Friday, April 1, 2022

Friday Night Links

  • But here in the US, if you go to the drugstore and purchase an over-the-counter nasal decongestant (as a single agent or a combination of drugs that includes a decongestant), you will in every single case be buying phenylephrine. Which does not work. It is found (according to the paper linked above) in 261 different OTC products, and it is a useless bait-and-switch on the consumer in every one of them. I have always told friends and family members to avoid these products if at all possible, and to go back to the pharmacy counter to get something that actually works. [Science]
  • I like how it simultaneously avoids starry-eyed “all people must be free” romanticism, and hard-headed “the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must” realpolitik, in favor of the vibe of some guy from a private equity firm trying to cut operating expenses: “Did anyone here notice that we have 195 countries, some duplicating each other’s portfolios? Do we really need both a Netherlands and a Belgium? And why do we still have an Egypt? People haven’t wanted Egypts for two thousand years!” [Scott Alexander]
  • Antioxidants proved a bust for life extension almost 25 years ago, but glutathione stands out as an exception. We lose glutathione as we age, and supplementing to increase glutathione levels has multiple benefits, possibly on lifespan. Glutathione is manufactured in the body via an ancient mechanism taking as input cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Supplementing N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) and glycine are independently associated with health benefits, and possibly increased lifespan. Glutamine seems to be in adequate supply for most of us. [Josh Mitteldorf]
  • For volume, 5 sets of 5 reps across (the same weight repeated for the work sets) have proven to be the optimum combination of volume and intensity. Higher reps require a weight that is too light; lower reps with a heavier weight do not accumulate to the optimum volume, but cause too much structural stress. Many people have tweaked the sets and reps, and time after time they come back to 5 sets of 5 across as the best driver of long-term progress. [Mark Rippetoe]
  • Ruhlman is part of our stable of high performing writers like John McPhee, doctors trust nicotine as a cognitive enhancer when babies' lives are in the balance, and parents of babies with congenital heart defects need to be high agency and not passively take the first recommendation because the variance of outcome is enormous (~10^2). [CBS]
  • A methylation clock is an empirical construct. There is no understanding of physiology or metabolism built into the process. The clock is engineered to do the best job predicting (in the case of the GRIM-Age clock, for example) future mortality and morbidity based on methylation patterns. The whole process is agnostic about biological mechanism. It is a legitimate question whether a drug or diet that sets back the methylation clock has actually increased life expectancy. Maybe methylation is a downstream consequence of aging, like grey hair or wrinkled skin. We would hardly expect a skin cream or hair dye to increase life expectancy. For me, personally, this is an easy question. I have devoted much of my professional career since 1996 to opposing the “selfish gene” version of evolution and promoting multilevel selection. I have collected evidence that aging is a systemic phenomenon, centrally controlled, and that epigenetics (including methylation) is the primary way in which aging is enforced on the body. I was poised to believe that methylation clocks measure something real and important even before the first clocks appeared [2013]. [Josh Mitteldorf]
  • I wrote about the evidence for a lab origin in two posts back in April, 2020. The quick summary is (1) There is no credible animal source, since pieces of several animal viruses from different locations are included in the genome. (2) No other coronavirus has ever evolved a furin cleavage site. (3) There are published articles (from UNC, WIV, NIAID) describing how to turn a bat coronavirus into a human pathogen. (4) There have been meetings held in the last dozen years in which simulations of a coronavirus pandemic were rehearsed. These meetings were connected to the same people funding the lab experiments in GoF. [Josh Mitteldorf]
  • “Over many, many decades…they’ve gotten incredible treatment from the Florida legislature and they are treated on a pedestal, this one corporation is treated differently than everybody else,” the Republican governor told Fox & Friends. “That’s not something I’ve ever supported,” he said. “But now in the Legislature you see a movement to reevaluate those special privileges. And so at the end of the day, I think Disney has gotten over its skis on this.” DeSantis said he differentiated between legitimate “policy disputes” and efforts to dictate “woke ideology.” [NY Post]
  • This is a Porsche 914. It has a mid-engine layout. The transmission is in the far back of the car, and the shift linkage’s main component is a football-field long steel rod formed loosely in the shape of your lower intestine. Manipulating the gear shift lever will deliver vague suggestions to this rod, which, in turn, will tickle small parts deep within the dark bowels of the transaxle case. It is akin to hitting a bag of gears with a stick, hopefully finding one that works. [link]

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