Friday, May 27, 2016

Archaeologists Find Chinese Invented Mass Market Beer

Archaeologists uncovered ancient "beer-making tool kits" in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. Discovered at a dig site in the Central Plain of China, the kits included funnels, pots and specialized jugs. The shapes of the objects suggest they could be used for brewing, filtration and storage.

It's the oldest beer-making facility ever discovered in China — and the evidence indicates that these early brewers were already using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.
And if you have mass market beer, you must have mass market beer advertising.

For instance, the scientists found a pottery stove, which the ancient brewers would have heated to break down carbohydrates to sugar. And the brewery's underground location was important for both storing beer and controlling temperature — too much heat can destroy the enzymes responsible for that carb-to-sugar conversion, explains Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, who was not involved in the current research.

Down through history, most people managed to make something like beer, a beverage made from some carbohydrate laden liquid allowed to ferment and produce alcohol. It preserves calories and makes water safe that might be undrinkable.
"All indications are that ancient peoples, [including those at this Chinese dig site], applied the same principles and techniques as brewers do today," says McGovern, who is known as the "Indiana Jones" of ancient fermented beverages.

The research group inspected the pots and jugs and found ancient grains that had lingered inside. The grains showed evidence that they had been damaged by malting and mashing, two key steps in beer-making. Residue from inside the uncovered pots and funnels was tested with ion chromatography to find out what the ancient beer was made of. The 5,000-year-old beer "recipe" was published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

I tried my hand at beer making once upon a time. You can buy the ingredients for a reasonable price (you don't have to malt your own grains), and the result wasn't too awful, but in the long run I decided it was a better use of my time to work, and spend money on beer instead.
The recipe included a mix of fermented grains: broomcorn millet, barley and Job's tears, a chewy Asian grain also known as Chinese pearl barley. The recipe also called for tubers, the starchy and sugary parts of plants, which were added to sweeten and flavor the beer, the researchers write.

So what did this ancient beer taste like? The researcher leading the study, Jiajing Wang, an archaeologist from Stanford University, guessed "it would taste a bit sour and a bit sweet."
That's not a bad description of a lot of beer in general, although I tend toward ales and IPAs that usually favor bitter hops more than sweetness.
Finding evidence of barley in the beer was surprising to the scientists. Scientists had never seen barley in China this early before. Although barley is now common throughout China, no one completely understands when and why it first made its way there.

Maybe it was about beer. . .

Purpose of Alzheimer's Protein Found

Human amyloid-beta acts as natural antibiotic in the brains of animal models
A new study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators provides additional evidence that amyloid-beta protein - which is deposited in the form of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease - is a normal part of the innate immune system, the body's first-line defense against infection. Their study published in Science Translational Medicine finds that expression of human amyloid-beta (A-beta) was protective against potentially lethal infections in mice, in roundworms and in cultured human brain cells. The findings may lead to potential new therapeutic strategies and suggest limitations to therapies designed to eliminate amyloid plaques from patient's brains.
. . .
A 2010 study co-led by Moir and Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, director of the MGH-MIND Genetics and Aging unit and co-corresponding author of the current study, grew out of Moir's observation that A-beta had many of the qualities of an antimicrobial peptide (AMP), a small innate immune system protein that defends against a wide range of pathogens. That study compared synthetic forms of A-beta with a known AMP called LL-37 and found that A-beta inhibited the growth of several important pathogens, sometimes as well or better than LL-37. A-beta from the brains of Alzheimer's patients also suppressed the growth of cultured Candida yeast in that study, and subsequently other groups have documented synthetic A-beta's action against influenza and herpes viruses.
. . .
That superiority appears to relate to properties of A-beta that have been considered part of Alzheimer's disease pathology - the propensity of small molecules to combine into what are called oligomers and then aggregate into beta-amyloid plaques. While AMPs fight infection through several mechanisms, a fundamental process involves forming oligomers that bind to microbial surfaces and then clump together into aggregates that both prevent the pathogens from attaching to host cells and allow the AMPs to kill microbes by disrupting their cellular membranes. The synthetic A-beta preparations used in earlier studies did not include oligomers; but in the current study, oligomeric human A-beta not only showed an even stronger antimicrobial activity, its aggregation into the sorts of fibrils that form beta-amyloid plaques was seen to entrap microbes in both mouse and roundworm models.
 . . .
Says Tanzi, "While our data all involve experimental models, the important next step is to search for microbes in the brains of Alzheimer's patients that may have triggered amyloid deposition as a protective response, later leading to nerve cell death and dementia. If we can identify the culprits - be they bacteria, viruses, or yeast - we may be able to therapeutically target them for primary prevention of the disease."
It was to be expected that the A-beta had a function. The body rarely makes proteins without one, and it would not be widely found in nature if it wasn't needed. Still, this seems like a pretty important function, and it make the likelihood that just turning off or strongly suppressing the synthesis of A-beta will be a viable treatment for Alzheimers. It would be weird, indeed, if the problem with Alzheimer's ultimately trace back to infections or other immune responses that triggered the production of A-beta.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Everybody Has to Believe Something

