Sunday, 3 January 2016
Entertainment stuff from the part-week 1-3/1/16
So, we're in January - a time of year that's notorious for being slow and dull and boring. That means there isn't much to say this week. Except...
Read my summary of what happened in 2015 :-D
'What Happened in 2015? An Incomplete Guide (The Tertia-quel)'
I found out too late, for the last article of 2015, via New Scientist's Feedback column, that 2015 "had the charming property" of being palindromic in binary.
The number '2015' in binary is '11111011111'. And the year of the Modern Gregorian Calendar won't be palindromic in binary again, until 2047. So now you know :-D
'Researchers discover how some organisms process oxalate, a molecule that can harm humans'
Oxalate, or ethanedioate, is a very simply dianion with the formula C2O4(2-), but the colloquial term 'oxalate' is also used for derivatives of ethanedioate, such as those that form insoluble precipitates with it.
Calcium oxalate, for example, is the primary constituent of kidney stones. This is how oxalates pose a threat to health.
Many plants, fungi and bacteria are able to break down oxalates, but a range of the plants that can not, or do not, include, in reverse order of oxalate abundance:
Fat hen (Chenopodium album), sorrel, several Oxalis species (from which the chemical gets its name), the root and/or leaves of rhubarb and buckwheat, star fruit (carambola), black pepper, parsley, poppy seed, amaranth, spinach, chard, beets, cocoa, chocolate (through cocoa), most nuts, most berries, fishtail palms, New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides), and most beans.
The tea plant's leaves (Camellia sinensis) contain some of the greatest measured concentrations of oxalic acid in plants, however, the chemicals that tea leaves are made of tend to be highly diluted, as part of the brewing process (adding all that water) so in practice, tea is less of a problem.
The human body's inability to metabolise the oxalates that are left unmetabolised by all of these plants, means that when these plants are consumed, the oxalates are passed on.
If you like rhubarb and custard, or rhubarb and something-else-that's-dairy, then you are likely to have noticed the gritty feeling it leaves in your mouth. That grittiness is the presence of calcium crystals, precipitated out from reaction of the oxalate compounds with the casein in the dairy product. The grit is the same compound that makes up most of kidney stones - calcium oxalate.
The researchers in the above-linked story have found that an enzyme - thiamine pyrophosphate-dependent oxalate oxidoreductase (OOR) - establishes temporary bonds with the C2O4(2-) anion, and breaking it down into two C02- anions.
As a result, the species that produce this enzyme might provide a resolution for people with kidney disorders, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain forms of vulvodynia.
Not directly they won't, but through working out how to introduce the production of it, into people's guts. It's noted that some people are much more likely to develop kidney problems than others - it might be that their microbiome is one that does not produce OOR, or doesn't produce it in great enough quantities.
So the solution might be to find a way of encouraging these people's microbiomes to produce OOR, to metabolise the calcium oxalate, and prevent the aforementioned medical conditions. Oxalobacter formigenes is a bacterium that's known to produce OOR, by example.
As a closing jab-in-the-eye to herbalist quackery, i shall mention that overconsumption of 'herbal' tea, containing sorrel, for example, has been known to kill people directly, by oxalate poisoning - no kidney stones required!
Acute oxalate nephropathy is what it's called. And it's suspected to be underreported as a cause of death, because doctors and pathologists are unlikely to even consider it as a possibility.
So go easy on the oxalates, in future :-P
'Behind the Headlines' 2015 Quiz of the Year'
'The top 10 news stories of 2015'
In other news:
With climatic change accelerating, around the world, due to the increasing quantity of CO2eq in the atmosphere, as a result of human activity, it seems perfectly plausible to attribute the weirdly-warm winter that Europe's experienced thus far, to changes in the climate. People living in regions, where they're used to preparing for snow and sleet, are instead harvesting premature crops, for which there isn't sufficient demand. Seasonal precipitation, instead of hanging around on mountaintops, is racing downhill and flooding halfs of counties. This is all expected, from climate models - increasingly erratic, unreliable weather, for Europeans, not knowing whether they'll get a wandering of the polar vortex and a deep freeze, such as last year, or a balmy autumnlike feel, such as this year. In tropical regions, the numbers of storms are expected to increase, and in equatorial regions, desertification and increasing aridity. All of these tends have been observed for long enough. Meanwhile, climate obstructionists insist on not doing anything, with the inevitable result that they (and we) will be forced to adapt, at far greater cost than would have been incurred if the whole problem had been put off, decades ago. Rational economics says "do something, you idiots!"
