Another Dark Little Corner

moon phases

Started this before change to "New Blogger", as backup in case of trouble with digiphoto blog "In a Small Dark Room", or rants & links blog "Hello Cruel World" . Useful - at one stage Dark Room was there, but like the astrophysical Dark Matter, we could't see it ... better now, but kept Just In Case.

Your ABC

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There is nothing. There is no God and no universe, there is only empty space, and in it a lost and homeless and wandering and companionless and indestructible Thought. And I am that thought. And God, and the Universe, and Time, and Life, and Death, and Joy and Sorrow and Pain only a grotesque and brutal dream, evolved from the frantic imagination of that same Thought.
Mark Twain (letter to Joseph Twichell after his wife's death)
[me, on a bad day]

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RE: BHP some good stuff  
I heard an explanation about how smoking affected blood pressure & thereby a
bunch of other things just recently too.

Has to do, apart from any possible effect of nicotine or other
pharmacologically active ingredients, with carbon monoxide. CO "locks" onto
the haemoglobin where O2 and CO2 bind more loosely. Thus it takes red blood
cells out of use, though they are still circulating. Your body has to make
more RBC to replace the lost capacity. This makes the blood thicker (more
viscous), so your heart has to work harder, more wear & tear on the heart &
blood vessels, more likelihood of clots (with same side-effects as DVT),
also tends to damage one's kidneys, which have a fine tubing filtering
system, through the viscosity & higher pressure.

NOTE: that this would apply to pretty much any smoke inhalation, not just
tobacco. Deaths by smoke inhalation in fires are mostly CO overload; you
lose usable haemoglobin faster than you can replace it, then can't absorb
enough oxygen from air to support vital functions. (Breathing pure O2 to
recover might work unless you've lost just too much capacity. I guess a
blood transfusion -- after draining out some of the bright red monoxided
stuff -- might be treatment. Leads one to wonder what would happen to a
vampire drinking the bad stuff: goes down to mortuary to find fresh corpses,
picks wrong one?)

BTW, the STB 'crashed' again t'other night. It froze on a half-pixellated
image on Channel 9, then refused to be changed from there. I tested the
timer, and it recorded the (broken-up) sound from Channel 9, still stuck on
the same image.
Re-set the box, and for a while the sound didn't come up, but reset again &
seems to be all OK, **EXCEPT** for Channel 9.
Am now getting [Loss of signal] box on all of their channels (i.e.,
including EPG & multiview). Other channels seem to be OK.
Just what is it about TCN 9? Anyway, the non-STB non-ABC reception is OK,
so am sticking to that -- there are very few things indeed on 9 I'd be
recording until they bring West Wing back. Have caught a couple of episodes
of Six Feet Under, but at the moment it's a bit character-based, so if you
haven't got to know them already, it's not as likely to draw one in.

PS: Looked at the Amazon customer comments on West Wing DVDs, and Region 1
versions have commentaries on them. The UK people are complaining Region 2
doesn't. Have a guess if Region 4 does. Uh-huh.

INTERESTINGLY, in the Product Details or Technical Details section of the
Amazon description of the different season's (seasons') box sets, they do
NOT have a list of the episodes included (if you were looking for a
particular one w/o knowing which season it was), NOR ANY LIST OF 'EXTRAS'.
Thus, you wouldn't know if the extras in different DVD Regions were


I think I can remember some other online retail outlets having more
information about what's included on DVDs.

PPS: It's nice in the article you sent, that they spelt 'barbecued'

Tue, 07 Sep 2004
Interview with Mark Colvin, ABC's PM - ALP tax policy
(Ricky Swallow)


-----Original Message-----
From: T
Sent: Thursday, 16 September 2004 11:37 AM
To: C; Mez
Subject: BHP some good stuff

attached here is an article from the UK Guardian on the relationship
between salt and high blood pressure. It is easily the best "plain
English" article on the subject that I have ever read. It strikes me as
worrying that I have had HBP for quite a few years and got the feeling
when reading this that I finally understood what it was all about. I
hope that you find it useful.