And right now, I believe I'll have a nap: Revealed: Why our brains get so tired in the afternoon 
It’s known as the dreaded 2:30 feeling.

You’ve had your eight hours of sleep, a very productive morning and a healthy lunch - but as the afternoon hits you start to fall into a post-lunch slump.

Feeling drowsy after lunch is completely natural, according to Dr Fiona Kerr, a neuro specialist from the University of Adelaide, who explains that humans are “built for two sleeps a day”.
. . .
She adds the slump in the afternoon occurs because our bodies are effectively “programmed to nap” at that time.

“A major reason for this is that human beings are biphasic (physically designed for two sleeps a day), with two major bodily rhythms (homeostatic sleep drive and circadian arousal) which pull us in different directions in terms of staying awake or sleeping, but they fascinatingly align in the middle of the day to create a ‘nap zone’.

Beach Report 5/26/16

 After what seemed like weeks of rainy weather, the last two days have been clear and sunny, and warm. When Skye nagged today, we decided to go to the beach, an excellent idea.
The wild rose is in bloom throughout our neighborhood, and its sweet smell is omnipresent.
 A great day to take the toddler to the beach. No Sea Nettles yet.
Or just trudge in the sand.
 Or sunbathe.
The False Indigo is in bloom as well.

State Dept. IG Raps's Knuckles

Well, the State Department Inspector Gadget General's report on Hillary's email shenanigans is in, and to say it is not flattering to her majesty is to understate it somewhat: The State Department’s Top Cop Imperils Hillary Clinton’s Campaign
In a pre-release copy of a report on Hillary Cinton’s failure to obey federal record-keeping laws, which Politico obtained, the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) delivers an 83-page doozy.

The State Department inspector general’s office concluded that the former Secretary of State violated legally-mandated record keeping requirements. Quote: “Secretary Clinton should have preserved any federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary. At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.” (That’s on document page 23, page 26 of the pdf. Check it out.)

Bureaucratese riddles that last sentence, but the message is clear: she broke the law. Hillary Clinton has indeed done something wrong—her claims of innocence to the contrary.
From across the pond at the Daily Mail, they're not as polite:  Hillary Clinton clobbered by State Department audit: Report finds she kept hacker attacks on her server SECRET, failed to hand over emails – and top aide Huma 'stonewalled' inspector general.

Ace boils it down to bullet points: IG Report Damns Hillary Clinton and Her Corrupt Staff
Major takeaways:

* Her private email account and server broke the rules, and those rules were promulgated to give specifics to the law. As Rush Limbaugh was just saying, this is a piecemeal way of getting at "she broke the law."

* She compromised national security recklessly. Her emails document two "attacks" on her unsecure server.

* Of her 26 aides, only five answered the IG's questionnaire. Among the criminals refusing to answer questions (who else but criminals tell the cops to go hang?) are Jake Sullivan, Cheryl Mills, Human "Muslim Brotherhood" Abedin, and of course Hillary Clinton.

* She said she turned over all work related emails and merely destroyed her "yoga routines." She lied. The IG found work emails she did not turn over -- these emails found by other means (such as searching other people's emails).

Ergo, Hillary did not turn over her emails as the law requires, nor did she maintain them, as the law requires. Instead, she destroyed official government records -- illegally.

