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Saturday, August 31, 2013


On Thursday I posted on:

  How Really Bad is Mercury?

I said it was not good, but, if you're not pregnant nor young, there shouldn't be a serious problem with your continuing to eat fish with some good judgement.  Well, Patty Golden sent me some information indicating that cilantro (which is sometimes called coriander, Chinese Parsley and dhania--I'm surprised, but Wikipedia says this is the same herb) can flush mercury out of your body:

Mercury, cadmium, Aluminium, lead and arsenic are the heavy metals that can damage health. They inactivate enzymes in our body, allowing free radical damage which can lead to serious health diseases of heart and cancers. Chelation is the process of elimination of heavy metals from the human body. According to the 13th International Symposium of The Institute for Functional Medicine, Cilantro is one of the foods and phytochemicals that can boost the detoxification process by enhancing the detoxification pathways and may help remove the heavy metals like Mercury.

Studies conducted at Heart Disease Research Foundation of New York in 1995 reported that Cilantro accelerated the excretion of heavy metals like lead, mercury and aluminum from human body through urine.

One of the articles in Journal of Hazardous Materials written in February 2005 experimented the effects of cilantro and methyl mercury deposits in ground water and found out that Cilantro was effective in removing the deposits of the metal. The research lead at the Department of Atomic Energy suggested that it is the carboxylic acid groups in the Cilantro herb which bind the mercury. Although promising, this may not guarantee that Cilantro will be effective in the treatment of mercury poisoning.

.One of the articles in Journal of Hazardous Materials written in February 2005 experimented the effects of cilantro and methyl mercury deposits in ground water and found out that Cilantro was effective in removing the deposits of the metal. The research lead at the Department of Atomic Energy suggested that it is the carboxylic acid groups in the Cilantro herb which bind the mercury. Although promising, this may not guarantee that Cilantro will be effective in the treatment of mercury poisoning.

But since Cilantro has several other health benefits like maintaining blood cholesterol levels by aiding fat metabolism, stimulating appetite and improving the digestive process, it is advisable to take this miracle herb as a part of our regular diet.

Yoshiaki Omura (left), MD, director of medical research at the Heart Disease Foundation and president of the International College of Acupuncture in New York, reported that after finding he had been heavily exposed to mercury, he accidentally discovered that when cilantro is taken in a lightly cooked form it causes a massive excretion of mercury via the urine.

Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, Ph.D recommends cilantro as one of the best means to remove mercury from the brain. His clinical research has found that 5 grams (teaspoonful) a day is the minimum dose.

Fresh cilantro can be prepared by finely chopping eight or more heaping teaspoons, steeping in approximately one quart (or one liter) just boiled chicken broth or water, covered for twenty minutes. Be sure to avoid using metalic cookware, since cilantro is a powerful metal chelator. Use only Pyrex or Corningware!

The tea or broth may then be sipped throughout the day. This will have to be continued for at least two to three months to be sufficiently effective in most cases of elevated mercury levels.

Like most things medical these days, though, nothing is without some controversy.  The Danny Roddy Weblog, for example, says:

So is it fact or hoax that cilantro can flush mercury from your body?  Best as I can tell, if you can tolerate the taste (I ask the restaurant to hold the cilantro when I order OX Tail Soup), go ahead, especially as this herb is said to have a range of other health benefits.  Want to know  more about chelation therapy? Click on that link.  The Baseline of Health Foundation has a particularly detailed treatment of this topic:


Friday, August 30, 2013


About this handsome couple later.  The median American household income has hovered around $50,000 (in 2011 dollars)/year for a very long time:

The rich, though, are getting richer, and the poor...well, their inflation adjusted income has continued to also increase, with the bottom 10% up from $9600/year in 1967 to $12,000/year now.

Wikipedia only lists 40 countries, and the data are dated, but Mexico is at the bottom, with a median household income of $4,456.  The USA is #4 on this list with $30,234 (yes, not quite the $50K above, which confuses me, but such are statistics), with Luxembourg #1 at $36, 399.

