Thursday, March 31, 2011

Delusion in spades


Over the past decade billions of people have hooked themselves up to the internet via the computer and, more recently, mobile devices. 
This communication revolution is now extending to objects as well as people. 

Imagine if all the objects in the world had all the information that they needed to function optimally.
Buildings would adjust themselves according to the temperature.

Ovens would cook things for exactly the right time.

The handles of umbrellas would glow when it was about to rain.

We long ago inserted "intelligence" into objects in the form of thermostats and the like

The internet of everything will extend this principle exponentially, giving us unprecedented control over the objects that surround us
The internet of everything will help solve two of the biggest problems facing the world: energy and health care. 
Buildings currently waste more energy than they use effectively. 
We will be able to cut this waste down to almost nothing. 
Health care is currently delivered in lumps: we visit the doctor a couple of times a year at most, and get our blood pressure checked every now and again. 
The internet of everything will allow us to monitor our bodily functionings all the time. 
A few sensors discreetly attached to the body will keep you constantly informed about how your vital functions are doing. 
It will also help us to keep ourselves healthy. 
Pill bottles will tell us when to take our medicines
Wine glasses will be able to tell us when we have had enough to drink
Sugar bowls will warn us about our sugar intake
This was the beguiling vision of the future laid out at a conference in Madrid on December 1st-3rd 2010 put on by Bankinter's Fundacion de la Innovacion.
The conference brought together an interesting group of thinkers and businesspeople: 
Paul Horn, the former director of IBM Research; Neil Gershenfeld, the director of the Centre for bits and atoms at MIT; Joseph Kvedar, the chief executive of Connected Health; Robin Chase, founder of Zipcars; Peter Hirshberg, the former chairman of Technorati; and many more. 
These luminaries inevitably encouraged each other to produce ever more wonderful ideas about this emerging technology. I, as the person who knew least about the subject, was asked to throw some cold water on the proceedings. 
Here is a brief summary of the doubts I raised (doubts, I must say, which were listened to with extraordinary good humour by people who actually knew what they were talking about).
Can the infrastructure support such a huge expansion of the internet? 
The conference took place in the Madrid Ritz, one of the world's great hotels. 
But the internet connection was glacial (hence, along with my congenital laziness, the recent paucity of blog postings). 
Many of the presenters found their presentations if not ruined, then at least rendered quasi-comical, by the fact that they could not get an internet connection. 
Nor is this just a charming Spanish idiosyncracy. 
I live an hour away from London. 
But my BlackBerry does not operate and many of my neighbours cannot get a functioning internet connection.
It surely makes little sense to entrust "everything", from our health care to our ovens, to a technology that can easily crash. 
We are trying to run before we can walk.
What about privacy? 
The internet of everything will allow companies and governments to collect unprecedented amounts of information on ordinary people. 
The police and tax authorities will be able to discover what you own, what you do with it, and whether you are living in your house, for example. 
Companies will be able to "anticipate your needs" for a new toaster or fridge. 
"Smart" wine glasses might sound wonderful in theory. 
But do we really want dumb objects warning us about our behaviour
What about catastrophic failure? 
The more we trust to the internet, the more dependent we are on it. 
The more interconnected the world becomes, the more we have to lose from catastrophic failure. 
Terrorist attacks, hackers' vandalism and plain old disasters could wreak havoc on a world where everything is connected to a giant electronic brain
Is it worth it? 
Many of the problems that the internet of things is supposed to solve actually have simple, non-technological solutions. 
