October 18, 2013
I happened to catch an interesting story on NPR yesterday about new research on the benefits of sleep. The super non-sciencey version is that our brains (like other animals’ brains) actually flush out toxins while we sleep, which has implications for research on Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related illnesses. I didn’t know this before yesterday, but apparently dementia disorders are overwhelmingly associated with sleep disorders.
My interest in the story is twofold. First, I’ve struggled with insomnia for pretty much as long as I can remember. I basically thought this was just an unfortunate side effect of being me, but as it turns out, it’s actually a very common symptom of bipolar disorder, and one that is delightfully (for the most part) treatable with the right combination of medication.
Secondly, my grandmother had Alzheimer’s. Her deterioration was deeply painful for my mother and her siblings, and a fear of developing dementia is now something my mother and I share. Like the risk of developing bipolar disorder (which is pretty huge if one parent has it), the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases considerably if the disease also runs in your family. The initial articles I found about potential links between bipolar and Alzheimer’s made my brain hurt (on account of not being so sciencey) but I would be curious to see if research on two conditions so strongly linked to sleep disorders could both be aided by this new discovery on sleep and the brain.
November 8, 2006
Rumsfeld is stepping down! CNN predicts Bush will announce (is announcing? Damn I wish I could get NPR live feeds!) it at his press conference this afternoon.
July 26, 2006
This time the bickering (more entertaining than the civil remarks exchanged by guests from Lebanon and Israel, which have been dominating the airwaves as of late) is over Dubya’s usage of what are called signing statements.
From what I understand, a signing statement from a president accompanies his signature on a law passed through Congress and essentially states that he has a problem with the law (or parts of it) and will choose not to uphold this law (or parts of it).
Which basically means Congress passes a law, then our president goes, well, good for you, guys, but I ain’t doin’ it.
One guest, apparently from the Attorney General’s office, wanted to cut the guy some slack, because the numbers being reported (over 800 signing statements and one veto, the former greater than all previous presidents’ signing statements combined, the latter compared with some 600 by Roosevelt back in the day) include all provisions rather than just raw numbers of laws, and that if you really factor that into account Dubya doesn’t stack up so intensely to past presidents.
But everybody else is like–yo, this is wack. (NPR is so hip sometimes.) The dude is overstepping the bounds of the Constitution by a) essentially usurping the role of the legislative branch, by sneakily rewriting laws and b) also usupring the role of the judicial branch, by deciding himself which laws are constitutional and which aren’t and enforcing them thusly.
I gotta agree here–this is wack.
July 6, 2006
And so beging the posts of the former News Musings, largely informed by the Metro from my morning commute and my daily dose of NPR, which accounts for anywhere from 5.5 to 7.5 hours of my day. Interestingly enough, the Metro seems to be a fairly accurate predictor of the news I’ll find later on NPR, though condensed into bite-sized stories for easy digestion.
This morning, NPR’s On Point is starting with the issue of cars in China. According to our guest expert, an author in residence at NYU, China will ultimately have more miles of road that the States; it’s currently second but expanding quite rapidly. What’s the impact of a billion people suddenly driving cars, our host asks? Aside from the obvious environmental impact and a boom for the automotive industry, the Chinese already boast an impressive 21% of automobile fatalities. According to the guest, this is probably due in no small part to excessive speeds; drivers with licenses only two or three years old are so thrilled with the road that speed comes almost naturally. I would wager that infrastructure is also partly to blame–I imagine building roads and dumping cars into the country hasn’t necessarily been accompanied by signage and increased police vigilance, particularly since roads aren’t confined to major cities where these would already be in place.
The next question is whether China’s “exploding love affair with the automobile” will lead to a new Chinese auto industry, and I think it will. Given China’s knack for getting Americans to buy cheap crap, how will this affect the world automobile market? As the Chinese demand more autos, will we see an influx of Asian models on our streets as well? Will American auto prices be undercut by foreign competitors?