT experts and industry officials say.
For those who thought they enrolled in a plan through the federal exchange since October, the Obama administration now advises that individuals contact their insurance company to verify coverage and if none exists, to start all over again.
The Washington Post is reporting the bad news for Obama; about ⅓ of consumers enrolled through healthcare.gov have serious errors in the plans they chose.
The mistakes include failure to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies.
November 26, 2013
The Train Wreck continues
Yet, more on the continuing disaster of Obamacare
You can keep your health plan
Their losses would be in addition to the millions who found their individual coverage cancelled for the same reason.
Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute said that in addition to the individual cancellations, "at least half the people on employer plans would by 2014 start losing plans as well." There are approximately 157 million employer health care policy holders.
According to projections the administration itself issued back in July 2010, it was clear officials knew the impact of ObamaCare three years ago. In fact, according to the Federal Register, its mid-range estimate was that by the end of 2014, 76 percent of small group plans would be cancelled, along with 55 percent of large employer plans.
You can keep your doctor.
Washington Post “Health Insurers Limit Choices to Keep Costs Down,” Narrower networks under Obamacare.
People who say they have already lost their doctors under Obamacare
Average insurance costs would drop $2500/year.
According to health-care actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health-care spending will begin spiraling upward again starting next year, as the Affordable Care Act takes full effect. It will reach $5 trillion in 2022, or 20% of GDP, or $14,664 per capita. By 2022, ObamaCare alone is projected to increase cumulative health spending by roughly $621 billion, according to CMS.
CMS actuaries find that any positive effects of the ObamaCare delivery system experiments on the cost of health care "remain highly speculative." When they compare their September 2013 projections with earlier estimates in April 2010, these actuaries find that the law would increase national health spending higher than previously expected by an additional $27 billion in 2019 alone.
Honeypot for Identity Thieves
The Obama administration brought in a private consulting team to independently assess how the federal online health insurance enrollment system was developing, according to a newly disclosed document, and in late March received a clear warning that its Oct. 1 launch was fraught with risks.
The analysis by McKinsey & Co. foreshadowed many of the problems that have dogged HealthCare.gov since its rollout, including the facts that the call-in centers would not work properly if the online system was malfunctioning and that insufficient testing would make it difficult to fix problems after the launch. This risk assessment, which was encapsulated in a 14-slide presentation, was delivered to senior White House and Department of Health and Human Services officials in four briefings between March 28 and April 8, the committee said.
Many users of the website have had their applications cast into limbo after they uploaded copies of documents like driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and voter registration cards, or sent them to the office of the federal insurance marketplace in London, Ky.
Yes, There are Death Panels are in Obamacare.
Ed Driscoll points out how Time magazine finally read the act and regulations
Time magazine, September 10, 2013. “Sarah Palin Won’t Let ‘Death Panels’ Die,”
As has been explained here, here, here, here, here and here, the new health care law contains no death panels. The Independent Payment Advisory Board, a government panel that may determine some Medicare payments rates, is expressly banned from rationing care. End-of-life counseling, a provision in an early version of a health reform bill that would pay doctors to talk to Medicare patients about living wills, was stripped from the final version
Time magazine editor, November 25th, 2013, Mark Halperin, senior political analyst
The Affordable Care Act contains provisions for “death panels,” which decide which critically-ill patients receive care and which won’t, according to Mark Halperin, senior political analyst for Time magazine. “It’s built into the plan. It’s not like a guess or like a judgment. That’s going to be part of how costs are controlled,”
At a luncheon in Washington last week, I stumbled across something new in the Obamacare debate. Most of the attendees were reporters. The inevitable question came up: If not Obamacare, what? And when a Republican ran through an answer (equalizing tax treatment of insurance bought through employers and individually; allowing insurance policies approved in one state to be sold in all; HSAs and high deductible plans; medical liability reform), the reception was attentive, not dismissive.
In other words, Washington is starting to take seriously the prospect of repeal and replace.
November 25, 2013
St Peter's Bones
Pope Francis cradling the bones of St Peter
At the closing Mass of the global church's Year of Faith, the relics of St Peter were publicly unveiled for the first time since they were discovered in the 1940s and were held by Pope Francis during the recitation of the Nicene Creed. In his homily, he said, "God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it."
So How Does the Vatican Know That Those Old Bones Are the Relics of St Peter? After all, he died nearly 2000 years ago.