Google likes to boast that your smartphone can tell you the ratio of men and women in any given bar. 
But there is actually a much simpler solution: you can look through the window! 
Many of the wonders of the internet of things fall into this category. 
Sensors can tell you when a baby's nappy is full. 
There is a perfectly reasonable old-fashioned solution to this problem. 
Sensors can turn the stem of an umbrella to glow blue when it is about to rain. 
You can always listen to the weather forecast. 
Mr Kvedar argued that hooking people up to the internet would reduce their need to go to the doctor, because they will be constantly updated about their health. 
But will elderly people, who are nervous enough about mobile phones, really embrace this high-tech wonderland? 
It might be better to loosen the grip of professional doctors on medical advice, and allow nurse-practitioners and other para-professionals to monitor people's health. 
In health care, above all else, technology is a poor substitute for the human touch
What will be the human costs of the internet of everything? 
Imagine that we can overcome problems with the infrastructure, sweep aside privacy objections, and create this interconnected paradise. 
This will turbo-charge the automation of the service sector, a process that is already gathering pace. 
This will have a devastating impact on the employment prospects of less-educated workers. 
Check-out jobs in supermarkets and pharmacies are already going the way of many manual jobs. 
The internet of everything will render millions of people who currently look after buildings or perform low-level medical services redundant. 
What sounds wonderful for the digital elite could be a nightmare for less-skilled workers.
There are strong objections to all of these objections, of course, most of them convincing. 
But, at the very least, we need to debate the implications of this powerful new technology, rather than simply bowing down before the great god "interconnectedness".
Apart from the vital issue of privacy, 
I suspect that we need to keep a watchful eye on three great issues, as this new technology unfolds
Will buildings, particularly your humble home, become the new battle-ground between huge corporations? 
People crave simplicity: they want a single bill, a single provider, a single integrated solution. 
This gives giant companies, which can roll together a wide variety of internet-based services, a huge opportunity to gain control of everything that is needed to keep houses heated, information-enabled and otherwise connected to the internet.
Will the developing world leap-frog over the developed world in the internet of everything? 
The most connected building in the world is Cisco East in Bangalore. 
South Korea and Singapore are leading the world in linking their infrastructure to the internet. 
The Chinese government has declared that it wants to lead the world in this new technology:
Chinese manufacturers are focusing intensely on this new world of sensors and intelligent objects, with a view not only to supplying a growing market, but also to laying down global standards
Will the internet of everything reinforce China's top-down model or the West's more bottom-up approach? 
The betting would be on the latter. 
But the top-down approach may have surprising advantages: in the establishment of the necessary standards to ensure that things can talk to things; in the construction of smart public infrastructure; and in the introduction of toll roads and other forms of metering. 
At the very least, China and Singapore seem to have got off to a very impressive start in what is likely to be, regardless of my doubts, a very big next 'big thing'.
The above is interesting however for me it is looking at life on one level only
One dimension of possibilities if you will
Looked at another way I suspect we are close to a serious backlash of frustration from those billions who are without work and with little prospect of getting any
We delude ourselves if we think that there will be none
While technology is interesting a countervailing pressure is from those who have nothing
They are more numerous than those who live in societies intrigued by the next 'big thing'
Only when we look at our world holistically can the next 'big thing' make sense
Be put into context
Be a 'big thing' that works for us all