The September 2, 2013 issue of Forbes showed that the top six National Football League wage earners  were quarterbacks, led by Drew Brees at $51 million/year.  However, does anyone know who Calvin Harris (left) is?  No, not an athlete, but the premier dance DJ (disc jockey), at $46 million, placing him between Aaron Rogers ($49 million) and Tom Brady ($38.3 million--Brazilian Giselle Bundchen, at $42 million is the highest-paid model, and also the wife of Brady--that is their photo above).

Then there is the top ten Celebrity list headed by Oprah at $77 million, and, I'm sure there is a reason why, for Madonna last year was only #5, but still made $125 million.  #10 was Ellen DeGeneres at $56 million.  Tiger Woods, with all his troubles, got $78 million, and boxer Floyd Mayweather, for all his problems, earned $85 million.  The world's best soccer player, Lionel Messi of Barcelona earned $36 million.

President Ji Jinping of the largest country, China, reportedly makes $19,200/year.  Let's see, now, that places him reasonably above the bottom 10% of Americans.  The leader of the Free World, Barack Obama, reported an adjusted gross income of $608,611 in 2012.  Vladimir Putin supposedly makes only $95,000/year, but he has been photographed wearing a Patek Philippe watch worth more than $50,000, and owns a $600,000 timepiece collection.  Makes you wonder how much he really earns.  Obama (left) generally wears a $300 Jorge Gray JG6500.

Can you believe how much the top three dead celebrities accumulated just last year?
  • Liz Taylor ($210 million)
  • Michael Jackson (145 million)
  • Elvis Presley ($55 million)

The highest paid CEO, John Hammergren of McKesson, was given $131 million, but, nothing like being a billionaire, as Larry Ellison, owner of Lanai, and boss of Oracle, made $8 billion, ahead of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet at $7 billion each.  Not sure how much Carlos Slim Helu (left), telcom magnate from Mexico, added, but he is the richest man in the world ($73 billion versus Gates at $67 billion).

Thursday, August 29, 2013


The first emperor of China (left) took mercury pills to insure for eternal life.  He lived to a ripe old age of 49, which is not a joke, because that was in the BCs, and average life expectancy was below 30 until only around a century or so ago.

From where did "mad as a hatter" come?  Well, there was Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.  But the origin was a disease workers in the felt hat industry suffered from, which resulted in slurred speech, loosening of teeth, loss of hair, signs of dementia and depression.  The problem was that a mercury solution was used to stiffen those hats.  Mercury is a deadly neurotoxin.  Organic mercury is worse than natural mercury.

I remember as a child coating coins with mercury to give them a shiny sheen.  We got the mercury from thermometers.  Turns out that mercury is not absorbed through the skin nor by digestion (you can accidentally swallow it, as, say, if that thermometer cracks while you were taking your temperature under your tongue--anyway, get those digital instruments today).  Just  don't vaporize it and breath.  Yet, the boiling point of mercury is a very high 671 F.  BUT THE BOILING POINT OF DIMETHYL MERCURY IS 200 F, LOWER THAN WATER!  This is one reason why organic mercury compounds are especially to be avoided.

Dr. Oz says the metal fillings in your mouth are TOXIC!  Just went to my dentist today and looks like I need to cap the silver filling in one of my teeth.  People don't realize that this silver is not pure silver, but an amalgam, up to 50% or so of mercury.  As another aside, did you know something called thimerosal, which is about 59% mercury, is in some vaccines?  Even in some flu shots!!!  Mercury in very small amounts can damage your brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system...I can go on and on.  Now I have a second reason to crown my tooth, but I did not check if my recent flu injection had thimerosal.  But there is so much controversy about the true dangers of mercury  in your mouth and in vaccines.  This remains a debatable subject.

