May 31, 2013

Happy Friday

"I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I am not able to appreciate."

One thing everyone appreciates is having a Happy Friday!

May 35th

May 35 is next week. That date is used by some people in China to refer to June 4, which is the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on student protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Other names include the Tiananmen Square massacre or the June Fourth Incident. Variations of the date June 4 are periodically banned from internet postings and search engines within China. "The 35th of May, or Conrad's Ride to the South Seas" is also the title of a 1931 novel.

Gregorian Calendar Exception

Most of the world uses the Gregorian Calendar. We are currently in the year 2013. Even China also follows this calendar, although it also celebrates its own New year.

North Korea uses the names of months we are familiar with, but the calendar year one begins in 1912 rather than two thousand years ago. That year, 1912 was the birth of former North Korea despot Kim Il-sung (grandfather of Kim Jong-un). Three years after Kim Il-sung’s death, the nation promulgated the new Juche calendar after the state’s official ideology of the same name.

It is a government allusion to the idea of Kim Il-sung as god. When Kim Il-sung died, his son and successor, Kim Jong-il redid the calendar to imply that his father was divine. In September 1998, the North Korean constitution deemed Kim Il-sung the “Eternal President of the Republic.” Nice to have a family tradition that changes the calendar for an entire nation.


When asked about his future prospect of communication satellites in 1961, US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Tunis Craven claimed, “There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States.” This was eventually proven false, when a communication satellite named Syncom 3 successfully transmitted communication signals from Japan to the United States three years later, during the 1964 Olympics.

Ostriches Bury Their Heads Myth Debunked

This is one of those myths that is accepted as fact without question. People generally believe this is something the birds do when danger is near.

Ostriches do run if they feel that danger is approaching, but they also have a powerful kick to defend themselves. Ostriches may hold their heads low in an attempt to be harder to see, but they do not actually bury their heads.

Global Warming, Global Cooling

It appears to me that long term climatologists may be suffering from the same afflictions as local weather celebrities, "It may be warmer tomorrow unless it gets cooler".

Attached is an interesting article from 1975 decrying the various governments for not getting ready for the impending global cooling. The chart is interesting because it is markedly different from global warming charts for the same period. Change the word 'cooling' to 'warming' and we have the same dystopian rhetoric used in any number of articles from recent years. . . until this year.

Seems some may be changing their minds again. Here is an April 2013 article from Forbes. LINK

Debunking the Eight Glasses of Water Myth

Drinking eight glasses of water a day is believed by about three fourths of adults with no reliable clinical evidence to support it.

One study on this myth was conducted in 2002 by Heinz Valtin, a Dartmouth Medical School physician and kidney specialist, who researched the subject. He believed that the statement supporting the eight glasses belief is taken from the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council. It grossly misrepresented  the facts by removing facts from the original context. The sentence that followed it stated, “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods,” which was left out and led to the false interpretation that the requirement needed to be fulfilled by drinking water alone.

After 45 years of studying the biological system that keeps the water in our bodies in balance, Valtin concluded that drinking such large amounts of water is not needed at all. He pointed out a number of published experiments that attest to the capability of the human body for maintaining proper water balance from sources other than directly drinking water which may include drinks such as tea, coffee, and soft drinks, as well as prepared foods.

Most foods have some water content. For example, apples: 85%, bean sprouts: 92%, boiled chicken: 71%, raw cucumbers: 96%, lettuce: 96%, potatoes: 85%, roast turkey: 62%, etc.

The bottom line is that the body lets us know when we need more water by making us feel thirsty. People who have specific health concerns, such as kidney stones or urinary tract infections require drinking large amounts of water. Other reasons for drinking water, such as before meals to curb an appetite is its own benefit.

Further scientific evidence also debunks the myth that by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. A number of scientific studies have confirmed there is no support for this. Thirst hits long before we are near risk for dehydration and most folks thirst mechanism kicks in when the osmolality of the blood plasma is less than 2%, and dehydration begins at osmolalities of 5% and higher. I'll drink to that.

Memory Tricks

Have you ever wondered if you closed the garage door, or turned off the stove. How about putting out food for your pet, or watering the plants. Aging reduces these mundane acts far to the back of our consciousnesses. If these niggling things bother you from time to time, try clapping. When you close the door or other mundane activity, clap your hands. Alternatively, you can say it out loud, "I closed the garage door."

Sounds silly, but your mind will file those actions away much more prominently than the act itself. When you doubt whether you turned off the stove, your mind will rapidly remember you said it out loud or clapping.

Here is another mind trick for those times you go into another room to find or do something, only to discover you forgot why you are there. Going through the doorway is like passing through a barrier and it changes your thought process. When you decide to go to another room to retrieve an item, say it out loud, "I am going to the kitchen to get some potato chips". Of course, that is one activity that I would never forget, but you get the idea.

Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose

Glucose, fructose and sucrose are three types of sugar. Sugar production has been around for a few thousand years.  In 2011, worldwide production of table sugar was about 168 million tons.

Glucose, also known as dextrose, is the most common sugar. It is rarely found in food in its single molecular form, but is found as a building block for more complex carbohydrates. Foods containing glucose include: bread, pasta, cereals, rice, most fruits and vegetables, dairy products, maple syrup, pancake mixes, commercial salad dressings, and spices, and all foods containing sugar. Brain cells show a marked preference for glucose.

Fructose is the sugar that sweetens fruits, and it is also naturally present in some vegetables. One of the major differences between fructose and glucose is that cells require insulin to take up glucose from the bloodstream, but fructose is absorbed directly without insulin.  Fructose a healthier choice for individuals with diabetes than glucose or sucrose. Foods rich in fructose include, agave, apricots, blueberries, figs, dates, grapes, honey, and raisins.

Sucrose is made up of two smaller sugar units, glucose and fructose. Sucrose is the type of sugar you use in your kitchen and in cooking. It is usually derived from either sugar cane or sugar beets. An apple contains both fructose and glucose. Sucrose is digested into glucose and fructose before it enters the bloodstream.

Glucose, fructose, and sucrose contain identical amounts of energy. Each provides four calories per gram.  Glucose and fructose units are absorbed across the intestinal wall by active transit into the portal vein. They are then transported to the liver where they are converted to energy units. When reading food labels, sucrose can be listed as sugar, glucose can appear as dextrose, and fructose as corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup.

Bottom line - Cells require a constant supply of energy to keep running. Glucose and fructose have identical chemical formulas. Glucose and fructose can be burned for immediate energy or stored as body fat. It is not important where sugar comes from. Too little and your body is deprived of much needed nutrients, too much and your body stores sugars as fat. There is a correlation between increased soda consumption and obesity, but no proven causation. Headlines about soda and obesity are mostly non-scientific mumbo jumbo designed to titillate, but not educate.