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Lovers of the English language might enjoy this.

It is yet another example of why people learning English have trouble with the language.

Learning the nuances of English makes it a difficult language.

There is a two-letter word in English that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is 'UP.'

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ?

Why do we speak UP, and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends and we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.

We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has a real special meaning.

People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this up is confusing:

A drain must be opened UP because it is blocked UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP !

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP , look the word UP in the dictionary.

In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.

It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP .

When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.

When it rains, it wets UP the earth.

When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on & on, but I'll wrap it UP , for now time is UP , so time to shut UP! more thing:

What is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night? U P

Don't screw up

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where to hide it?

The digital archive of a big bank contains many secrets. 

So when WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing website, promised to publish five gigabytes of files from an unnamed financial institution early next year, bankers everywhere started quaking in their hand-made shoes. 

And businesses were struck by an alarming thought
Even if this threat proves empty, commercial secrets are no longer safe.
Smaller leaks are nothing new in the corporate world.

WikiLeaks itself has already been the conduit for a few.

In September 2009, for instance, it posted a leaked internal report from Trafigura, a commodities giant, discussing a hazardous waste spill in Côte d’Ivoire.

In January 2008 the site released stolen documents from Julius Baer, a Swiss bank, including bank records of about 1,600 clients with accounts at a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands.

WikiLeaks is currently drip-feeding a huge stash of American diplomatic cables to the world.
These have revealed a few corporate secrets, but so far nothing startling.

Intel, a giant maker of microchips, apparently managed to export to Russia 1,000 computers containing software to protect the firm’s intellectual property
Without getting ensnared by Russia’s stringent regulations on encryption products.

If Intel had been obliged to wait months until the gear had passed muster, its bosses told the country’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, it would have had to fire 200 Russian engineers.
The cables will doubtless yield more such anecdotes.

The biggest worry for companies, however, is not that diplomats have been gossiping about them.

It is that their own files are insecure.

Constantly improving technology has led to an explosion of corporate data.

It has also made it more vulnerable, says Tracey Stretton, a legal adviser at Kroll Ontrack, a data-security consultancy.

Employees increasingly bring their own devices to work.

Even the simplest can store the equivalent of several tonnes of paper.

And more and more people use social networks at work, which thrive on exchanging information.
Worse, many firms do not have the right policies in place to deal with these changes.

More than half in America and Britain do not have a “data map”, a document describing what information is being stored and who has access to it, according to a new study by Kroll Ontrack.

Few have implemented rules about how to deal with new technologies.
Social networks are not the only risk.

Companies are increasingly storing proprietary data offsite, in a scattered “cloud” of data centres.
The State Department has learned what the music and film industries learned long ago: that digital files are easy to copy and distribute, says Bruce Schneier, a security expert.

Companies are about to make that discovery, too.

There will be more leaks, and they will be embarrassing.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More on vitamins

The major vitamin makers buy the cheapest ingredients on the international market. 
These tend to be synthetic versions of the vitamins they list on the label. .
Then they blast them into a tiny little pellet and coat it with chemicals.
Your body can’t absorb most of what’s in them, so it just eliminates them. 
So you’re not getting any real health benefit.
My patients were just throwing money away without getting results.
These synthetic vitamins are made in a lab, whereas natural vitamins are from a source that occurs in nature.
This is important for you because you are designed to get your vitamins and other nutrients from food.
Vitamins from natural sources will have with them all the trace minerals, enzymes, and co-factors that make them work so well in nature.
Vitamins constructed in the lab have none of these. 
They’re stripped-down copies… isolated chemical forms of the real thing.
Meanwhile, it’s tough to know what you’re getting. 
Many “health” websites will advise you not to take a vitamin if it has a “chemical-sounding name” because it’s probably synthetic.
The problem with that advice is most vitamins themselves have chemical-sounding names.
Vitamin C is called ascorbate. 
Vitamin D is cholecalciferol. 
Vitamin B-6 is pyridoxine. 
Vitamin B-12 has the tongue-twisting chemical name cyanocobalamin.
You can’t avoid these… they are your vitamins.
So forget about the chemical-sounding names. 
Making sure your vitamins are real is much easier than that
Here’s what to do instead:
Look for what’s NOT in your vitamin.
Well-made, natural vitamins leave out things like sugar, yeast, salt, gluten and artificial colors and preservatives
Remember though, that vitamins do need some kind of filler to physically keep the pill from falling apart.
That means there will often be some kind of cellulose or stearate in them. 
But don’t worry, they’re harmless.
Look for the letters d and l.
Let me explain…
You can clearly tell the difference between synthetic and natural forms of vitamins when you shine a simple beam of polarized light on them.
A natural vitamin will bend all the light to the right because of the way the molecules spin together in nature. 
The Latin word for right is “dextro,” so you’ll often see a lower case “d” in front of the vitamin name if it’s natural
But if you send that same beam of light through a synthetic vitamin, it will bend both ways. 
Half to the right, and half to the left. 
The Latin for left is “levo.” 
Put that together with “dextro” and you have the “dl" you often see on labels at the beginning of a synthetic vitamin’s name.
The best example is vitamin E.
There’s plenty of evidence your body uses the natural form – d-alpha tocopherol – much better than the synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol.
Like the study done last year which found that the natural form had significantly higher antioxidant effect.1 
And in an animal study, the natural form was absorbed much better. 
The animals were given more than twice as much synthetic vitamin E and still didn’t have the same serum levels as the ones given the natural form.2
A synthetic vitamin is sort of like a reflection in a still pool of water… it looks like the real thing, but it’s far from it.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Just light sillies

