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Comment Re:2-3 hours a day! (Score 4, Insightful) 376

Oh please. I'd be surprised if my salaried employees didn't "steal" 2 hours a day; BSing with co-workers, checking the news, running an errand on the way back from lunch. They more than make up for it with after-hour calls, weekend site visits, etc. The hourly guys is a slightly different story, but as long as their 15 minute scheduled breaks don't turn into half an hour or so, that's fine. It's not like I pay them enough to actually give a shit whether they "steal" 20 minutes here or there. Maybe if my company didn't hand out 2.5% raises every two years, all the while jacking up insurance premiums, we might all pull a little more weight.

Honestly, the the only "time thieves" I have a problem with are the smokers. (And that one guy who would go fishing down the road, and claim to be doing his safety audits; fuck that guy.)

Comment Re:Gut flora and artificial sweeteners (Score 1) 5

This is probably the most recent, well-cited article on the topic. The authors looked at the effects of saccharin in mice, and were able to determine that there was a significant elevation in blood-glucose level for the mice that were fed saccharin instead of actual glucose over the course of nine weeks. This suggests a mechanism for previous findings that suggest artificial sweeteners cause insulin insensitivity, weight gain, type II diabetes, et cetera. The difference between the two diets went away when both groups were raised with antibiotics, strongly suggesting the underlying cause was gut microbiota. They also found evidence that the saccharin diet led to changes in gut microbiome composition:

In agreement with the experiments with antibiotics, next generation sequencing of the microbiome indicated that mice drinking saccharin had distinct compositions from controls. This distinct microbiome was characterized by enrichment of taxa belonging to the Bacteroides genus or the Clostridiales order, with under-representation of Lactobacilli and other members of the Clostridiales. Several of the bacterial taxa that changed following saccharin consumption were previously associated with type 2 diabetes in humans.

Keep in mind that everyone has different gut flora, so in general these impacts will vary from person to person, which is why the effect is inconsistent, as with obesity and type II diabetes in general. I can't say for certain that these results would directly transfer into humans, but since the bacteria are the same, it's unreasonable to assume they wouldn't. Less clear is whether this effect transfers to other sweeteners; the paper includes a table showing a number of studies pertaining to a diversity of chemicals, some of which found an effect, and some of which didn't.

Non-professionally, my advice would be to avoid artificial sweeteners, and ideally all liquid candy. Some people find that drinking normal, sugary soda produces a state of lethargy, and I'm pretty sure this is a result of the long-term exposure to sucralose. It's sort of a trap!

Comment Re:Which type of graft is best? (Score 1) 5

That's fairly straightforward; as this summary article explains, a synthetic allograph (or xenograph; the terms overlap) that maintains bone mineral density is ideal, as it means no harvesting from elsewhere on your body (eek), no risk of rejection, and good bone density. I'd say start a conversation with your dentist about hydrogel-hydroxyapatite composites and mention you're concerned about sustaining bone density long-term.

Comment Re:Not really a Good Result (Score 1) 180

I think the burden of proof would be on the person claiming that high-energy particle physics does indeed apply to daily life. The null hypothesis would be to assume that any given scientific discovery doesn't have near-term, global, daily life applications. Several people can successfully live their life assuming a flat earth at the center of the universe. Most can get away with assuming a spherical earth with constant gravity and no quantum effects. One famous American didn't even have to know how tides work and still became very successful. Even general relativity didn't have ubiquitous impact on people's daily life until GPS became widespread. (whether that's near-term is up for debate)

Comment Re:Don't buy this (Score 1, Insightful) 440

"up to five times more energy efficient than most conventional dryers"

WTF does that mean? Does it mean that it uses 20% of the power a traditional dryer uses? Because it can't literally mean the efficiency is 5 times higher. A dryer is pretty damn efficient at turning electrical energy into thermal energy. Even if a dryer were only 40% efficient, the most this could hope for is 2.5 times the efficiency. I hate it when people use "times more;" it is almost never a helpful way to describe the mathematical construct they are trying to explain.

Comment Re:Speaking as a firefighter (Score 1) 344

It's the getting rear ended at a stop light that really pisses me off. I was hit once like that. This gal had already stopped behind me in the turn lane, got out her phone, and plowed into me. Really? I was lucky she stopped first, I guess, otherwise I might have ended up like the lady you're talking about. I heard one interview with a high school girl who said she "can't not" look at her phone. I got an idea. How about you leave it in your fucking trunk if you're that attention challenged.

Comment Re:They could have done better with the data (Score 1) 344

My old flip phone took no concentration at all to call my wife. Just flip and mash the big button twice. Now I have Bluetooth connection to my car, but I switched to a smartphone before that. I just gave up calling while driving, because I had to unlock the stupid phone (thanks work email), and then mash the right parts of the screen to call the right contact, or hope the voice recognition worked.

Comment Re:I find this thoroughly unsurprising (Score 1) 344

I wish consoles were still designed with driving in mind, but a lot of evidence points to the contrary. My old 2005 Honda had readily reachable knobs of different sizes and prominent buttons. My "new" 2009 has one tiny knob and a flat panel of buttons of roughly the same size. Sure there are voice commands, but that takes even more concentration than reaching for a button.

The ones I use the most are for climate control. The fan speed is two little buttons all the way over by the passenger side, and the mode button (not a dial aurgh) is right above them. The mode selection is a real PITA, because you used to just be able to reach over and crank a knob to the right orientation. Now you have to remember whether it's one button press or three, and even then you look down at the middle console to make sure it's correct.

And of course you mention flat screen interfaces. Possibly the worst idea to ever come across a car designers desk. Hopefully this will all be a moot point in 5 years because cars will drive themselves. Most commuters would love that.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Biology Help Desk: Volume 3^3 5

As requested by the world's greatest masked mystery person, Anonymous Coward, it may or may not be time for yet another biology help desk thread, after a surprisingly long hiatus of about four years. Feel free to contribute both questions and answers.

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