Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Political Oy Veh!

Well, I hope everyone isn't too depressed. I believe that the closeness of the election will convince the Bush administration to act differently in the future. However, the safest course of action may be to move to Canada. Gotta start practicing my hockey skills and saying, "ya, you betcha".

Some interesting links:
* CNN's county-by-county maps for each state
* Electoral vote predictor

CA shows a marked gradient with a locus of Kerry support in San Francisco (83%) that dissipates as you proceed in any direction N, S, and E. The county where we live (Alameda) had a strong showing for Kerry at 74%, so we did our part here in the SF Bay area.

MO shows widespread Bush support except for an isolated "jewel" of Kerry support in St. Louis City (81%), and to a lesser extent, county (55%) and Kansas City area (58%).

I think the main hurdle for Kerry was the fact that its nigh impossible to unseat an incumbent during a war -- it's never occurred in the history of the US. Bush's own blundering into Iraq was probably what saved him, even though many feel it was a mistake. It's just that now that it's started, people are reluctant to switch presidents while it's still on-going. Imagine a college firing the head coach of it's football team during a losing game, or a patient electing to switch surgeons during an operation, even if the guy amputated the wrong leg.

I believe Kerry was an incredibly strong candidate across the spectrum: smarts, patriotism, machismo, eloquence, common sense, faith, hair, etc. and he out-shined Bush on virtually all fronts. The high voter turnout and closeness of the election are a testament to his overall strength.

In addition to the wartime incumbent issue, the other major thing that iced it for Bush was the "moral" issue, where Bush was viewed as being on higher ground. This includes things like same-sex marriage, where 11/11 states approved constitutional amendments codifying marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. This sentiment aligns with Bush.

At this point, I recommend we all take a deep breath, put the election behind us, and work like the dickens to negate the possibiliy of Cheney taking over in 2008.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Hawaii triathlon

Well, it wasn't the Ironman, but I managed to do a sprint-length triathlon during our Hawaii trip last week (on 7/3/04) Here are the race results.

I wasn't quite adapted to the time zone and climate, and I was using our friend's not-too-fancy road bike, not my usual fancy racer. Even still, I had a reasonably good race, passing about 30 people on the bike after a wavy ocean swim to finish 30th overall (out of 150) and 5th in my age group (out of 14). For what it's worth, my time also puts me 5th in the age group below me (30-34) and 6th in the next one down (25-29), suggesting, perhaps, that I'm aging well.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Gene expression in aging human brains

There's an interesting study in Nature and reported in today's Wall Street Journal that used Affymetrix arrays to do expression profiling on brain tissue across a wide age range.

As Early as Age 40, Genes in the Brain Begin to Deteriorate (WSJ) (They mention Affy in the last paragraph.)

Gene regulation and DNA damage in the ageing human brain" by Lu et al. (Nature)

The ageing of the human brain is a cause of cognitive decline in the elderly and the major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. The time in life when brain ageing begins is undefined. Here we show that transcriptional profiling of the human frontal cortex from individuals ranging from 26 to 106 years of age defines a set of genes with reduced expression after age 40. These genes play central roles in synaptic plasticity, vesicular transport and mitochondrial function. This is followed by induction of stress response, antioxidant and DNA repair genes. DNA damage is markedly increased in the promoters of genes with reduced expression in the aged cortex. Moreover, these gene promoters are selectively damaged by oxidative stress in cultured human neurons, and show reduced base-excision DNA repair. Thus, DNA damage may reduce the expression of selectively vulnerable genes involved in learning, memory and neuronal survival, initiating a programme of brain ageing that starts early in adult life.

This study used the HG-U95Av2 arrays. The WSJ reports that the authors are repeating the study using newer (U133) arrays.

I imagine this report will get increased attention in light of the fanfare surrounding
Ronald Reagan's death.

Keep taking those antioxidant supplements & drinking green tea folks! :-)

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