Her response? It's a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, of course:
Oh what the hell, a few more links. Town Hall: Inspector General Finds Hillary Clinton Violated Federal Records Act By Deleting Emails, and HotAir: State Dept. IG: Clinton violated rules with private server, did not cooperate with investigation (Update)

Some of the more interesting facts to emerge are that Hillary Clinton Failed to Report Multiple Hacking Attempts -- Illegally, Of Course, and the State Department can't swear they didn't succeed,  that Hillary Clinton expressed worries about exposure of personal emails at State Dept. (goes to motive), and that State staffers who raised concerns about Clinton’s email were told never to mention it again

Thanks to Wombat-sochos "In the Mailbox: 05.25.15" for a link to the almost always sensible Megan McArdle take on the affair: Clinton's E-Mail Shenanigans Sure Don't Look Like an Honest Mistake, achieving what I thought was impossible, a sentence with both "Clinton" and "honest":
It lays to rest the longtime Clinton defense that this use of a private server was somehow normal and allowed by government rules: It was not normal, and was not allowed by the government rules in place at the time “The Department’s current policy, implemented in 2005, is that normal day-to-day operations should be conducted on an authorized Automated Information System (AIS), which “has the proper level of security control to … ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the resident information.”

It also shreds the defense that “Well, Colin Powell did it too” into very fine dust, and then neatly disposes of the dust. As the report makes very clear, there are substantial differences between what Powell did and what Clinton did . . .
The Washington Post lays into her for making them look like liars, but ultimately let's her off the hook: Clinton’s inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules
The department’s email technology was archaic. Other staffers also used personal email, as did Secretary Colin Powell (2001-2005), without preserving the records. But there is no excuse for the way Ms. Clinton breezed through all the warnings and notifications. While not illegal behavior, it was disturbingly unmindful of the rules. In the middle of the presidential campaign, we urge the FBI to finish its own investigation soon, so all information about this troubling episode will be before the voters.
As others have noted, those rules that she very mindfully broke were the State Department's implementation of security laws and for the Post to claim it was not illegal behavior is to declare her innocent before the FBI criminal investigation they claim to want is complete.

Ann Althouse catches Matt Yglesias making excuses for Hillary. Matt Yglesias explains Hillary Clinton's mindset — it all goes back to Vince Foster.

Most transparent whatever ever: Hillary Clinton aide moves to block release of deposition video Cheryl Mills probably knows enough not to lie under oath, but she'll be damned if she'll let the truth out that easily.

In the matter of the FBI investigation into Clinton henchperson and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe's campaign funding CNBC’s Harwood Labels Clinton Friend/VA Gov. McAuliffe a Republican Under FBI Investigation It was probably just an honest mistake; they try to avoid partisan labels in democratic scandals. McAuliffe, still reeling, slams DOJ 'leak' of campaign probe. Meanwhile, details continue to ooze out: Inquiry Highlights Terry McAuliffe’s Ties to Chinese Company and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Invited Chinese Donor to Hillary Clinton’s Home. Because there's not enough money in the United States for these crooks.

In another media mistake that didn't favor the Clintons, MSNBC’s Kornacki Mixes Up Bill Cosby with Bill Clinton During Sex Assault Report. Better put some ice on that.

Pravda The New York Times wonders how Hillary can Solve a Problem Like Trump?. Roger Simor counters Desperate Establishment Seeks to Resurrect Hillary. It's a tough sell, but they'll keep after it.

Hillary Clinton: 'You're fired' won't work in the White House Why, yes, I believe it will, but I'd prefer to keep you out of it first.

You tell him, Grandpa! Bill Clinton Gets Into 30-Minute Debate With A 24-Year-Old Bernie Fan.

Forewarned is forearmed: Trump spokesman accidentally e-mails Politico reporter about dirt on Hillary and Whitewater Not to worry, there's plenty more where that came from.

We Had a Better Day . . .

But she looks better. Darcizzle passes Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago house, and "catches" a rope. The hair is amazing.

More Darcizzle:

This is Your Dog on Drugs

First Look At Dog After Detoxing From Heroin, Methamphetamine

Now that really is a crime.