Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Pill to live to 150 -

Pill to live to 150 - 

Drugs that could help people to live to 150 by slowing the ageing process are being developed by scientists.

The drugs are synthetic versions of resveratrol, found in red wine, an organic chemical believed to have an anti-ageing effect, by boosting activity of a protein called SIRT1.
GSK, the pharmaceutical firm, is testing them on people with particular medical conditions, namely Type II diabetes and psoriasis, a serious skin condition.
David Sinclair, professor of genetics at Harvard University, said ageing might not actually be an "irreversible affliction".
He said: “Now we are looking at whether there are benefits for those who are already healthy.
"Things there are also looking promising. We're finding that ageing isn't the irreversible affliction that we thought it was.

"Some of us could live to 150, but we won't get there without more research."
He explained that increasing SIRT1 activity improved how well our cells operated, making them less sluggish. In previous experiments, mice, bees and flies given the SIRT1-boosting compounds lived longer.
Writing in the journal Science, Prof Sinclair claimed to have performed experiments which showed these resveratrol-based compounds were having a direct effect on health. Some scientists have argued that the effect was not real, but experimental artifice.
Despite the controversy, there have already been promising results in some trials with implications for cancer, cardiovascular disease and heart failure, Type II diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, fatty liver disease, cataracts, osteoporosis, muscle wasting, sleep disorders and inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, arthritis and colitis.
Current trials look at how the compounds might help treat these age-related disease.


Schoolboy aged 8 ties the knot with 61-year-old mum of five -

Schoolboy aged 8 ties the knot with 61-year-old mum of five - 

Little Sanele Masilela got hitched in front of 100 guests to mum-of-five Helen Shabangu, who already has a husband.

The couple swapped rings and kissed in the ceremony in Tshwane, South Africa, which Sanele claimed his dead ancestors ordered him to arrange.

But he and his bride did not sign a marriage certificate and do not live together.
His family, who forked out £1,500 on the wedding, insisted it was only a ritual and was not legally binding.
Sanele said: “I told my mother I wanted to get married as I really did want to.
“I’m happy that I married Helen. When I’m older I will marry a lady my own age.”


Google's Talking Shoe Motivates You to Move -

Google's Talking Shoe Motivates You to Move - 

Forget Google Glass, Google's got sneakers now. Well, at least it does at SXSW.
No, the search giant isn't planning to get into the sneaker or footwear business, but to showcase its new advertising innovation program called "Art, Copy and Code" the company has hacked together a crazy pair of sneakers that would even draw Marty McFly's attention.
"The Talking Shoe is an experiment in how you can use connected objects to tell stories on the Web today," Aman Govil, lead of the advertising arts team, told ABC News.
Govil's team at Google took a few pairs of Adidas sneakers and crammed in a small computer, an accelerometer, a pressure sensor, a gyroscope, speaker and Bluetooth. The shoe can tell what you are or aren't doing and can then relay that information to your phone via Bluetooth or to you via the speaker in the top tongue of the shoe. Think those 90's Pump sneakers, but with a speaker in place of the squishy ball.
The idea is that the shoe would function a lot like many of the fitness gadgets out there today that attempt you to motivate you more. When you have been sitting for more than an hour it might yell at you to walk around. But in this instance, Google's really thinking along the lines of what brands could do with this sort of technology.


"What Looks Like A Rally May Just Be The Elites Passing Money Among Themselves" -

"What Looks Like A Rally May Just Be The Elites Passing Money Among Themselves" - 

Why are citizens of the developed world looking a gift horse in the mouth? The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied beyond 14,300 points this week, passing the highs it reached in 2007 just as the world economy was starting to wobble. Sure, there are reasons to be sceptical about the Dow. It is weighted, rather arbitrarily, by share price. But at least it is a quantifiable index of something. We look at 1954 – the year the Dow returned to its 1928 pre-depression high – as marking an epoch. And yet, this week, investors and pundits warned us not to read too much into it.

They have a point. In the half-decade since the western financial system almost collapsed, the relationship between stock markets and the “real” economy has seemed more tenuous. The Dow owes some of its robustness to expectations of a strong Friday employment report.

Then again, European stocks rose to a four-year high following a rise in unemployment to 11.9 per cent. Other solid-looking economic correlations are melting into air. The US property market rebounded in 2012, according to the Case-Shiller index, but the Yale economist who devised it, Robert Shiller, warned in January: “Any short-run increase in inflation-adjusted home prices has been virtually worthless as an indicator of where home prices will be going over the next five or more years.”

Part of the reason people get less giddy about the Dow than they did five years ago is because they have learnt a bit about inequality. They suspect, more than they used to, that significant developments in the economy go on over their heads. What looks like a recovery, a rally or an increase in consumer confidence may just be the effect of elites passing money among themselves.

Most western leaders hold power today because they weren’t in power during the bleakest days of September 2008. (Germany is the important exception.) They claimed a mandate for radical action, but the economy stumped them. So they have been radical on non-economic matters instead: Barack Obama with healthcare reform, David Cameron with gay marriage and Ireland’s Enda Kenny with abortion. If you were to examine their rhetoric of a few years ago, you might suspect these initiatives were hocus-pocus. Their economic policies don’t differ much from those of their predecessors.

The West’s leaders are vulnerable to the accusation that the policies they lay out on behalf of society as a whole are benefiting only a small group. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning economist, accuses the Obama administration of trying to rebuild the economy from the top down, not the bottom up. The Occupy movement and the Spanish indignados filled squares with young people eager to make a similar point. Last summer the leftwing Syriza movement won a quarter of the seats in the Greek parliament. In effect, party leader Alexis Tsipras asked Greeks not to take seriously the warnings that Greece would be cut off from the European financial system if it rejected austerity, arguing that they were cut off from the fruits of the system anyway. The strong performance of Beppe Grillo in Italy’s elections is a sign other countries’ voters are willing to call the system’s bluff.

Remedying inequality is harder than it looks. Unless you want to govern like a communist, you must work with existing institutions and social customs. That means you can wind up making society less equal. In the US, the first-time homebuyer tax credit, broached by George W. Bush and continued by Mr Obama, lured more people into the housing market. Those who bought in poor states – where property was hard-hit – generally fared badly, sometimes seeing their house values fall by more than the value of the credit. People who bought in wealthier markets got their good investments subsidised.

Similarly, in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, the intellectual historian of capitalism Jerry Muller argues that the age-old Washington remedy for inequality – “investing” in education – may actually exacerbate inequality. Prof Muller quotes the late political scientist Edward Banfield in The Unheavenly City Revisited: “All education favours the middle and upper-class child, because to be middle or upper class is to have qualities that make one particularly educable.” Education is a good that benefits the already well-positioned, rather as stimulus tends to benefit the cronies of those in government.

A sense that some, but not all, are benefiting from the stock market’s rise is what has muted the response to this week’s news. The US Federal Reserve has added more than $2tn to its balance sheet since 2007. In general, that tide of liquidity ought to lift all boats in the harbour. But when the harbour is an equity market, you won’t find your yacht lifted unless you own one.

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