the island of the week before: archives

category: fact collecting
For reference.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Most non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including Ibuprofen (Advil) and Sodium Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosin) work by inhibiting an enzyme known as cyclooxgenase (COX). COX has two known forms: COX-1 and COX-2. COX-1 is rquired to synthesize a class of prostaglandins that help maintain function in a number of organs and systems, including the protective lining of the stomach, normal platelet function (clotting), and proper blood flow to the kidneys, as well as many types of cell repair. COX-2 is required to synthsize a group of prostaglandins that help cause inflammation and pain. Inhibiting both types of the enzyme can, therefore, reduce pain and inflammation, but only at the cost of damaging other systems.

Certain newer NSAIDs such as Vioxx and Celebrex have the ability to inhibit only COX-2, reducing the COX-1-related side effects considerably. Unfortunately, Vioxx and Celebrex users have proven to be more likely than users of Sodium Naproxen to have heart attacks, so we're not quite there yet.

07:07 PM (link)

Sunday, March 24, 2002

According to the NY Times, we're getting smarter. I, on the other hand, am getting dumber, a trend which I intend to begin reversing any time now.

10:10 PM (link)

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Happy St. Patrick's day!

My father and I (via my detested middle name) were both named after St. Patrick, so I feel a certain responsibility to the man. Turns out that while he didn't chase the snakes from Ireland, he did lead something of an interesting life. After having been abducted and forced into slavery by the Irish, he escaped, guided by divine voices, only to return later to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.

He also had surprisingly nice things to say about women (considering that his contemporaries tended to dimiss women as the embodiment of temptation and sin — oh celibacy), and his Confessions (even in a dubious translation) make interesting reading.

09:23 AM (link)

Friday, March 15, 2002

In case the fact that the law firm Morrison and Foerster LLP has initiated the first US class action suit against a spammer isn't enough for you, please note that their website can be found at

10:57 PM (link)

Thursday, February 28, 2002

Little Z

Jeffrey Zeldman was once a flute-playing juvenile offender.

01:15 PM (link)

Monday, February 25, 2002

If you had not realized that you can log onto the New York Times website by using johndoe/johndoe, now you know. The question of whether or not such use is strictly ethical will have to rest with you.

10:10 AM (link)

Saturday, February 23, 2002

lioness and oryx calfIn what may be the cutest news in some time, the Kenyan lioness that adopted a baby oryx antelope last month adopted another one. The first baby oryx was killed by another lion while the lioness slept. After mourning its death, she followed the oryx herd and snagged another baby on Valentine's day.

Unfortunately for the lioness, and for somewhat dubious reasons, the Kenyan Wildlife Service has taken it upon themselves to remove the second baby from the lioness's care and introduce it back into the wild elsewhere.

Perhaps if we all chipped in, we could buy her a nice goat or something.

04:15 PM (link)

Friday, February 15, 2002

If your flight is delayed, even really, really delayed, you don't beat your transportation minister to death.

Unless you're this particular group of Muslim pilgrims, in which case you do.

02:27 PM (link)

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

I can smell certain things—sour milk, rotting vegetables, paint fumes—that no one else in the house can smell. This isn't a particularly useful trait.

It might be explained by studies indicating that women have more sensitive noses in general (possibly linked to hormones present in women of chilbearing age), and that women's sense of smell can “learn” with repetition.

The thing is, if I spray perfume or scented girlie things anywhere in the damn house, my (male) roommate's nose, which is impervious the the kitchen smells that drive me nuts, takes immediate offense. I don't wear scenty things much, and I've learned to apply them outdoors when I do, but the scent mystery continues.

01:49 PM (link)

public service announcement:

According to the Swedish agency that regulates pharmaceuticals, St. John's Wort has been seen to interfere with oral contraceptives, including emergency contraception. If know any women who take either of those things, you might want to mention it.

01:20 PM (link)

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Proving once again that I can find research to support almost turns out that decaffeinated coffee is bad for you. (At least if you're a woman and at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.) The part I care about is that caffeine wasn't directly linked to joint problems, which means that I'm going to keep right on drinking as much coffee as I please.