Against the grain,2763,1304652,00.html

Health campaigners say it is implicated in tens of thousands of strokes
and heart attacks each year. Now the government wants to persuade us
all to eat less of it. But is salt really as bad for us as the health
lobby insists? Sarah Boseley and Tim Radford investigate

Wednesday September 15, 2004
The Guardian

Civilisation is built on salt. The discovery of its power to preserve
food enabled wandering tribes to put down roots. Men and women could
hunt and gather today and eat tomorrow. A life that was no longer hand
to mouth allowed time to sit and think. Salt became as precious as any
metal, was traded between nations and offered as gifts. Its influence
lingers in our linguistic value judgments: a good man is the salt of
the earth and worth his salt, but a social inferior sits below it.

But the white crystals have lost their magic. "It wasn't a gift for
civilisation. It was a poison," says Graham MacGregor, professor of
cardiovascular medicine and the one man who has probably done more than
any other to shake our confidence in a substance traditionally offered
with bread as a sign of friendship to strangers.

MacGregor is chairman of Cash (Consensus Action on Salt and Health)
and is this week savouring the sweet taste of success. Ten years after
he and fellow experts on blood pressure began pressing for limits on
the amount of salt we eat, which they say is implicated in 120,000
heart attack deaths a year in the UK, the Food Standards Authority has
launched a £4m campaign to persuade us to eat less of it - and
manufacturers to cut the sackfuls they pour into our processed foods.

But it isn't the salt on your table that does the damage - it's the
salt in your lasagne and, more alarmingly, your bread. The FSA says
that 75% of our salt comes from processed foods, and that an adult
consumes 9.5g a day, though we don't need more than 6g. Baked beans,
breakfast cereals, pizza, soup and cooking sauces tend to be
salt-lavish, but so are some sweet foods, such as biscuits and hot

Why does our food contain so much salt? Not only because manufacturers
found it made their products taste more interesting, but also because
it binds in water, thus cheaply adding "texture" or bulk. It also makes
you thirsty - another knock-on effect for the food and drink industry.

MacGregor argues that thousands of lives could be saved by cutting the
salt content of processed foods by 10-20%. "If salt intake was reduced
to 6g a day, it would prevent 70,000 heart attacks per year, 35,000 of
which are fatal. It is as big an improvement as when they put drains
into London," he says.

Unusually for a bunch of scientists, Cash is extremely media-savvy. It
was naming and shaming high-salt foods, lambasting individual
manufacturers and barbecuing supermarkets long before health minister
Melanie Johnson got in on the act. This month it scored a direct hit on
Sainsbury's, fingering the company's "Be good to yourself" flakes and
orchard fruits as one of "the UK's saltiest foods". One 50g portion
contained 1.84g of salt, it said. Sainsbury's immediately pulled the
product off the shelves.

Back in 1994, the government's advisory Committee on Medical Aspects
of Food and Nutrition (known as Coma) recommended a model diet for the
UK, including a reduction to 6g of salt a day. The food industry
obtained a leaked draft and four heavyweight food manufacturers,
Cadbury Schweppes, Tate and Lyle, United Biscuits and Mars demanded a
meeting with the department of health. They did not get the reassurance
they wanted. That same year, United Biscuits and Tate and Lyle cut
their contributions to the Tory party.

MacGregor is convinced that this contributed to the government's
rejection of the recommended salt level which has now been espoused by
the FSA. "That really infuriated us - that for a few thousand pounds,
the health policy of the UK could be altered," he says.

Cash was formed in 1996 to press the case through the media instead of
polite government channels. It has worked better than they imagined.
"If you had said to me in 1996 that in 2004 the FSA would launch a £4m
campaign about the dangers of salt, I'd have said you were joking,"
says MacGregor. It took almost 40 years to get serious action on
smoking, he points out.

As any school child knows, salt is scientifically known as sodium
chloride. It's a simple combination of two molecules, easily extracted
from water. Salt's primitive appeal must have to do with its bodily
familiarity - our tears are salty; our blood is salty. But the question
is how much we need of it. Chimpanzees and orang-utans get their sodium
from plants they eat, not the salt cellar, and they have perfect blood
pressure of around 90 over 70. High blood pressure, increasingly common
in the UK where it rises steadily with age, is responsible for half the
heart attacks and strokes that kill people here - 120,000 out of
240,000 a year.