Adult - A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle
Beauty Parlour - A place where women curl up and dye

Cannibal - Someone who is fed up with people

Chickens - The only animals you eat before they die and after they are dead

Committee - A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours

Dust - Mud with the juice squeezed out

Egoist - Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation

Handkerchief - Cold storage

Inflation - Cutting money in half without damaging the paper

Mosquito - An insect that makes you like flies better

Raisin - Grape with sunburn

Secret - Something you tell one person at a time

Skeleton - A bunch of bones with the person scrapped off

Toothache - The pain that drives you to extraction

Tomorrow - One of the greatest labour saving devices of today

Yawn - An honest opinion openly expressed

And finally......................

Wrinkles - Something other people have, similar to my character lines

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tree rings

Tree growth rings (Image: Science Photo Library)
An extensive study of tree growth rings says there could be a  link between the rise and fall of past civilisations and sudden shifts in Europe's climate.
A team of researchers based their findings on data from 9,000 wooden artifacts from the past 2,500 years.
They found that periods of warm, wet summers coincided with prosperity, while political turmoil occurred during times of climate instability.
The findings have been published online by the journal science.
Looking back on 2,500 years, there are examples where climate change impacted human history, co-author Ulf Buntgen, a paleoclimatologist at the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape, told the Science website.
Ring record
The team capitalised on a system used to date material unearthed during excavations.

Archaeologists have developed oak ring width chronologies from Central Europe that cover nearly the entire Holocene and have used them for the purpose of dating artefacts, historical buildings, antique artwork and furniture.
Chronologies of living and relict oaks may reflect distinct patterns of summer precipitation and drought.
The team looked at how weather over the past couple of centuries affected living trees' growth rings.
During good growing seasons, when water and nutrients are in plentiful supply, trees form broad rings, with their boundaries relatively far apart.
But in unfavourable conditions, such as drought, the rings grow in much tighter formation.
The researchers then used this data to reconstruct annual weather patterns from the growth rings preserved in the artefacts.
Once they had developed a chronology stretching back over the past 2,500 years, they identified a link with prosperity levels in past societies, such as the Roman Empire.
Wet and warm summers occurred during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity.

Increased climate variability from 250-600 AD coincided with the demise of the western Roman empire and the turmoil of the migration period.
Distinct drying in the 3rd Century paralleled a period of serious crisis in the western Roman empire marked by barbarian invasion, political turmoil and economic dislocation in several provinces of Gaul.
We were aware of these super-big data sets, and we brought them together and analyzed them in a new way to get the climate signal.
If you have enough wood, the dating is secure.

You just need a lot of material and a lot of rings.
Mark Kinver

Friday, March 25, 2011

There's just one thing you should know

 ................before you can go and make the perfect energy-boosting breakfast
The difference between complete and incomplete proteins.
Meat, eggs, fish, tofu, milk and cheese are complete,
While oats, nuts and seeds, rye, beans and the like are incomplete.

One should eat complete proteins with each meal.

But this doesn't mean adding fish or cheese to everything

Rather that incomplete proteins shouldn't be eaten alone.

Instead, add another, different incomplete protein to the meal 

One slice of toast with humous

For instance the other with peanut butter

And the problem is solved.