It was the Vatican’s art historian, Elizabeth Lev, who first told me the story of the remarkable discovery of Peter’s bones. It’s a story which has been told often in history books and reports, but I draw some of my information from Paul of Tarsus: A Visionary Life by Edward Stourton.
The Church has had a long tradition that St. Peter’s Basilica, construction of which was funded by the Emperor Constantine, was built in the early fourth century atop the burial site of St. Peter. But in 1939–less than 100 years ago–a team of workmen digging a grave for Pope Pius XI in the crypt beneath the Basilica uncovered what was plainly the top of a Roman building. The new pope, Pius XII, ordered further investigation; and archeologists gradually unearthed a well preserved Roman necropolis, or city of the dead, immediately beneath the foundations of St. Peter’s.
In actuality, we don’t know with certainty whose bones those are. There are strong evidences through history: writings by early popes and kings, graffiti messages in the tomb, and the placement of the graves themselves. The early Christians, it seemed, considered it a great honor to be buried near the remains of Peter, the first pope. And DNA testing has confirmed that the bones are from a male in his 60′s who likely died in the first century.
And here is the remarkable truth: If one were to drop a plumb line from the center of the Dome of the great St. Peter’s Basilica, 460 feet above, it would extend downward
• through Bernini’s baldacchino,
• through the Basilica’s great papal altar, then
• through the twelfth-century altar of St. Callistus.
• through the sixth century altar of Gregory the Great, then
• through the fourth century Constantine shrine.
• to the second-century trophy (a kind of triumphal arch built to mark the burial place of great men), and finally,
• it would land upon the burial place of this great martyr of Christ, St. Peter.
“It doesn’t miss a foot,” writes Stourton.
Diagram from St Peter's Basilica
St Peter's Confessio under the Papal High Altar
November 22, 2013
C.S. Lewis also died 50 years ago today
Lewis will join such greats as Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, John Keats, William Blake and TS Eliot in a tradition going back 600 years.
CS Lewis's memorial stone is set in the floor of Poets' Corner - though he was not known for poetry - and is inscribed with lines from one of his theological lectures : "I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen. Not only because I can see it but because by it I can see everything else."
Robert Barron on The Triumph of C.S. Lewis
Two famous men died on November 22, 1963. The first did so in the most dramatic way possible, assassinated in the full glare of publicity on the streets of Dallas; the second in relative obscurity, in the upstairs bedroom of his simple home on the outskirts of Oxford, England.
John F. Kennedy's legacy has, of course, been enormous, but I wonder whether C.S. Lewis has actually, in the course of these past 50 years, had a greater impact on the culture than his counterpart.
One reason why Lewis has proven so persuasive to so many is that he was compelled to undergo a transition -- halting, painful, anguished -- from non-belief to belief. Though he had been brought up in a Christian environment, he had lost his faith by the time he entered university. He was not someone to whom religious conviction came naturally or effortlessly; he had to work his way to it, in the face of often harsh opposition, both interior and exterior. This very personal struggle gives him credibility with the millions today who want to believe but who find ideological secularism and militant atheism enormously challenging.
C.S. Lewis intuited something that has become a commonplace among postmodern philosophers, namely, that the avatar of one worldview overcomes another, not so much through argument, but through telling a more compelling story, by "out-narrating" his opponent. He knew that the Christian evangelist, despite any personal flaws he might exhibit or institutional baggage he might carry, still possessed the greatest story ever told. Lewis told that story with particular verve, bravado, intelligence, imagination, and panache -- and that is why it is well and good that we should celebrate him on the 50th anniversary of his passing.
Meanwhile the Economy is on Lockdown
1. "The Unemployment Rate Has Been Steadily Going Down"
2. "Inflation Is Low"
3. "Quantitative Easing Is Economic Stimulus"
4. "Obamacare Is Going To Be Good For Middle Class Americans"
5. "The U.S. National Debt Is Under Control"
Investors Business Daily. Obama's Debt Buildup Risks A Major Fiscal Catastrophe
Fiscal Fraud: The government issued an astounding $1 trillion in new debt during the first six weeks of the fiscal year. How could such a thing happen with nary a peep? Just like ObamaCare, it's more government deceit.
One recent estimate said U.S. debt is on pace to hit $22 trillion just three months from now — a surge of $5 trillion, or 30%, in barely five months. That's scary.
