All men over 50 should take drug to lower cholesterol

Somebody told me once that cholesterol-reducing drugs are scary. This article seems to indicate otherwise:

Every man over the age of 50 should be on a daily medication of cholesterol-lowering drugs to protect against heart disease and stroke, the government’s heart tsar said yesterday.

Roger Boyle said that blanket prescribing of statins should also apply to women from 60 or 65 to reduce the hundreds of thousands of deaths a year from cardiovascular diseases. He acknowledged that such a move would lead to accusations of a “nanny state” and that people would resist being medicalised from the age of 50 or 60.

The British Heart Foundation urged caution against mass medication using statins until there was longer-term data on the side-effects. Research published this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggested a very slight increase in cancers associated with higher doses of the drugs.

If the UK’s surgeon general-equivalent is down with these statin things, then so am I, by Jesus.

Good Tomato Sauce

People are doing interesting things with food these days. Researchers in Ohio have devised some new varieties of tomato by combining heirloom varieties with disease-resistant modern varieties, and in the process dramatically raised the content of usable lycopene. It’s all in this American Chemical Society Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry article, Carotenoid Absorption in Humans Consuming Tomato Sauces Obtained from Tangerine or High–Carotene Varieties of Tomatoes

Tomato sauces were produced from unique tomato varieties to study carotenoid absorption in humans. Tangerine tomatoes, high in cis-lycopene, especially prolycopene (7Z,9Z,7’Z,9’Z), and high–carotene tomatoes as an alternative dietary source of -carotene were grown and processed… Lycopene dose-adjusted triacylglycerol-rich lipoprotein AUC responses in the tangerine sauce group were relatively high when compared to those in the literature and the high–carotene group. The results support the hypothesis that lycopene cis-isomers are highly bioavailable and suggest that special tomato varieties can be utilized to increase both the intake and bioavailability of health-beneficial carotenoids.

This press release from the USDA touts their losing tomato:

USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist John R. Stommel developed the new high beta-carotene tomato lines–97L63, 97L66 and 97L97–for use in processing into paste, juices and sauces. High beta-carotene cherry and beefsteak type market tomatoes will also be released as specialty tomatoes for the fresh market.

So the yokels in Ohio just kicked the USDA’s butt. Lycopene, in case you didn’t know, is something that old men should take for the prostate.

Craig Newmark, exposed

Craig Newmark gets really irate when I point out that his net neutrality advocacy serves the interests of his corporate masters at eBay, owners of Skype. This story in Valleywag sheds some light on his sensitivity:

Everything you know about Craig Newmark is wrong. The tale that Craigslist’s founder and CEO Jim Buckmaster like to tell about how eBay got a stake in their company goes like this: Newmark, the clueless business naif, issued shares to an employee, never thinking they’d be cashed in. That employee turned around and sold the shares right under Newmark’s nose to rapacious auctions giant eBay back in 2004. It’s a good story. But it’s nothing like the truth, according to sources close to the transaction. And the truth? That Newmark and Buckmaster, who love to portray themselves as unpretentious types who care nothing for money, can be bought. For a mere $16 million.

So Newmark put 10 million eBucks in his bank account, and draws a breath-taking salary from Craig’s List today. He’s not exactly the well-meaning simpleton he’s supposed to be, is he?

Lost and confused

Is it just me or is there an increase in net neutrality paranoia recently? The arguments are changing, but they’re still misguided and confused. In the Weinberger article, there’s a link to a new piece of Isenberg fantasy about how the Internet works. Isenberg wants to ban source- and destination-based network service:

the prohibition of, “any service that privileges, degrades or prioritizes any packet . . . based on its source, ownership or destination,”

…which would put all of our core networking suppliers out of business. That doesn’t strike me as a very good way to bring cheaper and faster broadband to America’s computer-lovers. If they love the Internet so much, why do they want to ban its basic operational principles?