It's a rule vegetarians especially should take note of
This might not be your idea of the perfect energy breakfast
So enjoy what you like one or two days a week
Then eat what you should for the rest of the week maybe.
Maybe not.................. just enjoy life eating what you like in moderation
Life is so short
So busy, so rushed, so enjoy what you eat whatever that turns out to be!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The science of your hangover

A better understanding of how exactly alcohol affects your body and you can enjoy life more. 

The telltale signs of having reached your destination are unmistakable and aptly described on a global scale.

Smacked from behind is the literal translation of the Swedish word for hangover.

Meanwhile, the Salvadoreans describe themselves as waking up made of rubber, the French with a wooden mouth or a hair ache and the Danes with carpenters in the forehead.
In the past, dehydration was thought to be the main cause of hangover symptoms, says Emma Derbyshire, independent nutritionist and consultant to the Natural Hydration Council.

But now, scientists believe that alcohol withdrawal, and chemicals formed in the body when our livers break down alcohol, also contribute to those dreaded symptoms.
The good news is that acetaldehyde is automatically attacked by another enzyme and a substance called glutathione.

The process works well, leaving the acetaldehyde only a short time to do its damage, but – and it's an important but – only if you stick to a few drinks. "

The liver's stores of glutathione quickly run out when larger amounts of alcohol enter the system

The acetaldehyde builds up in the body, causing headaches and vomiting.
Muddled internal messages
Ever wondered why your sleep is disrupted after a night on the lash?

Alcohol inhibits the production of glutamine, a natural stimulant whose job it is to keep you awake.

When you stop drinking later on, your body rebounds by overproducing that stimulant.

Not only does this prevent you from getting the deep sleep you need, it also causes fatigue, stomach irritation and a general sense of illness.
Alcohol also promotes secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, eventually causing the nerves to send a message to the brain that the stomach's contents are hurting the body and must be expelled through vomiting, adds Colin Wilson, research scientist at Water Wellpoint.
One 250ml glass of wine (or other alcohol) causes the body to expel 800 to 1,000ml of water.

That's four times as much liquid lost as gained, which explains the heavy traffic to the loos in bars and restaurants.
No wonder that the morning after heavy drinking, the body sends a message to replenish its water supply, usually manifested in a mouth that's so dry it feels as though it's been stuffed with cotton wool. "

Headaches also result from dehydration as the body's organs try to make up for their own water loss by stealing water from the brain.

This makes the brain decrease in size and pull on the membranes that connect the brain to the skull.

Hence those carpenters.
There's a third effect of dehydration.

Frequent peeing expels salts and potassium that are necessary for proper nerve and muscle function," Wilson explains. "

When levels of these get too low, headaches, fatigue and nausea can result.
Tremors and sweating – both common features of hangovers – are due to alcohol withdrawal, says Jonathan Chick, honorary professor in health sciences at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and medical adviser to Drinkaware.

The brain adapts even in the course of one evening of drinking and is then left in a withdrawal state for the next 24 hours.

That's why some people swear by a hair of the dog – another alcoholic drink – to cure their hangover.
This method merely postpones the inevitable, he says, although there is a school of thought that it may mitigate the worst symptoms.
Other causes
Over-consumption of alcohol can induce hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), which converts into light-headedness and general weakness.
A few too many glasses of whatever your tipple is can also produce inflammation, which in turn causes the white blood cells to flood the bloodstream with molecules called cytokines – the same molecules released when you get the flu.

The result is headaches and nausea, as well as lethargy which encourages us to stay in bed, thereby freeing up the body's energy for use by the white blood cells in combating the invader.
Even the noise levels of the environment in which you drank can influence a hangover, Chick says.

People's hearing when they drink becomes slightly dulled, which is why they tend to raise their voices and the music gets turned up.

Overall exposure to high decibels becomes common and definitely contributes to morning-after headaches.
The depressive nature of alcohol is also significant, certainly in contributing to the emotional self-doubting, over-anxious component of hangovers.