Apple's Italian branch has paid off the country's tax agency with €318 million ($348 million) to curtail an investigation into the tax that the corporation should have paid between 2008 and 2013. According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Apple Italia should have paid €880 million for the period. So the Italian people have still been left short, just so that Apple could prevent the court case from finishing
Amazon, under pressure from compassionists in Germany, has donated all of its profits, from online sales of a fascist fundraising song, to the care of refugees who've fled to the country from the Middle-East, many fleeing the Syrian civil war. Fascist movement PEGIDA got to #1 on the German downloads chart through sales of the track, claiming they'd spend the proceeds on 'German' people #fucknationalism
According to PR, sorry i mean 'a study' funded by a supplements industry company, people who suffer IBS (who are numerous) should be taking supplements, to treat it. Hmmm.... Contrary to the researchers' corrupt claim that vitamin D (which is mostly calciferol) supplementation treated IBS, the study in fact found no significant benefit to people suffering IBS, except in the sense that... they were no longer deficient in vitamin D! Well, duh. But that didn't translate through to IBS relief. I call the Ocean Dilemma on this: it might be that IBS causes mineral deficiency (maybe by putting people off their meals, so that they're deficient in lots of things) and so topping up the minerals isn't going to do anything about the IBS. As an analogy: aqueous precipitation makes people's feet wet, but drying their shoes isn't going to stop the rain from falling!
Politwoops is back on Twitter! The app that catalogues tweets by pollies was previously blocked, as the very-public policies of the people were deemed too dangerous for people to know about. And so censorship. Well, they are censored no longer... except they are, if they say something nasty. Twitter has simultaneously reaffirmed its witchhunt against bigots in one particular organisation (ISIS) at the expense of everyone else, by imposing a blasphemy law on anyone who says anything nasty, or related to religion. I simply don't trust them to understand the antagonism between free speech and plot-foiling adequately well, to censor only on the rare occasions that censorship is warranted. There's too much of tumblr in twitter
Some parents have whined that their toy plane, that they got for their son, has been, instead of making planey noises, instead bleating the Islamic 'call to prayer'. LOL. If i got a toy plane that recited excerpts from 'Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman?' i'd think it were hilarious. Look on the bright side kid: your toy plane's one of a limited edition :-D
------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff
'Dad³ Vlogs! - Happy New Year!'
'Breaking Bad: Thermite from a toy, is it possible?'
'The Northern Lights (True Speed)'
'Shelf Life Episode 12 - Six Extinctions In Six Minutes'
'ScienceCasts: Quantum Foam'
'UFO Over India DEBUNK'
'Who Owns Antarctica? (Bizarre Borders Part 3)'
'NASA image: The Alps in winter'
'Image: Boulders on a Martian landslide'
------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks
Word Of The Week: glitch -- an unexpected, and usually suddenly occurring, malfunction or fault
Fact Of The Week: The 'intermission' music in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, is an arrangement of a short section of the instrumental song 'Alligator Crawl' by Fats Waller
------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff
'Rat Ogre Welcomes You to Vermintide'
That's not supposed to happen!
Glitches! Capping off the best of 2015...
With so many people playing so much of Fallout 4, it's managed to bag a category to itself:
'He's not quite dead yet!'
'Disturbing - Fallout 4 - GameFails'
'Teabag - Fallout 4 (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Elevator - Fallout 4 (Glitch) - GameFails'
'New Roommate - Fallout 4 - GameFails'
'Prison Loop - Fallout 4 (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Active Nap - Fallout 4 (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Mutants Can't Jump - Fallout 4 - GameFails'
Not a glitch? Still a fail
'Hand Shot - Fallout 4 (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Don't Flip Out - Fallout 4 (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Fender Bender? - Just Cause 3 (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Bye Bye Teo - Just Cause 3 (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Tank Shot - Battlefield 4 (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Sticky Grenade - Call of Duty Black Ops III - GameFails'
'Beach Bum - Dead Island (Glitch) - GameFails'
'VENDIcated - Grand Theft Auto V - GameFails'
'Secret Spawn - Halo 5 Guardians (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Almost Jesus - Witcher 3 Wild Hunt (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Wall-E's Adventure - Call of Duty Black Ops III - GameFails'
'Reproduction - Star Wars Battlefront - GameFails'
'One with the Bike - Trials Fusion - GameFails'
'Scary Garage - Grand Theft Auto V - GameFails'
'Hanging by a Thread - Tomb Raider (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Metal Spin - NHL 16 (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Three's a Crowd - GTA V (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Booped Your Face - CoD Black Ops III (Win) - GameFails'
And of course, no glitch collection is complete without Ubisoft's finest glitchmaker - Assassin's Creed:
'Imaginary Fiancé - Assassin's Creed Syndicate (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Sneaky - Assassin's Creed Syndicate (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Heavy Load - Assassin's Creed Syndicate (Fail/Glitch) - GameFails'
'Sister - Assassin's Creed Syndicate (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Rogue Wagon - Assassin's Creed Syndicate - GameFails'
'Super Sidecar - Assassin's Creed Syndicate (Glitch) - GameFails'
'Trainception - Assassin's Creed Syndicate (Glitch) - GameFails'