Friday, May 16, 2008


Some unsurprising things...

...that we nonetheless ought to know about:

For a Sharp Brain, Stimulation

Regular physical activity may improve brain function, both by increasing blood flow to the brain and stimulating the production of hormones and nerve growth factors involved in neurogenesis. Animal studies have found that physically active animals have better memories and more cells in their hippocampus. Exercise also plays a role in countering diseases like Type 2 diabetes, which increases the risk of dementia. Cholesterol and hypertension, which affect vascular health, also need to be kept in check.

Seeking out stimulation through interesting work, volunteer opportunities or continuing education is beneficial. Travel, read, take up a new language or learn to play a musical instrument. Staying socially connected is also associated with brain health, as is managing stress effectively. Chronic stress can lead to the rewiring of areas of the brain that are involved in emotion, memory and decision-making, Dr. McEwen said, “and the brain becomes more biased toward more anxiety, more depression, less flexibility in terms of decision-making and becomes less able to store information.”

It doesn’t go without saying, of course — it could be that keeping your body and mind active might do nothing toward staying sharp. But we’ve long thought that there was a connection, and it’s good to have more evidence for it.

Liquor-store sales linked to violent assaults

If there’s a queue at the liquor store, keep an eye out for trouble. A new analysis of health records and sales receipts from alcoholic drinks shows that hospitalisations for assault go up in direct relation to increased alcohol sales near the victims’ homes.

By comparing local booze sales the day before a serious assault with sales the previous week, a team of Canadian epidemiologists calculated that an extra 1000 litres of alcohol sales significantly increases the chances of an assault by 13%.

Let’s see: more drinking correlates with more aggression and violence. This one’s definitely in the “Well, duh,” category. Still... if you see a long line at the liquor store on the way home tonight, you might think about having dinner over at your mum’s. Throws New York Affiliates Overboard to Avoid Sales Tax

There were two predictable fallouts from New York State’s move to force online companies to collect state sales tax: There would be a lawsuit. And some online merchants would cut off their affiliates in the state.

Amazon filed suit against the state late last month. Now has become the first major Internet retailer to cancel its relationship with affiliates in New York. Affiliates are Web site owners who get commissions for referring customers to an online store. They are important because New York State is requiring any company that has an affiliate in the state to collect sales taxes on its behalf. Until now, companies had to collect taxes only if they had a physical presence, such as an office or factory, in the state.

Yes, indeed. We make it more annoying to do business in New York, and merchants stop doing business in New York. That’s no surprise. I’ve seen a few small vendors on the web that have stopped shipping to New York addresses. This is the first major one. We’re falling into a huge pit of unintended (but perfectly foreseeable) consequences here.
The company’s goal is “showing the New York governor and legislature that this is bad for New York businesses,” Mr. Johnson said. “There are affiliates in New York who will see their business go away because of a not-so-thoughtful action by the New York State legislature.”

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