Well, there is not much you can now do about the mercury already in your body.  Actually, there are processes for leaching and otherwise removing mercury.   In any case, how much worse (or better??) can it be to eat sashimi (raw fish, like tuna)?  According to a recent study from the Universities of Hawaii and Michigan:
  • The mercury in fish mostly comes from natural causes, such as forest fires and man-made activities, such as coal fired power plants, which is expected to increase with time.
  • Plankton takes in mercury, mostly from the atmosphere falling into the ocean, small sealife eat plankton, and larger fish feed up the chain to concentrate this metal.  The higher the trophic level, the more the mercury percentage in the flesh.
  • Thus, pregnant women and nursing mothers should refrain from marlin, shark, swordfish, etc.  New mothers in Hawaii are three times more likely to have elevated levels of mercury than the national norm.
  • Pregnant women and young children should eat fish like ahi (tuna) and opah no more than once every two weeks, and canned tuna, mahimahi and cod no more than once a week.
Therefore, best as I can determine, I'm not pregnant, nor young, so I can without much worry about becoming a mad hatter, eat virtually unlimited quantities of fish, as long as I avoid akule.  I recently went to Queen's Emergency for a bone in my throat.   So if you begin to have slurred speech, loosening of teeth, loss of hair, signs of dementia and depression, maybe the fish you are consuming  has too much mercury.  On the other hand, you could just be getting old.  

I just had to have some hamachi sashimi last night (right), which is yellowtail, with minimal mercury.  Here are some levels of contamination in parts per million:

  • tilefish (right) from the Gulf of Mexico (1.40)
  • swordfish (0.995)
  • shark (0.979)
  • bigeye tuna (0.689)
  • marlin (0.485)
  • yellowfin tuna or ahi or maguro (0.354)
  • snapper (0.166)
  • lobster (0.093)
  • crab (0.065)
  • catfish (0.025)
  • salmon (0.008-0.022)
  • shrimp (0.001)
So what is the bottom line about mercury?  No doubt, it is not good for you, but a million things in life can be bad.  If you are like me already in the September years of life, eat virtually anything you enjoy, but perhaps in moderation.  I might avoid tilefish, but I certainly will continue having ahi sashimi and sauteed lemon garlic salmon topped with macadamia nuts and capers.  About that flu shot?  I don't worry much about the possible presence of minute amounts of mercury.  I'll do the crown on one tooth, but certainly won't remove all the mercury amalgam with some composite, which would not only be painful, but expensive.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Part 1 of "I Have a Dream" was posted on Saturday.  But it was exactly 50 years ago today that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave that speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  USA Today compared Lincoln's Gettysburg Address with King's Dream:

  • Lincoln in 1863 used 272 words in a 3 minute speech
  • King in 1963 used 1,652 words in a 17 minute speech

 Today, Presidents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton participated in the celebration ceremonies on those same steps.

The Economist featured MLK this week:
  • His name adorns schools, streets and bridges across the Nation.
  • America has changed beyond recognition over the past half century:
    • then, Blacks could be lynched if they even tried to register to vote
    • Blacks were forced to use inferior drinking fountains and sit at the back of buses
    • 60% of Black women with jobs were domestic servants
    • inter-racial marriage was illegal in many states until 1967 when the Supreme Court deemed anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional ...24% of Black men now marry outside their race
    • today, the President of the United States Barack Obama is Black and the Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick are Black....but the USA is only 14% Black and Massachusetts Black population is at less than 7%

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Alan Ohnsman (right) of Bloomberg News reports that Chemistry Professor Nate Lewis (below) from the California Institute of Technology is leading an effort, also involving Stanford, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Universities of California at Berkeley, Irvine and San Diego, of a $122 million effort funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to:

  • Produce solar hydrogen and power fuel cell cars.
  • Blend the hydrogen with carbon dioxide from the air (just like a plant) to make liquid fuels for the full range of vehicles.
The team will develop and demonstrate a manufacturable solar-fuels generator, taking sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, and at ten times the efficiency of nature, produce automotive fuels.  Here is a film clip of Lewis explaining what the Joint Centers for Artificial Photosynthesis will do.