This is wrong

What are these wankers thinking?

Comedian Catherine Tate is to play Doctor Who’s new companion, reprising her role from the 2006 Christmas special, the BBC has announced.

She will join David Tennant for the complete 13-week run of the new series of Doctor Who, which is due to begin filming in Cardiff later this month.

What an outrage. Am I bovvered? Damn right.

Adobe software on Linux

This is the first in a series on things that don’t work right.

Fedora 7 is the latest release of Linux in the Red Hat line. It includes the 2.6.21 kernel, which has kernel-resident KVM virtual machine support, Firefox 2, and the latest versions of the Gnu toolchain and all that. It’s the first Linux that’s seemed to me like a credible alternative to Windows for general-purpose desktop use, but it’s got some problems. My first shot at installation was on an Asrock ConRoe1333-DVI/H R2.0 motherboard, which uses an Intel chipset and has on-board video with DVI, in the form of the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950. Intel is alleged to be super-supportive of open source, so I expected this configuration to work even though it breaks the one-year rule (never install Linux on hardware less than one year old.) Installation was smooth, but when the system booted I got a black screen.

So no problem, I put Windows on that machine and moved on to an MSI K9AGM2-FIH motherboard. Like the Asrock, it has on-board video and support for a dual-core CPU, but it uses the AMD/ATI Radeon X1250 graphics controller. Both motherboards support HDCP so they’ll be usable with the new Blu-Ray drive from Pioneer that’s supposed to be here any day now. Installation on the MSI was easy, and unlike the Intel motherboard, it actually ran. The system doesn’t know what to do with the Radeon yet, but that’s another story.

As soon as you have an operating system, the next thing you want to do is get to the web, and that’s where things get interesting. Like most people, I use Adobe Acrobat and the Adobe Flash player, but neither of them is up to snuff for Linux.

Acrobat has a bug that makes it go hard loop on any computer with the latest version of GTK, one of the graphics libraries it uses. It’s a simple bug to fix, requiring a one-character change in the /usr/bin/acroread script, but Adobe hasn’t figured out how to do it and in fact has re-released the same bug several times. It’s simply a matter of changing this line:

echo $mfile| sed 's/libgtk-x11-\([0-9]*\)\([0-9]\)00.

to this line:

echo $mfile| sed 's/libgtk-x11-\([0-9]*\)\([0-9]*\)00.

Can you see the difference? right after the middle of the line there’s an extra ‘*’ after one of the [0-9]’s. That’s not too hard, is it? Of course not, any moron can fix that.

Now the situation with the Flash player is a little more interesting. These new AMD and Intel processors have 64-bit instructions, so Linux has both 32-bit versions and 64-bit versions. For most applications, supporting 64-bit Linux is simply a re-compile with the 64-bit flag turned on. This is too much for Adobe to handle, so they only offer Flash in a 32-bit version. Since this is the tool that plays YouTube, it seems like a nice thing to have. But what happens if you install the Flash plugin for Firefox on 64-bit Linux is interesting: Firefox doesn’t see it, and you’re nagged to install it again, and again, until your patience runs out.

It turns out the issue here is that Fedora 7 includes both the 32-bit and the 64-bit versions of Firefox, in different locations. The basic /usr/bin/firefox is a script, and it runs code out of /usr/lib or /usr/lib64 as appropriate. The Flash plugin goes into the 32-bit code library, but as you’re running the 64-bit code you never see it. So the solution is to erase Firefox from your system:

sudo yum erase firefox*

and install the 32-bit version only:

sudo yum install firefox.i386*

Then your Flash install will work (after you repeat it), but now you’ve got yet another problem, as all the plugins that have real 64-bit versions aren’t going to run, so you have to play more games to get things like Java running under a 32-bit plugin. …install a nice little wrapper that allows you to run 32-bit plugins under 64-bit binaries.

More on that later, but for now Adobe is officially inept at Linux.