Such fiscal legerdemain would land a private investor or manager in prison.
Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal Worse Than ObamaCare Obama's biggest failure is that he hobbled the U.S. economy.
A normal post-recession growth rate of at least 4% would have made it possible for Mr. Obama and his progressive allies to chase virtually any pie-in-the-sky policy they wanted. Instead, the U.S. has fallen far off its normal 3.3% growth rate.
A U.S. president, faced with such devastating labor-market problems and persistently weak growth, should do anything—anything—that will give the American workplace more lift. Instead, he's willing to entertain just one idea: more federal spending.
Ponder, though, a partial list of the public-policy decisions that have flowed steadily out of the Obama administration and directly into a job-starved U.S. economy:
The no-decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and its union jobs; the 2,000-page regulatory law draped in 2010 across the entire financial sector; the shutdown in 2010 and then the slow-walking of offshore oil drilling; siccing the EPA on the utilities industry and the National Labor Relations Board on all industry; a 2010 FCC decision to regulate Internet growth; a significant tax increase this year; support this month for jacking up the federal minimum wage to over $10, certain to smother new jobs; the Justice Department's $13 billion looting of J.P. Morgan JPM +2.00% bank; and of course Hurricane ObamaCare.
Barack Obama has the U.S. economy on lockdown. It's the worst thing this president has done. American resilience, and elections, mean it won't stay this way forever. But for a lot of poor and middle-class folks, living with mom in the basement is getting old.
Dried Human Tears
Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher's latest project is called “Topography of Tears. She uses microscopes to give us an unexpected view of dried human tears.
In the Smithsonian. The Microscopic Structures of Dried Human Tears
“I started the project about five years ago, during a period of copious tears, amid lots of change and loss—so I had a surplus of raw material,” Fisher says. …..“everything we see in our lives is just the tip of the iceberg, visually,” she explains. “So I had this moment where I suddenly thought, ‘I wonder what a tear looks like up close?’”
Scientifically, tears are divided into three different types, based on their origin. Both tears of grief and joy are psychic tears, triggered by extreme emotions, whether positive or negative. Basal tears are released continuously in tiny quantities (on average, 0.75 to 1.1 grams over a 24-hour period) to keep the cornea lubricated. Reflex tears are secreted in response to an irritant, like dust, onion vapors or tear gas.
Tears of Grief
Tears of Laughter
Seven years of Brain Pickings
Brain Pickings is a delightful, weekly and free "interestingness digest." that comes out on Sundays.
Maria Popova writes
On October 23, 2006, I sent a short email to a few friends at work — one of the four jobs I held while paying my way through college — with the subject line “brain pickings,” announcing my intention to start a weekly digest featuring five stimulating things to learn about each week, from a breakthrough in neuroscience to a timeless piece of poetry. “It should take no more than 4 minutes (hopefully much less) to read,” I promised. This was the inception of Brain Pickings. At the time, I neither planned nor anticipated that this tiny experiment would one day be included in the Library of Congress digital archive of “materials of historical importance” and the few friends would become millions of monthly readers all over the world…..
Here are seven things I’ve learned in seven years of making those choices, of integrating “work” and life in such inextricable fusion, and in chronicling this journey of heart, mind and spirit — a journey that took, for whatever blessed and humbling reason, so many others along for the ride. I share these here not because they apply to every life and offer some sort of blueprint to existence, but in the hope that they might benefit your own journey in some small way, bring you closer to your own center, or even simply invite you to reflect on your own sense of purpose.
1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.
2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.
3. Be generous
4. Build pockets of stillness into your life.
5, When people try to tell you who you are, don't believe them.
6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.
7. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
………….As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.
November 21, 2013
Kennedy was killed by a communist
JFK was assassinated 50 years ago today by the left-wing, self-confessed communist Lee Harvey Oswald, a former U.S. Marine who had been court-martialed twice and who, after his discharge, traveled to Russia where he appeared at the US Embassy in Moscow to declare his intention to renounce his U.S. citizenship. He was given a job and a state-subsidized apartment in Minsk but found life in the Soviet Union so dull, he wanted to return to the U.S . After marrying a Russian woman, they both returned to the United States and settled in Texas where he became active in the pro-Castro 'Fair Play for Cuba' committee in New Orleans. He traveled to Mexico City to get a visa to visit Cuba but was turned down. He then returned to Texas where he got a job in the Texas Book Depository in Dallas and the rest is history.