The Airbus 380 and Boeing 747-8 did not suddenly appear.  This solar fuels initiative is likened to attempts by the Wright Brothers, who 110 years ago took first flight.  Hopefully, these clean fuels will take less than a century to commercialize.

This is the mega version of the Lehigh experiment posted here on 23August2013.  That was only a $2 million laboratory program sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Not worth doing any research, but Biofuel Energy Corp jumped 17% to $4.01.  However, this is an ethanol company, so I don't see much hope.  About a year ago this company leaped from $3 to $10, and has steadily dropped since then...until today.


Monday, August 26, 2013


The flu vaccine just recently became available for this coming season.  I took mine last week.  There were no after affects.  To the right is a microscopic shot of a typical flu virus.

Depending on your medical plan, you could pay anywhere from zero to $15.  If you have none, the cost should be $30 at most.   Drugstores usually give a $5-$10 discount.

The flu this past year was intense:

Today, I read that TAKING A FLU SHOT CAN LOWER THE PROBABILITY OF HEART ATTACK BY 45%.  Further, if you're old, like me, if you actually get the flu, your chances of death are reduced by 80%.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • EVERYONE from 6 months of age and older should get an annual flu shot around now.
  • Somewhere just under 139 million doses will be made available this season, which means less than half of the U.S. population will take this step. 
  • You need to take this shot (or nasal spray) yearly.
  • Both the shot and the mist work equally well, but the aftereffect from the injection will be less than the spray because the former uses dead influenza virus while the nasal spray uses live vaccine where the virus is merely weakened.
  • If I read this correctly, there are two types of vaccine this year:
    • trivalent (to protect agains three flu viruses), which will be available by injection and nasal spray
    • quadrivalent (against four viruses) by nasal spray
    • hmmm, my doctor only had the trivalent by injection--if I had a known choice, I would have gotten the one for four viruses because I hate injections.
The reasons why more than half don't take the flu shot?

Don't be one of them.  Now you can add:  flu shots reduce the probability of heart attack by 45%.


Sunday, August 25, 2013


I have long been intrigued by the Planet Venus.  First, it is the brightest natural object we can see in the sky, next to the Moon and the Sun.  Second, my possible next novel, The Venus Syndrome, could consume me for the next year.

From the 25August2013 issue of Skywatch by Mike Shanahan (sorry, but can't yet find a link, so the above is from Society of Popular Astronomy):

  Since Spica shines at first magnitude and Venus shines at minus 4 magnitude, that means that 
  Venus is about 100 times brighter than Spica.

I've always wondered what was star magnitude.  The concept began in the days of Ptolemy (left) when he and others assigned the sixth magnitude to stars that were barely visible.  They just stated that a first magnitude star, like Spica, was 100 times brighter than a sixth magnitude.  That was two millennia ago, and the numbers still stand.

Mathematically, a logorithmic scale using 2.512 as the base was implemented.  (Note:  the common logorithm has a base of 10 and a natural logarithm has a base of e, or 2.7183.)  Thus, a 1 magnitude star has:

  2.512x2.512x2.2.512x2.512x2.512 = 100

times the brightness of a 6th magnitude (6 minus 1 equals 5, thus the need to multiply 2.51 five times).  Using this logic, a 1 magnitude star is 2.512 the brightness of a 2 magnitude.

