June 21, 2015

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Two Eyes Watching has more on the newly discovered link between the brain and the immune system.

In last week’s issue of Nature, researchers led by University of Virginia neuroscientist Jony Kipnis describe their discovery of lymphatic vessels in the tissues beneath a mouse’s skull. Their observation was unexpected, to say the least. Lymphatic vessels complement the body’s blood vessels, carrying immune cells throughout the body instead of blood. But for decades, researchers had assumed that the lymphatic system stopped short of the brain. Kipnis’ team’s discovery turns that assumption on its head. “They’ll have to change the textbooks,” Kevin Lee, PhD, chairman of the UVA Department of Neuroscience, recounted telling his colleaguesupon hearing of their finding.

The science linking the brain and the body has come a long way in the past decade. Disorders like autism are anecdotally associated with gastrointestinal problems in children, and mouse models of autism have been empirically associated with the balance of their gut microbes. Similarly, an over-reacting immune system is associated with autism-like behaviors in mice, and can even transform strep throat into a psychiatric illness called PANDAS, a deceivingly cuddly acronym that stands for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococci.

But how are gut microbes, the immune system, and neurons connected in the first place? Until recently, this was anyone’s bet. …



From Debrief Daily, a member of AA takes exception to the poor press the group is receiving.

… It seems every few years a new study comes out saying how Alcoholics Anonymous isn’t effective, or is a cult, or that something else has come along that is better. I’m not going to link to them, but they’re easily found online. I’m only here to share my own experience, since that’s the only thing that I can speak on with any authority. YMMV and all that.

To say I was a mess when I arrived in AA would be an understatement. If you’re interested in what got me to AA in the first place, you can read it all here. So any amount of hope was a welcomed change of pace. And I got that hope in AA. The hope that maybe I wouldn’t die drunk in the streets, or worse yet crud away like one of those old drunks you see. “But isn’t AA a cult?” you ask? It might be. I’ve never been in a cult. I will say that AA doesn’t fit the full definition of a cult, in that the requested behavior isn’t what I would call “deviant”. They ask that I not drink, turn my life over to god as I understand god, and help others do the same. Let’s look at their own description for a minute:

Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.

Oh yeah, the god thing. This is the hangup I most often see. …



Mental Floss has a list of 15 amazing things aluminum foil can do. Pickerhead says it’s still not bacon which can do anything.

Aluminum foil is more than just a handy way to wrap leftovers. The thin metal sheets are all-purpose powerhouses around the house, ready to help you with your cooking, cleaning, laundry, and even home decorating. There are plenty of unusual ways to put foil to use. You can use it as a …

1. Dish scrubber

When the rough side of your sponge isn’t enough for set-in grease and food remains, use a balled-up piece of foil to wipe your baking dishes clean. Foil works just as well on a dirty grill. 

2. Scissor sharpener 

Fold a piece of aluminum foil several times. Cut a few straight lines through the foil with your dull scissors. This cleans and sharpens the blade, sort of like a razor strop. …



So where do hummingbirds go in the winter? Garden and Gun has answers.

Where do they go? It’s what every Southern gardener wonders at some point after the ruby-throated hummingbirds disappear. These “glittering garments of the rainbow,” as John James Audubon called them, delight us all summer not only with their beauty, but also with their antics. They’re better than daytime drama. They are the bold and the beautiful, the young and the restless. Despite their appearance on genteel needlepoint pillows, they are not genteel. Despite eating sugar water, they are not sweet. At home in Oxford, Mississippi, I love to watch the dominant male who perches in our Bradford pear, hidden among the leaves, waiting for another hummer to even think about sipping his nectar. Should one try, he zings after it and bullies it off, then loops back to his perch and resettles himself with a cartoonish fluffing of his throat gorget. But round about time the maples start to redden and Ole Miss has started conference play, I realize we haven’t seen him in a day or two. And the feeder activity is definitely lighter. Then, a week later, the hummers have disappeared entirely. Long after the last sugar water has been dumped and the feeders washed and stored, the question remains. Where do they go?

As it turns out, they go exactly where many of us would go: due south for the winter. In late summer, the rubythroats start drifting down through North America, and when they reach the Gulf states, they linger. They gorge until they’ve doubled their weight, to roughly a nickel’s worth. Then they lift off one evening and fly through the night without stopping, a trip of five hundred miles, to winter in Mexico and Central America. Their migratory route appears to be hardwired into the genetic codes packed inside their BB-size brains. …