MacGregor claims there is virtually no scientific dispute in the UK
over the link between salt, high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Excess salt, says MacGregor, leads to water retention. People who eat
too much salt could have a litre and a half of extra fluid sloshing
around in their veins, he says. That means there is more blood for the
heart to pump, and the blood pressure goes up.

The question of how much is too much, however, seems to vary from
person to person. It's quite possible that some of us can eat salt
without living dangerously. Five years ago a team from the University
of Utah school of medicine (in Salt Lake City, of course) identified
three variations in a bit of human machinery called the angiotensinogen
gene. High levels of a hormone produced by this gene also correlated
with high blood pressure. They reported in 1998 that variants in the
gene made some people much more sensitive to salt. So for some, a low
salt diet had a significant effect on blood pressure.

There is more than one cause of high blood pressure. But most people
in the field believe that maybe one third of all hypertension sufferers
are reacting to the buildup of sodium. Yet some humans feel they need
salt, and some feel the need for salty food at all times. Six years ago
Ilene Bernstein, of the University of Washington, proposed that babies
might arrive with a taste for salt implanted at birth.

It depended, she and colleagues claimed, on just how nauseous and
uncomfortable their mothers felt during early pregnancy. They reported
in 1998 that adult children of mothers who had experienced morning
sickness to conspicuous levels were also very keen on salty snack
foods. Babies at 16 weeks old were more likely to show a fondness for
salty water if they had previously sent their mothers-to-be retching to
the bathroom. Her guess was that dehydration linked with vomiting might
have something to do with a fondness for salt.

"Fluid depletion in the mother triggers the hormonal system in the
blood and kidneys to restore the normal fluid level," said Bernstein.
"We don't know if these hormones cross the placental barrier and affect
the baby or if dehydration causes the baby to release its own hormones
to restore fluid balance. These hormones can have powerful effects on
the brain."

Such claims are contentious. But they do illustrate the complex link
between salt and the functioning of the human machinery. Some babies
show a distinct response to (very slightly) salty tastes within three
days of birth, the response being strongest in those babies who have at
least one grandparent with a history of hypertension, according to the
journal Hypertension in 2002. A team from Mount Auburn Hospital in
Cambridge Massachusetts tested 283 babies in their sucking response to
the taste of salt and sugar. The 67 babies that seemed to like salt
most already had, at three days, higher blood pressure levels than
those who seemed to object to the taste.

Such research seems to suggest that appetite, inheritance and
environment all play a part in the link between salt and hypertension.
But this is not saying very much: appetite, inheritance and environment
play a role in practically everything. Nobody is yet prepared to
suggest that a warm response to a hint of the flavour of salt is really
an indicator of some future cardiovascular troubles to come.

Salt manufacturers are unsurprisingly unhappy at the turn of events in
the UK, in spite of the fact that most of what they produce ends up on
the roads rather than in our baked beans. "The biggest problem we have
is that the deer on the roads lick up the salt - they like it just as
we do," says Peter Sherratt, general secretary of the Salt
Manufacturers' Association.

While the food manufacturers agree to salt reductions here and there -
although not as comprehensively as the FSA and Cash want - Sherratt
insists much of the science is nonsense." A heck of a lot of literature
says the government is wrong."

He cites two documents that have come out within recent months. The
national diet and nutrition survey commissioned by the government says
salt has no effect on the blood pressure of healthy people, while the
National Institute for Clinical Excellence says that people with high
blood pressure should be on drugs to control it. "I don't understand
where salt comes into the equation," he says. "There is no problem with
a healthy person, and an unhealthy person should be on drugs."

If some of us are more susceptible to salt-related damage than others,
maybe there is an element of sense in that, but that's not how public
health strategies work. We all have to eat less salt because we don't
know who the lucky people are who can eat crisps with impunity. And if
we won't even notice a small cut in our salt intake, then it's hard to
see the problem for anybody except a salt manufacturer - or a processed
food company that has to have another think about how to make its
pizzas taste good.,2763,1304652,00.html

"President Bush promised to create five million new jobs, and so far
he's six million short."
John J. Sweeney, A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s president (An American Union)


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