The Protein Tied to Memory Loss and Other Fascinating News on the Web

August 30, 2013

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  1. Remember This Protein

    RbAp48. It’s not an easy name to remember. But it is a single protein that could help explain why you don’t remember where you left your keys. Researchers have tied a shortage of RbAp48 to the kind of memory loss associated with getting older. In recent studies, reducing the protein made mice more forgetful. According to one researcher: “What was remarkable is that if you just manipulate this one molecule in this particular area of the brain, you now have a young mouse that looks very much like an old mouse.” And amazingly, boosting the protein in older mice brought back memory skills.

  2. Flying Solo?

    While Great Britain has backed out of possible coalition to strike Syria and the U.N. is deadlocked, the U.S. still seems to be moving forward and plans to release information regarding Syria’s use of chemical weapons. Here’s the latest from CNN.

    + According to WaPo, U.S. military officers have deep doubts about the impact and wisdom of a strike on Syria. From military players to British lawmakers, so much of the debate about Syria is directly tied to the so-called “slam dunk” evidence of WMDs in Iraq.

    + The New Yorker’s David Remnick on The City of the Lost — a look at the Syrians living in the world’s second largest refugee camp.

    + This comic from The Oatmeal gets at an interesting aspect of the debate on Syria. In some ways, it seems like a government can freely kill tens of thousands people as long as the method they use doesn’t cross a red line.

  3. Weekend Reads

    “Samaras had an uncanny ability for finding twisters and for escaping them with his life. But the monster hiding in the rain that day was something he had never encountered before.” From Brantley Hargrove of the Dallas Observer News: The Last Ride of Legendary Storm Chaser Tim Samaras.

    + “After being pulled over, he stuck his head out of the car and said, ‘Trooper, I’m Aaron Hernandez — it’s OK.’” Rolling Stone’s Paul Solotaroff and Ron Borges on the making of the gangster in the huddle.

    + The Verge: Curses! The birth of the bleep and modern American censorship.

    + Let’s have a change of pace. Instead of one more weekend read, here’s a great weekend listen. All this week, Fresh Air with Terry Gross has been replaying a series of interviews with the stars of late night television. Several of the interviews are excellent, in particular the hour with Jimmy Kimmel.

  4. Hunting for bin Laden from Space

    “The U.S. commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden was guided from space by a fleet of satellites, which aimed dozens of receivers over Pakistan to collect a torrent of electronic and signals intelligence as the mission unfolded.” Many of the documents released by Edward Snowden have raised fears about the way the NSA listens to us. But the latest batch analyzed by WaPo sheds some light on the way technology was used to hunt for Osama bin Laden.

    + And here’s an interesting look at America’s $52 billion Black Budget and the way we spend on spying.

  5. NFL Settles Concussion Lawsuit

    How can an organization agree to pay out $765 million and still come out looking like the winner? The NFL answered that question this week as they agreed to pay out cash to 4,000 retired players, without admitting that they knowingly ignored (or hid) evidence related to the risk of concussions. The settlement is about pro football. But everything at the pro level has a big impact on kids who play the game.

    + In a new documentary, Malcolm Gladwell (who has covered the concussion story), says football with become “ghettoized” and attract only those for “whom the risks are acceptable.”

    + Since the concussion story has been in the news, I’ve talked to a lot of parents (including at least one in my own house) who say they’d never let their kids play football. So I think the trend that Gladwell suggests could eventually play out. But it doesn’t seem to be happening yet. The number of kids playing Pop Warner has remained steady over the past few years.

  6. Subsidizing Big Macs

    Even if you never walk into a McDonald’s you’re sort of subsidizing Big Macs. Reuters Christine Owens explains: “Wages are so low that many workers have to turn to public assistance for basic survival. Which means that taxpayers must subsidize the poverty wages that fast-food corporations pay their employees.” So you should definitely get fries with that. You’re paying for them either way.

    + New research helps to clarify how poverty taxes the brain. Very interesting.

  7. The Onion Is 25

    NPR helps us celebrate The Onion’s 25th birthday: Area Man Realizes He’s Been Reading Fake News For 25 Years.

    + Bill Murray helps Dave celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Late Show.

    + Yes, these anniversaries make us feel old. Even the kids from School of Rock are adults now.

  8. Photo Contest

    InFocus has a collection of some of the most excellent Red Bull Illume Photo Contest winners. And as you’d expect, they are about as Red Bull as you can get. Great shots.

  9. No Decay in Tooth Prices

    These days, people may not have as much money to hide in their mattresses, but there’s still plenty of cash under their pillows. The Tooth Fairy is doling out an average of $3.70 per lost tooth. That’s a 23% increase since last year. According to one consumer psychologist, the boost in tooth value has to do with playground economics: “A kid who got a quarter would wonder why their tooth was worth less than the kid who got $5.” That makes me long for the more wholesome days when the kid who got the quarter would punch the kid who got the five bucks until their income leveled out a bit.

  10. The Bottom of the News

    “In the not too distant future, all human interactions, written or otherwise, might well be conducted in the form of lists — for ease of assimilation, for catchiness, for optimal snap.” From The New Yorker’s Mark O’Connell: 10 Paragraphs About Lists You Need In Your Life Right Now. Making lists of ten things and sharing them with others. Yeah. That just might catch on…

    + From Slate: Four reasons you shouldn’t exist.

    + A walking shark has been discovered in Indonesia. That makes me even less likely to hit the sand, and as it is, I’m not exactly what you’d call a beach person.

    + If you think dealing with rejection is hard, try dealing with ejection.