It is pernicious and utter tripe to argue as James McAuley did in a NYT op-ed entitled The City with a Death Wish In Its Eye, that Dallas was "the city that willed the death of the president."
People on the left can not face the fact that a left-wing commie killed Kennedy. They will do anything to shift blame to conservatives. One way that has proven very successful is to encourage conspiracy theories involving the right wing.. 61 percent of Americans still insist the JFK assassination was a conspiracy.
There was never really any disagreement about Lee Harvey Oswald's politics. The media has avoided the issue by not talking about it while characterizing him as a screwball who wasn't happy anywhere. That much is true, but Lee Harvey Oswald was a militant Socialist screwball who defected to the Soviet Union and plotted the murders of people he considered "right-wing".
The piles of conspiracy theories shove him to the side as an excessively convenient killer. But Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a continuum of left-wing terror in America. The murder of JFK was a bridge between the explosions of violence in the twenties by anarchists and by the Weathermen in the seventies. Oswald was part of the leading edge of left-wing violence in America.
JFK was not killed by a military-industrial complex or a vast right-wing conspiracy. No group of men in suits sat around a table plotting his death. The forces that killed him were the same political ideas of the left that led young American men and women to cheer for the Viet Cong, plant bombs and wage war against their own country.
The real Kennedy conspiracy was an effort to suppress the basic truths of what had happened and to replace them with a recursive loop of conspiracy theories that could never resolve anything while convincing everyone that the basic truths of what happened could be safely ignored.
The conspiracy did not cover up the work of the secret organization that killed JFK, but the secret organizations of the left whose ideas led to his murder. The real JFK conspiracy concealed the deeper secret that the left is destructive and that its ideas carry a dark wind of chaos and violence.
Lt. Gen Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence official ever to defect to the West. He offers New Proof of the KGB's hand in JFK's Assassination
According to new KGB documents, which became available after Programmed to Kill was published, the Soviet effort to deflect attention away from the KGB regarding the Kennedy assassination began on November 23, 1963—the very day after Kennedy was killed—and it was introduced by a memo to the Kremlin signed by KGB chairman Vladimir Semichastny. He asked the Kremlin immediately to publish an article in a “progressive paper in one of the Western countries …exposing the attempt by reactionary circles in the USA to remove the responsibility for the murder of Kennedy from the real criminals, [i.e.,] the racists and ultra-right elements guilty of the spread and growth of violence and terror in the United States.”
In the WSJ James Piereson writes JFK—Casualty of the Cold War
Why does the Kennedy assassination still provoke so much controversy?
A large part of the answer can be found in the social and political climate of the early 1960s. Immediately after the assassination, leading journalists and political figures insisted that the president was a victim of a "climate of hate" in Dallas and across the nation seeded by racial bigots, the Ku Klux Klan, fundamentalist ministers and anticommunist zealots. These people had been responsible for acts of violence across the South against blacks and civil-rights workers in the months and years leading up to Nov. 22, 1963. It made sense to think that the same forces must have been behind the attack on Kennedy.
Ironically, U.S. leaders adopted a line similar to the one pushed by the Soviet Union and communist groups around the world. They likewise blamed the "far right" for the assassination.
The assassin's motives for shooting Kennedy were undoubtedly linked to a wish to interfere with the president's campaign to overthrow Castro's government. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy pledged to abandon efforts to overthrow Castro's regime by force. But the war of words between the two governments continued, and so did clandestine plots by the Kennedy administration to eliminate Castro by assassination.
Castro, however, was probably aware of these plots against him, thanks to information thought to have been provided by a Cuban double agent. In early September, Castro declared in an interview with an American reporter that U.S. officials wouldn't be safe if they continued efforts to assassinate Cuban leaders. A transcript of the interview was published in the local paper in New Orleans where Oswald was then living; and it may have been Castro's remarks that sent him on his trip to Mexico City a few weeks later. Oswald was attentive to the smoldering war between the U.S. and Cuban governments and to the personal and ideological war of words between Castro and Kennedy.
The JFK assassination was an event in the Cold War, but it was interpreted by America's liberal leadership as an event in the civil-rights crusade. This interpretation sowed endless confusion about the motives of the assassin and the meaning of the event. The vacuum of meaning was filled by a host of conspiracy theories claiming that JFK was a victim of plots orchestrated by right-wing groups.