Here are the magnitudes:
  • -26   Sun
  • -13   Full Moon
  • -7.5  1006 Supernova (right, photo taken by a Benedictine monk...nah, just kidding), the brightest steller event in "recorded" history
  • -5.9  International Space Station at brightest
  • -  4   Venus (-4.89 under special conditions)
  • -  2   Jupiter (also indicated at  -3 in some tables)
  • -  1   Sirius (maybe as high as -1.47)
  • -  1   Moon at total eclipse
  • -  1   Hale-Bopp Comet (1997, right)) at peak
  • -.27 Alpha Centauri star system
  •    0   Vega
  • +.5  Sun as seen from Alpha Centauri
  • + 1   Saturn
  • + 1   Spica
  • + 2   stars of Big Dipper
  • + 2   Halley's comet (right) in 1986 at peak
  • +3  faintest stars from low light environment (rural, suburban)
  • + 4   faintest stars from outer suburbs
  • + 5   faintest naked-eye stars from dark rural areas
  • + 5   faintest naked-eye moons of Jupiter from dark rural areas
  • + 6   faintest naked eye stars at least 100 miles from major cities
  • + 7   binoculars at least 140 miles from major cities
  • + 8   Neptune (right) with binoculars 
  • +14   Pluto with a large telescope
  • +36  Faintest objects to be observable in visible light with the European Extremely Large Telescope (belowwhich hasn't been built yet, but at a billion dollars, should be operational at the top of Cerro Armazones, Chile in the early 2020's, and will be 30% more powerful than the Thirty Meter Telescope to be built on Mauna Kea, but don't attempt to hold your breath for the TMT)

So on September  4, for example:

  There is a New Moon (meaning "no" moon), with Venus and Spica right next to each other in the West after sunset.

But remember that Venus is 100 times brighter than Spica, so some of you might need binoculars to see the star.  On September 8:

  Venus, Spica and Saturn are low in the Western sky soon after sunset.  The crescent moon lies between Venus and Saturn.
Mercury joins those planets towards the end of September.


Saturday, August 24, 2013


I bought a whole rotisserie chicken from Costco this afternoon and had it with a glass of white wine.  Then came sunset, with a special guest:

I've had pigeons before, and a large praying mantis, green parrots, and, every so often, even people.  This was a memorable sunset tonight.



1963 was a half century ago.  In January, George Wallace became governor of Alabama, and defiantly proclaimed at his inaugural:

  Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.

In April, Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama for "parading without a permit."

In June, John F. Kennedy promised a Civil Rights Bill, and also gave his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in West Berlin.  This actually was a blunder, for "Ich bin ein Berliner" more accurately means "I am a jelly doughnut."  He should have said "Ich bin Berliner."

On August 28 MLK delivered his I Have a Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before 250,000 protestors.

In September of 1963 George Wallace made the cover of Time magazine:

On November 22 JFK (46 years old) was assassinated.  On the 24th, Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. MLK was not assassinated until 1968 at the age of 39.

Today, 100,000 marchers gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial:

Just above, Martin Luther King III says to the crowd:

  We ain't going to let nobody turn us around.  We're going to keep marching down to freedom land....  I know that Daddy is smiling up above knowing that your presence here today will assure the fulfillment of his dream.

Has there been progress?  According to Pew, 48% of white respondents and 43% of Hispanics said there has been a lot of progress toward equality...but only 32% of blacks agreed.  Yet, 44% of whites, 48% of Hispanics abd 79% of blacks said much more needs to be done. Compared to 50 years ago the difference in the rates of home ownership and poverty between black and white has remained the same, but the income gap has widened.

In an AP-NORC poll, though, only 46% of whites said that their family had a good chance of improving their living standard, while 71% of blacks and 73% of Hispanics expressed optimism for an improved life.

On December 26 of 1963 the Beatles released "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "I Saw Her Standing There," kicking of international beatlemania."

1963 was also memorable for the first Coke diet drink, Tab, the first James Bond film, Dr. No, NASA launching of the first geostationary satellite, appearance of the first push button phone and the beginning of the Vietnam War.

Two particularly successful "Blacks" are President Barack Obama and golfer Tiger Woods.  However, Obama is half White and Woods is half Asian.  Consider them as gray or platinum or gold, indicative of the state of King's dream.  Our Nation is half-way there.