Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Garlic: Effective against Vampires … and Cancer?

A small pilot study in Analytical Biochemistry — and reported on recently by Science Daily — suggests a possible link between the amount of garlic that a person consumes and a lowered potential risk for cancer.

The researchers (led by Dr. Earl Harrison), Professor of Human Nutrition at Ohio State University) were exploring how some substances found in foods or contaminated water are converted into carcinogens. By testing the presence of in urine of two separate compounds (one related to cancer risk, the other to garlic consumption), they discovered that the more they found the marker for garlic consumption in their subjects, the less there was of the marker for the risk of cancer. Vitamin C had a similar effect.

Ultimately, the scientists hope to find that a nutritional intervention could be a way to stop the process that encourages the development of these carcinogens.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why This Internet Thing Is Never Gonna Last

It was first published in Newsweek via BoingBoing in 1995, but it’s all over the interweb today: “The Internet? Bah!” — author Clifford Stoll’s funny, grumpy essay on “this most trendy and oversold community.”

Here are some excerpts:

• “We're told that multimedia will make schoolwork easy and fun. … Bah. These expensive toys are difficult to use in classrooms and require extensive teacher training.”

• “How about electronic publishing? … Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet. Uh, sure.”

• “Then there's cyberbusiness. We're promised instant catalog shopping — just point and click for great deals. … Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet — which there isn't — the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.”

• “What's missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. Discount the fawning techno-burble about virtual communities. Computers and networks isolate us from one another.”

Social media are all about forging connections. In fact, for many of us, it’s human contact that keeps drawing us back to the internet today. Yet back in 1995, few of us recognized the potential of social media and social networking.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

How Humans Think and Behave in a Crisis

While I’m not one of those 2012 apocalypse loonies, it certainly does seem that our world is beset with more than its fair share of crises: economic meltdowns, natural disasters and random acts of violence.

TIME magazine recently published a fascinating article about how the will to survive can trump social norms in the event of a serious crisis or disaster. Author Jeffrey Kluger cites a new paper by an international team of social behaviorists that compares the two of the greatest maritime crises in history: the sinking of the Titanic and the Lusitania.

While most shipwrecks are relatively slow-moving disasters, the Lusitania sank just 18 minutes after it was hit by a German torpedo. The Titanic stayed afloat for 2 hours and 40 minutes — and human behavior differed accordingly. According to the authors of the paper, "The short-run flight impulse [on the Lusitania] dominated behavior. On the slowly sinking Titanic, there was time for socially determined behavioral patterns to reemerge."

One of the key takeaways is that leaders need to move quickly in a crisis situation to 1) restore some semblance of order and 2) disseminate information about what has just happened and what needs to be done next.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

M&As Expected to Increase in 2010

As the credit markets begin to ease, mergers and acquisitions will likely accelerate this year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a leading global auditing firm.

M&A activity in 2010 will be driven by strategic buyers who have both the funding and the vision necessary to capitalize on acquisition targets that offer opportunities for revenue growth and enhanced productivity. The most attractive sectors for these “mergers of productivity” include:

• Consumer products
• Technology
• Energy
• Financial services
• Automotive
• Healthcare
• Entertainment and media

PwC sees financing as the key stumbling block impeding M&A activity next year, increasing the pressure on middle market deals.

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