Notes from the Underground

Here’s a round up of links I wanted to do full posts on, but don’t have time.

1.) Neurogenesis: your body creates new brain cells. Aerobic exercise increases neurogenesis and helps fight mental illnesses (like depression), senility, and Alzheimer’s.

But something else happened as a result of all those workouts: blood flowed at a much higher volume to a part of the brain responsible for neurogenesis. Functional M.R.I.’s showed that a portion of each person’s hippocampus received almost twice the blood volume as it did before. Scientists suspect that the blood pumping into that part of the brain was helping to produce fresh neurons.

The hippocampus plays a large role in how mammals create and process memories; it also plays a role in cognition. If your hippocampus is damaged, you most likely have trouble learning facts and forming new memories. Age plays a factor, too. As you get older, your brain gets smaller, and one of the areas most prone to this shrinkage is the hippocampus. (This can start depressingly early, in your 30’s.) Many neurologists believe that the loss of neurons in the hippocampus may be a primary cause of the cognitive decay associated with aging. A number of studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia tend to have smaller-than-normal hippocampi. The Columbia study suggests that shrinkage to parts of the hippocampus can be slowed via exercise.

2.) I don’t agree with Obama regarding his new call to expand federal aid to faith-based programs, but at least read what he said and don’t rely on media reports:

Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.

That doesn’t mean that the federal funds can’t be used to free up other money that will be used on discriminatory and proselytizing activities.

3.) Hitchens get’s waterboarded – Is this the Christian fundie wet dream, or are they dissapointed that Dawkins and Harris weren’t tortured as well? Hitchens has been unappolagetic pro-war and a proponent of waterboarding. Now he says, “believe me, it’s torture”.

4.) This MTV Choose or Loose election commercial is funny.

5.) A Christian “news” service changes Olympian Tyson Gay’s name to “Tyson Homosexual”. Ha! Fundies say the darndest things!

6.) Two years out and people still express “disgust” and “outrage” over New Orleans Katrina looters (see this famous pic). Why doesn’t anyone talk about the racist vigilantes? Watch this clip from the excellent Danish documentary Welcome to New Orleans. (Watch the complete film, a story of how self reliance and private citizen volunteerism filled a need medical care needs despite the government’s efforts to stop it, @ Google Vide0.)

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