You might feel happy while you drink, but alcohol works much like diazepam – ultimately a downer, not helped by the plummeting blood-sugar levels that zap your energy when you've finished drinking.
Finally, there's the fact that alcohol breaks down the body's store of glycogen in the liver.

Lack of this key energy source is at least partly responsible for the weakness, fatigue and lack of co-ordination the next morning.
Mine's worse than yours
In general, darker drinks – think red wine and whisky – contain a much higher level of toxins called congeners (by-products of fermentation) than white wine and clear spirits such as vodka, gin and rum. "

More expensive brands tend to have fewer congeners, Derbyshire adds.
Habitually heavy drinkers tend to get milder hangovers.

Meanwhile, women who drink the same amount as men tend to suffer more.

It's partly to do with body size, but also because women have lower levels of enzymes and glutathione, which means it takes longer for their bodies to break down the alcohol.

The older you get, the more severe your hangovers become, Khemka adds.

The body is more susceptible to toxins and less able to produce the enzymes needed to deal with them.
Genes matter, too, he says. Up to 70 per cent of people of oriental origin have a variant, less efficient form of ethanol dehydrogenase, an enzyme necessary for alcohol processing.
Many feel flushed and drunk very quickly.
Most people think of a fry-up as a cure, but slower absorption of alcohol – and therefore the effects of too much of it – can be achieved by eating a meal before you start drinking, Wilson says.

Fat is particularly efficient at preventing absorption, which is why some people in the Mediterranean drink a teaspoon of olive oil before drinking.

At the very least, have a glass of milk.

Multivitamins can help, too, preparing the body for the depletion of vitamins that you'll experience later when frequently urinating.
Stay well-hydrated during the day to prepare for your night out, Derbyshire advises.

Having a bottle of water at hand is a great way to hydrate on the move.
Have a glass of water with every drink you order, she adds.

But limit fizzy drinks as the gas bubbles stimulate the gastric sphincter to open and facilitate gastric emptying.

It's why fizzy alcohol such as champagne really does "go straight to the head".

Avoid salty snacks, too, as these make you more likely to drink more alcohol.
Just before bed after a heavy night out, Koreans have a tradition of downing a bowl of water with honey.

The idea is to head off the hypoglycaemia, as well as hydrate.

It's not a bad theory, but if you suspect your beer goggles may hinder the search for the honey pot, it's still worth consuming buckets of water.
First, the bad news: there is no miracle hangover cure.

The stumbling block for inventing one is research.

Lab tests with cell samples or animals are easy enough, but clinical trials with humans raise both practical and ethical dilemmas.

But there's no hard evidence they really work, certainly for all symptoms, Emma Derbyshire insists.
That said, certain painkillers have been found to be more effective than others when it comes to hangovers.

Aspirin, for instance, is both a non-caffeinated pain reliever and a type of anti-inflammatory known as a prostaglandin inhibitor.

High levels of prostaglandin have been linked to hangover severity. However, it is not gentle on the stomach, so avoid it if you've been vomiting or you haven't eaten.
Herbal compounds have become increasingly popular for hangovers.

These include ingredients such as milk thistle, guava leaf and ginseng, which aim to boost biochemicals that help the body to deal with toxins.

But again, the evidence is scant, with the exception of milk thistle, which has been proven to protect cells from alcohol damage.
Water goes a long way to speeding up the healing process.

If you can stomach it, add salt and sugar to it to replace the sodium and glycogen lost the night before.

Fruit juice is also good – the sugar helps to increase the body's energy, while the vitamins and nutrients can help to replace those depleted the night before due to alcohol's diuretic effect.
Bananas and kiwi fruit can both restore potassium to your body which has been lost to alcohol's diuretic effect.

Power drinks help in the same way.

Meanwhile, eggs contain large amounts of cysteine, which can mop up left-over toxins.
Avoid coffee – it will further dehydrate you – and remember that eating fried or fatty foods will probably just irritate your stomach further
Kate Hilpern