01:35 PM (link)

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Today's roundup from New Scientist: babies are healthier if they're not so damn clean, Frank Goddio's team has released the first complete map of the underwater sections of Alexandria, and UN scientists make a point of correcting GW Bush's statements about climate change.

10:31 AM (link)

Monday, April 09, 2001

Follow Me Here has an interesting post on the Lyme disease controversy. The timing's particularly good because I just received an invitation to come protest in support of the Lyme specialist in New York who treated me for chronic Lyme when I was in college. The invitation states that my former doctors are being "persecuted" for their "aggressive" treatment methods.

At this point, under a working diagnosis of an inflammatory form of arthritis, I am healthier than I've been since high school. I don't know if I ever had Lyme at all, since I never had a straight-up positive test — but of course, if you're a believer in chronic Lyme, you don't believe that the tests are accurate.

I do know that eight months straight of extremely high doses of antibiotics made me pretty ill. But if you're a believer in chronic Lyme, you believe that toxically high doses of antibiotics are absolutely necessary to combat the disease, and that there's an evil political movement perpetuated by power-hungry doctors to cover up the evidence that Lyme is widespread, underdiagnosed, chronic, and very hard to fight. The medical establishment in the US, on the other hand, treats Lyme specialists as heretics.

In the middle, there are a lot of very sick people who've been told by one group that they're hysterics and by the other that they are deathly ill and require the medical equivalent of slash and burn to get better. Some of them may be hysterics, but from personal experience, I suspect that most are as ill as they think they are. Unfortunately, many, many doctors ascribe pain and illness that they can't immediately diagnose to hypochondria, leaving a lot of people with very real symptoms very vulnerable to "specialists" who listen to them, believe that they're in pain, and offer treatment.

[Incidentally, if you happen to have found this while searching for information on Lyme (God knows I spent hours online doing research), my arthritic symptoms are quite manageable these days — I'm taking glucosamine supplements, which are helping far more than any of the drugs and supplements I've tried before. If you're having potentially Lyme-related joint pain, I suggest you see a rheumatologist — several, if necessary — before you submit to toxic treatments of any kind.]

07:14 AM (link)

Wednesday, April 04, 2001

In a spectacular show of stating the obvious, the British Psychology Society would like you to know that ecstasy can damage your memory. They came to these conclusions by studying people in their 20s who had taken ecstasy at least *ten times a month* for up to five years.


08:46 AM (link)

Friday, March 30, 2001

Yes, Psycho Ex Girlfriend was a hoax. I'm not sure all the details are right, but a coworker of mine just emailed a friend of his who works at L90, and the friend confirmed that they'd built the site.

08:52 AM (link)

Friday, March 23, 2001

"If I can't drink my bowl of coffee three times daily,
then in my torment I will shrivel up
like a piece of roast goat."
- J.S. Bach, the Coffee Cantata

After being queued on my audiogalaxy list for months, Bach's Coffee Cantata has successfully downloaded. It was written in Leipzing in 1732(?) and performed for the first time at the Kaffehaus Zimmermann. Read the libretto in English or download the mp3.

Related: A brief history of coffee, including a timeline. National Geographic also has a few words on the subject.

06:54 AM (link)

Thursday, March 22, 2001

According to the Associated Press, white people are now in the minority in Boston, that former stronghold of the old New England families. (The ones who considered the Irish and Italians a major threat to the area.)

My neighborhood just outside of Cambridge is still pretty damn white, and the city's still quite segregated. I'm going to spend some time this summer exploring the old neighborhoods across the river in Boston. (I'm refusing any and all commitments for summer so that I can lollygag and explore Boston thoroughly before I move to California.)

12:50 PM (link)

Tuesday, February 20, 2001

The 2001 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco has stirred up a few interesting currents...the likelihood of previously undiscovered forms of life in an Antarctic lake 4000 meters under ice, and, closer to home, some vaguely creepy research about fetal cell exchange between mother and child being partially responsible for some autoimmune diseases.

12:33 PM (link)

Friday, February 16, 2001

The ever-popular House Rabbit Society presents: How to Say Rabbit in Many Different Languages. Little nabastak foo-foo?

On the same search, I located this "Japanese woodblock" snow rabbit (on a plate), which I like very much:

10:54 AM (link)